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TCU, Michigan State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

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TCU, Michigan State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) There might not be anything wild going on at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Well, at least not on offense.

In its first season with a new name, the bowl could have a decidedly defensive feel when TCU and Michigan State meet at Sun Devil Stadium on Dec. 29.

``Both teams have outstanding defenses,'' Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. ``But you never know how games are going to play out.''

Oklahoma and Iowa were locked in a defensive struggle in last year's game, then known as the Insight Bowl, before the Sooners pulled away for a 31-14 victory.

This one could be even lower-scoring.

Playing the nation's fifth-toughest schedule, Michigan State (6-6) finished the regular season fourth in total defense, allowing 273.2 yards per game. The Spartans finished 10th in scoring defense, giving up 16.3 points per game.

TCU (7-5) was 18th nationally in total defense, allowing 332 yards per game, and held six of its 12 opponents to season-low scoring while giving up 23.8 points per game.

It has to keep up in the bowl game, right? Well, not everyone agrees on that.

``I've always said be careful what you wish for, what you talk about, because it usually changes when you give two teams a month to prepare for a ballgame,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said. ``They said when I played in the Rose Bowl it was going to be a scoring fest. It ended up 21-19. For us, we want to find a way to win the ballgame.''

TCU had an up-and-down first season in the Big 12.

Playing more true freshmen (16) than seniors (11), the Horned Frogs won their first four games, then lost three of four, including a 56-53 shootout in triple overtime to Texas Tech.

TCU bounced back to beat West Virginia in double overtime in another wild game to become bowl eligible, then picked up another big win by beating Texas in Austin on Nov. 24 before closing out the season with a 24-17 loss to Oklahoma.

TCU finished 4-5 in the Big 12 but is headed to a bowl for the eighth straight season. That's not half bad considering the Frogs had to use freshman Trevone Boykin at quarterback after Casey Pachall left the school to enter an inpatient rehabilitation facility in early October.

``Obviously, (Boykin) got us back to a bowl game, which was something that was a concern from the beginning anytime you make that kind of change,'' Patterson said.

The Spartans also got off to a solid start. Their only loss in their first four games was to Notre Dame, which will play in the national championship on Jan. 7.

Michigan State went up and down after that, losing five of its final eight games.

The problem for the Spartans was pulling out close games. Their five losses in the Big Ten were by a combined 13 points, leaving them precariously close to missing out on the postseason.

Needing a win in its final game, Michigan State pulled it out, powering past Minnesota for a 26-10 win Nov. 24 to earn its eighth bowl appearance since 2001.

``The main thing when you look at our football team, we've got to finish, there's no question about that,'' Dantonio said. ``But we can play. The margin of victory has been very, very narrow for either party, whether you're playing us or we're playing you.''

They could be in for another one in the desert against TCU.

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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