Notre Dame will be the new No. 1 team in the nation.Kansas State and Oregon — the top two teams in the country going into Saturday’s action — both came tumbling down, while Notre Dame moved to 11-0 and certainly will elevate to the No. 1 program in the nation for the first time since 1993 when the new BCS poll is released on Monday.KSU and the Ducks had a clear path to the national championship game. All they had to do was win their remaining games. Didn’t happen.The Wildcats got blizted at Baylor, losing 52-24 in a straight up beat down. Glasco Martin had three touchdown runs and Lache Seastruck rushed for 185 yards, including a back-breaking 80-yard score, in the Bears’ thumping that all but ended Kansas State’s chance for the national title.“I don’t know if I would call it getting smacked in the mouth, but they took it to us,” coach Bill Snyder said. “I really thought we prepared well, but as we found out, we didn’t. I don’t think we handled the situation as well as we should have been able to.”So, No. 1 was there for Oregon to assume. And yet, the Ducks didn’t do quack. Playing at home against No. 17 Stanford, the Oregon high-powered offense was contained. The Ducks managed just two touchdowns in losing, 17-14, in overtime.It was Jordan Williamson’s a 37-yard field goal in overtime that won the game and denied the Ducks a chance to clinch the Pac-12 North — and, in the bigger picture, a shot at the BCS title.If both Stanford and Oregon win in their final games next weekend, both will finish with one conference loss, which means Stanford will win the head-to-head matchup and go to the Pac-12 championship for a chance to play in the Rose Bowl.Meanwhile, Notre Dame advanced to 11-0 by thrashing Wake Forest, 38-0. The Fighting Irish came into the weekend at No. 3 in the BCS poll. With Nos. 1 and 2 losing, it stands to reason they will jump to No. 1. It is like that the SEC will dominate the next three spots with Alabama at No. 2, Georgia No. 3 and Florida No. 4.
A few weeks ago, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson told ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss he thought he was worth more than Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. Sherman fired back on Twitter, and Peterson doubled down on Thursday.“I believe if you put [Sherman] in our system I don’t think he’d be able to last, honestly,” Peterson said on “The Bickley Show with Vince Marotta” on Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix. “I actually do much more than he is … Obviously, his job is definitely much easier than mine. If you look at their scheme and look at our scheme, he’s a Cover 3 corner. Period.”We can’t assess Peterson’s hypothetical — Sherman being slotted into Peterson’s role — with data because such data doesn’t exist. But, as Sherman already intimated, what statistical evidence we do have makes it difficult to support Peterson’s case. According to Pro Football Focus’s play-by-play grading system, Sherman has finished no lower than sixth among cornerbacks over the past two years; meanwhile, Peterson has finished no higher than 16th.Looking at their component stats, there’s no area where Peterson beats Sherman: Since 2012, Peterson has allowed a higher completion percentage (53 percent to Sherman’s 49 percent) and a much higher touchdown percentage (7 percent to Sherman’s 2.8 percent). Peterson also has a lower interception percentage (5.4 percent to Sherman’s 11 percent) and a much higher Adjusted Yards per Attempt figure (6.3 to Sherman’s 2.9). Even if you subscribe to the theory that a good cornerback’s primary value is in preventing passes from ever being attempted — which I do — opponents threw at Peterson once every 11.8 snaps, and at Sherman once every 13.7 snaps.Arizona has been the NFL’s second-best team at defending the pass over the past two years, but Seattle is No. 1, and by a wide margin, according to Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) metric. The difference between the Seahawks and the Cardinals is the same as the difference between the Cardinals and the sixth-ranked San Francisco 49ers.This could be taken as a point in Peterson’s favor — perhaps the sheer quality of Sherman’s Seattle teammates makes his job that much easier. But that’s another hypothetical. For now, all we really know is that the evidence supports Sherman’s side of the cornerback spat.
OSU junior tight end Marcus Baugh (85) is forced out of bounds during the first half against Indiana on Oct. 8. The Buckeyes won 38-17. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor The Ohio State Buckeyes took on the Indiana Hoosiers on Oct. 8 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes came away with a 38-17 victory.
