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Pac-12 has 8 teams eligible for bowls

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Pac-12 has 8 teams eligible for bowls

PHOENIX (AP) Just two years ago, the Pac-12 didn't come close to filling its bowl allotment, sending four teams to the postseason.

Two of those teams went to BCS bowls - Oregon played for the national championship and Stanford played in the Orange - but it wasn't what the conference was hoping for, even as a 10-team conference.

In its first season as the Pac-12, the conference bounced back, sending seven teams to bowl games a year ago.

It's even better this season: eight bowl-eligible teams, two possibly to BCS games, an outside shot at the national title game.

After a season of teams beating up on each other and some surprising upsets, the Pac-12 has re-emerged as a powerhouse conference.

``It's just indicative that this conference is really good and really competitive, and I think has done pretty well on a national scope,'' Oregon State coach Mike Riley said Tuesday.

There's still a lot to be decided in the final two weeks.

No. 15 UCLA has the South Division's spot in the Nov. 30 Pac-12 championship game wrapped up, but can have an impact on who wins the North in the final weekend of the regular season.

The Bruins, who have a two-game lead over Southern California after beating their SoCal rivals last week, host No. 11 Stanford, which shook up the BCS standings by knocking off then-top-ranked Oregon last weekend.

If the Cardinal beat UCLA, they will win the North and face the Bruins again the next week in the Pac-12 title game. If UCLA wins and No. 5 Oregon beats No. 16 Oregon State in the Civil War on Saturday in Corvallis, the Ducks will play the Bruins in the championship game.

What may be the best scenario from a conference standpoint would be if Stanford and Oregon both win.

If the Cardinal beat the Bruins on Saturday, it won't matter who wins the Pac-12 title game the next week since the champion has a slot in the Rose Bowl already waiting. If Oregon beats Oregon State, the Ducks are almost certain to get an at-large bid to a BCS bowl, most likely the Fiesta.

Oregon still has an outside shot at the national championship game, but, at No. 5 in the BCS standings, would need some help from the teams ahead to play in Miami on Jan. 7.

``The only thing that matters is winning on Saturday,'' Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. ``You can run through 27,000 scenarios, but if we don't win Saturday, none of them come true.''

The Pac-12 has plenty of postseason options.

Arizona has had a successful first season under coach Rich Rodriguez, fighting a thin roster with an explosive offense to win seven games.

Up Interstate 10 in Tempe, Todd Graham also has Arizona State bowl eligible in his first season as coach, clinching the six-win mark last week by rolling over Washington State in the final home game for the Sun Devils' seniors.

The desert rivals face each other on Friday in their annual rivalry with bragging rights and positioning for a bigger bowl on the line.

Riley's Beavers shook off consecutive losing seasons and dire predictions for this one to win eight games so far and become bowl eligible.

Washington corrected its problems during a three-game losing streak midway through the season to become bowl eligible for the third straight season.

USC didn't live up to its national-title expectations, losing four games, but will still head to a bowl in the first season after its two-year bowl ban was lifted.

Utah is facing some long odds to make it nine Pac-12 teams in the postseason.

The Utes are 4-7 heading into their season finale against Colorado, which in most years would knock them out of the bowl picture.

But if there aren't enough eligible teams to fill the 35 bowls, teams with the highest APRs will be placed in a group for bowls with open slots to negotiate with. Utah has an APR of 33 and, with a win over the Buffs, could be in the running for a bowl with schools like Rice, Wake Forest and Missouri.

Don't beat Colorado and it won't matter, sending Utah to its first four-win season since 2000.

``I've told this team many times you shouldn't need a carrot out in front of you to play hard,'' Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. ``It should be just for the respect of the game and the competitive fire that is within. That should be enough.''

Even if the Utes don't squeak in, it's been a good year for the Pac-12.

What was supposed to be a runaway to the title game by Oregon and Southern California turned into one of the most competitive seasons in recent years for the conference.

It started with Stanford upending USC's national-title hopes in the conference opener and the standings changed seemingly every week, capped by the Cardinal's overtime win over Oregon last Saturday night.

Once the dust settles, the Pac-12 will have teams playing throughout December, maybe even a couple in January.

``We kind of predicted it coming in, you could see it happening: this is the most competitive this league has been ever, I think,'' Riley said. ``It's very exciting for the fans, but very hard on the coaches.''

And good for the conference.

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Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bolstered their forward depth and its penalty kill by re-signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin before he hit unrestricted free agency next month. 

Washington has officially re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract extension, a move that goes a long way toward re-establishing a third line that had some openings entering the offseason. 

Hagelin, 30, was a pending unrestricted free agent. Washington acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 just four days before the NHL trade deadline. Hagelin played primarily on the third line – although injuries in the Stanley Cup playoffs pushed him onto the second line. 

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Hagelin had three goals and 11 assists in 20 regular-season games with the Capitals and became an instant staple on the penalty kill. His 47 minutes, six seconds on the PK in those 20 games were enough to rank sixth among all forwards on the team.

Traded twice last season, Hagelin had a total of five goals and 14 assists with the Capitals, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins in 58 games. He had a sprained knee (medial collateral ligament) with Los Angeles that kept him out for 20 games.  

"[Hagelin] was a good fit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on April 26. “I thought he fit seamlessly from day one. Really liked him on the third line, the way we used him, we bumped him up obviously with the [T.J.] Oshie injury. Our PK got a lot better. Fits in well with his teammates. It's a really good fit for us, yes." 

The Penguins traded Hagelin to the Kings on Nov. 14. He was a key part of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017, which came at the expense of Washington in the playoffs each time. 

This was the last year of a four-year, $16 million deal that Hagelin signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. He was always viewed as a likely trade chip for Los Angeles, which finished in last place in the Pacific Division and eventually flipped him to the Capitals. 

Even after the disappointing first-round Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hagelin said he was open to re-signing with the Capitals before he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. His signing follows the trade of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday. The NHL Draft is this coming weekend in Vancouver with more moves expected.   

“I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches,” Hagelin said on April 26 of his time with the Capitals. “I got to play with good players, I got to play in key situations. I felt comfortable here.”

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Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

The Orioles helped make one family's Father's Day a day that they will never forget. 

Specialist Addam Bostwick from Fort George G. Meade United States Army installation surprised his father, former Marine Stephen Bostwick, with a special ceremonial first pitch Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Stephen, who is a four-year veteran of the US Marine Corps, was expecting an Orioles player to catch the first pitch, was shocked to see Addam, who had been deployed in Afghanistan for four months, surprised his father.

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