Hot Takedown If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS Several months ago, Hot Takedown crowdsourced ideas from listeners about how to change the draft to stop teams from tanking. After we sent him the winning idea, Silver wrote that there is a “growing consensus that we should reform the draft lottery.” But on this week’s Hot Takedown he said that after team owners voted down a proposal for change last year, the league has decided to “park the issue” for the foreseeable future.Silver argued that the marketplace is providing the biggest pressure on teams like Philadelphia, which he said are realizing that “losing comes at an enormous cost.” Silver sees a “resetting of sorts” with the team. And he denied that he intervened and asked the Sixers to install Jerry Colangelo as special advisor.Watch a video excerpt and stream the full audio of the interview above. We’ve also provided a lightly edited transcription of the highlights below. This interview was conducted Friday, Dec. 18.Silver not a fan of Sixers strategyNeil Paine: Are you personally, as the commissioner, OK with the way that the 76ers have run their franchise the past three seasons?Adam Silver: I don’t want to answer that directly. As I said, there’s a marketplace of ideas and approaches that go into managing a franchise.Am I fan of that strategy? Put it this way: No. But does that mean that it’s not acceptable under the league rules? It doesn’t. The Sixers are a mess, and Adam Silver is not happy. The NBA commissioner joined our sports podcast, Hot Takedown, for a conversation about the structure of the draft, the perverse incentives that it creates and how his office can try to “cajole” teams like the Philadelphia 76ers into being more competitive. But he admitted that ultimately, he may not be able to reset the competitive balance of the league by tweaking the draft rules. Truth to rumors that he intervened with Sixers?Chadwick Matlin: Anonymous reports suggested that [you stepped in and pushed for the hiring of Jerry Colangelo] due to owners who wanted the situation in Philadelphia changed. Are those reports correct?Adam Silver: Those reports are not correct. Josh Harris, who’s the principal owner of the 76ers, decided on his own that he needed to change course. He and I had many conversations along the way about the utility of the strategy that he was following. And he came to the conclusion once this season began, and he saw how his team was performing on the floor, that he needed to change his strategy.Other owners were not pressuring him at all. In fact, it’s a weird dynamic in the league that while all the owners would like to see teams well operated, other owners just want to win (laughter). And so nobody was calling me and saying go call the 76ers and tell them how to beat us. The Sixers are “resetting”Adam Silver: There’s a resetting of sorts going on with the 76ers right now. And I think that ultimately may speak louder in the marketplace of teams than any tinkering we do to the draft lottery.Is it time to step in and stop tanking?Chadwick Matlin: I’m interested about when you do step in as a commissioner. You’re basically the CEO of a big multibillion-dollar corporation. At what point is it your responsibility to intervene if one of your franchises is not performing in a way that represents the league?Adam Silver: Well, I would say that there’s lots of different ways of so-called “stepping in.” There’s also cajoling and ongoing conversations that I have with owners, with team presidents, with general managers, where I’m expressing my opinion.
sara.ziegler: I just really have a hard time with Minshew Mania.Is it a real thing? Seriously?Salfino: Minshew was pretty meh in college.I mean, 7.2 yards per attempt at Washington State? Big deal. If he’s so good, why wasn’t he better there?joshua.hermsmeyer: I think it’s probably the case that accuracy is still undervalued in an NFL QB, and Minshew is certainly accurate.neil: He has a 110.6 passer rating but ranks 30th of 35 qualified QBs in air yards per attempt. So he’s definitely not making plays happen downfield.Salfino: Minshew seems to be getting all the swag that Baker Mayfield has lost. It’s a zero sum game with them.neil: Douchey mustachioed QBs: There Can Be Only One.Salfino: Love it.sara.ziegler: LOLOLOLjoshua.hermsmeyer: JAX was very efficient with Minshew, though. They averaged 0.25 EPA per play on 18 early-down passes with Gardner. And even when we account for his low depth of target, he completed more passes than we’d expect.neil: Jacoby Brissett was kind of the same way. He has the second-lowest air yards per attempt in the league but got the job done against Atlanta.joshua.hermsmeyer: Bigger picture, though, one explanation for all these new QBs doing well is the importance of a game plan. And it’s hard to scheme a defense for a QB if you’ve never seen them — or only seen a little of them.Salfino: Yes, exactly. I mean, Browning Nagle had a great first game. I was measuring him for a gold jacket, IIRC.neil: Browning Nagle!OMGNot a name I was expecting to hear this morning. Or, like, ever.sara.ziegler: What a blast from the past.Salfino: It’s a cautionary tale.joshua.hermsmeyer: Speaking of great first games… Eric Hipple-level awesomeness.neil: Wow.sara.ziegler: So you’re saying Giants fans should temper their expectations?Seems … unlikely.Salfino: If I were a Giants fan, I’d be thrilled with how Jones played. He was trailing badly, he lost Saquon Barkley, and he rallied the team back late. The only thing wrong with that game from a Giants perspective was the blown field goal at the end.joshua.hermsmeyer: Organizationally, they have to be thrilled with the win!sara.ziegler: Jones’s performance in that game boosted his Elo points in our model by 21 points. Which seems good!neil:And yet Elo still rates Eli better, LOL.joshua.hermsmeyer: Of the young QBs who played, Jones pushed the ball downfield more than anyone else. His depth of pass averaged almost 10 yards downfield. And he ran well. Reminded me of Josh Allen quite a bit.Salfino: The reports were that he could run. And unlike Allen, he did not seem to run recklessly, either.neil: “Reminded me of Josh Allen quite a bit.” — I think that’s a compliment…sara.ziegler: (Also, I just confused Josh Allen with Kyle Allen, and I always confuse Josh Allen with Josh Rosen. MORE DISTINCTIVE NAMES, PLEASE.)neil: (3-0 BILLS, BABY!)(CIRCLE THE WAGONS)Salfino: The Bills are this year’s Dolphins.neil: The Bills are this year’s Bills.sara.ziegler: 🤣 🤣 🤣How about Teddy Bridgewater? How did you guys think he did?joshua.hermsmeyer: Not great.sara.ziegler: AwwwwI have a soft spot for Teddy, always.joshua.hermsmeyer: Dink and dunk and threw short a ton, and didn’t complete many of them.neil: He was no Eric Hipple. Or Bobby Hebert. (See, I can throw random 1980s QB names out there too!)Salfino: I thought Payton was a coward for not starting Taysom Hill after all the Steve Young talk. But he was smart to keep using Alvin Kamara consistently. There’s no Drew Brees cushion now. So there’s no room for Latavius Murray touches in Kamara’s place. I thought Bridgewater was grinding it out, but I saw nothing from him that makes me bullish about the Saints’ chances next week against the Cowboys.sara.ziegler: So no one was impressed with a win on the road against Seattle? Dang — tough crowd.neil: In all seriousness, our model thought Bridgewater played OK. He played like a game manager, which basically what you want out of a guy keeping Brees’s seat warm for the next month-plus, right?Salfino: I get the game manager thing, but I do not think the rest of the Saints team is good enough to win this way. They got lucky with another Chris Carson fumble that became the dreaded Fumble Six.The Saints gave up 26 first downs and 515 yards and were about doubled in yardage. This win goes into the “miracle” bucket.joshua.hermsmeyer: Still, if they can luck their way into a .500 record while Brees is out, that’s pretty promising for their playoff hopes, I think.sara.ziegler: For sure.neil: And for what it’s worth, we give them a 62 percent chance of winning the NFC South after yesterday’s events.The Falcons seem very meh.joshua.hermsmeyer: Profoundly meh. sara.ziegler: That ’stache…..joshua.hermsmeyer: HE CUTS HIS OWN JORTS!sara.ziegler: LOLOLneil: That’s the most Jacksonville thing I’ve ever heard.joshua.hermsmeyer: On early-season reactions, this is also a great bit of research our friend Adi Wyner and his student Zach Drapkin at Wharton did. neil: Tampa keeps finding ways to lose. And idk what to make of Carolina, which finally won but against Arizona, and with a backup under center.Salfino: Assuming Brees steps right back into being Brees, yes. But they are 27th in yardage allowed and have allowed 6.7 yards per play. The defense is bad.neil: That is true.Russell Wilson had the best game from Sunday nobody is talking about. He threw for 406 yards and had two passing TDs and two rushing TDs.joshua.hermsmeyer: Wilson is playing the best ball of his career, I believe.Salfino: Wilson has an ability to really turn it on late in games regardless of how he’s played previously in games. Rational coaching would note how effective he is playing with his hair on fire, just make that their offense and win games early. But…sara.ziegler: The NFC West is so interesting. The Rams have not been super inspiring in their first three games, and yet they’ve won them all.And the Niners!Salfino: So true about the Rams. Their offense is so consistently uninspiring. The only thing that worked yesterday was Cooper Kupp. The only quasi-good game the Saints have played on defense was at LAR.neil: Have defenses figured out Sean McVay’s offense?They were held without a first-half TD yesterday against Cleveland, after the same being true against New Orleans. That’s twice in three games after only happening once all regular season last year.Salfino: Maybe some of this is due to the RB Who Used To Be Todd Gurley.joshua.hermsmeyer: I’ve heard a lot of chatter about how teams are stealing the front Bill Belichick used against the Rams in the Super Bowl. Basically it takes away the outside runs, and some believe that it chokes off the Rams’ ability to run passing plays off of it. To the extent that’s true, then yeah, I think the NFL has figured it out.However, if your offense is truly predicated on outside/wide zone being effective to win, I dunno. Seems bad to me.Salfino: On the one hand, Gurley is averaging 4.6 per carry, but man, it’s a quiet 4.6. A whispering 4.6. And he has four catches for eight yards after averaging over 11 yards per catch in McVay’s first two seasons.neil: At least Jared Goff used to be great on play-action. Now he ranks 25th out of 33 qualified QBs in QBR off play fakes. If it weren’t for Kupp, idk how bad Goff would have looked yesterday.Salfino: And remember the play-action fade started last year around Game 11 and extended into the postseason. So if you go back, we have almost a full season worth of games where the Rams’ play-action success has been well below average.sara.ziegler: The Rams were the first team I was going to bring up in our game of Good Team/Bad Team.So … Not Great Team?Salfino: Rams: OK team.joshua.hermsmeyer: Still my favorite for the West.neil: Good team, still. Because Aaron Donald.sara.ziegler: Yeah, he’s just a beast. So much fun to watch.Salfino: Donald is amazing. He can’t win Defensive Player of the Year three straight times, can he? Defensive excellence is not supposed to be this sustainably elite.neil: According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, the Rams pressured Baker Mayfield on 49 percent of his dropbacks.joshua.hermsmeyer: That’s an amazing stat, Neil. Helps explain — a little — his happy feet. He bailed on quite a few good pockets last night.Salfino: Well, Mayfield created his own pressure at times by leaking out of the pocket for no reason and into the pass rushers.neil: Yeah, there’s a weird Next Gen Stat from Sunday night where Mayfield did way better the less time he had to throw.He was 5-of-18 when taking longer than 2.5 seconds to throw, including that game-sealing interception in the end zone.idk what to do with that, but…Salfino: He seemed surprisingly indecisive last night. He’s just in a slump, something he’s not used to.sara.ziegler: The Browns are 1-2 now, with just the win against the Jets.So … are they bad?Salfino: The Browns were down seven starters last night and could have beaten a good team. I don’t think they are bad. They just need the Mayfield we thought we were getting. Coaching is a big issue too. You have both an inexperienced QB and coach now.The Rams gave them the QB draw to win the game the last two plays and it was not taken. That’s supposed to be an automatic. I mean, Jones took it for the Giants. And Baker laughed at Jones.joshua.hermsmeyer: Their coaching is atrocious.I think they have plenty of talent, though, if head coach Freddie Kitchens and the offensive coordinator can get it together.Salfino: I think we’re veering from one overreaction to the other for the Browns. They’re an 8-9 win team.sara.ziegler: A couple more Good/Bad Teams: How good are the Packers?neil: Our model ranks them 7th overall, which kind of sounds right? They’ve beaten some good teams, more on defense than anything else.Rodgers has been … fine … not ELITE though.Salfino: The Packers are not good and the offense is still disappointing.joshua.hermsmeyer: Through three games and 93 pass attempts, Rodgers does not look transformed. That was the hope — that new head coach Matt LaFleur would unlock the old efficiency. Early returns are that A-aron is gonna throw the ball away at historical rates.Salfino: Rodgers’s QBR is 46? Is he even good anymore? It’s been years since he’s been great. He hasn’t had even a good yards per pass attempt since … 2014.sara.ziegler: Any other thoughts on the teams that might be good but might also be bad?Salfino: Buffalo is not an actual contender, with a 36-year-old running back and one viable receiver. The Eagles are not bad and actually are still good — they would have won if not for seven dropped passes including the potential game-winner in the final minute. The Lions are unbeaten? Is that a misprint? They Niners are good — but 10-win good, not undefeated good. And we’re probably overreacting to the good play of the new QBs.joshua.hermsmeyer: I can’t believe you people don’t like this guy, smh. Helps to kind of temper the panic.sara.ziegler: Oh, that’s very interesting.BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OVERREACTIONS???neil: Just wait until Week 11. We will know SO much.Salfino: Makes sense. The old saw in football was that nothing really matters until the leaves turn brown.neil: I thought it was that “nothing really matters until the Browns fans turn and leave” (while hurling bottles on the field).Check out our latest NFL predictions. sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, sports editor): Week 3 of the NFL season is just about in the books, and we felt fully the ramifications of the injuries so far this season to star quarterbacks. Plus we saw a couple of young, highly touted quarterbacks take over the starting jobs on their teams just because of, well, ineptitude.So what did we learn this week from this new crop of QBs?Salfino (Michael Salfino, FiveThirtyEight contributor): I’m extremely surprised by how well Daniel Jones, Gardner Minshew and Kyle Allen played. We can say, “It’s easier than ever to be a quarterback because of the college passing.”joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): It’s interesting that most of the QBs who have stepped in because of injury or ineffectiveness have played pretty well. I think the only real stinkers were Mason Rudolph and Josh Rosen. Rudolph’s completion rate is 11.7 percentage points less than we would expect (despite throwing short a lot — his average depth of pass was just 6.7 yards). Rosen was even worse. On the season, he has completed just 43.3 percent of his passes, and his completion percentage is over 18 points worse than expected.But by and large, the new QBs were very good.neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): It might go back to something our friend Chase Stuart has been saying for a while: There are more solid QBs in the league than we probably acknowledge.
The United States kicks off its 2014 World Cup campaign on Monday against Ghana, the team that eliminated the Stars and Stripes from the 2010 tournament in the round of 16. That’s the must-watch game in the U.S. But for most of the rest of the world, it’s Germany versus Portugal.See our World Cup interactive for the latest probabilities. — Allison McCannIN DEPTHSo what’s changed for Ghana and the U.S. since they last faced each other on this stage?America’s lineup has been transformed in the four years since 2010’s disappointment. Only four of the U.S. starting 11 from the loss to Ghana — goalkeeper Tim Howard, midfielders Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, and striker Jozy Altidore — will be in coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s opening lineup Monday. (The most notable absence is Landon Donovan, though central defender Carlos Bocanegra was another useful veteran who saw his role with Team USA phased out in recent years.)Klinsmann made clear his preference for a fresh group during the selection process, and — Donovan’s ouster aside — that’s not a bad thing. New faces since 2010, including Fabian Johnson and Geoff Cameron, have acquitted themselves reasonably well for clubs in Europe, a factor Klinsmann values highly. Graham Zusi, Brad Davis and Matt Besler are playing effectively in MLS. The cupboard isn’t quite as bare as is widely believed, though the U.S. is still far from elite in the talent department.As for Ghana, it’s turned over six of its eleven starting slots from four years ago — although most of its best players from 2010 are back, including jack-of-all-trades Kwadwo Asamoah, midfielders Andre Ayew, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Michael Essien, and striker Asamoah Gyan. The Black Stars have also promoted the talented two-way midfielder Sulley Muntari into a regular starting role since their last World Cup meeting with the United States. (Needless to say, midfield is the strength of Ghana’s roster.)Most members of that group are plying their trade in top European leagues, so Ghana’s high-end talent is probably superior to that of the United States. But Ghana’s edge in talent hasn’t always translated in international play. It ranked just 38th in the pre-World Cup Elo Ratings, while the Americans ranked 13th.When ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI) ranks teams, it attempts to combine these two elements — observed results and underlying talent — into a single rating for a given national team. And the current SPI rankings say the United States and Ghana are in a dead heat. The U.S. ranks 22nd in the world with a 77.53 SPI — meaning the Americans would compile 77.53 percent of the possible points if they played a round robin against every other national team in the world. Ghana ranks 25th, with an SPI of 77.37. That’s the smallest SPI margin between any two teams that will face each other in the group stage of this World Cup.As of Sunday, the sportsbook Bovada has Ghana as a slim favorite over the U.S., 35.8 percent to 34.5 percent (with a 29.7 percent chance of a draw). The FiveThirtyEight match projection system flips those odds around, giving the United States a very slight edge: 37.5 percent to 33 percent. Whatever happens, U.S.-Ghana should be one of the most evenly matched showdowns of the entire World Cup.YesterdayArgentina’s 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday served notice to the casual soccer fan: One individual moment of brilliance can overshadow an average game.In the first 64 minutes of the match, Argentina’s Lionel Messi was the game’s most active participant in the attacking third, but the three chances he created didn’t translate into a single shot on goal. And he had turned the ball over a game-high three times.In the 65th minute, Messi reminded the Maracana how quickly he can change a game. He made a run from the midfield, past Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic, and played a quick 1-2 ball to teammate Gonzalo Higuain. Messi’s short-burst quickness created separation from Besic, and he hesitated slightly before the shot, driving another Bosnian player into Besic and out of position.Messi then banked a left-footed shot off the post for the eventual game-winning goal, Argentina’s first shot on goal of the match and only the second goal of Messi’s World Cup career. From his first touch in midfield to the ball crossing the goal line, the entire sequence took just over 9.5 seconds and erased the match’s first 64 minutes from spectators’ memory.That was all it took; the night belonged to Messi, whose production under Alejandro Sabella has been outstanding. Messi has 22 goals in 26 international games since Sabella became Argentina’s manager in September 2011, compared with 17 goals in 61 matches under all other managers. — John Parolin, senior stats analyst, ESPNOFF THE PITCHIf Ghana defeats the United States on Monday, Americans shouldn’t be too quick to feel ill-disposed toward the West African nation. The United States imports two bread-and-butter items from Ghana (though they are neither bread nor butter): oil and chocolate. In 2011, just more than 44 percent of Ghanaian exports to the United States was oil (crude and refined) and roughly 42 percent was chocolate (cocoa beans, chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa paste and cocoa butter). That’s $374,624,626 in chocolate.Ghana also sent $7,016,768 in fake hair to the U.S. Thanks, Ghana!What does the U.S. send to Ghana? Cars — worth about $303 million in 2011. — Micah CohenFurther ReadingCtrl + ← The World Cup, the World Cup And the World CupHow Soccer Explains the Sports Page
CHICAGO — The Cleveland Indians won a 1-0 nail-biter on Friday night in Game 3 of the World Series. Two number-three starters succeeded in shutting down two strong offenses, allowing the game to come down to the final at-bat. But while the relievers were overpowering as usual, the most significant influence on this game wasn’t the wind, a single Indians hitter or managerial cleverness, but a seemingly inconsistent strike zone.Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck has a reputation for calling balls and strikes erratically, and that was on full display last night, creating shifting strike-zone boundaries that bedeviled both offenses.1A rough look at the strike zone plots for each team showed about 10 calls helping the Cubs, and seven helping the Indians. Data from PitchF/X needed for a quantitative comparison was not available at time of publication. For the Indians, Josh Tomlin turned in an unexpectedly solid line, allowing only two hits. At times, Tomlin was burned by bad calls, leading, for example, to a fourth-inning walk by Kris Bryant. But when the strike zone is called inconsistently, hitters tend to strike out more often and make weaker contact. That’s because pitchers can choose to target inconsistently called areas of the zone when it benefits them, while hitters can only decide whether to swing or not at what’s offered. When they’re uncertain, batters often opt to swing at pitches outside the zone, resulting in glancing contact and easy outs.Chicago Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who usually gets favorable strike calls due to his impeccable command, struggled mightily in allowing six hits and two walks in only 4.2 innings. The shifting zone did aid him in racking up six strikeouts, above what you’d expect based on his regular-season stats.Even as the inconsistent strike zone helped the pitchers, neither was overpowering. And with bullpens fresh after the day off, both starters were pulled before the 6th inning with the score 0-0, an event that has never happened before in MLB postseason history. That handed the game to the relievers, including an early appearance from Andrew Miller. They were as commanding as expected, except for one lapse by the Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr., who allowed Coco Crisp to single in the lone run of the night.The Cubs came close to evening the score in the bottom of the ninth. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Chicago dynamo Javy Báez was up to bat against Cleveland closer Cody Allen. He struck out whiffing to end the threat, leaving the Indians up 2-1 in the Series.The outlook for the Cubs is worrisome going forward: Their series win probability by Elo is down to only 37 percent.2For reference, that’s the same probability Elo gave the Indians before the World Series began. In his last start, Corey Kluber looked invincible, and the Cubs will have to face him in Games 4 and 7 of this Series (if it goes that far). That means they will need to pull off at least one upset against the 2014 AL Cy Young winner to clinch the series. While such a feat appears difficult, the Cubs managed an even more surprising performance against Clayton Kershaw in the NLCS, so it’s certainly possible. Nobody said ending a 108-year title drought would be easy.CORRECTION (Oct. 29, 12:05 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Corey Kluber. He was the 2014 AL Cy Young winner; he is not the reigning winner.
*In preseason polls since 1976-77 season for women’s basketball, 1961-62 for men’s basketball and 1950 for football.Source: College Poll Archive TexasFootball5275 The year was 1956. Ohio State’s college football program was ranked fifth in the annual Associated Press preseason college football poll and was coming off a season in which they had won all but two games. Expectations for a strong season were, no doubt, high.But head coach Woody Hayes was in hot water with the Big Ten for providing loans to his players, and after an investigation, the conference put the team on probation for one year and banned it from playing in that season’s Rose Bowl.Sixty-two years later, Ohio State is once again entering the season with a No. 5 preseason ranking, having won all but two games the previous season. Controversy blankets the campus once more: Head coach Urban Meyer has been suspended for the opening three games of the season after an investigation concluded that he had mishandled domestic assault allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith.High expectations are nothing new in Columbus. For about as long as college football has been around, the Ohio State Buckeyes have been a force. In the annals of the sport’s history, only Michigan (943) — oh, the irony — and Notre Dame (906) have won more games than the Buckeyes (898).1Excluding Yale, which is not currently a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision team. Since the turn of the century, only Boise State, which has played in three non-Power-Five conferences over that stretch, has won more total games than Ohio’s flagship university.And that prodigious success isn’t lost on Associated Press voters.Ohio State has failed to make the poll just four times in the 69-year history of the poll, most recently in 1988. That was John Cooper’s first year at the helm after taking over for the fired Earle Bruce. Cooper wouldn’t miss another preseason poll. Hayes only missed out in 1966 and 1967, the lone instance of the team failing to crack the AP preseason poll in consecutive years.Which got us thinking: Does Ohio State dominate this poll more than any team in any sport dominates its preseason poll? AP voters produce a preseason, weekly and postseason poll for three college sports: football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. In 1989, the polls expanded to a 25-team format, which remains the current standard.Across the three sports, only the Tennessee Volunteers women’s basketball program has been more of a mainstay on the preseason poll than the Ohio State football team, according to data from the website College Poll Archive. Tennessee has made the AP preseason poll 98 percent of the time. It’s missed just once in the poll’s 42-year history — in 1976, the year the poll was introduced. Largely under their legendary coach, the late Pat Summitt, the Volunteers piled up eight national championships and 18 Final Four appearances, controlling the sport for decades before Connecticut assumed the mantle. 2Ohio StateFootball6594 RKTeamSportCountRate* 5USCFootball5884 3KentuckyMen’s basketball5088 9GeorgiaWomen’s basketball3276 4OklahomaFootball6087 Appearances 7Notre DameFootball5580 The preseason eliteTeams with the highest rate of appearances in AP Top 25 preseason polls in men’s or women’s basketball and college football 1TennesseeWomen’s basketball4198% 10AlabamaFootball5275 North CarolinaMen’s basketball4884 UCLAMen’s basketball4375 8TexasWomen’s basketball3379 Ohio State has at least five more appearances on the AP preseason poll than any team in any sport, having qualified in 94 percent of available seasons. Since 1989, Ohio State’s average ranking in the preseason AP poll is 10.3. And perhaps no team dominates the opening month of the season like Ohio State, which has gone 21-2 over the last six years in the month of September, winning by an average margin of more than 30 points per game. But preseason rankings aren’t always pinpoint precise: Ohio State typically underperforms relative to its lofty preseason ranking.AP preseason polls typically draw from blue-blood schools, so it’s no surprise that other well-heeled programs like the football teams at Oklahoma and USC and the men’s basketball team at Kentucky are among the most-ranked.But on the gridiron, no team is accustomed to high expectations like the Buckeyes. Columbus has produced the second-most first-round NFL draft picks all time, and the team is expected not only to win, but to dominate. In this weekend’s season opener against Oregon State, Ohio State opened as 38-point favorites, the most lopsided betting line of any opening-week contest for a ranked team. “A place like Ohio State, we’re expected to win every game we play,” Meyer has said. “There’s not many places like that.” Those are expectations that Meyer also noted aren’t always “easy to embrace.” But players and coaches alike should recognize that’s what they’ve signed up for in Columbus: a culture of on-field success, national title aspirations and a preseason ranking.
With No. 7 Indiana coming to town, the Ohio State men’s soccer team looked to take down another Big Ten foe at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.Coming off a dominant 3-0 win over Oakland on Tuesday, the Buckeyes looked to ride momentum in hopes of improving their conference record of 2-3.OSU redshirt freshman goalkeeper Parker Siegfried (1) prepares to return the ball to midfield during the Buckeye’s game against Valparaiso on Sept. 21 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes won 4-1. Credit: Janaya Greene | Lantern PhotographerOhio State and Indiana played to a 2-2 draw on Saturday afternoon, with neither team able to find a game-winner through two overtime periods.“It could have gone either way,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “Earlier in the year we lost three games in sudden-death overtime. I think our guys were determined not to let that happen again.”The Buckeyes opened up the scoring early in the first period.In the 5th minute of play, junior forward Nate Kohl secured the ball in the box after a failed clearing attempt by the Indiana goalkeeper. Kohl deflected the ball off his chest then slid down to redirect it into the back of the net, giving the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead.For Kohl, it was his team-high fifth goal of the season.Indiana netted an equalizer in the 18th minute with a header by sophomore midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr.However, it did not take long for the Buckeyes to answer back.In the 20th minute, Kohl worked a ball down the sideline. He slotted a pass through the middle in between a couple Hoosier defenders, finding senior midfielder Ben Fitzpatrick, who used a good first touch to get around his defender. He then fired it into the back of the net from 12 yards out, putting OSU back on top 2-1.“Me and Ben have worked on and off the ball together pretty well,” Kohl said. “I know how he plays and he knows how I play so it just keeps getting better. Its sad it took until the end of the season to start working, but I guess it’s as good a time as any.”Just as it seemed like the Buckeyes had the game in the bag, Indiana upped the tempo and started applying pressure deep in the offensive zone.With just seven minutes remaining in regulation, senior defender Billy McConnell deflected an Indiana shot inside the box that rolled just out of reach of OSU redshirt freshman goalkeeper Parker Siegfried to tie the game up at two.Neither of the two teams had many scoring opportunities in the two overtime periods, as the game ended in a tie.“When you let up an equalizing goal that late, your team could fold,” Bluem said. “For those last 27 minutes, our guys strapped them back up and fought hard to not allow that winning goal.”The Hoosiers outshot OSU 14-5, including an 8-1 advantage in the second period. Siegfried made five saves.The two teams seemed to have some bad blood, as things got chippy as time went on. Indiana accumulated a staggering 28 for calls, including four yellow cards for Indiana. OSU amassed 12 total fouls.“They were getting a little upset that they are the No. 7 team in the country and we were putting the pressure on them and taking the wind out of them,” Kohl said. “Things got a little chippy, but nothing we couldn’t handle.”Bluem said he was very proud of how his team played despite missing a few of their key guys to injuries.“We have a lot of talent sitting on our bench that can’t play,” Bluem said. “Yaw (Amankwa) couldn’t play today. Danny (Jensen) is out. (Marcus) McCrary is out. The guys that are being called upon in their place are really doing a great job.”Next up for the now 4-9-1 Buckeyes is a road contest against No. 4 Louisville on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Sophomore guard Walter Offutt is leaving the Ohio State men’s basketball team to transfer to another university, coach Thad Matta announced Tuesday.Offutt will finish fall quarter at OSU before determining where he will relocate.The Indianapolis native has appeared in 23 career games for the Buckeyes, averaging 1.3 points per game.
The Buckeye quarterback battle has dominated talk at the water cooler, but the biggest concern heading into spring might have been the lack of depth at wide receiver. With DeVier Posey suspended for the first five games of the season and the graduation of Dane Sanzenbacher, the Buckeyes lost virtually all meaningful experience at the position. The Buckeyes have a collection of young players who hope to fill the void, but their performances in the early parts of the spring were far from encouraging. “We got young guys at receiver and I thought they really came along this spring,” coach Jim Tressel said after the Spring Game on Saturday. “I think after about three practices we were thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we might be in three (tight ends), a fullback and a tailback.’” But Posey took it upon himself to bring the younger guys along. “I think for me the biggest thing to get those guys to understand as far as leading by example is practicing hard every single day,” Posey said. “I want them to see how passionate I play, how the game is supposed to be played and how fast the game is supposed to be played so that they can learn from that.” Posey said the receivers needed some help getting accustomed to college football and the rigors of being a student-athlete. “They had some rough days,” Posey said. “They had some days they didn’t want to play football anymore, and they had some days where they looked like All-Americans and I felt like that was key to get those guys on a straight line and keep them consistent.” Posey’s example seemed to make a big difference. During the first two jersey scrimmages, Posey was the only receiver to reach the end zone, but Saturday’s Spring Game saw four new receivers cross the goal line. At 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, redshirt freshman T.Y. Williams is an imposing physical target. He’s had issues catching the ball in his brief time at Ohio State, but he led the team in receiving yards Saturday with three receptions for 83 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Taylor Graham. Sophomore Corey “Philly” Brown is the only receiver with legitimate game experience. Brown had eight receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown last year and is the leading candidate to replace Posey as the top wide receiver. He hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller on Saturday. Tressel seemed prophetic after calling redshirt freshman Verlon Reed the “dark horse” before the Spring Game. Reed caught Saturday’s first touchdown pass, a 17-yard strike from Kenny Guiton. A quarterback in high school, Reed has caught the attention of his teammates with his play. “I think he’s stepped up,” offensive lineman Mike Brewster said. “I think he’s started to make a name for himself on the team.” Ryan Ross also caught a touchdown from Joe Bauserman. “I felt like a proud dad today watching three of them score touchdowns and making big plays,” Posey said. “To me, that shows their growth and that shows their maturity.” Posey said the success for the young receivers in the spring game will help their progression through the summer and fall camps. “It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Posey said of the receivers’ touchdowns. “I think that was Corey’s second time scoring at Ohio Stadium and it was Tyrone and Verlon’s first time. They’re happy, man, and I’m really excited for those guys.” But the young group still has a ways to go. Most of the receivers’ success came when the first-team defense watched from the sidelines. “(The receivers) need to have tremendous progress between now and September,” Tressel said. “But I think for all of our guys, receivers especially, with the youth of them, this spring was well-served.” Recruits Devin Smith and Evan Spencer will both join the receiver battle this summer and hope to help the offense deal with Posey’s absence. Posey, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, offensive lineman Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits. Tressel will join them for failing to report their violations. OSU has until July 5 to respond to the NCAA’s questions and will meet with the Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12.
The Ohio State-Michigan football game is more than a week away, but the bitter rivalry between both schools will be in action this weekend on the ice. The No. 14 OSU men’s hockey team (8-3-1, 5-2-1) will face No. 7 Michigan (7-3-2, 3-3-2), in a two-game series starting Friday night in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Buckeyes, ranked for the first time this season, are currently on a five-game winning streak and unbeaten in their last seven games. OSU head coach Mark Osiecki is looking forward to the test facing Michigan on the road will pose for his team. “We know what to expect playing against Michigan,” he said. “We expect a well-coached team, and a team that plays at a high level and competes.” Playing at Michigan is always fun for senior forward Danny Dries, a Michigan native. “Being from around there, it’s always fun to have family and friends around and play in front of them,” he said. “It’s a pretty fun environment. Youcan’t let it intimidate you.” Senior goalie Cal Heeter said that playing Michigan is special because of the historic rivalry between the two schools, but that the real importance of the games are the conference points that could be gained. “We have to realize and respect the rivalry for both schools. On top of that, the CCHA points are important for this team,” he said. OSU is currently tied for second in the CCHA with 17 points. Michigan has 12 points and stands alone in sixth place. Osiecki attributes the recent success to players gelling and coming together as one. “Whether they’ve had a lot of playing time or a little, they’ve done well,” he said. One of the things OSU has done well is play disciplined. OSU has had a season-low four penalties in each of their past four games. When the Buckeyes have had to play a man down during the five-game winning streak, they’ve been perfect, killing all 19 of their opponents’ power plays. “We have done some things in practice to make our guys move their feet and keep their sticks down,” Osiecki said. “I think that has been a big factor in us being smart and knowing we can play hard and stay out of the penalty box.” The Buckeyes have been no slouch on the offensive end either, outscoring their opponents, 27-6, during the seven-game unbeaten streak. OSU leads the CCHA with 3.38 goals per game in conference play. Heeter said he enjoys having a potent offense play in front of him, but that it can be tough to get into the flow of the game when he doesn’t have to make a ton of saves. “It’s different, it’s tough for sure,” he said. “It’s just a different element, something you have to get used to.” Michigan is second in the CCHA with 3.25 goals per game, and posted a season-high 10 goals in a game against St. Lawrence in October. OSU and Michigan are set to take the ice at 7:35 p.m. Friday and play again Saturday night.
Ohio State football won’t play its annual game against Michigan until Nov. 24 , but there’s a rivalry game this Saturday to tide the Buckeyes over. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema labeled this weekend’s matchup with the Buckeyes as a rivalry game Tuesday at the weekly Big Ten football coaches teleconference. “It’s a big one,” Bielema said. Last year, OSU upset then-No. 12 Wisconsin in a game that Bielema called “heartbreaking.” The year before, Wisconsin gave a then-No.1 OSU squad its only loss of the season. Dating back to 2005, either Wisconsin or OSU has won at least a share of the Big Ten conference title. “What makes a good rivalry is when two good teams play significant games,” said first-year OSU coach Urban Meyer. “Over the past decade, certainly in recent history, these two teams have been near the top of the Big Ten. That’s made this a very interesting rivalry.” The current landscape of the Big Ten conference has allowed the OSU-Wisconsin rivalry to blossom. The Buckeyes and Badgers are both members of the Leaders Division, guaranteeing a meeting between the programs every year. Meyer said he has no doubt that Wisconsin will always compete for the division championship, making the OSU and Wisconsin game a pivotal one in determining the Leaders Division champion for years to come. That will be the case this weekend; a win against Wisconsin, and OSU will be crowned as king of the Leaders Division. Badgers not holding back Because OSU and Penn State are ineligible from postseason play, Wisconsin secured a spot in the Big Ten Championship game last weekend with a win against Indiana . But that doesn’t mean the Badgers will hold back this weekend against the Buckeyes. “Our goal year in and year out is to win our division,” Bielema said. “Obviously, we have to beat Ohio State for that to happen this year.” Nearly every year in the NFL, teams will rest their starters during the final weeks of the regular season once their playoff destinies are finalized. Bielema said, however, that the thought of benching his key players until the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 1 hadn’t even crossed his mind. “We would probably have a mutiny if I tried to take anyone out of the game,” Bielema said. “This is a chance to play the team that’s No. 1 in our division. I want to win in the worst way because Ohio State has set the standard for winning in this league.” Although the goal is to beat the Buckeyes, the Wisconsin coach said his team doesn’t need to win the division outright to legitimize their inevitable spot in the conference championship game. “We’re going to play the schedule that’s laid out,” Bielema said. “All we do is play the schedule that’s in front of us and live with the results.”