Redskins

No. 13 FSU beats No. 16 NIU 31-10 in Orange Bowl

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No. 13 FSU beats No. 16 NIU 31-10 in Orange Bowl

MIAMI (AP) Laughing and mugging for the cameras, the Florida State Seminoles happily hoisted the Orange Bowl trophy as a consolation prize, their disappointment about failing to reach the national championship game all but forgotten.

They figure next season will be different.

Smothering defense and two breakaway runs by senior fullback Lonnie Pryor helped Florida State beat Northern Illinois 31-10 Tuesday night.

The victory was the first for the Seminoles (12-2) in a BCS bowl since the glory days of 2000, when they beat Virginia Tech for the national title.

After the game, coach Jimbo Fisher's players wore T-shirts that read, ``Florida Statement.''

``We're knocking on the door,'' Fisher said. ``We feel very confident about where we're going and what we're doing. We've laid a great foundation here, and there's a great team coming back.''

While Fisher's roster is loaded with underclassmen, two seniors shone in the season finale. Pryor, voted the game's outstanding player, ran for a career-high 134 yards and two scores in only five carries, while classmate EJ Manuel threw for 291 yards.

``We wanted to leave a legacy and change the culture in what we do here,'' Manuel said. ``You're reaping the benefits right now.''

Junior defensive end Bjoern Werner - who has yet to announce whether he'll turn pro this year - led a swarming defense that stuffed Huskies QB and all-purpose threat Jordan Lynch for most of the night.

Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter to help seal the win. He said he'll forgo his senior season and join the NFL this year.

The 13th-ranked Seminoles won a bowl game for the fifth season in a row, but the stakes were higher this time. It was their first BCS bowl berth in seven years.

``It's not the national championship, but right below,'' Werner said. ``Not a lot of teams can say that.''

The 12-victory season was the first since 1999 for the Seminoles, the Atlantic Coast Conference champions.

``Florida State is almost back,'' safety Lamarcus Joyner said.

For 16th-ranked Northern Illinois (12-2), playing in a BCS bowl for the first time, the defeat snapped a 12-game winning streak. The Huskies came in as two-touchdown underdogs and fell to 5-28 against top 25 teams.

``We knew that they were going to play us tough,'' Fisher said. ``But our kids, it's another step in which we handled the big platform, and I'm very proud of them.''

Pryor scored the first touchdown on a career-long 60-yard run, then ran 37 yards for a clinching touchdown with 10 minutes left. They were the two longest rushes allowed by Northern Illinois all season.

Manuel went 26 for 38, threw for one score and ran for another. Florida State totaled 534 yards and broke the school record for yards in a season with 6,591.

The Huskies were widely derided as unworthy of a BCS bowl berth, and didn't do enough to silence the doubters. Trick plays in the kicking game helped keep them close until the fourth quarter, but when it came to Lynch, not much fooled a Florida State defense ranked second in the nation.

``Definitely the best defense we played all year,'' Lynch said. ``They were always in the right spot at the right time, it seemed like. They were hungry out there.''

Lynch came into the game leading the nation in rushing and total offense, and he threw or ran on nearly every play for the Huskies. But he completed only 15 of 41 attempts for 176 yards, and carried 23 times for 44 yards.

The junior became the first player in NCAA history to surpass 3,000 yards passing and 1,500 rushing in a season.

After the Huskies' lone touchdown cut their deficit to 17-10 in the third quarter, they recovered an onside kick, and Lynch moved them to the Florida State 23. But he was flushed from the pocket on third down and threw an ill-advised pass that Terrence Brooks intercepted.

``It probably wasn't the smartest thing to force the ball there,'' Lynch said.

The loss came in Rod Carey's debut as the Huskies' coach. He was promoted to replace Dave Doeren, who took the North Carolina State job after the regular season.

``I'm upset,'' Carey said. ``Florida State is a well-oiled machine. They beat us, no doubt. That doesn't change the fact I don't like to lose.''

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Landon Collins: 'You never know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're getting'

Landon Collins: 'You never know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're getting'

Kirk Cousins started 57 games during six seasons with the Redskins and, well, um, it's hard to come up with one word to describe his time in Washington. 

There were certainly highs, none higher than the hot streak Cousins went on late in 2015 to capture an NFC East title. The Redskins closed that season on a four-game win streak where Cousins threw 12 touchdowns against just one interception. 

There were also lows. In Week 17 of 2016, the Redskins needed a win in the season finale to get in the playoffs while the Giants had already clinched the NFC East title. The Redskins had everything to play for, the Giants ended up resting a number of their starters. Still, the Redskins lost, and Cousins threw a dagger interception late in the game to seal their fate. For the game, Cousins finished with 287 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but the pick to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the season killer. 

The point here is not to drag Cousins. He was the most durable and most stable quarterback the Redskins have had in decades. He never got hurt, and while he turned the ball over, he could deliver downfield strikes and run the team's offense at all times. 

The point here is to say Cousins is not always the most consistent QB, and that's backed up by Redskins safety Landon Collins.

"Like I was with the Giants, you never know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're getting. Right now they're getting Pro Bowl Kirk Cousins over there," Collins said on Monday.

Collins faced Cousins plenty of times when the safety played for the Giants, and New York found plenty of success against the quarterback. In nine career games against the Giants, all as QB of the Redskins, Cousins threw 12 interceptions. 

So when Collins talks about slowing Cousins down, it's not from a hypothetical place. 

"Pressure. Pressure. When I was with the Giants, I know we put a lot of pressure on him, put a lot of guys in his face, a lot of blitzes, lot of different systematic fronts and stuff like that, disguises," the Redskins safety said. 

Cousins will come into Thursday's game against the Redskins on fire. He's thrown 10 TDs against just one INT in the Vikings last three games, all wins. In Detroit on Sunday, Cousins went for more than 300 yards passing with four touchdowns and wasn't sacked once. 

"Right now he's playing like a Pro Bowl Kirk Cousins," Collins said. "We would say at the Giants, 'You don't know what kind of Kirk Cousins you're going to get.' Right now they're getting Pro Bowl Kirk Cousins, and he's playing at a high level right now."

At 1-6 the Redskins defense doesn't scare anybody. The team has had some success upfront, however, causing pressures and getting to passers. Washington has 16 sacks on the season and the front five has gotten things going after a very slow start.  

Cousins isn't unique. Pressure causes turnovers for defenses. Players on both side of the football know that, and that's what Collins want to see in Minnesota against Cousins.

"That's the biggest game plan: try to force him into mistakes. Right now he's playing at a high level, so it's going to be hard. He's playing against a lot of good teams and he's been going against a good defense. That's probably made his skill level and his play much better."

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10.21.19 Rick Horrow interviews Abby Warner

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USA TODAY Sports

10.21.19 Rick Horrow interviews Abby Warner

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick interviews Indy Women in Tech Summit Co-Chair Abby Warner and shares the biggest sports business stories of the past week.



LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE HERE

1. Top cyber protection software provider Acronis is leading the way in data protection for the modern enterprise. Sports partners include Boston Red Sox, NIO Formula E, Arsenal FC, ROKiT Williams Racing, SportPesa Formula 1, Manchester City FC, and more. Trusted by the world’s leading sports teams across the world, Acronis ensures they have the latest technology backing up, storing, and protecting their valuable data. “This event will bring to life the vision… that we’ve been building across all facets of our business during the last five years,” Serguei Beloussov Acronis Founder and CEO said in advance of last week's inaugural Acronis Global Cyber Summit. The summit welcomed over 600 IT professionals to hear from world-renowned experts and business leaders shaping the future of cyber protection, including Herjavec Group CEO Robert Herjavec, Security Analyst and Researcher at Tel Aviv University Keren Elazari, and American former FBI counter-terrorism and counterintelligence operative Eric O’Neill, along with Acronis founder and CEO, Serguei Beloussov.

2. ISC exec Grant Lynch drives into sunset. Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000 Bulbs 500 at Talladega Superspeedway marked the final race of Rick’s friend longtime track Chairman Grant Lynch’s tenure, and ISC put out a video thanking him for the 26-year run. Lynch joined the track in January 1993, and over the years he has become one of NASCAR’s most well-known and respected track executives, influential behind the scenes and constantly doing media appearances. Lynch is retiring after this year and is set to be replaced by Talladega’s vice president of marketing and sales Brian Crichton. Daytona International Speedway, the flagship track of Talladega’s parent company, ISC, released a montage Sunday morning with several senior executives sharing their memories and thanking Lynch, including NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, ISC President John Saunders, and Chief Innovation and Development Office Craig Neeb. Alas, we won’t know the outcome of Sunday’s playoff race until Monday, as rain delayed the race’s conclusion. Talladega also unveiled their new $50 million infield renovation this past weekend – which will serve as a lasting legacy to Lynch.

3. Merging Vets and Players (MVP) charity teams up with the Atlanta Falcons to reduce military and veteran suicides. According to KOAM News, the MVP charity aims to bring together combat veterans and retired professional athletes to help them adjust to life outside their professions. The organization has set up chapters in four major U.S. cities, and the Atlanta branch is working closely with the Atlanta Falcons. MVP was founded by FOX’s NFL insider, Jay Glazer, and Nate Boyer, U.S. Army Green Beret Veteran and former NFL athlete who played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. After recently running some physical activities as a group, MVP coaches run “The Huddle” – a 1:15 long support group where participants are coached to be proud of their scars. Some of MVP’s ambassadors include former NFL players Michael Strahan, Olin Kreutz, and Chris Long, who have struggled with retirement. By crossing the interactions between NFL and combat veterans, both ex-players and veterans can help express their emotions and struggles in a positive way.