Don’t let the UConn women’s one-loss record fool you: The Huskies are the most dominant college basketball team on Earth. Aside from that two-point November loss to Stanford, the Huskies have won every game they’ve played by double digits — since March 12, 2013. In that period, they’re 83-1 with an average margin of victory of 38 points.On Tuesday night, those Huskies take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, with the NCAA women’s basketball national championship up for grabs. The UConn team features three freshmen and eight players returning from last year’s championship squad, five of whom are looking for the three-peat. And let’s just say, they have a pretty good chance.Their biggest star and leading scorer is forward Breanna Stewart, a 6-foot-4-inch junior who, in addition to having already won the NCAA player of the year award as a sophomore, averages 1.9 steals and 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes.1All stats as of the start of the Final Four. Senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis — the only player other than Stewart to start for both title teams — has a whopping 68.4 effective field goal percentage2A field goal measure that takes into account the extra points awarded for 3-pointers. (good for second-highest of 1,827 qualifying players). This may be due to her nation-leading 50 percent shooting from 3-point range — on 6.6 attempts per game.3Her teammate Moriah Jefferson shot a slightly higher 50.5 percent but did not have enough attempts to qualify for NCAA 3-point leaderboard. Even the Huskies’ “role-players” get it right — like Kiah Stokes, a senior non-starter who averages only 4.5 points in 18.6 minutes per game but makes those minutes count by averaging 7.5 blocks and 13.3 rebounds per 36.In other words, when the Huskies have the ball, they’re pretty good at putting it into that net hanging from the rim. And when they don’t have the ball, they’re pretty good at stopping their opponents from doing the same. No, really:That cloud in the middle is the other 348 NCAA women’s basketball teams. Teams want to be on the lower-right of the plot, and if you look deep in the lower-right area, you may be able to find Connecticut (highlighted in red so that you don’t mistake it for a flea on your monitor). Yes, that means UConn has — by far — the best offense in the country (even though many of its competitors play in weaker conferences), as well as — by far — the best defense in the country.On average, every trip up and down the floor nets the Huskies more than half a point (0.58 points on average). That’s an insane reciprocal advantage. The next-best are Princeton (who went undefeated in the Ivy League), South Carolina and Notre Dame at +0.33, +0.32 and +0.29 points per possessions exchanged, respectively.In sports, it’s common for the best to be relatively much better than the second-best and for the gap between the first and second-best to be bigger than the gap between the second-best and the third-best, and so on. In other words, it’s pretty normal for the best team in a league or sport to be really, really good. But this UConn team is better.We can line up each team’s reciprocal advantage from worst to best like so:4Small gaps and darker points are the result of ties. This kind of sideways/backwards S-shape distribution is common in sports, and you can see how the vertical distances between points get larger on the ends. This is one reason that great players and teams seem so amazing.But this UConn team takes it to a new level. The distance between it and the next-highest team is 0.25 points, and the distance between it and Notre Dame is the same as the distance between Notre Dame and the average team. You might even say — without being hyperbolic — that UConn has been twice as good as its championship rival.A few more fun facts before we look at the bigger picture:Unsurprisingly, UConn scored the most points per game overall this season (90). Normally, teams that score that much play a fast up-and-down game, so regardless of how good their defenses are, the extra possessions mean their opponents are going to score more points. But UConn isn’t normal, and still managed to allow the fewest points per game (48) of anybody.UConn’s offense led the nation in both 2-point (60.6 percent) and 3-point (40.9 percent) shooting.The Huskies are way down the charts in rebounds per game, but this is pretty much because they don’t miss enough shots to get enough chances. When there was a rebound to get, they nabbed it 58.2 percent of the time — good for the fourth-highest rebounding rate of all 349 teams.They led the NCAA with 8.0 blocks per game.Oh, and the Huskies managed to win by scores in the form of 80-something to 20-something (their 87-24 romp over Memphis, for example) four times.Of course, college basketball seasons are only 40ish games (including tournaments) long, which is less than half of an NBA season. So perhaps this year’s Connecticut team is just having the run of its life.This is at least partially true. The 2014-15 Huskies are an anomaly among anomalies — this year’s squad has been more efficient both offensively and defensively than either of their championship-winning predecessors (including last year’s unbeaten team). But, taken together, this three-year run is even more amazing. If you thought Connecticut’s 2015 offense/defense chart was crazy, here’s something crazier:Each V-shaped line in that tangle shows a team’s three-year performance on offense and defense. The side with a dot is how the team did in 2014-15, the “kink” in the middle is how it did in 2013-14, and the open end is how it did in 2012-13. At the center of the chart, note the chaotic 348-team jumble — if you can’t find, say, McNeese State, that’s the point. Most teams vary a lot from year to year. And when a team strays very far from the league’s center of gravity, it is likely to come crashing back.Except UConn. Once again, while it may look like someone accidentally took a red Sharpie to your monitor, that little red brush stroke is actually the Huskies. And not only are they nowhere near the pack, they appear to be running away from it.Indeed, each of UConn’s points scored per possession in the past three seasons is higher than any other team’s, which means that the other teams had a combined 1,044 chances to match UConn’s worst offensive season, and none could. Similarly, no other team has ceded fewer points per possession over a season than UConn’s 0.68 in 2012-13 — its worst season of the past three by this metric (though kudos to Hampton for matching it).Connecticut’s three-year performance is impressive not only for being extreme, but also for being extremely consistent. Sure, this year’s squad had even better efficiency stats than the previous two, but way out in space like that, such distinctions mean little. Some of their statistical improvement in the past two years may stem from their 2013 move from the Big East conference into the weaker American Athletic Conference. For example, my homebrew-version of SRS (Simple Rating System) — a stat that adjusts team strength to account for strength of schedule — slightly prefers the 2012-13 squad.5FYI, UConn has a history of cleaning up in this stat, posting eight of the top 12 seasons of the past 15 years. But because UConn is so good and its games are often decided by halftime or earlier, exactly how much it’s going to dominate is practically a coaches’ decision. (My colleague Carl Bialik found that its average lead at the half this year was 25 points.)So instead of looking at fancy small-scale possession-based stats and the like, let’s step back and look at the big picture. Here are the basic cumulative tallies of UConn’s points scored and points allowed after each game for the past three years:The dots represent where the Huskies stood after winning each championship. If you look incredibly carefully, it looks like the yellow “defense” line trends downward a tiny bit this year, but for the most part, it’s pretty remarkable how flat each is and how constant the ratio between the two lines is. Note that those lines don’t represent trends or a local regression or anything fancy — only consistency.And this is nothing new during coach Geno Auriemma’s reign. Whether it’s his schemes, his managerial style, his training or just his uncanny ability to recruit (or poach) all the best female basketballers to the Nutmeg State, Auriemma is on the threshold of yet another amazing accomplishment.It’s hard to believe that the great Geno toiled with this program for 10 years before it even sniffed a chance at a championship in 1995. But since then, wow. Connecticut has reached nine NCAA tournament finals and has won each time. This year gives Auriemma the chance to match John Wooden’s 10 national championships.6Note Wooden didn’t have to deal with a 64-team tournament, but that cuts both ways: The larger field means a team has to win more games, but it also makes it a bit more likely to face weaker opposition from “Cinderellas” that make it into later rounds. And to get there, all the Huskies need to do is beat archrival Notre Dame.In this season’s only meeting between the two, the Huskies beat the Fighting Irish in South Bend by (a mere) 18 points. But while Connecticut has lost only five games in the past three seasons, three were against Notre Dame — all in early 2013. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the fourth time was the charm that year, as the Huskies beat the Fighting Irish in the Final Four en route to the title. They’ll have to take down a juggernaut to return the favor.
2TennesseeJacksonville32:49190.05 1JacksonvilleHouston20:49180.29 Times when teams clearly should have gone for 22017 NFL season through Week 2 2New OrleansNew England45:04-170.10 2DallasDenver414:24-190.05 Magnitude is the amount that a team’s expected win percentage is improved by making the right decision.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group. Teams made the correct decision in four of those 16 cases, for a 25 percent rate. (For comparison: Since 2015, regular season and playoffs combined, teams have gone for 2 points 27 percent of the time in “clear go” scenarios.)Of course, a decision being clear-cut doesn’t mean that it matters a whole lot, but note that even among the decisions with the most significant consequences, teams are still making the wrong choices regularly (most likely because of adherence to Dick Vermeil’s rigid and outdated system that leads them to repeat the same mistakes over and over). In particular, the aforementioned scenarios of being down 4, 8, or 11 points late are both quite clear and quite important.Another significant case is when a team scores to pull within 2: Go for 2! This may seem like an obvious one, but since 2015, teams in this situation have chosen to kick the extra point as late as the fourth quarter (once, which is way too many times), and they’ve done so half the time in the third quarter (6 of 12, and still very bad) and 77 percent of the time in the second quarter (10 of 13, and still pretty bad, especially for such an early decision).This season, teams down 4, 8 or 11 late are holding steady at a 0 percent correct rate, having attempted extra points five out of five times when they “clearly” should have gone for it. That means that over the past three season, they’ve gotten these right exactly zero times in 105 chances.On a slightly brighter note, teams have been down 2 points after a touchdown twice this season — both in the third quarter — and they’ve correctly tried to tie the game both times! It’s not quite the revolution — it isn’t really even shots fired. But maybe, just maybe … 1DetroitArizona33:07-21.28✓ 1L.A. ChargersDenver47:00-41.62 2ClevelandBaltimore24:56-80.24 1ClevelandPittsburgh43:36-52.23✓ 1DetroitArizona49:2740.43✓ Before the Super Bowl in February, we published a fairly comprehensive guide for when to go for 2, simplified into one slightly complicated (but very easy to use once you get the hang of it!) chart. In addition to hopefully demystifying how to judge a lot of borderline situations, we identified some fairly clear-cut cases in which NFL coaches should choose to go for 2 but don’t. Ever.My hope, of course, was that teams would read this (or figure it out on their own) and that we’d see an immediate and cataclysmic shift in 2-point strategy — like going for it when down 4, 8, or 11 after scoring a touchdown late (which are not only real cases, but ones that are usually clear-cut and significant). But, alas, no such luck.The logic is pretty simple: If you can estimate your team’s chances of winning with an X point lead/deficit (X points being how many points you are up or down following a touchdown) and your chances of winning with X+1 and X+2, the decision follows from simple arithmetic. In fact, given that 2-point attempts and extra-point attempts taken from the 15-yard line (under the new rules implemented in 2015) now have roughly the same expected point value (both around 0.95 points), the choice is easier than ever. Simply calculate (or estimate):The improvement in win percentage if your point margin changed from X to X+1.The improvement in win percentage if your point margin changed from X+1 to X+2.If the first number is greater, kick the extra point. If the second is, go for 2.Now, you can estimate or intuit these differences on your own on the fly, or you can use a fancy win probability model like we have,1Specifically, a version of the model built by Brian Burke of ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. but the logic is the same.Of course, we’ve taken it a bit further — our chart uses multiple sets of assumptions to create a range for each scenario covering teams that are relatively better or worse at 2-point conversions than our baseline. In case you missed it, here’s the chart:2You should be able to use this chart to pretty accurately assess most decisions you see. If you’re skeptical of the chart, you could intuit your own using the method outlined in that article. 1ChicagoAtlanta47:26-41.33 2PhiladelphiaKansas City40:08-80.05 2ArizonaIndianapolis47:38-41.28 A quick note on reading this chart: It may look a little “loud,” but that’s a feature for looking up scenarios lightning-fast. For a quick approximation, you first look at the minichart corresponding to the point spread (after the touchdown). If the quarter you’re in is shaded bright purple, you probably want to kick; if it’s bright orange, you should probably go for it. If you’re in a rush, you could stop there and be in pretty decent shape.Through the first two weeks of this NFL season, teams have gone for 2 (from the 2-yard line) eight times overall. More importantly, of the 30 times that the numbers say they should have gone for 2, they did so just four times, for a rate of 13 percent. Since 2015, in the regular season and playoffs, teams that should have gone for 2 have done so around 15 percent of the time.Now, of course it’s possible that some teams are better or worse at going for 2 than average, but it isn’t possible that 85 percent of teams are worse than average. I’ve also calculated how often teams should “clearly” go for 2 — meaning situations in which they should go for it even if they are relatively quite bad at 2-point attempts3I set this threshold at a 40 percent expected conversion rate (the same as the bottom of the range lines in the chart above). Or 7.5 percentage points lower than the baseline conversion rate assumption of 47.5 percent. This is a rough best estimate (after discussion with Burke, among others) for how bad teams who are very bad at 2-point conversions actually are). — and there have been 16 such cases through Week 2:4For this season’s scenarios, I’ve analyzed each attempt individually (down to the second), while the chart above is calculated minute by minute, so there may be slight variations between the two. WEEKTEAMOPPONENTQUARTERTIMESCORE AFTER TDMAGNITUDEWENT FOR IT 1N.Y. JetsBuffalo32:00-21.24✓ 1HoustonJacksonville39:09-130.24 1L.A. ChargersDenver48:10-110.43 1BaltimoreCincinnati21:28160.29
OSU senior midfielder Kyle Culbertson (3) and Maryland midfielder Mael Corboz (8) struggle to get the ball during a game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Oct. 31, 2015. OSU won 1-0. Photo Credit: Amanda Etchison | Editor in ChiefThe Ohio State men’s soccer team overcame all odds and clinched the Big Ten title in a 3-1 victory against Michigan on Wednesday night, awarding them the top seed in the Big Ten tournament.Since the Buckeyes finished the regular season at the top of the conference, OSU will host the first round and quarterfinals at home at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.OSU coach John Bluem said, even as his team realizes the importance of the upcoming postseason games, it can’t change its mindset.“It’s one game at a time,” Bluem said.This has been the motto for the Scarlet and Gray this year and the team continues to follow it.Earlier in the season, the Buckeyes lost four straight games until they managed to snap the streak against Akron in a 3-3 tie on Sept. 16.Following the tie against Akron, the Buckeyes took off and went on an eight-game winning streak, putting the Buckeyes at No. 1 in the Big Ten.Rutgers put a halt to the Scarlet and Gray’s winning streak in a 1-0 game on Oct. 25.“We were unbeaten for 10 games, but one loss doesn’t change anything,” senior defender and co-captain Liam Doyle, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year on Friday, said following the game against Rutgers. “It reignites the focus for what lies ahead.”The loss against Rutgers did just that for the Buckeyes when they bounced back and won a 1-0 shutout against Maryland, a team that is recognized for its physicality and ability to attack. The win against Maryland put the Buckeyes back on top with the chance to win the Big Ten title against Michigan.All season, the Buckeyes’ defense dominated on the field, but on Wednesday the Scarlet and Gray offense ignited as three goals were scored, giving the Buckeyes a chance to call themselves Big Ten champions.“This season has been a huge roller coaster for us, but right now we’re all pretty confident and we trust the game plan that we have,” junior forward Danny Jensen said. “It took us a little while to find our identity, but now that we have that, the vibe inside the locker room is pretty good.”The first round of the Big Ten tournament is scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, when No. 8-seeded Michigan State and No. 9-seeded Penn State will face each other head-to-head. The Buckeyes are scheduled play the winner of the match.OSU squared off against both teams once this season. On Sept. 20, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions went to two overtime periods before the match concluded in a 1-1 draw in Columbus. OSU traveled to East Lansing, Michigan, on Oct. 4 and topped the Spartans 2-1. The Scarlet and Gray is set to take on either Michigan State or Penn State at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.What’s nextFollowing the quarterfinals, the top remaining team will host the semifinals and championship on Friday and Sunday.
Sam Marder is Ohio State’s all-time home run, RBI and walks leader, but she might be Ohio State’s all-time goof ball as well.Her jabbing jokes, ribbon dancing routines and affable personality do not help her hit home runs, but it is apparent she doesn’t need help with that.“I think the great part about this team is that we have so much fun with each other,” Marder said. “They all came to my ribbon dancing routine and we are always playing jokes on each other. We are a fun and relaxed team.”Off the field, Marder encourages some friendly pranks.“Megan (Miller) and I were roommates one weekend on the road and that was not fair,” she said. “We filled a bucket of ice and played a joke on freshman (Megan) Coletta. When she opened the door she got showered with all this ice. Then we ran away.”Though this two-time captain and two-time All-American loves to entertain her teammates, she acknowledges that what you see is not always what you get. “I definitely have two personalities and I like to compare myself to Beyonce calling herself Sasha Fierce,” Marder said. “While off the field I am really light-hearted and joking around. On the field I am very focused, intense and driven. That is the only way I can play.”Coach Linda Kalafatis acknowledges Marder’s split personality.“She is smart, passionate, creative, weird and goofy,” Kalafatis said. “But, there is an intensity and passion on the field that you don’t necessarily know of off the field.”When co-captain Courtney Pruner was asked to talk about Marder’s personality, she muttered, “Oh God.”Pruner spoke about Marder’s humble personality, but sometimes she can take it too far.“Anytime we get the chance to make fun of her we can,” she said.When it comes to softball, Marder likes to mesh different parts of her personality to guide the team to success, part of her job as captain.“I try to lead by example,” Marder said. “It is important to make sure our team is loose and relaxed, while at the same time, mentally prepared to play.”Marder is not one to stray away from who she is. People don’t have to be at a softball practice to catch a glimpse of the lovable goof ball.When the team plays on the Big Ten Network, she claims she is chosen to read the introductions because she is the most attractive on the team.In addition, Marder represented the softball team by performing rhythmic gymnastics, otherwise known as ribbon dancing, for Buckeyes Got Talent.“The nerve to get up there and be that silly is remarkable,” Kalafatis said.The song she chose was Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.”While the regional tournament approaches, the team will begin its ascent to its ultimate goal, Oklahoma City.The Buckeyes will host the Kentucky Wildcats Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Charles Barkley is a prophet. But not for thinking the Bulls are going to beat the Heat, because that’s not going to happen. For the record, the Mavericks won’t be toppling Miami’s trio either. No, the “Round Mound of Rebound” 1993 Nike commercial makes him clairvoyant: “I am not a role model. I am not paid to be a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” It’s an immutable truth. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t reflect the real world. Growing up, my favorite athlete was Ken Griffey Jr. I loved everything about him. I gawked at his poetry-in-motion swing. I reveled in the fact that he was a true five-tool player in for most of his career. And, as a native of Cincinnati, I felt extreme pride that he grew up in the Queen City and spent eight-plus seasons playing for the Reds. Most of all, I admired Griffey for constantly having a smile on his face. He thoroughly enjoyed playing the game of baseball. But at no point did I consider Griffey a role model. Luckily for me, I had my mom, my dad and my grandpa to emulate. Many other kids aren’t so lucky. They grow up in fragmented families, often with one, or even no, parent or guardian to speak of. Those people, not professional athletes, should serve as life’s prototypes for kids. It’s a shame some children aren’t even given a choice. Both role models and athletes have character flaws, but the difference is, your parents’ mistakes won’t be broadcast on ESPN or dissected in discussion boards over the Internet. Instead, your parents can have their cake and eat it too. They can sit you down and chat about your mistakes and also their own errors in judgment. Michael Jordan, on the other hand, can’t walk through your front door, sit down on your couch and open up about his past gambling addiction or divorce. Furthermore, it’s hard to trust an athlete to set the right example. Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Tiger Woods and LeBron James: All of them are professional athletes who, at some time, have captivated the attention of sports fans and even non-sports aficionados with their skills and runs on the history books. Jones, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa cheated. Woods cheated on his wife many times over. James cheated the idea of tactfulness. The truth is clear: Barkley’s right — don’t try to “Be like Mike.” Unless, of course, that’s your father’s name.
Ohio State football may not be scandal-free, but this column is. I am going to take a different approach with this football column: After this sentence, I promise not to use the words “scandal,” “suspension” or “violation.” It is clear that these terms have come to define the OSU football program lately, and they will surely continue to swirl once new reports and rulings are made in the coming weeks and months. But they will not define the program forever. On Sept. 3, 2011, a team of “silver bullets” will storm onto the pure, green turf of Ohio Stadium, and will be met by the roar of more than 100,000 Buckeye faithful. I cannot tell you confidently which players will be a part of that rush, but I can tell you six who will not. Regardless, Luke Fickell will lead an OSU football team against the Akron Zips on Sept. 3. At that point, at least for a few hours, those words that I have refused to write will be replaced by phrases like “field goal,” “first down” and “touchdown.” Fans will have the opportunity to complain about quarterback Joe Bauserman and how much they think Braxton Miller should be the starter. We can moan about punting on fourth and short, and jump up and down with excitement when running back Jordan Hall breaks free for a big gain. Along with the football action on the field, the Best Damn Band in the Land will perform “Script Ohio,” along with a surely entertaining halftime show. After what will most likely be a victory for the Buckeyes, students and fans will put their arms around one another and sing the words of “Carmen Ohio.” Fickell and the players will join in the sing-along. Even more so than when Woody Hayes was fired, the current circumstances of OSU’s football program have tarnished its reputation. It is no doubt a big, black eye, and it is likely to get worse before it gets better. But bruises do heal — it may take several years, but Buckeye football will recover. Jim Tressel and Hayes were not bigger than the program, and both were held accountable for their actions. No matter what else becomes of the uncertainty surrounding the Buckeyes, “Script Ohio,” “Hang on Sloopy” and the other meaningful rituals that occur Saturdays in the Horseshoe will live on. I think I speak for most of Buckeye Nation when I say these times cannot come soon enough. At the end of the day, these traditions will never be forced to resign.
Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones holds the Big Ten Championship trophy after OSU’s 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the conference title game on Dec. 6 in Indianapolis.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorINDIANAPOLIS — He waited to say it, but Jeff Heuerman made it clear whether or not he feels Ohio State should make the first-ever College Football Playoff.“I’ve kept my mouth shut about that for a very long time, but I’m done with that,” the senior tight end said after the Buckeyes locked up their 35th Big Ten Championship. “We’re definitely one of the top four teams in the country.”OSU — ranked No. 5 in the College Football Playoff standings — shutout No. 13 Wisconsin, 59-0, in the Big Ten title game Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but all four teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes won over the weekend as well.But the Buckeyes’ win came under unusual circumstances, as the player starting the game at quarterback was third on the depth chart two weeks before the season started. Saturday’s win also came less than a week after the team learned of the death of walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge.Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones — starting in place of the injured redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett — said the win was a “huge statement” for the playoff selection committee.“I mean, we played a great, great team, the No. 2 defense in the country,” Jones said after the game. “We put up 59 points on them.”OSU also found a way to stymie Wisconsin redshirt-junior running back Melvin Gordon — the nation’s top rusher this season. The Buckeyes held Gordon to just 76 yards on the ground, and held him without a touchdown for the first time since Wisconsin’s win over Western Illinois in its second game of the season.With dominating numbers on both sides of the ball, Heuerman said he simply doesn’t see a logical scenario that would keep OSU out of the playoffs.“Come in here and play the 13th-ranked team in the country, No. 1 in the Big Ten in defense, come in here and put up those kind of numbers,” Heuerman said. “Defensively you look at what we did tonight with a Heisman Trophy candidate (Gordon) who’s held to 76 yards and didn’t put up one single point, I don’t know how you don’t put us in the top four, honestly.”OSU coach Urban Meyer — who won two national titles under the BCS-bowl format while he was the coach at Florida — said the selection committee has a difficult task, but added he feels like the Buckeyes are playing as well as the other top teams in the country.“All I can speak to is I’ve been around teams that have competed and won national championships,” Meyer said after the game. “This team, the way it’s playing right now, is one of the top teams in America.”Coming into the game, OSU was ranked behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Texas Christian University and No. 4 Florida State. With all four of those teams winning along with the Buckeyes, OSU would have to jump one of them in order to make the playoffs.Confronted with the idea of missing out on a chance to compete for a national championship, Heuerman stressed that he feels the Buckeyes deserve to be in the top four.“I don’t even want to think about not being in the top four,” He said. “Like I said, I think we’re a top-four team in the country, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that and the College Football (Playoff) committee, they watched that game, I don’t know how any of them say we’re not.”Heuerman added the Buckeyes’ big win came against a top-notch opponent.“We didn’t come in and play a slouch of a football team today, they were a good football team,” he said. “And the way we came in and executed, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, honestly. And like I said, I don’t think there’s any way you don’t put us in the top four.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to learn their postseason fate on Sunday. The College Football Playoff selection show is set to begin at 12:30 p.m.The College Football Playoff rankings were decided by a panel of 12 members, including Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In total, the panel is set to consist of 13 members, but former Mississippi and NFL quarterback Archie Manning is taking a leave of absence because of health concerns.The top four teams at season’s end are scheduled to compete in the College Football Playoff.
A day after former Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Thad Matta was fired, 2018 three-star small forward recruit Justin Ahrens has decommitted from the Buckeyes.“Due to coach Matta’s release, and after talking with my family, I would like to announce that I will be re opening my recruitment,” Ahrens said Tuesday in a tweet announcing his decision.He also mentioned that he will still consider attending OSU, and thanked Matta and the coaches for giving him the opportunity to play for the Buckeyes.Ahrens, a 6-foot-5 wing from Versailles, Ohio, is the No. 160 prospect in his class and the sixth-best player in the Buckeye State, according to 247Sports.One player in OSU’s 2018 recruiting class remains committed to the Buckeyes: four-star shooting guard Dane Goodwin. pic.twitter.com/aGZ8vUPlZS— Justin Ahrens (@ahrensjustin12) June 6, 2017
Ohio State sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor (12) tackles Indiana running back Reese Taylor (2) in the fourth quarter of the game against Indiana on Oct. 6. Ohio State won 49-26. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorIndiana redshirt sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey did what Richard Lagow did against the Ohio State secondary last season. After Lagow threw for 410 yards passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the 2017 season opener, Ramsey, despite completing 53.1 percent of his passes, threw for a career-high 322 yards passing, throwing three touchdowns. However, unlike Lagow, who set the tone for something to fix in the second level of the defense, Ramsey continued the problem that has plagued the Ohio State secondary through the first six weeks of the season. The problem that should be the selling point of the Ohio State safeties and corners: press man coverage. Like many quarterbacks have done to the Ohio State secondary this season, Ramsey beat the defense with the deep ball, completing four passes of 30-plus yards in the game, including three in the first half. However, the secondary was not only beat using press man on the deep ball. With Indiana down 15 in the third quarter, Ramsey, facing a 3rd-and-goal at the Ohio State 3-yard line, looked to redshirt junior Donovan Hale in the end zone. Hale was guarded at the line of scrimmage by redshirt junior Kendall Sheffield, who fell to the ground after Hale made a move on him at the start of the play. With Sheffield on the ground, the safety, sophomore Isaiah Pryor, stepped forward when the ball was hiked, expecting the run. With the bad angle, Pryor was not able to take Sheffield’s spot guarding the slant, allowing Ramsey to hit a wide open Hale for the score. Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano knows where the troubles in the defense lie. “I actually think I can narrow it down pretty good. We need to fix it,” Schiano said. “The frustrating part is when you know there is something going on and you are not as successful getting it repaired.” Schiano said it comes down to him and his staff not coaching well enough, saying the unit, as a whole, is not playing consistently to the standards of what the Ohio State defense is expected to perform. He said it comes down to a few positions, positions he would not name, but said it has to do with the perimeter pass plays made against the unit. To head coach Urban Meyer, Ohio State is a man coverage team, plain and simple. He said, even after the win over Penn State, the coaching staff looked at the defensive play calling, hoping to find something that would improve against Indiana. To Meyer, it especially hurt against the Hoosiers.“It didn’t really snap at us like it did today,” Meyer said. “Penn State, guys made some plays on us. But today we really felt it. I felt it. That first half was awful.” Schiano said it’s not about changing the identity of the defense. It’s all about execution. “Whether it’s [defensive pass interference] or a completed pass, we play press man-to-man around here,” Schiano said. “When you play press man-to-man, you invite vertical threats and if you cover them, they stop throwing. If you don’t they keep throwing. So, we haven’t done a good enough job covering them.” Without much pressure from the defensive line, Ramsey thrived in the first half, throwing for 239 yards and two touchdowns for Indiana. As the Buckeyes went to the locker room with a 28-20 lead, junior safety Jordan Fuller said there was not much discussion about adjustments that needed to be made. It was more about continuing to find the identity of the defense. “It was just reminding ourselves that we are a top-notch football team,” Fuller said. “We made sure to take care of the long routes before the short ones and I think we did that.” Fuller and the Ohio State secondary knew what it takes to defend the deep ball. He said it’s a mix of improving technique, coverage on 50/50 balls, taking proper angles and making what have been missed tackles. But it’s not all about the secondary play. Up front, the defensive line began to put pressure on the quarterback, forcing him to complete only nine of 20 passes in the second half. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones said the group up front has a lot of responsibility to create havoc in the backfield to limit plays downfield. “We can only control so much. We can’t control what the LB’s do or the safeties or corners,” Jones said. “So, as long as we are disrupting up front, they don’t get a chance to throw the ball.” With that, the defense did what Schiano said the group did a week ago: make opportune stops. The defense allowed only six points in the second half, leading to Ohio State’s 49-26 victory over the Hoosiers. With the high expectation of the Ohio State defense coming into the season, Fuller said the first half was unlike what should have happened with a group like this. However, with the play in the first half, Jones feels like some doubt of the group’s ability is starting to creep in. “I think people are starting to lack our defense,” Jones said. “Saying we are more potential than performing. I don’t think that’s true.” In Fuller’s mind, there is only one way to stop that thinking. Prove them wrong, which is something he is expecting and not doubting. “No, I’m not worried,” Fuller said. “Because we have the guys to do it.”
The children waited for the man to leave then “jumped down over her body” and ran to town to seek help, says Townsend in The Secret Life of Sue Townsend (Aged 68¾), which includes footage filmed by a friend in 2005 but never previously broadcast.Townsend, who died at the age of 68 in 2014, never drew on the incident directly in her writing but suggests that it did have a profound influence on her.Arriving at a sweet shop run by “a bloke called Mr Gibson”, Townsend gabbled out her story.”But he disbelieved us and told us to get out.” Within days the children were vindicated when police charged Reynolds with the murder of Janet, who was killed with her own school tie.Reynolds confessed and was hanged five months later. “My memory is of me at eight being an adult being grown-up, and coping in a grown-up way with things that little children shouldn’t have to cope with. It is also astonishing how many writers have suffered similar things. It turns you in on yourself. You become very aware of atmosphere. You notice things.” Sue Townsend, the late author of the Adrian Mole series, witnessed a child being strangled in the woods when she was eight years old, a new documentary reveals.In 1953, the then Susan Johnstone hid in a tree with of friends in a wood near her Leicester home while she watched helplessly as 12-year-old Janet Warner was murdered by Joseph Reynolds, a labourer from Dublin.”My memory was that he was dragging her by the throat and he strangled her,” Townsend recalls in previously unseen footage to be shown on BBC2 on Saturday. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. ‘Sue would tell me what really upset her was that she was not believed by that shopkeeper’Colin Broadway Townsend’s widower, Colin Broadway, recalled last week his late wife talking about the incident.”Sue would tell me what really upset her was that she was not believed by that shopkeeper,” he was reported as saying by The Sunday Times.”She felt this was probably because she came from the wrong side of the tracks.”Townsend, who established herself as one of Britain’s most renowned comic writers, came from humble roots.Her father was a postman and her mother worked as an assistant in a school canteen. She left school at 15 with no qualifications and married her childhood sweetheart Keith Townsend at the age of 18.Three children followed. Townsend was first diagnosed with diabetes in the Eighties; she went blind in 2001, and then needed a new kidney. She also suffered from degenerative arthritis and major heart problems.