Who’s the best team in the NFL?The answer is as muddled as at any point in the season. According to our Elo ratings, the answer is technically the New England Patriots, who overtook the Denver Broncos after beating them in Week 9. But the Broncos gained ground by beating the Oakland Raiders on Sunday while the Patriots had a bye. Just one Elo point now separates the teams; they’re tied for all intents and purposes.A case could also be made for the Arizona Cardinals, who have the NFL’s best record at 8-1. But the deeper we go, the less impressive the Cardinals look. Jeff Sagarin’s “pure points” rating, based on margin of victory and strength of schedule, has the Cardinals just eighth in the league. Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) ratings, based on an analysis of play-by-play data, has them 15th. The Cardinals’ top quarterback, Carson Palmer, is out for the year. Elo, which tends to strike a middle ground between conventional wisdom and advanced statistics, has the Cardinals fourth.A credible case could also be made for the Seattle Seahawks on the basis of their longer-term performance. They came into the season ranked No. 1 and are the fourth-best team so far this year on the basis of DVOA. And they looked as good as they have since Week 1 while beating the New York Giants 38-17 last week. The Seahawks’ next six weeks consist of home-and-home games against the Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, and road games at Kansas City and Philadelphia. Within a couple of weeks, we could be talking about how the Seahawks playoff hopes are torpedoed, or how Seattle was the best team in the league all along.So far, however, this season has been characterized by the lack of any one truly dominant team. It’s also been characterized by a bunch of awful teams, such as the Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders have a 31 percent chance of finishing at 0-16, according to our simulations. The Jaguars and the Raiders also have an outside shot at finishing with the lowest Elo rating of all-time.If the elite teams aren’t as great as usual, and the worst teams are worse than usual, that means there are more wins (and Elo ratings points) to go around among the upper-middle class of the league. There is a glut of 12 teams at an Elo rating between 1532 and 1608 — somewhere between “slightly above average” and “pretty good.”The Cincinnati Bengals, who lost at home Thursday against the Cleveland Browns, fell out of that group last week. These types of games — a clear underdog (the Bengals were 8.5-point favorites, according to Elo) winning definitively (the Browns won 24-3) — produce the biggest swings in the Elo ratings. In fact, the 53-point shift against the Bengals and toward the Browns is the largest of the season so far. (The largest swing of all time, 77 points, came Sept. 21, 2008, when the Miami Dolphins ended the Patriots’ 21-game regular-season winning streak by beating them 38-13 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.)Even the result in Cincinnati, however, did nothing to clarify the playoff picture. The Browns, at 6-3, are first in the AFC North; the Bengals, 5-3-1, are second. Both have lower Elo ratings than the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, who are tied for third at 6-4. No AFC North team has better than a 31 percent chance or worse than a 20 percent chance of winning the division. Playoff odds for the rest of the league follow:My ESPN colleague Gregg Easterbrook wrote this week about the inequities of the NFL playoff system. As Gregg noted, the 4-5 New Orleans Saints would make the playoffs if the season ended today (as NFC South champions). The 6-3 Green Bay Packers, meanwhile, would miss out.One might protest that the Saints aren’t such a bad team: They have plenty of talent and a +26 point differential, and they’re 12th in the league in DVOA. Still, what division a team plays in makes a huge amount of difference to its playoff odds.To demonstrate this, I extracted some additional data from our Elo simulations this week, estimating a team’s chances of winning its division based on its regular-season record. In the NFC North, for example, a roughly average division, teams finishing the season with 10 wins won the division 30 percent of the time.The same 10-win finish would produce a drastically different result in other divisions. In the NFC West, 10 wins were good enough for the division title just 4 percent of the time. In the Saints’ NFC South, meanwhile, 10 wins took the division more than 99 percent of the time.Even an eight-win finish would be good more often than not in the NFC South; teams finishing with that win total won the division 65 percent of the time. (This includes cases where the Carolina Panthers, who tied a game this year, finish at 8-7-1.) Seven wins might be enough. In one of the 5,000 simulations we ran this week, the Panthers even won the division with a 5-10-1 record.If anything, this understates the importance of divisional placement. Not only are teams from weaker divisions more likely to make the playoffs with, for instance, a 9-7 record, they’ll also have an easier time achieving that record because they’re facing softer competition. And the NFL protects division winners in the playoffs, giving them a higher seed than wild cards and a home game in the opening round.These problems will be hard to avoid so long as the NFL insists on having such small divisions and placing such importance upon them. In a four-team division, there’s a 1-in-16 chance that all four teams will be below average — one of them will make the playoffs anyway. Because there are eight divisions, a case like that will come up about once every other season.This is one reason I’d like to see the NFL expand to 36 teams, which would allow for six-team divisions. Short of that, the league could adopt any number of approaches to make division placement less important. The least radical would be to no longer prioritize division winners in setting playoff seedings. (A 7-9 division winner could still make the playoffs, but it wouldn’t get a home game.) More fun: The league could “bump” any division winners that failed to finish with a winning record and replace them with an additional wild-card team.Elo Point SpreadsRecord against point spread: 70-67-3 (6-5 in Week 10)Straight-up record: 103-43-1 (9-4 in Week 10)The point spreads implied by Elo ratings have just barely climbed to a winning record against closing Las Vegas lines. Still, we wouldn’t recommend that you bet on them. Indeed, as the season has worn on, there have been fewer and fewer differences between them, and most of those that exist are easy to explain. Elo is more bullish on the Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles this week than Las Vegas lines imply, for example, but it doesn’t know that their starting quarterbacks are sidelined.Still, there’s a difference of opinion in what’s undoubtedly the biggest game of the week. Whereas Vegas has the Indianapolis Colts as 2.5- or three-point favorites at home against the Patriots, Elo has the Patriots just slightly favored. New England has been one of Elo’s favorite teams this year. It’s strange to think Vegas could underrate a team as high-profile as New England, but that’s been the case historically: The Patriots have covered the point spread about 57 percent of the time since Bill Belichick took over as coach.
Not long after 14th-seeded UAB defeated 3rd-seeded Iowa State in the South Regional, another No. 14 seed toppled another No. 3 seed — this time, Georgia State over Baylor in the West Regional. It’s the first time that two No. 14 seeds have won in the same NCAA tournament since 1995.As far as 14-over-3 upsets go, Georgia State’s victory wasn’t anywhere near as unlikely as UAB’s. While the Blazers had a mere 9.2 percent pre-game probability of advancing to the round of 32, the Panthers’ chances of pulling the upset were a more reasonable 24.2 percent. But in many ways, the manner in which Georgia State won makes its upset even more remarkable.According to FiveThirtyEight contributor Stephen Pettigrew’s research about the likelihood of an upset at any given stage of an NCAA tournament game, only 2 percent of major underdogs1A difference of at least five seeds between the two teams. that trailed by any margin with 2:39 left went on to win the game, and when those teams were down by more than 6 points with that much time on the clock, they only won 0.4 percent of the time.And Georgia State was down by even more than that — it trailed by 12 points with 2:39 remaining. Of the 262 NCAA tournament games since 2004 in which an underdog trailed by 10 or more points with 2:39 to go, only one (0.38 percent) went on to win the game. … Until Thursday, that is. And that one upset was a No. 4 seed over a No. 1 seed — so this is unprecedented in the past 11 years.As for the ripple effect of the Panthers’ victory, Xavier’s Sweet 16 probability jumped 11.5 percentage points with Baylor out of the picture, while Ole Miss saw its chances of a spot in the Sweet 16 improve by 8.8 percentage points. And Arizona’s path to the Final Four is now clearer; its odds of an Elite Eight berth increased by 5.2 percentage points, and its odds of making the Final Four improved by 3.2 percentage points.Stephen Pettigrew contributed to this post in a major way.CORRECTION (March 19, 4:55 p.m.): An earlier version of this post misstated the last year two No. 14 seeds won in the same NCAA tournament. It was 1995, not 1997. It also misstated the percentage of underdogs that trailed by 10 or more with 2:39 to go and still won. It was 0.38 percent, not 0.0038 percent. Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.
Play ‘Em Josh Freeman: Freeman continues to be clutch, leading the Bucs to four fourth-quarter comebacks this season. Aside from that, Freeman is having an impressive fantasy year, with 1,533 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. This week, Freeman faces the Falcons, who allow 260 yards passing per game. Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson continues to battle a concussion, which should open the passing game for Freeman and Tampa Bay. Matt Ryan: Much like Freeman, I like the opposing quarterback, Matt Ryan. The Falcons are coming off a bye-week, so expect them to treat Week 9 like a playoff game. Ryan has yet to surpass 300 yards in a game but has thrown at least one touchdown pass in five straight games. Worth noting, Tampa Bay ranks 25th in the league in total yards allowed. Peyton Hillis: Hillis has scored a touchdown in six of the first seven games this season. This week, Hillis takes on a Patriots’ defense that allowed a total of 125 rushing yards and a touchdown to the Vikings last week. Hillis will continue to be the goal line back, despite sharing carries with Mike Bell. BenJarvus Green-Ellis: If you’re looking for a sleeper this week, consider the law firm. Green-Ellis had his best game against Minnesota with 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Green-Ellis is emerging as the primary back because of Fred Taylor’s toe injury. Consider Green-Ellis a solid No. 2 Fantasy running back this week. Mike Williams (TB): The most impressive rookie wide receiver has been Williams. Williams had a career day last week with 105 yards and a touchdown. It’s time to consider Williams a legitimate Fantasy wide receiver, as he is Tampa Bay’s go-to guy. Look for Williams to run past Atlanta’s secondary. Jacob Tamme: This is the first time I’m recommending a tight end. My reasons are Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark’s injury. Tamme filled in nicely on Monday Night with 64 yards and a touchdown. This week the Colts face the Eagles, who give up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Look for more success, because Manning makes everyone around him better. If you’re struggling with the tight end position, run to the waiver wire and claim Tamme. Bench ‘Em Matthew Stafford: Stafford was lights-out against Washington with 212 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. However, I’m benching him this week against of the Jets, who shut down Aaron Rodgers (7 Fantasy points) and the Packers last week. The Lions will get the same dose and expect Calvin Johnson to be stranded on Revis Island. Stafford’s shoulder and the Jets’ defense are a bad combination. Cedric Benson: Benson has been non-existent in the Bengals’ offense with 69 rushing yards last week. Benson hasn’t recorded a touchdown in four straight games and gets to face a Steelers’ defense that allows eight fantasy points to opposing running backs. The Bengals will look to pass, led by Terrell Owens. Jonathan Stewart: Stewart got a major boost in value after DeAngelo Williams was out but failed to produce. If Williams is out, Stewart will start, but not for your fantasy team. The Saints rank 16th in rushing yards allowed and are coming off a huge win against the Steelers. Stewart, at best, is a flex option in this matchup. Jahvid Best: Best has been struggling with that turf toe injury, and it showed last week against Washington, as he had 12 carries for 48 yards. This week, Best faces a Jets’ defense that allows 89 rushing yards per game. Best will continue to split carries with Kevin Smith, who is running well in limited action. Deion Branch: Although Branch has a tasty matchup against the Browns, I’m benching Branch. He had one great game since his return to New England but has slowed down because of a hamstring injury. Last week, Branch had one pass for 21 yards. Brady will continue to look for Brandon Tate downfield, and I expect Welker to break out of his slump.
Courtesy of MCTBuffalo Bulls quarterback Alex Zordich (15) directs his offensive line where to block against Connecticut at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, Saturday, September 29, 2012. UConn defeated Buffalo, 24-17.The University of Buffalo football team came to Columbus last year to finish its 2012 football season, losing 21-7 to Bowling Green in a neutral game site at Crew Stadium. The Bulls are returning to Columbus this weekend to kick off their 2013 season, and they aren’t expecting to lose again.This time around, the Bulls will be playing Ohio State, as the two teams kick off their seasons at Ohio Stadium Saturday at noon. OSU will be starting its campaign for a second consecutive undefeated season under Urban Meyer’s second year as coach, while the Bulls are looking to improve on a 4-8 record from last year.Although the Buckeyes may be heavily favored to win, the Bulls aren’t backing down from their opponent.“Our thinking is go in and get a win,” said Buffalo senior linebackerKhalil Mack. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”The Buckeyes, ranked No. 2 the AP preseason poll, are expected to be among the top contenders for a college football National Championship this season. Sophomore quarterback Joe Licata, however, said the Bulls also come into this game with high expectations.“They have obviously very high expectations,” Licata said. “They want to play in the National Championship at the end of the year, but we have expectations too, we want to make a bowl game at the end of the year.”The Buckeyes are the highest-ranked opponent the Bulls have played since 2006, when they suffered a 38-7 loss to then-No. 2 Auburn. That said, Bulls coach Jeff Quinn said his team’s preparation will not change in response to the team’s opponent.“I prepare our football team the same way each and every week,” Quinn said during the Mid-American Conference coaches’ teleconference Monday. “I don’t think we try to get too far ahead of ourselves. We know we’re playing one of the best football teams in the country.”If Buffalo is going to pull off the upset, they are going to have to hold Buckeyes junior quarterback and reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller in check.Quinn first saw Miller play while he was the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati, while Miller was a freshman quarterback at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio.“Even though he was a young high school freshman, I saw a lot of skills that I hadn’t seen in players that were juniors and seniors at that time,” Quinn said.Since then, Quinn said Miller has developed into “by far one of the best” players in college football.“We were the first ones to get in there and get our eyes on it and the more I’ve studied him, the more I think he’s a complete player,” Quinn said. “He can throw the ball, he can run the ball, he manages the offense. He’s making good quality decisions and this team really rallies behind him.”One of the players most responsible for bringing pressure on Miller will be Mack. A first-team All-MAC selection for the past two years, Mack’s 21 tackles for loss were the seventh-most in the Football Bowl Subdivision last year. He also holds Buffalo school records with 56 tackles for loss and 11 forced fumbles.Mack said what stands out with the Buckeyes offense is “how well they play together.”“They have a nice tempo offense,” Mack said. “They move fast, Braxton is fast, they complement each other, they complement his speed with the protection that they use. It’s a very disciplined team all around.”On the other side of the equation, Meyer has also been impressed by Mack. He said Monday that Mack is the second-best NFL draft prospect among outside linebackers in college football this season, and called him a “tremendous player.”“(Mack) would start for Ohio State and will be a very good NFL player,” Meyer said during Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference.The Bulls run a 3-4 defensive scheme, in which they employ Mack as a pass-rusher off the edge from the outside linebacker position. He is expected to match up primarily against Buckeyes redshirt-senior left tackle Jack Mewhort, an NFL prospect in his own right who was named a captain for the Buckeyes earlier this week.“They got a good defense,” Mewhort said. “They throw some different looks at us and they do some different things, and that’s what we’ve been preparing for, so I’m excited to get out there.”Mack said he is excited for the opportunity to play against a top team and Mewhort and said he expects to take advantage of it.“Being able to go against some of the best competition, that’s more than I can ask for,” Mack said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”On the other side of the ball, the Bulls will be led by Licata, who replaced then-junior Alex Zordich as the Bulls’ starting quarterback during the team’s final four games of last season.In nine total games last season, Licata completed 52.8 percent of his passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns, with three interceptions.Licata wants to prove himself further by leading the Bulls to a win Saturday.“You don’t go looking to have a moral victory, you go in to look to win the game,” Licata said. “If you have a moral victory, that means you lost the game.”Even if the Bulls do not win, however, Licata said it is more important that the team feels good about the way they play Saturday.“We need to just stay confident and keep pushing,” Licata said. “Things are going to go wrong at some point. That’s the game of football, that’s what happens. So when that one thing goes wrong, we can’t let it escalate and turn it two things or three things and get ourselves behind.”Although the Buckeyes will have eight new starters on their defense Saturday, Licata acknowledged that the Bulls offense will face a tough test.“I know that they’re very aggressive and they have a lot of great players,” Licata said. “They’re the most athletic team that we’ll face all year probably. There’s a reason why they were undefeated last year, and it started with their defense.”Licata will need help from some of the key players around him. Those key players include senior running back Branden Oliver, who has 2,514 career rushing yards and 18 career rushing touchdowns and senior wide receiver Alex Neutz, who caught 65 passes for 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.Many of the Bulls are familiar with the Ohio. Thirteen players are natives, including sophomore punter Tyler Grassman, who played at Lincoln High School in Gahanna.Playing in Ohio Stadium, however, presents a different challenge for the Bulls. At a capacity of 102,329 people, Ohio Stadium is more than three times larger than Buffalo’s home stadium (29,013).Quinn said it is key for his team to “keep their poise and composure” as they deal with the road environment.“I know they’re going to be excited about being in that kind of environment,” Quinn said. “The energy is going to be outstanding. How you control and how you respond is going to be a big part of the beginning of that game. Be in the moment, focus on the process, staying very very locked in, trying to block out all that noise and that environment and just play football.”
Senior student-athletes from the OSU and Rutgers women’s soccer teams line up to be recognized for Senior Night prior to a match on Oct. 31 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU lost, 2-0. Credit: Ed Momot / For The LanternTrying to keep its chance of making the Big Ten tournament alive, the Ohio State women’s soccer team ended its season with a 2-0 loss to No. 23 Rutgers on Senior Night.Prior to kickoff on Friday, four seniors on the team were recognized for their accomplishments over the years. Midfielder Ellyn Gruber, forward Kayla Varner, defender Ashely Gruenbaum and midfielder Kenzie Schlemitz achieved 44 victories in their time at OSU including a Big Ten Championship in 2012.The Buckeyes (6-10-3, 3-7-3) had an early chance just over a minute into the game when junior midfielder Michela Paradiso’s eight-yard header off a free kick from freshman midfielder Nikki Walts sailed over the crossbar. Gruber got a chance in the 15th minute off a cross from Paradiso but her 18-yard shot drifted high.The Scarlet Knights (12-4-1, 8-4-1) took the lead in the 20th minute after senior forward Stefanie Scholz nailed a 10-yard shot off a cross from redshirt-junior forward Amanda DeVolk. Scholz almost doubled the lead in the 33rd minute with a shot from the top of the box but redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Megan Geldernick was there to make the save.The Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights were tied with four shots apiece while the Scarlet Knights held a 3-0 lead in shots on goal when the first half ended.The Scarlet Knights closed out the scoring in the 50th minute as sophomore forward Madison Tiernan tapped in a rebound off a shot by sophomore midfielder Jennifer Andresen to make it a 2-0 game.The Buckeyes came close to cutting the deficit in half in the 52nd minute but freshman forward Sammy Edwards’ header from in the box hit the woodwork. Sophomore forward Nichelle Prince attempted to cut into the lead in the 63rd minute but had her shot blocked.OSU was unable to overcome the Scarlet Knights defense for the rest of the half, giving Rutgers the shutout win.The Buckeyes finished their season with a record of 6-10-3 overall and 3-7-3 in the Big Ten.
Freshman defender Theo Alexis (18) splits two defenders during the OSU vs. Penn State game on Tuesday. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo EditorWhere there was plenty of rain Tuesday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, there was no shortage of offense as Ohio State (5-1-0, 2-0-0 Big Ten) defeated Penn State (1-2-2, 0-1-0 Big Ten), 3-0.The first goal came in the 49th minute from senior defender Niall Logue, his second of the season, and kicked off the scoring. Six minutes later, in the 55th minute, senior forward Nate Kohl buried his first of the season.The final tally was off the head of freshman forward Mitch Bergman in the 84th minute for his first career goal. Abdi Mohamed and Kevin Blackwood recorded assists.“We put it away in the last couple minutes there against a quality side in Penn State,” Bergman said. “Out of my mind right now, don’t know really what to think, just living up the moment right now.”The Buckeyes ended the game with 15 shot attempts, Bluem said the first goal opened up the Penn State defense and allowed for more opportunities.“It was a hard game when they were able to sit back defensively, they had a lot of numbers behind the ball,” Bluem said. This marks goalie Parker Siegfried’s fourth straight win and shutout. “It’s a team effort when you get a shutout, and we’ve been stressing that a lot with our team,” Bluem said. “Trying to make sure we’re organized defensively, we know what we want to do, where people are supposed to be then it comes down to individual effort. Are the guys on the field making that extra effort to do their job defensively, and if they are it makes it easier for us to get a shutout.”Despite having eight shots in the first half, the Buckeyes still ended the first half with a scoreless tie. Ohio State coach John Bluem thought the weather might have had something to do with it.“You know it’s funny, it didn’t rain till right when the game started, so we didn’t get used to the field being wet. So, I think both teams had a difficult time adjusting to the wet conditions. It was easier in the second half.”The Buckeyes next game will be in Piscataway, New Jersey, as they challenge in-conference opponent Rutgers at 1 p.m.Even though the Buckeyes have plenty of momentum, Bluem doesn’t believe they should be over-confident heading into Sunday.“We got to go back on the road again in the conference, it’s never easy to go on the road,” Bluem said. “Rutgers is a very good team, I watched them the other night. They’re very dangerous going forward, they’re going to cause us some problems. I think it’s going to be a wide-open game and a very difficult contest for us.”
Sophomore safety Jordan Fuller (4) intercepts a pass intended for an Indiana wide receiver during the 2017 season opener. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn Ohio State’s first two games of the year, its passing defense performed poorly, allowing more than 380 passing yards in each game. The inexperienced defensive backfield, which lost three players early to the NFL draft, looked incompetent at times.But in the Buckeyes’ next four games, all of which came against lowly regarded, run-heavy teams, no opposing quarterback passed for more than 88 yards. In Saturday’s game against Nebraska, their secondary might be tested for the first time in more than a month.When redshirt junior quarterback Tanner Lee transferred to Nebraska from Tulane, the Cornhuskers thought they might have just landed a stud signal-caller. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 220 pounds, Lee looks the part. And when he throws the ball, his cannon arm is readily apparent. But the early on-field results were not pretty to open the year. He combined for five touchdowns and nine interceptions in consecutive games against Oregon, Northern Illinois and Rutgers. Despite the struggles, Ohio State still sees the talent.“We definitely respect him,” sophomore safety Jordan Fuller said. “We see the talent. We see the arm. We see his confidence in the pocket. So we have to be ready for that.”Through six games, Lee has completed 109-of-202 passes for an average of 243.3 yards per game, and tacked on 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The one trait Lee does not possess is an ability to run or escape the pocket. He has not rushed for more than five yards in a game this season. Lee often uses five-step drops and waits for plays to develop which will give Ohio State’s defensive line more opportunities than usual to rush the quarterback.“I think it’ll be a good game for us just because he’s a pro-style guy who wants to sit back there and scan the field a little bit, which we haven’t seen very much of,” sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa said. “So, we’re excited for that, to get after him.”The Buckeyes have not faced a team whose primary offensive strategy was to have its immobile quarterback drop back since Lagow tore their defensive backfield up in Week 1. Even when Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield racked up yards against Ohio State, he used his mobility as a threat.If Bosa and the Buckeyes’ fearsome defensive front, which combined for six sacks and 12 tackles for loss against Maryland Saturday, can pressure Lee, he could be forced to make poor passing decisions. Lee will be dropping back with a less-experienced offensive line, which includes a true freshman protecting him at right tackle.Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said he believes Lee had difficulties early in the season because he struggled to get over bad plays, especially when he threw two pick-6s against Northern Illinois. He said improving quarterbacks’ ability to rebound from interceptions is the hardest thing to coach, but he believes Lee is constantly improving in the area.“We’re going to have to really work hard to affect the passer,” Schiano said. “Because if we don’t, he’s a very fundamentally sound quarterback and he’s got a good arm.”Given the Buckeyes’ early-season secondary issues, not allowing Lee to have time in the pocket could help negate the concern of Lee picking on inexperienced cornerbacks. That will be even more important due to the smaller-than-normal cornerback rotation.Ohio State will be without starting cornerback Damon Arnette for the first half of the game due to a suspension as he was flagged for targeting in the second half of the game against the Terrapins. Head coach Urban Meyer said cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kendall Sheffield will start and freshman Jeffrey Okudah “will work in.”
Ohio State senior offensive lineman Billy Price (54) talks to linemen Michael Jordan (73) and Jamarco Jones (74) prior to a play in the second quarter of the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 2 in Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for DesignOhio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa took no time in changing the outlook of his new unit when he was hired prior to the start of the 2016 season. After switching the most experienced guard to the center position in each of his first two seasons with the Buckeyes, Studrawa could be in a similar position with junior guard Michael Jordan heading into 2018. The third-year starter at left guard was taking snaps for the Buckeyes as a part of the second-team offensive line during fall practice. The decision to play a guard at center has become something of a trend for Studrawa. Without an obvious answer to fill the center position in 2016, Studrawa moved guard Pat Elflein to the middle.The Pickerington, Ohio native ended up thriving, winning the Rimington Trophy as the best center in college football and taking home the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year Award in the Big Ten. Studrawa did not stop there. After Elflein departed to the NFL, the second-year offensive line coach made the switch again, this time with fifth-year senior guard Billy Price. The outcome was the same. Price won the Rimington Trophy and was named a first-team All-American at center in 2017. Having watched both Elflein and Price move from guard to the starting center, now fifth-year center Brady Taylor seemed to be in the position to seamlessly transition into the starting role as Ohio State’s first true center since Jacoby Boren in 2015. Despite being recruited as a three-star offensive tackle in the 2014 class, Taylor has played in 29 games for the Buckeyes, recording 55 snaps against UNLV and 41 snaps against Illinois last season. As the only true freshman to start during the 2016 season, Jordan was named as a Freshman All-American in 2016 and first-team All-Big Ten team member after the 2017 season. However, the move for Jordan could be because of something not related to the center position at all. With the main objective being to get the best five offensive lineman on the field at one time, Jordan, senior tackle Isaiah Prince and redshirt senior Demetrius Knox seem to be locks on the line. Also, after playing in 12 of 14 games last season, sophomore Thayer Munford seems to be in a good position to take a starting tackle spot. With four spots filled on the line, that leaves one: center or, possibly, left guard. Studrawa has linemen with experience to fill those spots, with junior Branden Bowen coming off of a leg injury, and redshirt senior Malcolm Pridgeon, who is in in his third season with the program. When it comes down to it, the final spot on the offensive line could come down to a simple question: who is the best lineman between Bowen, Pridgeon and Taylor? If it is Pridgeon or Bowen that takes the final spot on the line and Jordan moves to center for his junior season, Studrawa can be confident that it will work out just fine. He has the track record to prove it.
Ms Curtis-Taylor has flown vintage planes around the world.Credit:Andrew Crowley She was pictured earlier this year arriving in Sydney Credit:Peter Parks Members of the group claimed that she had misled the public and voted for her to be stripped of the trophy by a majority of nearly two to one. It is thought to be the first time such an award has been withdrawn.Ms Curtis-Taylor, who attended the meeting in an attempt to head off the motion, has been mired in controversy after flight instructor Ewald Gritsch came forward to say that he had occupied the forward cockpit of her vintage biplane for most of the legs of her “solo” journeys.Speaking in the wake of the disclosure, Ms Curtis-Taylor previously said: “For the avoidance of doubt, I have always been the sole pilot.” She later said that she had never claimed to be flying solo and insisted that Mr Gritsch had simply been a passenger. I have the greatest of respect for women pilots, but I think Tracey Curtis-Taylor has not done a lot to further their causeBarry Tempest, LAA When Ms Curtis-Taylor crashed in Arizona earlier this year on the third leg of a round-the-world flight, Mr Gritsch was seen scrambling from the wreckage. His presence triggered widespread protest on respected flight forums Flyer and the Professional Pilots Rumour Network. The controversy has also caused concern among the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, which awarded Ms Curtis-Taylor a Masters Medal earlier this year.The LAA said it would respect the vote of its members. Steve Slater, the chief executive, said: “This issue has divided opinion but it is not for me to decide.“I am happy that the members feel able to air their views and it’s down to the members to decide.“The award was made in good faith but in the light of what has emerged since we made the award, it is fair to say maybe we would have made a different decision.”Ms Curtis-Taylor was unavailable for comment on Monday. A self-styled “bird in a biplane” who became the poster girl for female flyers has been stripped of an award amid claims she used a co-pilot on a solo mission.The Light Aircraft Association (LAA) has rescinded a trophy given to Tracey Curtis-Taylor in 2015 for flying from Cape Town to Britain.Ms Curtis-Taylor, who is a close friend of Prince Michael of Kent, has made a career of flying vintage planes around the world.But the 54-year-old was unceremoniously stripped of the Bill Woodhams Trophy during an LAA annual general meeting at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire at the weekend. On the surface, the former waitress’s trips in her 1942 Boeing Stearman mirrored some of history’s greatest exploits by solo female flyers.The trip from Cape Town to Goodwood, West Sussex, was first completed solo by Irish aviator Lady Mary Heath in 1928.Ms Curtis-Taylor completed the 36-leg, 10,000-mile-flight in 2013, and in 2015 received the award from the LAA as a result.Mr Gritsch, who comes from Austria, was also on board for parts of her trip from Farnborough to Sydney, where she arrived in January after a flight that covered 23 countries over 50 legs. The route was the same as the 1930 journey made by Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia. Ms Curtis-Taylor said she flew soloCredit:Jason Reed /Reuters However, her logistics manager, Sam Rutherford, said the airman gave her vital flight instruction and helped with engineering.He also accused her of embellishing the truth and said that she had only flown four of the 36 legs from Cape Town to Goodwood on her own.Barry Tempest, a veteran member of the LAA, who suggested that her award be withdrawn in the light of the claims, said: “I am delighted the award has been rescinded and her name will removed from the annals of the Light Aircraft Association.“I have the greatest of respect for women pilots, but I think Tracey Curtis-Taylor has not done a lot to further their cause.“I think she is a boastful lady who needs bringing down a peg or two. She made these claims about flying solo, or at least that is what we were led to believe, and now it has come out that they were not that at all. Far from it. I believe the integrity of the LAA has been restored.” 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.
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. There will need to be work outside of the negotiation box… in order to avoid financial instabilityEuropean Parliament minutes “Some very specific work has to be done in this area,” he said, according to the minutes.”There will be a special/specific relationship. There will need to be work outside of the negotiation box… in order to avoid financial instability.”A spokesman for the European Commission told the Guardian that the minutes, drawn up by European parliament officials, did not “correctly reflect what Mr Barnier said”.But the paper quoted a source who was at the meeting as saying the minutes represented a “more or less accurate” account of the discussions.The disclosure will encourage pro-Brexit MPs who have long argued that the UK will have more leverage in the negotiations than some critics have allowed. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said he wants to secure easy access to the City of London for countries in the bloc, in the first sign of a softer stance. Michel Barnier reportedly told MEPs that he wanted a “special” relationship between the 27 remaining EU countries and Britain’s financial centre after Brexit.The comments chime with warnings by Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, who said this week that the EU’s financial stability is more at risk from Brexit than the UK.It suggests that the EU will be willing to compromise with Britain at the negotiating table to make sure their financial institutions are not locked out of the City.Eurosceptic MPs said the remarks showed that “commercial self-interest is overtaking mere politics” among EU leaders and boded well for Brexit negotiations.Mr Barnier’s remarks were contained in minutes of a private meeting he had with MEPs which was obtained by the Guardian. Steve Baker, the Tory MP and chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, said: “As we were advised to expect by trade negotiators at the Special Trade Commission, commercial self-interest is overtaking mere politics. I hope we can accelerate that necessary process.”Mr Barnier’s comments appear to reflect concerns that EU governments and countries will find it harder and more costly to raise capital if they no longer have free access to the City.They echo the views of Mr Carney who told MPs on Tuesday that – at least in the short-term – the risks to financial stability from Brexit were now greater for the remaining members than they were for the UK. “If you rely on a jurisdiction (the UK) for three-quarters of your hedging activities, three-quarters of your foreign exchange activity, half your lending and half your securities transactions, you should think very carefully about the transition from where you are today to where the new equilibrium will be,” he said.