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No. 24 Northern Illinois aiming for school record

No. 24 Northern Illinois aiming for school record

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) Northern Illinois' ticket to the Mid-American Conference title game already has already been punched.

The 24th-ranked Huskies still aren't planning to take Friday's regular-season finale easy.

Northern Illinois (10-1, 7-0 MAC) can set a new school record with its 11th straight win and tie the program's single-season victory total by beating Eastern Michigan (2-9, 1-6) on the road.

Coach Dave Doeren, who's taken the Huskies to the MAC championship game in each of his two seasons, said his team has even greater goals.

``I heard only two programs have won 10-plus games the last three seasons: us and Oregon,'' he said. ``If we can continue, obviously getting to 11, 12 and the magic number 13, it would be a magical season for us.''

Junior quarterback Jordan Lynch has rushed for at least 100 yards in nine straight starts and became the first QB in Football Bowl Subdivision history to pass for 400 yards and rush for 100 in last week's 31-24 win over Toledo that clinched the division title.

Lynch has thrown for 2,582 yards and 22 touchdowns and has amassed 1,504 and 16 with his feet. His coach didn't seem to mind the athletic department's efforts to get him national attention.

``There's been a lot of great quarterbacks that have played since the invention of the spread and I think he's shown he's more than just a runner,'' Doeren said.

But chances are Lynch will get plenty of chances to run Friday. Eastern Michigan has struggled against the run this season and allows almost 270 yards per game.

Last year, the visiting Eagles gave Northern Illinois a fight before falling 18-12.

Eastern Michigan coach Ron English, though, said the experience won't help much.

``We have a completely different team,'' he said. ``We found ourselves young again in a lot of areas. We have to play our very best game to have a chance to be competitive with those guys.''

Graduation losses hurt the defense, but Eastern Michigan has shown some explosiveness on the other side of the ball, especially at home. The Eagles have scored at least 31 points in each of their last three games in Ypsilanti, including a 48-38 win over Army on Oct. 20.

English can send passer Tyler Benz or dual-threat Alex Gillett under center, but either quarterback will have his hands full against a stingy Huskies defense that has allowed less than four yards per carry while picking off a dozen passes.

Northern Illinois left tackle Tyler Loos will miss the rest of the season after breaking his leg against Toledo. He'll be replaced by Ryan Brown, who had been rotating along the offensive line.

This will be the first time a ranked opponent has played at Rynearson Stadium. The Eagles, who won their first conference game of the year last week at Western Michigan, are 0-7 all-time against Top 25 teams, including a loss earlier this season at then-No. 20 Michigan State.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler