In a surprise ruling today, New York Knicks Jeremy Lin, who emerged as a valuable cog in their franchise last season, secured Bird and early Bird rights in a hearing between the NBA Players’ Association and the league.The decision was made by arbitrator Kenneth Dam, who affirmed that players claimed off waivers are able to retain their valuable Bird and early Bird rights when they become free agents. Other affected by the ruling are the Knicks’ Steve Novak, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chauncy Bilups and the Portland Trail Blazers’ J.J. Hickson.The NBA said it would appeal the ruling.All four players were waived this season and claimed by other teams. They will become free agents July 1.In addition, future players claimed off waivers will likewise benefit from Friday’s ruling.Lin and Novak wll enter the 2012-13 free agency period with early Bird rights, meaning that they can be re-signed for 175 percent of their salary the previous season or the NBA average salary, whichever is greater.Billups and Hickson will have Bird rights, meaning they can be re-signed up to the maximum salary.“Bird and early Bird rights are the lynchpin of our Soft Cap system, and we’re pleased that Professor Dam recognized that a player does not forfeit these important rights unless he makes an affirmative decision to sign with a new team as a free agent,” NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said in a statement released by the players’ union. “Players fought hard for a Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows maximum flexibility for free-agent players while also permitting teams to retain their core free agents, and today’s decision affirms both of these important principles.”The ruling is especially huge for the Knicks. They can now retain Lin, Novak and Landry Fields at up to $5 million each and then sign an additional player at $3 million or less with their mid-level exception. The Knicks will likely be in the market for a seasoned veteran point guard. The ruling is one step toward creating enough space to go after a player such Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Andre Miller or Raymond Felton.The Knicks could also retain J.R. Smith if he accepts his player option of $2.5 million. He has until June 26 to decide if he wants to opt in or out. Beyond that, the Knicks will only have veteran’s minimum contracts of $1.4 million to spend to fill out the rest of their roster.
Today, we launched our college football predictions for the 2017 season, and there weren’t too many surprises at the top: Alabama and Clemson are the leading favorites to make the four-team College Football Playoff (so what else is new?), followed by Oklahoma and Washington, three Big Ten teams1Wisconsin, Penn State and, yes, one-loss Ohio State. and Georgia. What’s perhaps most notable at this stage of the season is that even the undefeated front-runners still have relatively low chances of being picked by the committee at season’s end. How the undefeateds stack upFiveThirtyEight college football forecast for undefeated teams, 2017 MiamiACC411 MichiganBig Ten26 Ohio StateBig Ten212486 GeorgiaSEC725 Penn StateBig Ten1122 WashingtonPac-122040 AuburnSEC5%11%97% TEAMCONFERENCECHANCE OF WINNING OUTCURRENTIF TEAM WINS OUT Among one-loss teams with the 10 best chances of making the playoff listed on the FiveThirtyEight college football predictions interactive graphic OklahomaBig 121945 CHANCE OF … TCUBig 12617 USCPac-1271189 UtahPac-12<1<1 Notre DameInd.9328 NC StateACC2386 Wash. St.Pac-1226 CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFF Includes undefeated teams in Power Five conferences AlabamaSEC38%66% FloridaSEC1292 OregonPac-123386 Kansas St.Big 12<1189 ClemsonACC2855 Winning fixes everything, unless you’re Notre DameChance that a given one-loss team will make the College Football Playoff if it wins all remaining games Alabama (5-0) has a 66 percent chance of making the playoff, and that’s easily the nation’s best; Clemson (5-0) is second, at 55 percent. That means there’s a 64 percent chance that at least one of the last two champs won’t be in the playoff (including a 15 percent neither will be present). And the odds quickly fall off even further from there — Washington (5-0) rounds out the top four with just a 40 percent shot at the playoff.In other words, there’s still so much we don’t know yet about how this season will play out.And in a way, that can work in the undefeated teams’ favor. Most of them have a much higher probability of making the CFP than of winning out, so there are plenty of plausible paths that involve them weathering a loss and still ending up playing for the championship.But it also means there’s plenty of hope to go around, whether a team is undefeated or not. A dozen teams currently have double-digit CFP probabilities, and 25 have at least a 1 percent chance of making the playoff. Furthermore, almost all of the top 20 teams in our projection are pretty likely to make the playoff if they win all of their remaining games. The only clear exception here is Notre Dame (4-1), which already needs some helpful losses from the teams above them. The problem for the Irish is that — unlike most of the one-loss contenders — winning out doesn’t disrupt too many other contending teams’ playoff trajectories. If Ohio State wins the rest of its games, it’ll be dealing losses to Penn State (No. 4 in the AP top 25 poll), Michigan (No. 7) and possibly Wisconsin (No. 9) in the Big Ten championship game, whereas Notre Dame’s best remaining opponents are outside the top 10. Plus, the Irish don’t have a conference championship to pad its résumé at season’s end. (Hey, maybe it’s time to join a conference, guys?)Mostly, the uncertainty in our probabilities is a function of how early we are in the college football calendar: Not even halfway into the season, there