Ohio State junior forward Jae’Sean Tate converts a layup as he was fouled in the first half against Wisconsin on Feb. 23 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won 83-73. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Assistant Sports DirectorThe will or drive of a team is rooted in self belief. Without a belief or a vision, a team cannot achieve its goals.For a while, the Ohio State men’s basketball team didn’t have a vision, it didn’t have a moment that could spring a successful run as the season grows nye. Well, now OSU has both.The Buckeyes handily defeated the 16th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers at home Thursday night, 83-73, in their most complete game this season. Four players were in double figures, the bench scored 32 points and as a team, OSU outrebounded the Badgers by 13 and shot 63 percent (10-for-16) from 3-point range.All of that happened against the fourth best defense in the country.The players — sophomore guard C.J. Jackson in particular, who had a career-high 18 points Thursday — had been saying throughout a mentally taxing conference season that they believed there run of consecutive wins was just around the corner. Wisconsin might be the start of that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean OSU’s predicament has changed. The Buckeyes will likely still need to win the Big Ten tournament to make the NCAA Tournament, but at the very least, OSU finally has proof it can win games against top competition.“I feel like everybody was on the same page (on Thursday). We played hard. It seemed like we couldn’t miss,” junior forward Jae’Sean Tate said. “If we play like this the rest of the time and in the Big Ten tournament, I feel like we can win.”That type of language hadn’t been heard since the beginning of the season when winning the conference was seen as an attainable goal. Yes, the Buckeyes said things like, “There’s still a long way to go,” and “Anything can happen” after losses, but maybe what OSU needed was the reality of winning a game that many didn’t believe it had a prayer in.So it begs the question, why can’t OSU always play like this?“I wish we could (always play like this) and for now on I hope we can,” Tate said. “We just got to build from it.”The game was equally important for OSU coach Thad Matta, who has been dealt an unprecedented amount of criticism this year. The 13-year OSU coach was already the most winningest coach in school history and became the most tenured coach in school history on Thursday night.He has not been one to ever focus, or truly care, about what outsiders say, but there’s no denying that critics will think twice about scolding the 13-year OSU coach after the Wisconsin win.“I’m sure there’s a lot of people that wouldn’t be pissed off if I didn’t come back (tomorrow),” Matta said. “But I say that from a standpoint of I guess that’s a tremendous feat, but I kind of like the most wins more than the most games to be honest with you.”While nothing on the winning side has come naturally to the Buckeyes this season, they had the answers on Thursday night. Each answer paved the path to success. There remains a long way to go for them, but the Buckeyes saw what their best looks like and that could be a motivator with two games remaining before the conference tournament.“We haven’t seen it a whole lot,” Matta said. “Everybody sort of did there part. When you’re making shots, it probably helps your cause … I hope these guys got a good taste of what it feels like to win a game.”
I grew up watching great high school football in Cleveland: St. Ignatius, St. Edward, Glenville, and even the big Cincinnati schools like St. Xavier and Elder. All these teams were excellent, but I was an Edward’s girl through and through. I love seeing players that I watched in high school play first for top-notch college teams and occasionally the NFL. I knew the kind of talent drinking Lake Erie water can get you. But, when St. Ed’s started to decline after my senior year, I wasn’t surprised. Why? Because I’m an Ohio fan.Being an Ohio fan means getting used to disappointment. As a Clevelander, I’ve had teams that were this close to making history. The Cavs’ trip to the semifinals last season or the Indians’ bids for the World Series in the mid ‘90s were the most poignant disappointments in my memory. Though I was heartbroken when these teams inevitably lost, I was secretly expecting to be disappointed. Why? Because I’m an Ohio fan — and every year is a rebuilding year for us. There is always a “next year” for the Ohio fan.This “next year” attitude encourages mediocrity in both the fans and the players. Look at our own Ohio State football team, it seems to me that they only play as well as their opponent. Against the University of Spoiled Children, our Buckeyes truly rose to the occasion, and almost won, too. But against teams like Toledo and Illinois I felt like we held back, even though our starters stayed in for most of the game. The Bucks don’t play every game like it’s the big game; if they did, it would lead us to winning seasons, to national championships and could even elevate Tressel to the hallowed level of Woody Hayes.Mediocrity is not limited to the Buckeyes, but is an epidemic in the NFL, too. Look at the Browns vs. Bengals game this weekend. Aside from some excellent running by Josh Cribbs and some good interceptions and throws by Cinci, it was a choke-off. It almost ended in a tie for crying out loud — a tie in professional football! Did you know that could happen? I didn’t, and neither did some of the players. If the Bengals’ kicker had missed the field goal, it would have happened. The two pro-football teams in Ohio would have tied each other in yet another demonstration of our state’s mediocrity.Yes, I’m bashing Ohio teams with all the rage of a scorned lover. That’s the key word, though: lover. I will never stop rooting for my Browns, my Indians, my Cavaliers and most of all my Buckeyes, even when I inevitably leave Ohio. I want them to be amazing, to startle the pundits who talk endlessly about Tim Tebow and Brett Favre (who really aren’t that good. Just saying). I want us to win national championships and Super Bowls. Heck,I’d just like for us to have good seasons. I’m a true Ohio fan, in good times and bad, but I’d like an end to year after year of bad and a lot more good.
