The Dallas Cowboys granted permission for wide receiver Dez Bryant to stay out past his midnight curfew Saturday morning in Dallas, Texas.Reports from several media outlets brought attention to the battered wideout, who is questionable for Sunday’s night game against the Atlanta Falcons due to a hip injury, after DJklassik posted pictures on Twitter with him attending a nightclub Friday night.Bryant is under several strict guidelines put forth by the Cowboys and his adviser David Wells after July arrest for a Class A misdemeanor charge for domestic violence involving his mother. Those guidelines include a midnight curfew, no drinking and no appearances in stripclubs or nightclubs without proper arrival.Bryant received approval from Wells to attend a Dallas nightclub with former Dallas Mavericks guard Delonte West and Josh Howard for his birthday celebration, accompanied with security personnel.“He had a security person there with him and some of his teammates were there too,” Wells said Saturday morning before leaving for Atlanta, where the Cowboys play the Falcons on Sunday night.Bryant is one of the Cowboys prized receivers, with 41 catches for 488 yards and two touchdowns on the season. Even though his numbers are average, Bryant has been inconsistent at time this season. He has had several drops, one that could have led to a game winning touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens.Earlier in the week Bryant told ESPNDallas that the time has come to reach his potential as a Cowboy.“I feel like now, it’s about time,” Bryant said Thursday. “It’s about time.”One of the biggest mistakes as a Cowboy receiver for Bryant came last week in a loss against the New York Giants, where he fumbled a punt that led to a Giants touchdown. The Cowboys immediately replaced him with Dwayne Harris on punt return duties.“I’m not Superman or anything like that,” Bryant said this week. “Sometimes I feel like things happen and it’s all about how I respond to those bad situations. Do I learn from them. Do I keep making the same mistakes? I feel like I do a good job learning from my mistakes.”Bryant received another blow this week when the Dallas County District Attorney’s office announced they would not drop the domestic violence charge against him and will continue the investigation.
The summer trade window rumors are not only regarding where Manchester United’s forward Wayne Rooney, Uruguayan baller Edinson Cavani and Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez aka Isco are potentially headed. The rumblings are also about players who are not as popular but may have a greater advantage. These rumors are more likely fact than fiction.According to the South Wales Evening Post, Swansea City’s ball club is interested in the Vitesse striker Wilfried Bony. He is also a target for Newcastle United.Meanwhile, Sunderland Association Football Club’s Stephane Sessegnon is on the market this summer and Fulham Football Club is looking to capitalize on his status.Finally, Everton Football Club could potentially move on Japan International’s Keisuke Honda.In the video above, BleacherReport’s Will Tidey looks at some low-key rumors you need to keep an eye on this summer.
Tianyu Han of China and Yuri Confortola of Italy, at right, crash during men’s 1,500-meter short track speedskating qualifying during the 2018 Winter Olympics. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images Perhaps surprisingly, the lightning-fast downhill discipline has skiing’s lowest rate of incidents, with only about 10 percent of runs going unfinished. That number would still be higher than any of the sports we looked at above, but it’s low compared with other familiar high-speed activities such as NASCAR (where 16 percent of individual races ended in a DNF last season) or Formula 1 (24 percent). Downhill takes tremendous speed, skill and courage, and we’ve all seen what can go wrong when a racer makes a mistake, but those moments are still rather few and far between by Alpine standards.DNFs and DQs become much more common, however, in disciplines featuring tighter turns and more gates — those pesky markers that a skier must navigate around to complete the course. Whatever the discipline, failing to send the tips of your skis (plus boots) inside of a gate will get you disqualified from the race.In the super giant slalom (or “super-G”), racers gather speeds comparable to those seen in downhill, but they also must make sharper cuts around more gates, which are bunched more closely together. (They also aren’t allowed practice sessions beforehand, which doesn’t help matters.) Between the men and women, only about 78 percent of Olympic super-G runs are completed cleanly.And super-G is not considered a “technical” skiing event. Giant slalom is, and it involves even more gates and more side-to-side turning. Since 1994, a third of Olympic giant slalom runs ended in DNF or DQ. But the ultimate tough-to-finish Alpine discipline is the standard slalom, with skiers zigzagging back and forth across the slope around pylon-like gates in rapid succession. Almost 50 percent of slalom runs fail to cross the finish line, a testament to the perfection required to clear every gate at world-class speed.Nothing in slalom is guaranteed. For instance, even in successful runs like the one that clinched the gold medal for the great U.S. racer Mikaela Shiffrin at the 2014 Olympics, disaster is always lurking around the next gate: At one point midrace, Shiffrin’s left ski lost contact with the ground, requiring an expert recovery to avert a missed gate — or worse. In addition to skeleton and bobsled, luge is another sport that seems prone to disaster, with its high speeds and steeply banked turns. However, roughly 96 percent of competitors end up finishing their runs unscathed, an even better rate than bobsledding can claim.4That doesn’t mean luge isn’t dangerous, of course. At the 2010 Olympics, amid concerns over an excessively quick course, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died after a crash in practice. Short track speedskating, by comparison, has a more deserved reputation for mayhem, with nearly 9 percent of runs ending prematurely — though the list of offenses that can get you disqualified from a race is fairly lengthy. On the short track, crashes and chaos are features that add to the excitement.But the undisputed king of ending athletes’ races prematurely — and thus dashing gold-medal dreams — is Alpine skiing. Since 1994, nearly a third of all ski runs have ended without the racer actually crossing the finish line. And the breakdown within the sport varies pretty heavily by event: At the climax of everyone’s favorite bobsleigh-based film, 1993’s “Cool Runnings,” disaster strikes the upstart Jamaican team when its ricketty sled flips over during the final race. Everyone from Calgary to Jamaica fears the worst — but the teammates shake off the wreck, determined to finish the race. Together, they hoist up the sled on their shoulders, carrying it over the finish line. Cue that inspirational slow clap.It was a real thing that actually happened … well, aside from a few bits of artistic license. (For instance, they never carried the sled; the fact that all four racers walked away from the crash at all was remarkable enough, given how it looked in slow motion.) But one of bobsledding’s most iconic moments was also a total rarity. As far as Winter Olympic sports go, bobsled has one of the lowest rates of in-race mishaps, with racers completing roughly 95 percent of their runs. In other sports, by contrast, finishes aren’t anywhere near as guaranteed — we’re looking at you, Alpine skiing.To measure how often a run goes awry, we grabbed data from Sports-Reference.com’s Olympics site going back to 19941The year the Winter Olympics switched to its current cycle. for events in nine timed sports: skiing (Alpine and cross-country), skeleton, luge, bobsled, speedskating (short and long track), biathlon and Nordic combined. For each event, we tracked how often it ended in a DNF — “did not finish” — or a disqualification.To be sure, not every DNF or DQ represents a crash like the Jamaicans suffered in 1988.2Technically, they were disqualified for the wreck. For example, in skeleton (you know, the one where you slide face-first down an icy track at stomach-churning speeds), the only DNF or DQ happened not on the course but when Canadian racer Mike Douglas was late for a pre-race inspection.3It should be noted that, before 2002, skeleton had appeared in only two Olympics: 1928 and 1948. The sport was reintroduced to the Olympics in 2002. But DNFs and DQs do usually correlate with the difficulty in staying on course and avoiding spills, missed gates or other sources of misfortune.Since 1994, these are the winter sports with the lowest (and highest) rates of DNFs and DQs among the timed events in our data: Again, not every DNF or DQ is a crash, and research has shown that per-run injury rates are still highest in the speed disciplines (downhill and super-G) versus the technical ones (giant slalom and slalom). This jibes with common sense: Although it’s easy to get disqualified for missing a gate in slalom, those miscues don’t always result in terrifying crashes. Making a mistake at the speeds involved in downhill, on the other hand, can have more devastating consequences.All of this is worth keeping in mind while watching Olympic races over the next few weeks. Some of the most seemingly terrifying sports can actually rank among the lowest in terms of on-course incident rates — although what few mishaps there are tend to be quite dangerous. Meanwhile, anything can happen in the most technical skiing events. As it turns out, hurriedly weaving down an icy slope on skis is difficult to do without skipping a gate or crashing. Who knew?— Ella Koeze contributed research.