are still enough games left that most contenders control their own destinies. Most one-loss teams can probably play their way into serious CFP contention if they run the table: Okla. StateBig 126779 Virginia TechACC3371 WisconsinBig Ten1326 TEAMCONFWINNING OUTMAKING PLAYOFF And even some two-loss teams could get in by winning out. For example, Stanford (3-2) has a 62 percent chance of making the playoff if it goes without another loss. (These kinds of numbers are contingent on who a team would beat in those universes — in the Cardinal’s case, that’s most notably Washington.)So take heart, fans, even if your team isn’t at the top of our rankings right now. A lot of schools have a lot of ways to win the national championship. And each week in this space, we’ll pick out one of those teams and explore all the things that have to happen around the country for our model to think it has a shot to make the cut.
“After a goal is scored, the result is transmitted to a server in Malta and shows up on a screen, before people in the stadium even jump up and scream.” By Jody Avirgan Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed If you’re a fan of What’s The Point, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, and please leave a rating/review — that helps spread the word to other listeners. And be sure to check out our sports show Hot Takedown as well. Have something to say about this episode, or have an idea for a future show? Get in touch by email, on Twitter, or in the comments.What’s The Point’s music was composed by Hrishikesh Hirway, host of the “Song Exploder” podcast. Download our theme music. Read more: “Inside the Shadowy World of High-Speed Tennis Betting” As you’re watching the Super Bowl this weekend, keep in mind that behind the scenes, loads of data — and money — is shifting with each and every play. And as real-time data plays a bigger and bigger role in big-time sports, there are more opportunities for corruption.On this week’s episode of our podcast What’s The Point, James Glanz of The New York Times discusses his reporting on high-speed data in sports, as well as his investigations into daily fantasy sports. To listen, stream or download the full episode above, or subscribe using your favorite podcast app.Glanz also reveals that over the course of his reporting, he uncovered that the government routinely finds the names of active professional athletes when it takes down gambling rings. Video and a transcript of that part of the conversation are below.Are pro athletes gambling?Jody Avirgan: In the last couple years, you hear NFL players talk more explicitly about the fact that they know people have them in fantasy sports and their performance is linked to this proxy game or gambling that’s happening. Does it worry you that players are aware of all this other stuff that’s happening around them?James Glanz: Yeah. Yeah, it does. In reporting this story, integrity monitors are some of the people I spoke with — we didn’t do a lot about that — but what I hear from them is that unfortunately, even when [sports leagues] are working privately with integrity monitors, it’s not in any of the sports’ interest to really publicize the cases that they actually find. For example, here’s something I’ll give you that we didn’t put into the series.Avirgan: Are you about to out a player?Glanz: I’m not going to out a player, but in the United States betting organizations get taken down, prosecuted — sometimes severely if they’re convicted of money laundering and things like that, which is the usual charge — but prosecutors do not go after individual bettors, but they often know who they are. And in ring after ring, in this country, active players are constantly caught up in these dragnets that become criminal prosecutions, but because the players are generally just betting, they’re never named.What exactly is data?Avirgan: Over the course of all your reporting, did you land somewhere in terms of how our law should think of what the Internet is — or what data is?Glanz: I guess I’d turn it around. The Internet doesn’t rule the world. We’re in a nation of laws, and we have to actually change those laws if we want to operate under a different set of operating principles. The Internet calls some of that into question, but in some cases it just takes advantage of people’s ignorance about the way the whole system works — I’m talking about the digital system. So, if you’re running an illegal casino in Chelsea, you’re going to have to own up to it; that’s just the way it works.Avirgan: But you’re OK with the fact that it’s illegal in Chelsea, but it’s legal in Malta or some Caribbean island?Glanz: Well, I can’t really help what happens in Malta. I guess the way I’d put it is, that if you’re going to set up your casino in Chelsea, then put a sign out front. Because if what you’re doing is relying on law enforcement’s ignorance about the Internet, I can tell you, the house isn’t going to stand forever, because they’re going to figure that out — and they partly did from our series. That’s an inconvenient fact. Data is like all the rest of us, it exists in a physical place, and you have to take that into account. That’s just the way it is.Avirgan: What’s next in your reporting?Glanz: I’m not sure. I think that networking, and I’m talking about this in a very technical sense, is something that now weaves through all of our lives and affects almost every professional area in the United States as well as our personal lives and very few people understand. I’ve just started to get close to how complicated it is, but also how weirdly understandable it is. I’ll probably find another topic that kind of takes me through that world, and I’ll end up again in these places where you’re looking around and you think you’re in the belly of a submarine, but it’s really “the cloud.” I sort of like those places.
OSU redshirt sophomore Nathan Tomasello wrestles against University of Nebraska’s Tim Lambert during a match against University of Nebraska at St. John Arena on Jan. 17. OSU won 21-17. Credit: Muyao Shen | Asst. Photo EditorIt didn’t take long for redshirt sophomore Nathan Tomasello to set the tone for Ohio State in its dual-meet matchup against Michigan State.After scoring the first takedown of the night, the national champion in the 125-pound weight class last season never looked back, taking control of his match in every way imaginable.Tomasello would eventually win via technical fall over redshirt sophomore Mitch Rogaliner, 21-6.That win gave Tomasello 31 straight wins, dating back to last year.It was that kind of afternoon for the Scarlet and Gray.After beating Nebraska in a close dual-meet the week before, the Buckeyes were looking for a dominant performance against the Spartans.And a dominant performance was exactly what the team accomplished.The match took place at Walsh Jesuit High School, making it a homecoming for redshirt senior Johnni DiJulius.The team trip to the greater Cleveland area was something that OSU coach Tom Ryan had promised to DiJulius when he signed with the Buckeyes.Taking part in his first match at his former high school in nearly five years, DiJulius emerged victorious, winning 5-2.DiJulius is the active career wins leader at OSU, with Sunday giving him 109 total wins.The win by the Aurora, Ohio, native gave the Buckeyes an 8-0 advantage heading into the 141-pound weight class.The normal starter for OSU at this weight, redshirt freshman Micah Jordan, was scratched from the lineup and replaced by redshirt junior Stanley Hendrix.Hendrix lost via fall in the first period to redshirt sophomore Javier Gasca.The fall allowed Michigan State to inch closer, cutting the deficit to 8-6.It was the closest the Spartans would come to a lead.Redshirt senior Hunter Stieber returned after missing the previous match with the flu, and he looked like he hadn’t lost a step.The rejuvenated Stieber performed well, taking home a 14-5 victory at the 149-pound weight class.The win was the first on the season for Stieber, and it was a big step forward after offseason surgery.Coming off a thrilling overtime victory the previous week, Jake Ryan made sure there were no dramatics this week.The redshirt freshman took a 6-3 lead in the first on his way to a 10-6 win to extend the OSU team lead to 15-6.In the next weight class of 165, Buckeye fans were given a collective sigh of relief with the return of redshirt sophomore Bo Jordan.The All-American and runner-up from the Big Ten championships last year came back from a pulled muscle last week to score a fall with a minute left in the match and give OSU six more team points.Jordan is now 10-0 this season and maintains a firm hold on his No. 2 national rank.Up next for the Scarlet and Gray at 174 was freshman Myles Martin.Martin has earned an impressive record of for himself in his first year and picked up another win against redshirt freshman Shane Shadaia to bring his season tally to 21-3.With riding time, Martin won by a final tally of 19-4, giving the Buckeyes six individuals victories on the day at that point.With the team score in favor of OSU, 27-6, redshirt senior Kenny Courts took the mat against redshirt freshman Shwan Shadaia.Courts picked up an early lead with a takedown, and controlled throughout the match.After scoring a final takedown in the closing moments, Courts earned an impressive 10-3 victory.With the return of Kyle Snyder last week at heavyweight, Josh Fox got the start at 197.On Sunday, it was the same scenario for the redshirt junior.After being locked in a defensive battle throughout regulation, Fox ultimately dropped the bout in overtime to freshman Jacob Cooper of Michigan State.Cooper scored two points in overtime to put him over the top.With the dual-meet firmly in hand for the Buckeyes, the last match was an exclamation point on a statement victory for OSU.Redshirt junior Nick Tavanello got the start at heavyweight for the Scarlet and Gray against redshirt junior Dimitrus Renfroe of the Spartans.After a slow first period with limited scoring, Tavanello took over the match, earning a 13-1 major decision.The final major decision of the day by the Buckeyes gave the team a 33-9 win.Such a dominant outing should instill confidence back into the team, and could stand to propel it forward through the rest of Big Ten play.Big Ten conference meets are set to continue on Friday for the Scarlet and Gray, when the team travels to Bloomington, Indiana to face the Hoosiers.Indiana is currently 6-2 on the season, and 3-2 in the Big Ten.
From the opening kickoff Thursday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes proved they weren’t looking ahead to Miami (Fla.), easily disposing of Marshall, 45-7. A year after narrowly escaping Navy in a season-opening victory one week before a clash with USC, No. 2 OSU made easy work of the Thundering Herd. The Buckeyes and Hurricanes play Sept. 11 at Ohio Stadium. The Hurricanes weren’t looking past their opponent, either. They pounded Florida A&M 45-0 Thursday. “We have a tremendous challenge next weekend,” OSU coach Jim Tressel said. “If we’re willing to learn from this weekend and get rested and get healthy, then it could be a lot of fun.” In their first weeknight game since an Aug. 28, 1997, win against Wyoming, the Buckeyes notched their 11th consecutive season-opening victory by way of an early offensive explosion. OSU made it look effortless against an overmatched Marshall team that is installing a new offensive system under first-year coach Doc Holliday. “Marshall’s doing a transition away from the style of football they used to play,” Tressel said. “I’m not sure they were ready for our defense.” The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on three first-quarter possessions, none of which lasted more than 1 minute, 9 seconds, and took a 35-7 lead into halftime. Safety Nate Oliver recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and OSU marched down the field for a quick score. Junior quarterback and Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor connected with receiver DeVier Posey on a 6-yard touchdown just 1:18 into the contest. “We stress not to put the ball on the ground … it’s unacceptable,” Holliday said. “Any time you do that and you’re playing Ohio State, you don’t have a chance.” Pryor threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns – two to Posey – before sitting out most of the fourth quarter. “Terrelle Pryor is a handful,” Holliday said. “He does some things and you just can’t get him on the ground.” After forcing Marshall into a quick punt, the Buckeyes wasted little time scoring again. Running back Brandon Saine burst through a gaping hole for a gain of 40 yards, followed immediately by a 4-yard rush to the end zone to give OSU a 14-0 lead with 10:27 remaining in the first quarter. “When he hits that gear, he can go,” Tressel said. “He picked up a little crease and (Saine) was out of there.” The Buckeyes tacked on another touchdown with 3:49 left in the first half when Saine raced past the Marshall defense for a 45-yard score and a 28-7 lead. Saine finished with 103 yards on just nine carries. Linebacker Brian Rolle’s 30-yard interception return for a touchdown capped the first half scoring. “It was such an incredible feeling to be able to score,” Rolle said. “I just turned around and I was like, ‘wow, all I see is red.’” Not everything went smoothly for OSU, however. Special teams woes that plagued the Buckeyes in their Rose Bowl victory over Oregon popped up again in the first half. The Thundering Herd blocked a field goal attempt by freshman Drew Basil and returned it 61 yards for Marshall’s only score. “We just didn’t protect the gap on the field goal,” Tressel said. “We just flat out didn’t protect. That better get fixed in one week. As far as the kickoff coverage, we sure hope it does (improve).” Marshall’s Andre Booker also returned a kickoff 63 yards in the first quarter, but the Herd couldn’t take advantage of the field position. In last season’s opener, Navy nearly erased a 29-14 Buckeye lead in the fourth quarter. Rolle picked off a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game with two minutes left. In the fourth quarter Thursday, the game wasn’t in doubt. Second- and third-stringers saw time on the field, including backup quarterbacks Joe Bauserman and Kenny Guiton. “It was good that we got a number of guys in,” Tressel said. Marshall last defeated a ranked opponent on Sept. 20, 2003, when it knocked off No. 6 Kansas State 27-20. Its streak of eight consecutive losses against superior competition was never in jeopardy. “It’s going to be a more difficult world next week,” Tressel said. “We have a chance to evaluate ourselves and be ready for what we know is going to be a great challenge.” Next week’s meeting will be the first between the Buckeyes and Hurricanes since the national championship game on Jan. 3, 2003, that Ohio State won in double overtime, 31-24. “Now’s the time we have to get in that Miami mode,” Rolle said. “We know we’re going to play a fast, feisty, swagger team. You get the feeling like that team thinks they’re back on the map like they were in the early 2000s.”