The presence of senior tackle Don Matheney is far less intimidating than his 6-foot, 300-pound frame initially suggests. Instead, Matheney is soft-spoken and undeniably optimistic. Before he enrolled at Ohio State, Matheney was enrolled at the College of Holy Cross. There he endured 40-plus hours of homework a week to meet the demands of a Holy Cross athlete. Matheney contributed his first two seasons as a Crusader, but suffered a season-ending injury during his sophomore season transferred to OSU for his junior season after tuition increased at Holy Cross. Coming from a school with an enrollment of 2,900 to the 55,000 at OSU has been a huge change, but one that Matheney appreciates. “There is less one-on-one time with the teachers, but I really like it: the classes, the environment, the atmosphere.” Classes have been Matheney’s main focus since he transferred, as he was not eligible to compete his first season as a Buckeye. Per NCAA rules, as a transfer student-athlete, Matheney was required to sit out his junior season. His senior season was his first opportunity to help the Buckeyes on the defensive line. These events have only fueled Matheney’s optimism, however. When asked how he stays even-keeled despite what is required of him as a student-athlete, he simply responds, “I don’t even think about it … I just do what I have to do.” Not only does he do what he has to do, he does more. As he strives to complete a history of art degree along with a computer science degree, he does the work required to make an impact for the Buckeyes, on and off the field. In 2009, Scout.com reported the OSU football team had a 62 percent graduation rate. With a genuine desire to be a Buckeye, a motivated attitude to graduate and a humbling presence, Matheney will increase the number of OSU’s graduating athletes and better the reputation OSU’s athletic department holds so dear.
1. What is the state of the Minnesota football program? It’s rare for college football coaches to be fired mid-season. But Minnesota bucked that trend earlier this month. On Oct. 17, Minnesota fired coach Tim Brewster after the Golden Gophers’ 1-6 start. In a little more than three-and-a-half seasons as coach, Brewster went 15-30, including 6-21 in the Big Ten. Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton is now interim head coach. 2. Does Adam Weber pose problems for a banged-up Buckeye secondary? Last week, Weber joined the company of former Big Ten greats in the 10,000 career-passing-yards club. In recent weeks, the Golden Gophers have been throwing the ball extensively. Weber has averaged 47 passing attempts in the last two games. In three career games against Ohio State, Weber has averaged 177 passing yards a game while throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions. Despite those average numbers, OSU coach Jim Tressel holds Weber in high regard. “We had him in youth camp. I thought he was outstanding then, and 10,000 yards later I think he’s still outstanding,” Tressel said. “He’s a competitor.” 3. Has Ross Homan’s injury opened the door for the next star Buckeye linebacker? Remember back in 2005 when senior standout linebacker Bobby Carpenter broke his leg against Michigan and true freshman James Laurinaitis stepped in for him and didn’t miss a beat? Andrew Sweat is delivering a repeat performance in 2010 while Ross Homan is mending a foot injury. In the last two games, Sweat had 16 tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. 4. Is Terrelle Pryor out of the Heisman race? The smart money says that with Auburn’s Cam Newton and Oregon’s LaMichael James putting up impressive numbers week after week, along with Boise State’s Kellen Moore’s sustained excellence throughout the season, Pryor’s Heisman campaign might be postponed until 2011. Although he’s not completely out of the race yet (Pryor ranks in the top 12 in the nation in touchdown passes and quarterback rating), he will need monster efforts in each of the final four regular season games to put himself back into the discussion. 5. After struggling at Illinois and losing at Wisconsin, will OSU’s road struggles continue against Minnesota? The Golden Gophers are hardly intimidating at 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. They are 7-42 in program history against OSU, their worst record against any Big Ten opponent. But consider this: No current Buckeye has played at TCF Bank Stadium, which opened Sept. 12, 2009. OSU always gets every Big Ten opponent’s best shot and the Golden Gophers will be amped to play under the lights Saturday night. Tressel said he hasn’t been disappointed by his team’s play on the road so far, but agreed that his squad’s two previous performances away from Ohio Stadium have left room for improvement. “I haven’t looked at our two trips and said, ‘I don’t think they were focused’ or ‘I don’t think they understood’ or ‘they let the crowd get to them,’” Tressel said. “But do we need to play better on the road? Absolutely.”
Reid Fragel was a tight end in his first three seasons with the Ohio State football team, so it should come as no surprise that his transition to right tackle in his senior season has been a challenge.Fragel said he finally felt comfortable, however, in the Buckeyes’ fourth game of the season, a 29-15 victory against the University of Alabama-Birmingham Saturday.“I think so far that’s the best I’ve played at tackle,” Fragel said.This week, however, Fragel prepares for what could be a much greater challenge, as the Buckeyes travel to East Lansing, Mich., to play the No. 20 Michigan State Spartans in their Big Ten opener at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Against the Spartans, Fragel will be lining up primarily against Spartans defensive end William Gholston, who was an All-Big Ten second-team selection in 2011.“He’s got length,” Fragel said of Gholston. “I think that’s his main weapon, he likes to use his hands a lot and uses his reach. He’s quick off the ball, he’s got size, too, so it’ll be a good challenge for us.”The MSU game will be a homecoming for Fragel as well. For the first time in his OSU career, Fragel will have the opportunity to play in East Lansing, Mich., which is located less than 100 miles from Fragel’s home town of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.“That’s a game I’ve been looking forward to for a while,” Fragel said. “Obviously that’s my home state, so (I’ve) got some friends and family up there that will be at the game.”Fragel caught 14 passes over the course of three years playing tight end, but he became a starter for the first time after converting to right tackle and winning a position battle over freshman Taylor Decker in fall camp.Coach Urban Meyer listed Fragel as one of the offensive players who graded out as “champions” for his performance against UAB, and gave him praise during Monday’s press conference.“(Fragel) played his best game as a Buckeye,” Meyer said. “Best game of the year, really best game of his career.”Two of Fragel’s fellow starters on the OSU offense echoed Meyer’s sentiments.“We’ve seen a lot of guys step up,” said senior fullback Zach Boren. “Reid Fragel played the best game I’ve ever seen him play since he’s been here this past year.”Redshirt junior Corey Linsley said he felt similarly.“It was an awesome showing for Reid,” Linsley said. “It was great because everybody knows on the team Reid has so much talent. He’s huge, and he’s got athleticism, more athleticism than anybody, and it was great to see him finally use all of his potential.”Linsley said it was clear before Saturday’s game even started that Fragel came into the game with more energy than usual.“Even before the game, I knew it was going to be his best game,” Linsley said.Fragel said he “tried to be a little bit more energetic” on Saturday.“I knew we had to come out a lot harder and play with a little more tempo,” Fragel said. “I kind of just tried to help out I guess, and provide some energy.”Linsley said Fragel’s performance stood out during the highlight film that Meyer showed the entire team on Sunday.“They showed that film yesterday of the offense cutting through the defense and it was basically just a Reid Fragel highlight show,” Linsley said. “He was smiling all day yesterday, and high-fiving everybody, it was great to see him finally do that.”Fragel said it was a “good feeling” to be acknowledged for his positive plays in the UAB game, but also recognized that he has to continue to improve for the team’s upcoming game against the Spartans.“I know there was some things that I watched aside from that film that I need to correct, get better and improve for Michigan State,” Fragel said. “Not to downplay UAB at all, but the athletes that Michigan State have, we’re going to need to execute a lot better.”Linsley said playing against Gholston will be a great opportunity for Fragel to shine.“I think that’s even a better opportunity to take what he learned from this game, and to just put it in action against a really good player,” Linsley said.
Redshirt-freshman Driss Guessous (4) prepares to hit the ball during a match against Saint Francis Feb. 9 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorDriss Guessous went from redshirting his first year at Ohio State to starting every match and becoming one of the most influential players on the men’s volleyball team the next and is far from your average freshman athlete.That’s because when it comes to experience, redshirt-freshman middle blocker Guessous’ coach Pete Hanson said his rivals anyone.“Driss is a great athlete, but all of his experience is one of the reasons why he is having such a successful freshman year. He has played some great volleyball and is drawing from those experiences,” Hanson said.Guessous started playing volleyball during his freshman year of high school at Loyola in Pasadena, Calif., where he was named a 2012 first-team All-American and led the team to a state title. The past two summers, he has played with the USA Volleyball and the Junior National Team, competed at the Federation Internationale De Volleyball and played in the Men’s U-21 World Championship in Turkey with Buckeye teammate and junior outside hitter Michael Henchy.As an OSU Scholar-Athlete, Guessous said it has been a difficult adjustment from last season to find the time to stay on track with his schoolwork while traveling with the team.“The hardest transition for me is trying to balance school and volleyball. Being a physics major and having to travel to matches all over the Midwest can be quite the challenge, but it keeps me focused on what my goals are and what I want to take away from college — a great education and, hopefully, a national championship,” Guessous said.The Buckeyes have the 15th-best hitting percentage in the nation at .287, led by Guessous, who is ranked No. 1 in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association and fourth in the country for his hitting percentage of .446.“Driss is our most consistent attacker. If we ever get into an offensive slump, we know that he has the ability to get us out of it,” redshirt-junior setter Peter Heinen said.“Driss is one of our best offense weapons. He’s consistently killing balls for us,” Henchy said.Hanson said for one player to be successful on the court, the whole team must work together. But when it comes to Guessous, he works hand-in-hand with freshman setter Christy Blough, to get set up for a kill.“We have a setter who really understands that finding a way to get Driss the ball can really help the offense. Christy has really embraced that and does a good job of assisting Driss in a lot of opportunities,” Hanson said.Beyond his contributions to the Buckeye offense, Guessous is a main contributor to the defense as well. He is ranked sixth in the conference in blocks per set with a .94 average. His position as middle blocker entails a lot, Hanson said.“There is a lot of responsibility on a middle blocker from a blocking perspective, and as an attacker, to make some pretty instantaneous judgments, and being aware of everyone’s positioning on the court and the position of the ball,” Hanson said.As Guessous’ familiarity with the team increases, he also will grow as a player, Hanson said.“The more and more Driss and the passers and setters play together, the quicker and smarter his decisions will become,” Hanson said. “That will help him to continue to be more and more effective.”After falling to No. 15 IPFW Wednesday 3-2, the Buckeyes are set to take on No. 12 Penn State Friday at 7 p.m. in Columbus.Guessous said he is always looking to improve and understand that he has a lot to learn during these next few years as a Buckeye.“I want to get better at all facets of the sport. That’s the best part about playing volleyball — no matter how good I am, I can always can be better. That is why I love the sport. I crave the challenge and that is what keeps me going,” Guessous said.
Junior outfielder Pat Porter (3) slides into home during a game against Toledo April 3 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won, 7-2.Credit: Elliot Schall / Lantern photographerIf the Ohio State baseball team wants to be considered as one of the best teams in the Big Ten, making a statement in its first conference road series will go a long way.After getting swept in a three-game series at home by Indiana last weekend, the Buckeyes (18-10, 2-3) have a season-defining series this weekend at Nebraska (16-13, 1-2). OSU cruised in two midweek games against Ohio and Toledo that resulted in 31 hits for the Buckeyes, and coach Greg Beals said after feeling the pressure last weekend, the team has to step up against another one of the Big Ten’s top teams.“They were picked to be second in our conference preseason, so we’ve got to go defend ourselves. We didn’t have a good conference weekend last weekend and we can’t afford to have two bad weekends in a row in conference,” Beals said.Junior catcher Connor Sabanosh said the team realizes how important this weekend is if it wants to make a run at winning the Big Ten.“It’s going to be a big series for us after the tough three losses against Indiana,” Sabanosh said. “We’re really looking forward to our hitting to continue, these last two games have been big for us pounding out some hits and some runs. So we’re looking forward to keep it going through the weekend.”Pitching is key for OSU — the team is 13-0 when leading after seven innings and 17-2 when limiting opponents to five runs. Freshman pitcher Zach Farmer said heading into another Big Ten series, the pitchers have to build on the momentum they gained this week.“We’re on a roll right now and we just have to keep it going,” Farmer said.Against Indiana, pitchers were trying too hard and not sticking to the game plan, Sabanosh said.“Last weekend I thought they left a few too many balls over the middle of the plate. We have our best success working down on the corners,” Sabanosh said. “I think if they can stick with their game plan working down on the zone, we’ll be pretty effective out there.”In his first year at OSU after playing two years at a junior college, Sabanosh said he is excited to see what the Big Ten games look like on the road.“I’m hoping for a big one. It’s been fun on the road,” Sabanosh said. “We’ve been fortunate. The Oregon series was a lot of fun, great energy in the crowd. I’m really looking forward to the Nebraska series and I’m expecting a big crowd.”Beals said he expects the series to be exciting.“It’s a very good college baseball atmosphere there,” Beals said. “We’re going to have a good challenge here. We’re going on the road to play a good team.”First pitch in Lincoln is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Friday.