43– How often have next-day favorites won?Eventual championship status for teams named next-day favorites according to the betting markets NHLNBA 8th2– 5th4– SeasonTeamWon?TeamWon? 201349ers, Broncos✘Tigers✘ 2017Penguins✔Warriors✔ 2020Lightning?Bucks? Rounds From ChampionshipCount 2019Lightning✘Warriors✘ 2014Penguins✘Heat✘ 2011Blackhawks✘Heat✘ 4th2– 2010Red Wings✘Lakers✔ 3rd5– NFLMLB SeasonTeamWon?TeamWon? RankCount 2015Blackhawks✔Heat✘ 2012Canucks✘Heat✔ 12th0 2018Penguins✘Warriors✔ 2016Blackhawks✘Cavaliers✔ 2014Seahawks✘Dodgers✘ 2020———— 2012Patriots✘Phillies✘ 2019Patriots?Astros, Red Sox? This summer was actually an unusual moment in that regard, between the NBA and NHL. It was the first time in our data where both leagues’ champions opened in fourth place or worse in the next season’s odds at the same time. This is perhaps because both the Raptors and Blues were first-time champions in their respective sports, and each was a relative surprise champion as well (the Blues began the season as the 19th-ranked betting choice, 40-to-1 to win it all, while the Raptors were ninth with 60-to-1 title odds).This isn’t the first time the books have shown an affinity for a team — like, say, the Lightning — whose previous season didn’t end in glorious fashion. But that doesn’t happen very often. Granting that some sports’ playoff structures don’t feature rounds of equivalent size before their playoff quarterfinals,3Both the NBA and NHL feature a round of 16 before their quarterfinals, while MLB and the NFL each have a round of 12. Tampa Bay joined the 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2010 Miami Heat as the only teams in our sample to exit in the first round of the NBA or NHL playoffs and then immediately become championship favorites the day after the playoffs ended. (And that Heat team comes with a special disclaimer we’ll talk about later.) 2011Patriots✘Phillies✘ Sources: SPORTSBETTING.AG, BETONLINE.AG A new champion doesn’t always get very much respect from the oddsmakers in the immediate wake of its victory. The Raptors, for instance, opened the 2020 championship betting at fourth in the NBA (8-to-1 odds), while the Blues started 2020 in a tie for fifth in the NHL (12-to-1 odds) right after hoisting the Cup. Most of the time, however, the champs stay pretty close to the top of the sport. Only five of the 45 new champs we looked at fell out of the top five for their league when looking ahead to the following season: The 2008 Philadelphia Phillies (sixth looking ahead to 2009), the 2015 Denver Broncos (seventh for 2016), the 2018 Washington Capitals (eighth for 2019), the 2011 New York Giants (eighth for 2012) and the 2012 Baltimore Ravens (13th for 2013). 29– * The Patriots were NFL co-favorites in 2016 and won the Super Bowl.Sources: SPORTSBETTING.AG, BETONLINE.AG Number of champions in the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL with a certain ranking in the next-day betting odds for the following season, since 2009 2nd12– In the last couple of weeks, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Milwaukee Bucks both earned themselves a dubious honor. Each was crowned a champion … of next season’s betting odds. (Congrats! That and $2.45 will get you a large1Sorry, venti. coffee at Starbucks.) According to data provided to FiveThirtyEight by the betting sites SportsBetting.ag and BetOnline.ag, Tampa Bay was installed as 8-to-1 favorites to win the 2020 Stanley Cup within hours of the St. Louis Blues winning the 2019 Stanley Cup, while the Bucks were made 9-to-2 favorites for next year’s NBA title before the confetti even settled on the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 victory.It’s all part of a movement toward increased focus on next year’s potential winners, practically before the current champs can even be entered into the record books. “The day-after, next-year title odds have certainly become a big deal in our industry,” said Scott Cooley, a spokesman for the two oddsmakers above. “We started doing them with the online books maybe six to seven years ago, and Vegas has caught on over the last couple of years.”The media has hopped on the trend as well in recent years. ESPN reported on the 2020 NBA favorite picks in the betting markets roughly 17 hours after the Raptors’ Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors ended,2ESPN is owned by Disney, which also owns ABC News, which owns FiveThirtyEight. and often the reports will come even sooner after the championship than that. Speculation about the next champ can practically bump the current champ out of the news cycle.Those two kinds of teams — current champs and speculative future champs — overlap surprisingly infrequently, depending on the sport. In the data we analyzed, which covers the four major men’s pro leagues going back to either 2009 (for the NBA, MLB and NFL) or 2010 (NHL), the just-crowned champion was installed as the following season’s favorite 17 times in 45 chances (38 percent). Six of the 12 defending NBA champs since 2009 were in that category, which makes sense for a sport in which previous postseason success plays a disproportionate role in the championship hunt. By comparison, the defending Super Bowl winner was instantly named the next NFL favorite just three times in 11 chances over the same span, a number that includes the current Patriots, who are fresh off a win in Super Bowl LIII.The Pats are perennial next-day picks, gaining that distinction seven times in the 11 NFL seasons we looked at, including 2019. (That’s sort of what happens when you maintain the top dynasty in the history of football, if not all of pro sports.) But even the Patriots have failed to convert those next-day titles into real ones with some regularity: They won as favorites in 2016 and 2018, but lost in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2017. That’s not too surprising — if we look at the history of next-day favorites, they lose far more often than they win (because even the favorite is typically an underdog against the field): Number of next-day betting odds favorites in the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL that finished the previous playoffs a given number of rounds from the championship, since 2009 2017Patriots✘Cubs✘ 6th1– 13th1– 10th0 9th0 36– 112– 2009——Celtics✘ 016– 2009Patriots✘Yankees✔ 7th1– 2010Colts✘Yankees✘ 2016Panthers, Patriots*, Seahawks✔Cubs✔ 2013Penguins✘Heat✔ 11th0 2015Seahawks✘Dodgers, Nationals✘ Sources: SPORTSBETTING.AG, BETONLINE.AG 1st17– 2018Patriots✔Astros✘ More than half of the freshly minted next-day favorites in our sample had either just won (35 percent) or lost (26 percent) in their sport’s championship round. So it’s pretty unusual to see a team such as the Lightning flame out in the playoffs and then immediately be named favorites for the following season. Then again, Tampa Bay had been named next-day favorites going into the 2018-19 season as well (after losing a tough seven-game conference final to the eventual-champ Capitals), then proceeded to rattle off one of the most dominant regular seasons in hockey history before falling flat in one of the game’s most epic playoff disappointments. The 2019 NHL playoffs were a chaotic mess anyway — the eventual champs fired their coach midseason and were playoff longshots for most of the regular season — so it might have been the perfect mix of factors to elevate a team back to favorite status despite a postseason flop.These next-day odds can change pretty quickly anyway. Although the Bucks were technically 2020 favorites in the moments after Toronto won it all, the Los Angeles Lakers usurped that distinction just a day later, being installed as 7-to-2 favorites after trading for former Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis. It was a pretty remarkable leap to the top of the heap, given that LeBron James and LA didn’t even make the playoffs the previous season. (None of the next-day favorites we’ve been looking at in this data set could say that.)But that’s nothing compared with the summer of 2010, when the oddsmakers avoided officially releasing the next-day NBA odds altogether. We included their first batch of odds in the calculation above — hence the Heat’s jump to No. 1 for 2011 — but those numbers were actually released after free agency had begun. Although the 2010 season ended on June 17, odds for 2011 weren’t posted until July 9 because of the uncertainty around LeBron’s free-agency “Decision.” Considering that this summer may rival 2010 in terms of the amount of NBA talent on the move, it’s not impossible that the 2020 favorite in the NBA betting markets will shift again in the next few weeks.The era of immediate speculation does nothing to help temper the expectations placed on teams who are “supposed” to win. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers — who haven’t won a World Series since 1988 — have been named next-day favorites twice in the past six seasons (in 2014 and 2015) and have never ranked lower than third place in the next-day odds over that span. With each passing instance of an on-paper championship (and no real one), a team’s disappointment comes even more into focus.But the trend of impatiently looking ahead to next season doesn’t seem like it will let up anytime soon. As the lines begin to blur between one season’s end and the next one’s beginning — particularly given the way fans consume sports now and how the media covers it — there’s too much interest in far-off futures odds for anyone to ignore them. So that means we’re in store for plenty more speculative champions being crowned, even if the actual ones aren’t finished celebrating yet.
By capturing his second major of the 2015 season, U.S. Open winner Jordan Spieth has placed himself in some very elite company. It’s only the fourth time since 19581Roughly speaking, 1958 marks the beginning of the modern era of major championships; that’s when the PGA Championship adopted a stroke-play format. that the same player has won both of the year’s first two majors, and just the 13th time any player won back-to-back major titles.The conversation has quickly turned to Spieth’s Grand Slam chances. This has been the Year of Spieth on the PGA Tour, and a Slam would solidify his season as one of the best in golf history. And yet he’s not considered to be the best golfer on tour. Spieth is still the second-ranked player in the world behind Rory McIlroy, who is probably the better golfer on a per-round basis and has, in the past, won the two major tournaments remaining on the 2015 schedule.That’s why the betting markets consider McIlroy, and not Spieth, the favorite to win each of the season’s final two majors. After adjusting for the house edge built into betting odds, the sportsbook Bovada.lv assigns2To the best of our knowledge, Bovada only lists the players upon whom they’ve gotten action, and will release odds for other players upon request. The inclusion of additional players could slightly alter the house-edge adjustment we made, but those players’ odds of winning are so low that the change would be minimal at best. McIlroy a 13 percent probability of winning the British Open and an 11 percent chance of winning the PGA Championship; the site gives Spieth a 9 percent shot at winning each tournament.Those numbers are similar to the ones you’d see if you looked at how past back-to-back major winners did in their next two major tournaments. Of those who won back-to-back majors, only Tiger Woods — who won his “Tiger Slam” by capturing the 2000 U.S. and British Opens and the PGA Championship, plus the 2001 Masters — went on to win any of the next two majors, giving the group an 8.3 percent success rate per major.Of course, sometimes you can play well enough to win but run into another great performance. That’s when a method such as Bill Barnwell’s Z-scores is useful, because it tells us how well a player scored relative to the rest of the field on the same day. We can then use that number to track how often a player’s performance would be good enough to win a typical major against typical competition, which helps even out comparisons between fields of varying quality. And according to this calculation, the average back-to-back major champ’s Z-scores over his next two majors were good enough to win a generic major3From 1958 on. 11.3 percent of the time.No matter how you cut it, the odds of Spieth finishing off the Grand Slam are still fairly low — about 1 percent, if the probabilities above are any kind of guide.Even if Spieth doesn’t win the Slam, however, his future looks exceptionally bright. Back in April, we developed a model (based on the historical performance, by age, of people who won majors) to track Woods’s progress in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s all-time majors record. If we plug in Spieth’s expected major count at year’s end — roughly 2.2, using the odds from Bovada — he’s currently on pace to finish his career with just under 12 major titles, a total that would rank third all-time if it came to fruition. (And remember, that’s just a mean projection — the variance around it means there are plenty of scenarios in which he wins more than 12.)Either way, it’s been an incredible start to Spieth’s career, Grand Slam or not.
Only in baseball can $2 million in cash, plus the Nos. 56 and 75 overall picks in the draft, seem like chump change. That’s what the St. Louis Cardinals were forced to give the Houston Astros as punishment for hacking into Houston’s scouting database several years ago. All told, it was an unprecedented penalty to be levied against a baseball team for an unprecedented act of espionage.Yet compared to cheating scandals in other sports, the Cardinals got off easy. Using the various draft-value charts floating around in the sports analytics blogosphere, let’s compare the relative value of the picks St. Louis relinquished with the consequences of some of the NFL and NBA’s biggest cheating scandals in recent memory. (We’ll put aside any monetary penalties, simply because each sport has its own salary structure, making those kinds of cross-league comparisons difficult.)According to research conducted by The Baseball Analysts, a sabermetric blog run by Rich Lederer, the 56th and 75th picks in the MLB draft tend to produce about 4.9 wins above replacement over their careers. How much is that? Losing 5 WAR over, say, a 10-year span decreases the average team’s odds of winning at least one World Series in the decade by 1.4 percentage points.1Based on a logistic regression for MLB teams since the 1994 strike.By contrast, consider the New England Patriots. For their role in Deflategate, they were stripped of the No. 29 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, plus a fourth-rounder (let’s say No. 1302That’s the final non-compensatory pick of the fourth round, which would go to the Super Bowl champion; our Elo prediction model currently favors the Patriots to beat the Falcons on Super Sunday.) in 2017. According to Chase Stuart’s draft value chart, those picks tend to produce about 43 total points of approximate value over their careers, the loss of which over a decade would cost a team 4 percentage points from their odds of winning at least one Super Bowl in that span.3Based on a regression since the NFL playoff field expanded to 12 teams in 1990. I also assumed a replacement-level NFL player would produce about 6 points of AV over that span. And the Patriots’ penalty for Spygate seven seasons earlier — losing the 31st pick in the 2008 draft — would lop 3.2 percentage points off a team’s odds of winning at least one championship in a 10-year period.(Similarly, the New Orleans Saints’ Bountygate scandal, which cost them a pair of second-round picks, carried a penalty that would decrease the average team’s odds of winning a Super Bowl over the next decade by a whopping 4.4 percentage points.)The granddaddy of all league-imposed draft-pick sanctions probably belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost five first-rounders for an under-the-table agreement with forward Joe Smith that attempted to circumvent the NBA’s salary cap rules. Although two of the picks were eventually restored, those that weren’t were worth about 61 career win shares, according to research by Basketball-Reference.com founder Justin Kubatko.4Note that it’s impossible to reconstruct exactly where the Wolves would have drafted in an alternate universe without the penalty, because the sanctions changed their roster for years to come. But going from their actual records, they would have owned the No. 13 pick in 2001, No. 23 in 2002 and No. 28 in 2004 — which add up to a value of 61 WS. Losing that many wins over a 10-year period5While also adding back in the roughly 8 win shares generated by replacement-level players. would reduce an NBA team’s championship odds for the decade by 6.5 percentage points — a crushing blow that helps explain why Kevin Garnett had to leave Minnesota to win his first championship.In light of those comparable scandals in other leagues, the Cardinals got away with a relatively light slap on the wrist. But then again, in a sport where the World Series favorite only has a 15 percent chance of winning it all in any given year, every single point of championship probability counts. Share on Facebook
Junior forward Ryan Dzingel (18) passes the puck during a game against Bowling Green Oct. 29 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 5-3.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorAfter nearly two weeks off, the Ohio State men’s hockey team welcomes Michigan State to Value City Arena for a weekend doubleheader.The Spartans (6-9-2, 0-1-1) are coming off of a 3-0 win over in-state rivals Michigan, while the Buckeyes (10-6-0, 0-2-0) swept Mercyhurst at the end of last month.Head coach Steve Rohlik’s team has now won seven of its last nine games, a stretch that has seen their goals per game average rise to 3.94, tied for second in the NCAA. Leading OSU’s scoring charge is junior Ryan Dzingel, whose five points in two games against Mercyhurst led to him being named the Big Ten Second Star of the Week.Meanwhile their opponents, the Spartans, have had a much tougher time putting the puck in the back of the net, with a 2.35 goals per game average that is last in the Big Ten. Like OSU they are looking for their first conference victory of the season.All of OSU’s opponents the rest of the season will be fellow Big Ten members, with nine of those games coming on the road. Friday night’s puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., while Saturday’s is at 7:05 p.m.
Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md., as seen from the Maryland player entrance, prior to kickoff between OSU and the Terrapins on Oct. 4. The game was the first-ever meeting between the two schools, and the Terrapins’ inaugural Big Ten home game. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorCOLLEGE PARK, Md. — In the first-ever football matchup between Ohio State and Maryland, the No. 20 Buckeyes came away with a wire-to-wire victory to open their Big Ten season.OSU’s 52-24 win spoiled Maryland’s first Big Ten home game at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md., on Saturday afternoon.After the win, OSU coach Urban Meyer said he was “very pleased” with the Buckeyes’ play, but stressed that there is still room for improvement.“I know it wasn’t perfect; and obviously that’s what you strive to be, but we’re not,” Meyer said.With the conference season opening against Maryland, at least one OSU player said the team treats every game like a big one, but added there was some extra joy in a Big Ten victory.“We’re Ohio State,” sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa said after the game. “We come in and every game is a big game for us. So first Big Ten game, feels real nice.”After the Buckeyes (4-1, 1-0) jumped out to a 24-3 lead, a Maryland (4-2, 1-1) touchdown and an ensuing OSU punt near the end of the first half had the Terrapins threatening to get back in the game. That punt — a 69-yard boot by sophomore Cameron Johnston — pinned Maryland at its own seven-yard line.Johnston said Meyer told him to put everything he had into the punt before sending him out on the field.“He said ‘go after it,’ so if he gives you permission to go after it and I’m allowed to go after it then I’m kind of happy,” Johnston said after the game. “So it was good.”On the first play of the drive, redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee intercepted Maryland redshirt-senior quarterback C.J. Brown, giving OSU the ball at the one. Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett hit redshirt-junior tight end Nick Vannett on the next play for a touchdown, giving the Buckeyes the momentum and a 31-10 halftime lead.Lee said the Buckeyes “needed a big play” at that moment in the game, and added he simply watched the play unfold before making the interception.“Eyes on the quarterback, and (sophomore defensive lineman) Joey Bosa was about to get him if he waited a half second longer,” Lee said after the game. “And then he threw it, (I) got to the ball, caught it.”Redshirt-junior tight end Nick Vannett (81) heads into the end zone for a touchdown during a game against Maryland on Oct. 4 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. OSU won, 52-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorFrom there, OSU outscored the Terrapins, 21-14, to seal the victory.Lee said everyone from Meyer to the rest of his teammates was looking forward to the Maryland matchup because none of them had ever taken on the Terrapins.“Coach was eager to play them, it was the first time he’s ever played Maryland, first time we’ve played Maryland,” he said. “We knew we had to jump out on them, they’re an explosive team.”The first half was a tale of two contrasting offenses as the Buckeyes picked up 289 total yards in the opening 30 minutes, compared to just 104 from Maryland.OSU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said he enjoyed the success his offensive players had against the Terrapins, but said it’s important to keep that kind of play going throughout each game.“It’s really fun to be up there and just kind of call plays and understand that your guys are executing,” Herman said after the game. “We’re in a rhythm and do whatever you can not to break that rhythm and get behind the chains.”OSU got things started with an eight-play, 75-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run from redshirt-senior running back Rod Smith. Barrett hit redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall from nine yards out later in the quarter before Maryland got on the board.Herman said the first set of plays of the day was planned for the Buckeyes, but they still had to adjust to have their early success.“We script our first eight or 10 plays, but understand that we’ve got to adjust based on what the defense is giving,” Herman said.Following the Marshall touchdown, the Terrapins’ junior kicker Brad Craddock set a new Maryland record with a 57-yard field goal to make the score 14-3, but the Buckeyes answered back with a touchdown and a field goal of their own before Lee’s interception and the ensuing Vannett touchdown.OSU’s first drive of the second half ended with a turnover on downs inside the 10-yard line, but redshirt-freshman cornerback Eli Apple gave the ball back to the Buckeyes with an interception in the end zone. Barrett hit senior wide receiver Devin Smith from 30 yards out on the ensuing possession to extend OSU’s lead to 38-10.Maryland’s second touchdown — a two-yard run by redshirt-junior running back Brandon Ross — was followed by a nine-yard scoring run from Barrett, giving the Buckeyes a 45-17 advantage just six seconds into the fourth quarter.Lee went to the sideline with an apparent leg injury on the first play of Maryland’s next drive after nearly making an interception, but later returned to the game.After the game, Lee said he sustained “just a cramp” on the play.After that near-pick, Maryland went on a seven-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Caleb Rowe to junior wide receiver Stefon Diggs.The Buckeyes closed out the scoring when freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan intercepted Rowe and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown on Maryland’s next possession.“It’s one of the best feelings in the world,” McMillan said of his first career score. “My teammate helped me out by tipping the ball and I just took advantage of the moment.”Barrett finished his day 18 of 23 on pass attempts for 267 yards and four touchdowns. He also finished second on the team with 71 rushing yards and another score. Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 24 carries and 139 yards rushing while redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas led the team with four receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown through the air. Redshirt-junior wide receiver Corey Smith also had four receptions for 44 yards.Sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) makes a tackle during a game against Maryland on Oct. 4 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. OSU won, 52-24, as Bosa tallied 1 sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorIn total, Barrett completed passes to nine different receivers, and Meyer praised his ability, as well as the play of the players he throws to.“J.T. Barrett is playing very well and the big thing is we can still get better,” Meyer said. “The guys playing around him are pretty good too.”The Buckeye offense totaled 533 yards on the day, compared to 310 for Maryland.Bosa keyed the OSU defense with one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss while sophomore safety Vonn Bell and junior linebacker Joshua Perry tied for the team lead with six tackles each.After the game, Bosa said the defensive lines production when it comes to getting to the quarterback could have been even better than it was.“We were back there all day,” he said. “I think we could’ve had a lot more (sacks) if we just got there a little faster.”Brown and Rowe combined to throw four interceptions and just one touchdown in the game. The Buckeyes held the Terrapins to just 66 rushing yards on the day.OSU is scheduled to have a week off before returning to Ohio Stadium to face Rutgers on Oct. 18. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
Sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa (right) hugs senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett following a 31-24 double-overtime victory over Penn State in State College, Pa. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorSTATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The No. 13 Ohio State football team jumped out to an early lead, but relied on a late defensive stand in a 31-24 double-overtime victory against Penn State.OSU (6-1, 3-0) sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa knocked down Penn State (4-3, 1-3) sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg on fourth-and-five in the second overtime to seal the win Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.“I think we learned that we are a real team, and when adversity strikes we can come together and win a big game in a crazy environment,” Bosa said after the game.After the Buckeyes outscored the Nittany Lions 17-0 in the first half, Penn State reversed field in the second half to tie the game at 17 with nine seconds on the clock to force overtime.OSU coach Urban Meyer saved praise for his team’s opponent after the game, and added that the Buckeyes need to improve their play along the line.“A credit to our opponent, they played their tails off,” Meyer said. “Outplayed us up front, I think. (I’m) a little upset with the way we played up front and we got to get that fixed.”Penn State got the ball first before Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions to a first-and-goal from the two-yard line. The Buckeyes held on to force third down at the one, but senior running back Bill Belton found his way into the end zone to give Penn State its first lead of the night.On the Buckeyes’ first overtime possession, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett kept the ball on a second-and-seven to set up first and goal from the five with a 17-yard run. He kept it again on the next play, scoring a touchdown to tie the game at 24.Due to a personal foul penalty against Penn State following the Buckeyes’ extra point, OSU started the second overtime at the 12-yard line. Barrett led the Buckeyes to a third-and-two at the four-yard line, before taking another quarterback keeper into the end zone to put OSU back on top, 31-24.After the game, Barrett said he was trying to take it one play at a time and didn’t necessarily plan on running the ball before his two overtime touchdowns.“Just reading it each time, because when you go out there with an idea you play the idea and then you’re wrong,” he said.Penn State took over at the 25-yard line, but the Buckeyes forced fourth-down–and-five at the 20. Hackenberg was knocked to the ground as Bosa overpowered a Nittany Lion blocker.The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native said he didn’t follow his assignment on the play, despite the positive result for OSU.“That wasn’t what I was supposed to do,” Bosa said. “I was supposed to hit the guard and wrap out, but he blocked down so the hole opened up. So I just took it and I was tired of trying to work my way around the back so I just ran over him.”Bosa added he didn’t even realize what had happened until his teammates surrounded him after the play.“I was so tired, I didn’t even know it was a sack until everybody started yelling,” he said. “I looked over and he had the ball and (junior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington) came to hug me and I just fell down and everybody jumped on top of me.”Bosa — who said he “needed to play a lot better” — finished the game with 2.5 sacks and six total tackles.Barrett said he was simply glad Bosa was wearing a white jersey rather than Penn State’s blue shirt in the game.“Joey Bosa, one thing I can say, I’m really glad he’s on our team,” he said. “That’s for sure. Great player.”The play sealed OSU’s third straight win against the Nittany Lions.The double-overtime finish came after Penn State picked up a late field goal on a drive that began inside its own 10-yard line.Holding on to its three-point advantage, OSU sophomore punter Cameron Johnston pinned the Nittany Lions at their own nine-yard line with 2:58 to play in the game, then drove down the field to tack on three points and tie the game.Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions to the OSU 43-yard line before being sacked by Bosa on first down. A penalty against the Buckeyes on the next play gave Penn State a new set of downs on the OSU 28, needing just a field goal to force overtime.On third-and-six at the OSU 14 yard-line with 19 seconds on the clock Hackenberg threw incomplete into the end zone, forcing a field goal attempt for the Nittany Lions.After an OSU timeout, Penn State senior kicker Sam Ficken connected on a 31-yard field goal.The Nittany Lions’ race back into the game was led in part by their defense’s ability to disrupt the OSU passing game.Barrett threw an interception on the third play of the second half, which was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by senior defensive lineman Anthony Zettel. The pick was Barrett’s first interception since the Buckeyes Sept. 13 win against Kent State.But after that touchdown, neither team found its way back onto the scoreboard in the third quarter.Barrett threw another interception on OSU’s first play of the fourth quarter, and the Penn State offense managed to break through on the next drive.“The last one, that was a dumb mistake,” Barrett said of the interception. “I saw the Mike (linebacker) and I tried to throw over him.”Meyer said Barrett sprained his knee during the game, but kept on playing through the pain.“J.T. Barrett had a sprained knee, and continued to do what he did and even on the drop back passes, whether it was a coverage sack or pressured, he pulled through a couple plays and made some great plays for us,” he said.After the pick, Hackenberg hit freshman wide receiver Saeed Blacknall for a 24-yard touchdown, moving the Nittany Lions within three points.Penn State forced OSU to punt on the next drive, but senior wide receiver Devin Smith downed it at the one-yard line. The Nittany Lions were forced to punt, giving the ball back to OSU with 51 yards between it and the end zone, and 5:17 remaining on the clock.The drive stalled, giving the Nittany Lions their shot, leading to Ficken’s field goal and the eventual overtime.Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott paced the Buckeyes’ offense with 26 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown, while Barrett added 20 carries for 75 yards and his two overtime scores. The OSU signal caller also finished the game 12-for-19 for 74 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman led the Buckeyes with three receptions for 19 yards and a score.After Bosa’s 2.5 sacks, redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee added 1.5 sacks of his own while junior linebacker Joshua Perry tallied a team-high 18 total tackles.The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to the field Nov. 1 to take on Illinois at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Coach Urban Meyer (left) leads the Buckeyes out of the tunnel at Beaver Stadium for an Oct. 25 game against Penn State in State College, Pa. OSU won in double-overtime, 31-24. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor