Capitals

Te'o: Getting past award season was 'easy'

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Te'o: Getting past award season was 'easy'

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o found it ``easy'' to get past college football's award season and get focused on the BCS championship against Alabama.

No. 1 Notre Dame will play the second-ranked Crimson Tide on Monday night for the national title. On Thursday morning, Alabama's stars on offense and Notre Dame's defensive leaders spoke to reporters.

Te'o was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and won a bevy of other awards in mid-December, requiring him to travel around the country to various dinners and ceremonies. But Te'o said once he got back to his teammates, he was in his comfort zone.

In other words, football became about football again.

``When you're in the middle of football, nothing else matters,'' Te'o said.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco says that Te'o has worked harder in the last week of practice than he has all season.

``He, himself, has raised his game,'' Diaco said.

The Irish were headed to the practice field in South Florida for the first time Thursday afternoon, and coach Brian Kelly said he expected it to be a somewhat physical workout - which would indicate that it would be the last real tough session before the title game. Teams typically begin to taper their practices in the days before a game, particularly one of this magnitude.

Many players said being in South Florida made the championship game finally seem real.

``It has been a very anxious feeling, I would say,'' Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond said. ``Ever since the USC game and to finally be announced that we would be in this game, it has been an exciting time.''

One of the concerns for the Irish in the final few days will be hydration. Temperatures were reaching the low 80s in South Florida on Thursday, about 55 degrees or so warmer than on Notre Dame's campus in South Bend, Ind.

The Irish have been practicing inside at home, which Kelly said would help the acclimation process to the heat and humidity of the Miami area.

``It's definitely important to adjust,'' Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore said.

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Alex Ovechkin scored the goal that sent the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final

Alex Ovechkin scored the goal that sent the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final

On June 4, 1998, Joe Juneau scored the biggest goal in the history of the Washington Capitals.

In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, Juneau attacked the crease and shot in a rebound past a helpless Dominik Hasek in overtime to defeat the Buffalo Sabres and win the Eastern Conference.

That goal sent the Capitals to its first and, before 2018, only Stanley Cup Final.

Alex Ovechkin’s name was already etched in the history books for the Capitals several times over, but on Wednesday he added it again with the biggest goal of his career. His goal in Game 7 stood as the game-winner meaning it was the goal that sent the Capitals to their second Cup Final.

You can watch it here:

It did not come in overtime and was not quite as dramatic as Juneau’s. In fact, no one knew the significance of the goal at the time. It came just 62 seconds into the contest. It was a significant goal, but no one realized right away that it would be an historic one.

How fitting is it that Ovechkin scored the game-winner? Ovechkin who this team was built around, who reignited the franchise and built Washington into a hockey city. After all the criticism over the years, all the talk about how he can’t win, all talk about how the team should take away the C and all the talk about how the Caps should trade him and start over, this goal was not just a moment of history, but one of vindication.

When we look back on Ovechkin’s career, at all the individual awards and accomplishments, this one single goal will stand above the rest. This was the biggest game of his career and he scored the biggest goal of his career just 62 seconds in.

There’s one way he can top that: lead the Caps past Vegas for their first Stanley Cup.

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5.24.18: Rick Horrow talks with Andy Bush, EVP Global Events Octagon Worldwide

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USA TODAY Sports

5.24.18: Rick Horrow talks with Andy Bush, EVP Global Events Octagon Worldwide

Sports professor Rick Horrow talks with Andy Bush, EVP Global Events at Octagon Worldwide and wraps around the world of sports business for this week.

By Rick Horrow

Podcast Editor: Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE.