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Oklahoma State out to end K-State's perfect season

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Oklahoma State out to end K-State's perfect season

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Oklahoma State remembers how it felt to be knocked from the BCS title hunt late in a season.

It happened to the Cowboys just late year.

They were ranked No. 2 in the country when they visited Iowa State in mid-November, and two overtimes later they headed home with a 37-31 loss that eventually relegated Oklahoma State to the Fiesta Bowl - rather than playing for a national championship.

On Saturday, the Cowboys will try to ruin No. 3 Kansas State's pursuit of perfection.

``We're thinking about practice this afternoon, meetings and practice,'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said earlier this week. ``I say that in all sincerity, and we try to take care of that in terms of our preparation for Oklahoma State. If there's anything else on my mind, or our coaches' minds, or our players' minds, then we're setting ourselves up, and I hope we won't do that.''

So were the Cowboys setting themselves up for failure last year?

They rolled into Ames, Iowa, with 10 straight wins to start the season, and faced an unranked Cyclones team the week before the annual Bedlam game against rival Oklahoma.

It's proven to be a cautionary tale for Kansas State about refusing to look ahead.

``It's tough not to knowing you're so close but, man, you just have to focus in on next week, focus in on next game,'' Wildcats wide receiver Chris Harper said. ``You can't look ahead. It's really hard not to look ahead, but the position that we're in, you can't do it.''

The Wildcats (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) enter the weekend second in the BCS standings, which are used to determine the two teams that will play for the national championship Jan. 7 in Miami.

They trail only top-ranked Alabama, which plays No. 5 LSU on Saturday, but has unbeaten teams in Oregon and Notre Dame nipping at their heels. Just about every prognosticator has crunched the numbers, and nobody is quite sure whether the Wildcats will remain No. 2 if everyone wins out.

That makes winning in style a priority, even if Snyder doesn't subscribe to that idea.

``I don't even know what a style point is,'' he said. ``I don't have an attitude toward it. I just think you prepare and go out and play as well as you can.''

Otherwise, the Wildcats could experience the same fate as Oklahoma State last season.

The Cowboys (5-2, 3-1) certainly aren't going to be intimidated going into Manhattan, Kan., where another sellout crowd is expected.

After dropping two of their first four games, including a lopsided loss at Arizona, Oklahoma State has rattled off three straight wins to get back in the conference title hunt.

If they managed to beat Kansas State, the Cowboys will pull into a tie for first place.

``Two or three weeks ago, I don't know that very many people thought we would be sitting here where we are now, going into Kansas State,'' Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. ``I think people thought that we'd probably lose one of these last couple of games. But our players have continued to buy in and we've been able to get 11 guys to go out there and play and manufacture enough on offense and improve on defense and the guys have played hard. That's really all we can ask.''

Gundy will have Wes Lunt will be back under center for the second straight week.

The talented freshman threw for 324 yards and a touchdown in last week's victory over TCU, his first game since sustaining a knee injury Sept. 15 against Louisiana-Lafayette. Lunt beat out J.W. Walsh, who suffered his own season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, during fall camp.

``He played really well, even more so because of the situation,'' Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. ``If it was an experienced guy like Brandon Weeden, you wouldn't compare it to that. You would probably say it was average, but for a guy who hadn't played much or practiced much, I thought he bounced back pretty well.''

Of course, the Wildcats have a talented quarterback of their own.

Collin Klein has emerged as the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy after outplaying West Virginia's Geno Smith and Texas Tech's Seth Doege the past two weeks.

Klein has already thrown for 1,630 yards with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and has added another 634 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. Even more astonishing, the senior is 19-4 as the starting quarterback at Kansas State.

``I don't know how you simulate him in practice. We don't have anyone that looks like him, throws like him or runs like him,'' Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young said.

``I don't know if you can really stop him. You just try to contain him as best as you can.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

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NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million. 

Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL. 

Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic. 

Tweet of the week

Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick. 

In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and  Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline. 

Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet. 

Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to. 

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76

The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days. 

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