After splitting a pair of games in Sweden to open the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets returned to Nationwide Arena Friday night, dropping their home opener to the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, 5-2. The Jackets receiving overwhelming cheers from a sellout crowd of 18,305 as they stepped onto the ice during pre-game festivities, but those cheers soon turned to boos as Columbus was dominated in every facet of the game. “That was a big, fat egg laid by us tonight,” said first-year Jackets’ coach Scott Arniel. “All 20 players had a tough night tonight. Give Chicago credit, they jumped on top of every mistake we made.” Chicago winger Patrick Sharp made the most of the Jackets’ mistakes, leading his team with two goals and a franchise-record 13 shots on goal. Down two goals after one period of play because of a pair of Chicago goals just over a minute apart in the middle of the period, the Blue Jackets were out-shot 19-11 and generally outmanned in the first stanza. Looking to right the ship in the second, the Jackets came out quick, cutting the lead in half with an R.J. Umberger short-handed goal just 1:11 into the period. After garnering a power play just minutes later, momentum seemed to be shifting in Columbus’ favor. However, after a blind pass from center Antoine Vermette led to a Jackets’ turnover, Sharp netted a short-handed goal of his own to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-1. “We were excited and fired up,” Umberger said. “They got a lead on us there and it looked like, at the start of the second period there, we were on the bench, we were hungry. When we got into it, it looked like we were going to make it a game and the short-handed goal was a little bit of a back breaker.” Two minutes later, Sharp was at it again. Following a Troy Brouwer shot being turned aside by Jackets’ goalie Steve Mason, Sharp put his rebound attempt into the back of the Columbus net to extend the Chicago lead to three. A chorus of boos filled the arena as the downtrodden Blue Jackets squad returned to the dressing room facing a large deficit. “I’ve been a fan before being in this position and I was watching the games before, so I know what the feeling is like,” Vermette said. “It’s a long season but the fact that it was tonight sucks.” Adding insult to injury, the Blackhawks pushed their lead to four with another goal just 15 seconds into the third period before the Jackets added a late Kristian Huselius goal to end the embarrassment at 5-2. “We should be a little bit embarrassed about the way things went here tonight,” said Blue Jackets’ defenseman Kris Russell. “We have a lot to prove as a team, especially the way we ended last year.” Looking to put their tough home opener behind them, Columbus headed to St. Paul, Minn. Saturday night for a Western Conference battle with the Minnesota Wild. Going behind early the previous night, the Jackets reversed the trend Saturday as they were able to draw first blood thanks to a Derek Dorsett rebound goal from the front of the crease. Led by solid play in net from Jackets’ goaltender Mathieu Garon, who stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced, Columbus would not trail the rest of the night. Earning two goals to Columbus’ one in the second period, the Jackets and Wild emerged from their respective changing rooms for the third period knotted at 2-2. But after providing one of the few bright spots for the Jackets the previous night, forward R.J. Umberger mustered his second short-handed goal in as many games to regain the lead 3-2 halfway through the final period. Following a lengthy review, the play was ultimately confirmed a goal and eventually proved to be the game-winner. With the 3-2 victory, the Jackets pushed their record to 2-2 on the year. “It was more how we wanted to play,” Arniel said of Saturday night’s win. “Just our compete level, just how we do it as 20 guys. That’s what it takes, you learn from your mistakes. We put our nose to the grindstone.” The Jackets return home Wednesday night to take on the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena.
Both have talented freshmen competing in their first NCAA Tournament. Both have grizzled veterans with March Madness experience. Both have coaches who have coached for a national championship. Ohio State’s and Kentucky’s jersey colors might be one of the few differences between the two teams when they square off in the Sweet 16 on Friday. “They’ve got great pieces … especially how they are playing (with) their size, their length, their athleticism,” OSU coach Thad Matta said of the Wildcats. “They’re a little bit like us — they can move the pieces around and play, in essence, a point guard and three wings and a big guy.” Kentucky coach John Calipari had similar things to say about the Buckeyes. “I’ve watched a ton of Ohio State tape. There are times I watch the tape and I go, ‘Oh my goodness,’” he told reporters Thursday, after his team’s open practice. “And, they are really talented. They play to their strengths. … They have got great strength; they have got size.” Both teams start three guards and two forwards and have a sixth man who averages at or near starter’s minutes. OSU freshman point guard Aaron Craft averages 29.4 minutes per game off the bench, while Kentucky freshman guard Doron Lamb averages 28.4 minutes from his seat on the pine. The Buckeyes and Wildcats also find offense from a number of players. Three Kentucky players have led the team in scoring over its past five games, while four OSU players have done so over the same stretch. Three Wildcats — Lamb, freshman forward Terrence Jones and freshman point guard Brandon Knight — have scored 30 or more points in a game this season. Knight, who scored his career-high 30 points in Kentucky’s third-round matchup against West Virginia, might be the most dangerous. “I think obviously Brandon Knight is a tremendous talent,” Matta said. “It looks like he has really grown into a tremendous basketball player. He can do a lot of different things out there.” Knight leads the Wildcats in per-game points, assists and turnovers, with 17.4, 4.2 and 3.1, respectively. The freshman has been inconsistent so far in the tournament, scoring just two points in Kentucky’s first game, against Princeton. Besides Knight, the Wildcats have senior forward Josh Harrellson to contend with OSU forward Jared Sullinger, Big Ten Freshman of the Year winner and Naismith Award finalist. The 6-foot-10, 275-pound Harrellson has averaged 15 points and nine rebounds per game in the tournament so far, slightly above Sullinger’s respective 14.5 and 8.5 averages. “Obviously he is a huge body,” Matta said. “I know he led the SEC in rebounds.” Rebounding has been a determining factor for the Wildcats, as they have been outrebounded in five of their eight losses this season. Kentucky averages 38 rebounds a game, four more than the Buckeyes. Because of the Wildcats’ fast-break style — they average 76 points per game — they often use their rebounding edge to run the floor. Matta said he thinks Kentucky’s offensive prowess might overshadow its defensive abilities. “I think that when you’ve got a high-powered offensive team, your defense always gets overlooked,” he said. “I really like their defense — their numbers are great, and they are playing really, really hard.” OSU guard David Lighty said he realizes there is not just one particular area of the Wildcats’ game that the Buckeyes can focus on. “To stop them, we have to try to take them out of their rhythm,” he said. “They like to get up and down and fast-break, and they have got the players to do it. With that athleticism and size, they probably like to disrupt things in the passing lane, so (we need to be) smart on the offensive end executing our game plan and just doing what the coaches tell us to do.” Friday’s coaching matchup might be the most intriguing of all. Though Matta has never coached against Kentucky in his career, he has matched up against Calipari. Matta’s Buckeyes defeated Calipari’s Memphis squad, 92-76, in the regional finals of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Having known Calipari for many years, Matta said he has great respect for his Kentucky counterpart. “I admire the job that he’s done,” Matta said. “X’s and O’s-wise, obviously, he is one of the best, in my mind.” Despite not having played Kentucky, the Buckeyes have played teams this season that resemble the Wildcats. “As I’ve looked at it, it’s a combination of teams,” Matta said. “I think Florida, with their size and athleticism, is one team; and Florida State, with their athleticism, I think would be another.” OSU beat Florida and Florida State by an average of 16 points during the regular season. Kentucky went 2-1 against the Gators this year and did not play the Seminoles. Despite his team’s success against teams that mirror the Wildcats, Sullinger said the Buckeyes are looking forward, not back. “Basically,” he said, “we’ve just got to play hard and play smart and let our veterans run the show on Friday.” The Buckeyes and Wildcats are scheduled to tip off at 9:45 p.m. Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Ohio State football’s Wednesday practice consisted of noise – lots and lots of noise. After all, the Buckeyes hit the road this Saturday in their first Big Ten and away contest of the season against No. 20 Michigan State. In anticipation of what will likely be raucous Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich., OSU coaches flooded the indoor practice field of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with simulated crowd noise. Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller said it was so loud he had trouble hearing during practice. “They put a whole bunch of stadium music on so it was loud,” Miller said. Miller wasn’t the only Buckeye affected. Redshirt senior wide receiver Jake Stoneburner said music and crowd noise was blaring inside all practice long. His ears, he said, were still ringing from the noise afterwards. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard a stadium that loud,” Stoneburner said. But for many OSU players like Miller and Stoneburner, it will be their first trip to Spartan Stadium as the Buckeyes’ last venture there ended in 45-7 victory in 2008. Buckeyes’ Big Ten opener Stoneburner said first-year coach Urban Meyer showed the team a highlight reel of things they did well after their game against UAB. “It was just our four scoring drives, just wanted to show how good our offense can be when we’re rolling downhill and everything’s clicking and he just wanted to make sure we started the Big Ten week on a good note, you know, not watching all the negatives, but watching all the positives,” he said. “You saw what he was saying, when our offense was clicking, it was almost scary how quickly we were able to go down and score and it made good sense why he wanted to do that.” Injury Update Meyer said a number of previously banged-up players would be seeing action on Saturday against the Spartans. Meyer said junior running back Carlos Hyde, who sprained his MCL in a Sept. 9 game against Central Florida, will see the field for the Buckeyes against MSU. Similarly, redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby, who sat out during last Saturday’s contest against the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a sore shoulder, will be lined up in his usual spot for OSU. There are some players, Meyer said, that are still questionable for the game against the Spartans. While defensive lineman Michael Bennett has been medically cleared and will make the trip with the team up to East Lansing, Meyer said the sophomore isn’t “up to speed” yet and isn’t sure if he’ll be used on Saturday. An appearance from junior safety C.J. Barnett, who didn’t suit up against UAB with an ankle sprain, is probable, Meyer said. All Grown Up Miller said while looking at film from last year, he noticed a distinct difference between himself then and now. “I looked at like a few clips from last year and I just looked at my body and I was like, 190 (pounds), I was skinny,” he said. “I’m just more developed into a quarterback.” Through four games, Miller, who is now listed as 220 pounds, is 60-98 for 754 yards and seven touchdowns in addition to rushing for 510 yards on 67 totes. In last season’s 10-7 loss against the Spartans, Miller struggled and was just 5 of 10 for 56 yards. “We had a couple of struggles, it was bad,” he said. “We got it together this year.”
Ohio State redshirt junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon (1) scores in the first half on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback J.T. Barrett. Ohio State won 54-21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe No. 10 Ohio State football team (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) took care of business Saturday, putting away UNLV (1-2) 54-21 in blowout fashion. Almost everything seemed to click for the Buckeyes in their victory. Here are a couple stats in Ohio State’s win that warrant a deeper look.41.6 – percentage of Barrett completions that went for touchdowns. Ohio State made it clear early it was going to try to fix the passing game against the Rebels. On the Buckeyes’ second offensive play of the day, quarterback J.T. Barrett found wide receiver Parris Campbell behind a bubble screen, and Campbell raced 69 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. The next drive, Ohio State again quickly turned to the pass, airing it out four straight times until Barrett found wide receiver Johnnie Dixon in the end zone for a touchdown. By the time Barrett was pulled from the game, he had completed 12-of-17 total passes, five of which were for touchdowns. Whether it be the result of prime field position coming off a turnover or moving down the field in chunks on the ground, the Buckeyes began drives beyond their own 40-yard line three times before Barrett subbed out. Nearly every time Barrett marched his team down the field, he completed passes into the end zone. For the first time all season, the Buckeyes went away from its offensive backbone: running the football. Instead, it seemingly went out with something to prove and scored all its touchdowns through the air.Barrett is unlikely to be quite this efficient moving forward, but demonstrating the ability to find his target in the red zone for touchdowns will be important for the Ohio State offense if it is going to prove it can do more than just have success running it against opponents.4 – successful deep ball passes by Ohio State (20-plus yards through the air). The biggest question mark during the offseason was whether Ohio State would be able to channel the deep ball in its offense. After the first three games, the answer seemed to be a resounding ‘No’ as Barrett either missed his targets or saw one of his receivers drop the pass on a majority of deep ball attempts. Against UNLV, Ohio State tried to force the deep ball a little more into the offense and managed to complete four — one from Barrett and three from redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins.That last stat should be telling as to the direction the Buckeye offense will be heading in. Barrett completed only one 20-yard pass through the air to K.J. Hill, and the other two passes of more than 20 yards came on short passes that just turned into yards after the catch — a 69-yard touchdown pass on a bubble screen to Campbell and a 22-yard pass to Hill. Haskins was able to find his targets down field on a more consistent basis and proved that he has it in him to be a deep-passing quarterback. But as long as Barrett is the starter, the majority of plays that gain yards in bulk on passes will likely be ones that come from a run-pass option or on short passes to receivers that turn into yards after the catch.6 – wide receivers who caught a touchdown. Entering this game, Ohio State wide receivers had hauled in a total of five touchdowns over the team’s first three games. Before the UNLV game, H-back Campbell and wideouts Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin and Austin Mack each had one touchdown reception apiece. Against the Rebels, each of those receivers — except Mack — brought down a touchdown, as did Hill and walk-on C.J. Saunders. This set an Ohio State record for most receivers with touchdowns in a single game at seven after tight end Rashod Berry caught a touchdown later in the game.With the game seemingly evolving into a blowout out of the gate and Ohio State beginning to turn to its second- and third-string players, a multitude of wideouts were sure to be involved in the passing game. Ohio State, which has listed six starting wide receivers each week, was able to spread the ball out between just about everyone on the roster, giving each player a chance to get in on the action. By the end of the game, not only did six wideouts record touchdowns, but 13 different receivers had caught passes. Giving all those players experience and having the chance to boost their confidence by getting them involved in the plays could be vital in providing depth to the team the rest of the season.“Let’s go do it against a team that’s equally matched,” Meyer said. “So that’s our challenge is Big Ten Conference officially starts and — but we also understand you’re seeing a bunch of receivers, six of them — seven different people caught touchdown passes and that’s pretty neat to see that happen.”27.2 – percent of the time OSU converted on third down. For all the success Ohio State had Saturday, it struggled to convert on third-down attempts. It wasn’t until the last drive of the second quarter that the Buckeyes managed to convert on a third-down play, and overall they were successful in only 3-of-11 tries. Ohio State managed to balance out its inefficiency on third down by converting on 3-of-4 fourth-down attempts, two of which were for touchdowns. Against a better team, Ohio State’s lackluster play on third downs could have stifled the overall offensive production and dimmed its chances of winning. 13 – tackles for loss by Ohio State. It’s not exactly breaking news to say Ohio State’s defensive line is potent. But against UNLV, the Buckeyes tore through the opposition’s offensive line with ease, sacking the quarterback four times, hitting him twice, tipping a pass for an interception and tackling opposing players 13 times for losses. Throughout the game, UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers felt pressure, and though he occasionally managed to escape and take off down the field, more often than not it seemed he had nowhere to go and simply took the lost yardage. The starters on the defensive line stifled both Rogers and the running game as long as they were out there, holding the opposition to just 54 rushing yards on 13 carries during the first half. The secondary still looked questionable at times because even though it allowed only 88 total passing yards, it gave up 55 penalty yards on three pass interference calls and a holding penalty. Coach Urban Meyer said he was displeased with the performance of the secondary again, particularly as it pertained to the penalties.“Very concerned, terrible. It’s awful,” Meyer said.Until the secondary begins to pick up its play against higher quality opponents, the line will be counted on to apply ample pressure on the offense to prevent opponents from settling in and having time to make big plays.