They have been a nonfactor in the Super Bowl for almost two decades and have not won a playoff game in five years, and yet the value of the Dallas Cowboys franchise continues to rise.Valued at $3.2 billion, owner Jerry Jones’ Cowboys are atop Forbes magazine’s rankings of NFL teams by a healthy margin for an eighth consecutive season, having risen in value by $900 million to become the only NFL team worth more than $3 billion.Despite last having won a championship in 1996, the Cowboys are second in value only to soccer’s Real Madrid ($3.4 billion) among all global sports franchises.Dallas has the NFL’s highest revenue ($560 million) and operating income ($246 million), and this season becomes the first NFL team to have partnerships with a worldwide luxury watch and cruise line.The New England Patriots ($2.6 billion), the Washington Redskins ($2.4 billion), the New York Giants ($2.1 billion) and the Houston Texans ($1.85 billion) round out the top five. The entire NFC East is ranked among the seven most valuable teams, with the Philadelphia Eagles coming in seventh ($1.75 billion).Forbes says the average NFL franchise is now worth an all-time high of $1.43 billion, which is 23 percent more than a year ago and is the biggest year-over-year increase since 1999.It is more than the mean valuation of the world’s top 20 soccer teams ($1.05 billion), Major League Baseball teams ($811 million) and NBA teams ($634 million).Only seven football teams are worth less than $1 billion: the San Diego Chargers ($995 million), Cincinnati Bengals ($990 million), Oakland Raiders ($970 million), Jacksonville Jaguars ($965 million), Detroit Lions ($960 million), Buffalo Bills ($935 million) and the St. Louis Rams ($930 million).The value of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks rose to $1.33 billion, which ranked 15th.Other teams in the top 10 include the New York Jets (No. 6, $1.8 billion), Chicago Bears (No. 8, $1.7 billion), San Francisco 49ers (No. 9, $1.6 billion) and the Baltimore Ravens (No. 10, $1.5 billion).
Now that each team has played at least half its games in the 2016 NFL regular season, we’ve got ourselves an excuse to look at who might take home the major year-end awards if they were handed out today. Note that these are not projections of who will win these awards at the end of the season, but who is most deserving through nine weeks of play.Most Valuable Player: Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta FalconsThe AP Most Valuable Player award has gone to a running back or quarterback in every year since 1987. In all but seven of those years, a quarterback won the award.1This includes 1997, when Brett Favre shared the award with running back Barry Sanders, and 2003, when two quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Steve McNair) were also co-MVPs. In eight of the last nine seasons, including the last three, a quarterback won the award. And by nearly all measures, Ryan is on pace to outproduce those last three winners: Peyton Manning in 2013, Aaron Rodgers in 2014, and Cam Newton last year. 2014A. Rodgers34152065.64,3813858.7 2015C. Newton29649559.83,83735107.2 YEARQUARTERBACKCMP.ATT.CMP%YARDSTDSINT.ANY/A Source: pro-football-reference.com Ryan’s high completion percentage and low interception total are even more impressive considering how far he’s throwing the ball downfield: His average completion has come 7.83 yards downfield, the farthest in the league according to the NFL’s Game Statistics & Information System.Ryan’s remarkable 9.30 adjusted net yards per attempt average would rank third all time if it holds up, and while Tom Brady (10.68) is currently ahead of him, Ryan has thrown 179 more passes than Brady has this year. As good as Brady’s been, four games can’t compare to nine, especially when those nine have been this good. Ryan has the 8th-highest passer rating through nine weeks of any quarterback since 1960,2Minimum 150 attempts, and six of the seven quarterbacks ahead of him on that list wound up winning the AP MVP that season.3The exception was Milt Plum, who had a magnificent season but played on a run-first team (he barely made the cutoff with 151 pass attempts through nine weeks) led by Jim Brown.Offensive Player of the Year: David Johnson, RB Arizona CardinalsThe Cardinals running back leads the league with 1,112 yards from scrimmage through eight games. He’s averaging over 80 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving per game, which has only been accomplished by four other players in NFL history. But what’s most impressive has been his consistency: Johnson has gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in every game this year, making him just the 12th player since 1960 to do that in each of his team’s first eight games. Every other player this year has at least three team games in which they failed to gain 100 total yards.4Murray is the only other player with at least six such games, but his Titans have already played nine games. He’s also averaging 4.5 yards per run and 11.6 yards per reception while scoring eight touchdowns, showing that Johnson’s season hasn’t been fueled only by a heavy workload.Defensive Player of the Year: Von Miller, OL Denver BroncosWith J.J. Watt injured, this award is — theoretically, at least — up for grabs. But Miller has left no doubt as to the identity of the league’s top defender, picking up where he left off in last year’s Super Bowl. Miller leads the NFL in sacks, with 9.5, and is the driving force behind the most dominant pass defense in the NFL. As a team, the Broncos bring pressure on a league-high 38 percent of QB dropbacks — only two other teams are above 30 percent. Miller is also underrated against the run, and combined with Denver’s No. 2 ranking in defensive DVOA through eight weeks, this all make him an easy choice.Offensive Rookie of the Year: Dak Prescott, QB Dallas CowboysPrescott and his backfield teammate, Ezekiel Elliott, have been the best two rookies this season by a large margin. Elliott not only leads the NFL in rushing with 891 yards, he also has the third-most rushing yards of any rookie through eight games since 1960. Elliott has exceeded the lofty expectations associated with the fourth overall pick, and yet….The AP began issuing this award in 1967, and until 2003, just one quarterback had won the award.5That was when Buffalo’s Dennis Shaw edged out Dallas running back Duane Thomas for the honor. But six of the last 12 winners have been quarterbacks. How does Ryan compare to the last three QBs to win MVP? 2016M. Ryan (prorated)38855669.65,2984179.3 2013P. Manning45065968.3%5,47755108.9 Average of above36255864.94,5654388.3 That reflects both the growing importance of the quarterback position, and fact that young quarterbacks are playing earlier and better than ever. And, arguably, no rookie quarterback has been more impressive in his first eight games than Prescott. He’s averaging 8.75 adjusted yards per attempt, the highest rate of any rookie passer through eight games since at least 1960; his 7-1 record is also the best of any true rookie.6Technically, Dieter Brock had a 7-1 record through his first eight games in the NFL, too. But Brock was a rookie in name only: He had a long career in the Canadian Football League before joining the NFL at age 35. And forget rookies: He currently ranks second in the NFL in Total QBR. Prescott has been every bit as good at his position as Elliott has, so the tiebreaker goes to the quarterback for excelling at the more valuable position.Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jatavis Brown, LB San Diego ChargersBrown leads all rookies in solo tackles with 42, and that’s despite missing yesterday’s game with a knee injury. He’s recorded six tackles for loss, tied for second most among rookies. He’s one of just three rookies with multiple forced fumbles, one of seven rookies with at least four pass breakups, and one of seven rookies with three or more sacks. An inside linebacker, Brown shows up with the top rookie defensive backs in some categories and top rookie defensive linemen in others, all while providing solid run support. Without Brown, the Chargers defense allowed five touchdowns against Tennessee, furthering Brown’s argument for defensive rookie of the first two months.Comeback Player of the Year: Tie: DeMarco Murray, RB Tennessee Titans, and Melvin Gordon, RB San Diego ChargersA year ago, DeMarco Murray had just had one of the largest dropoffs in running back history, rushing for just 46.8 yards per game a year after averaging 115.3 yards per game in 2014. Most had written off Murray when he signed with Tennessee after battling hamstring injuries and Chip Kelly’s system during his one year in Philadelphia.Melvin Gordon’s 2015 may have been even worse. He was labeled a bust after his rookie season, when he failed to score a touchdown and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. His season ended with him on injured reserve, and he had microfracture surgery in January.And yet, along with Johnson and Elliott, these have been two of the best four running backs in the NFL. Both Murray and Gordon rank in the top three in rushing yards, rushing first downs, rushing yards after contact, and total touchdowns. Neither player had high expectations entering this season, making their comeback seasons even more impressive.Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio, Oakland RaidersThe New England Patriots are, by a good measure, the best team in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys are 7-1, and have far exceeded expectations after Tony Romo went down in the preseason. Bill Belichick has masterfully guided his team, per usual, and the Patriots seem well-positioned to make another Super Bowl run. Jason Garrett has used his offensive prowess to coax historically great seasons out of a pair of rookies.And yet, the Oakland Raiders are 7-2. Jack Del Rio, owner of a perfectly average 82-82 career record, probably isn’t the coaching equal of Garrett, to say nothing of a comparison to Belichick. But for one half-season, Del Rio has had the magic touch this year, hitting the right button in Week 1 and not letting up since. Oakland has a 1533 Elo rating, the highest for the team in over five years. The Raiders may not yet be great or their success sustainable — the team has outscored opponents by just 22 points so far this year — but through nine weeks, Oakland’s success has been one of the main stories of the season. And while assigning the head coach credit for surprising seasons is an inexact and frustrating habit, the Raiders’ progress under Del Rio — an improvement from 3-13 to 7-9 last season, and the hot start this season — is undeniable.
Ohio State’s national college football championship might seem to vindicate the playoff selection committee, which chose the No. 4 Buckeyes over two teams with similar resumes, No. 5 Baylor and No. 6 TCU. But there probably weren’t a lot of people in Waco or Fort Worth, Texas, celebrating the Buckeyes’ Monday night win. Instead, Baylor and TCU fans have every right to think their teams deserved the same opportunity.1The argument is particularly strong for TCU, which, after being leapfrogged in an unprecedented way in the committee’s final standings, went on to crush Mississippi 42-3 in the Peach Bowl. In fact, the Horned Frogs entered Monday with nearly the same Football Power Index rating (23.6) that Ohio State had (23.8).It has sometimes been stated — I’ve said it myself — that a four-team playoff is inherently flawed when there are five major conferences. The truth is a little more complicated than that. Sometimes a “Power 5” conference champion won’t have much of a beef with having been excluded from the playoff. In 2012, for instance, Wisconsin was the BCS representative as the Big Ten champion despite just a 4-4 conference record (and an 8-5 record overall). It was a wacky case — Ohio State and Penn State finished ahead of the Badgers but were ineligible for postseason play — but it’s not so uncommon to have an “ugly duckling” major conference champion.But pretty much every other contingency complicates the committee’s job and adds to the list of teams it might consider:Sometimes there will be an undefeated team from a “minor” conference, like Boise State.Sometimes independent Notre Dame or BYU will be undefeated or will have one loss against a strong schedule.Sometimes a second team from a power conference will have a powerful argument for being among the top four nationally. In 2011, for example, Alabama ranked No. 2 and was chosen for the BCS title game; its only loss had come against No. 1 LSU.In other words, this year wasn’t an outlier: A four-team playoff is liable to produce similar controversies more often than not. It may not be the particular controversy we had this year. But there’s liable to be some type of controversy.This is usually the point at which someone asserts the problem is infinitely regressive. With four teams in the playoff, there will always be an argument over Nos. 4 and 5. With six teams, there might be the a debate over Nos. 6 and 7. Or with 68 teams, you’ll have a fight over Nos. 68 and 69.I don’t find this case entirely convincing; you’re going to hit the point of diminishing returns eventually. In 2012, I participated in a mock NCAA basketball selection committee for media members. When filling out the last few slots in the 68-team bracket, we were presented with some incredibly unappealing options: For example, a team that went 1-6 against top 50 opponents against another that had a losing record in conference play. Neither team had a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming national champion.What you don’t want to do is exclude teams that can make a credible case for being the best team in the country. It’s hard to put this philosophy into practice, of course. In a perfect world, you could permit a flexible number of teams into the playoff. One year, a team might be so far ahead of the pack that you’d be tempted to crown it national champion and cancel the playoff. The next year, the top group might run a dozen teams deep. Unfortunately, the NCAA and our corporate overlords ESPN aren’t likely to tolerate that sort of uncertainty when they need to set schedules months or years in advance.So, we need to settle on a particular number of teams. The most important objective is to avoid “false negatives” — that is, to keep from omitting teams like Baylor and TCU, whose resumes are hard to distinguish from the teams ranked first or second in the country. The next priority is to avoid “false positives,” like a three-loss team getting into the playoff when it doesn’t belong there. It might help to break the teams into tiers:The first tier consists of undefeated teams from major (“Power 5”) conferences.2In the chart after this first bullet point, we’ve treated Notre Dame as a major conference team.The second tier includes one-loss teams from major conferences, along with undefeated teams from minor conferences.The third tier consists of two-loss teams from “Power 5” conferences and one-loss teams from other conferences.The fourth tier includes everyone else.The former BCS system, with its national championship game, seemed to be based on the hope that there would be exactly two top-tier teams. Unfortunately that almost never worked out. Only four times in the 16 years of the BCS were there exactly two major-conference undefeateds. The years in which there were three such teams, like 2004, were especially controversial. The more common problem, however, is that there was often just one of these teams or none at all.So reaching into the second tier is a necessary evil if you’re going to have any type of playoff. That being the case, I’d argue that you’d rather not have to make extremely fine distinctions within the second tier. Perhaps you’re OK omitting some one-loss teams with gross deficiencies on their resumes (like those that both played poor schedules and failed to win their conference titles). But you’d rather not have to distinguish the Baylors of the world from the Ohio States.The problem with a four-team playoff is that it will often require the committee to make exactly those distinctions, splitting the second tier right down the middle. Let’s look at some historical data. In the chart below, I’ve listed the teams since 1998 as they were ranked in the final AP poll before bowl participants were chosen. (This serves as a good proxy for how the playoff selection committee might have ranked the teams.)3You could use the BCS standings or the Coaches Poll as the reference point instead; they would lead you to pretty much the same conclusions. The teams are color-coded based on which tier they belonged to.As you can see, these tiers do a reasonable job of reflecting how poll voters think about the teams. Sometimes the tiers get mixed up around the margins, but these are usually relatively obvious cases involving teams with especially strong or weak schedules.But you can also see the problem. In an average year, there are one or two first-tier teams and four or five second-tier teams. A four-team playoff will wind up splitting the second-tier teams right down the middle.What if you’re willing to omit one-loss teams that didn’t win their conference championships? In the chart, I’ve also indicated whether a team won its conference title. (I’ve listed just one champion per major conference — the team deemed as the conference champion by the BCS in the event of ties.4In 2014, the BCS was no longer active. I consider Baylor to have been the Big 12 champion over TCU by virtue of its head-to-head victory against them. There’s special handling for teams from the former Big East conference, which no longer exists for football.5Big East teams are classified based on the conference they belong to currently. If a former Big East team ranked higher than the top team from the conference it now belongs to, it is considered the champion of its current conference. For instance, Miami is classified as the 2002 ACC champion, because it ranked ahead of the actual ACC champion that year, Florida State.) This gets you closer, but you’ll still run out of space fairly often unless you’re also willing to kick out undefeated teams from minor conferences.Besides, it’s not clear that a conference championship ought to trump everything else. It’s great when, for example, the No. 3 and No. 5 teams in the country square off in their conference championship, making it serve as a de facto play-in game. But this rarely happens. Often, the two best teams in the conference are in the same division and won’t play for the conference title. Or there are cases like 2003, when Kansas State, which had two conference losses, beat undefeated Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. Would Kansas State really deserve to make the playoff ahead of Oklahoma? AP voters didn’t think so. (They ranked Oklahoma No. 3 and Kansas State No. 8 the next week.)What if we expand the playoff to six teams instead?Now we’re able to accommodate the clear majority of the second tier. One-loss major conference champions will just about always make it. One-loss non-champions from major conferences will make it about 80 percent of the time. Undefeated teams from minor conferences still struggle a bit, but overall this seems to strike a good balance. As a major conference team with just one loss, you’ll make the playoff unless there’s a lot working against you. With two losses, you’ll won’t make it unless you have a lot working for you. There are still some tough decisions to be made, but the committee won’t have to cleave the second tier in half, as it often will under a four-team playoff.If you expand the playoff to eight teams, you’re able to accommodate almost all of the second tier. However, about 75 percent of the additional teams you’d add with the seventh and eighth slots are from the third tier instead. This may be too tolerant, placing too little pressure on teams to perform and schedule well in the regular season.An alternative would be to include eight teams, but with automatic bids for major conference champions. (Technically you could do this under a six-team playoff, too, but it might not be advisable.6It provides for too little flexibility. What happens when in addition to the five major conference champions, there’s an excellent Notre Dame team and an undefeated Boise State? And by placing so much emphasis on the conference championship game, this system would serve to make the rest of a team’s schedule all but irrelevant.) Presumably, teams from outside of the power conferences would object to this, but you could accommodate them by guaranteeing a sixth slot to the best independent or minor conference team. That would leave two at-large positions.I’ve run the numbers on how this would work out — and it seems like another good option. By definition, we’re now including every major conference champion. While you’d have the occasional fluke conference champ like the 2012 Wisconsin team, that might be an acceptable price for reducing the subjectivity in the process. Non-champion teams from major conferences would sometimes make the playoff but would have a lot of pressure to schedule well and perform well. The majority of one-loss teams from major conferences would make it, but they’d be at risk if they fail to win their conferences. And taking a second loss would knock a team out the vast majority of the time.No system is going to end the debates; people still argue about which teams ought to be No. 12 seeds in the NCAA hoops tourney so they can lose to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. But expanding the football playoff to six teams — or to eight teams with some automatic bids — would do a better job of rewarding the most deserving teams while preserving the importance of the regular season. It would help to ensure the most important decisions of the college football season happen on the field and not in a conference room.
Ohio State junior forward Jae’Sean Tate slams home a dunk against Navy on Nov. 11 in Annapolis, Maryland. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorFollowing the attack that occurred on the Ohio State campus in Columbus, the Buckeyes men’s basketball team took a moment during their Tuesday press conference to reflect on the events, and express their thanks for the University Police officer who responded.“We got to keep issues off the court, but, I mean, it’s scary,” said OSU junior forward Jae’Sean Tate. “Somebody lost their life yesterday, and more people were injured. It’s terrible but I’m glad that we have police around who responded very quickly, contained the situation before it got even more out of hand.”While the investigation is ongoing, and students and staff on campus attempt to return to life as usual in Columbus, the Buckeyes will play at No. 6 Virginia on Saturday evening. The Cavaliers are 6-0, and have defeated their opponents by an average of more than 29 points per game.Virginia already was going to be a stout challenge coming into the game, but Monday’s events might weigh heavily on the minds of those in attendance and on the athletes. Senior forward Marc Loving said the Buckeyes will be looking for focus even after the attacks.“I know some things that happened yesterday are going to be in our mind during the game,” he said. “Things that happened could have a negative effect on, obviously, the morale on campus and this team. But when we step in this gym, we try to block out all aspects whether it’s the classroom, or it’s any distraction that’s possibly going on and just hone on in the time we have in practice together and just get better.”Saturday’s contest will be just the second true away game for the Cavaliers. Led by redshirt junior guard Darius Thompson with a 10 points-per-game average, Virginia is coming off an Elite Eight finish in the NCAA tournament.Last season, Virginia finished with a 29-8 record, and was behind only North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Tate said OSU will be focusing on quicker ball movement in practice to try and overcome the challenge ahead.“We hold onto the ball a little too long,” he said. “Other than that, you know when we catch the ball we immediately know what we’re going to do with it, not catch it and think about what we’re going to do and allow the defense to set up and get back in the gaps.”On defense, Virginia is allowing just 41.8 points per game which gives it a +31.5 scoring margin when matched with the team’s average points per game. Combine that with a with a suffocating defense that has picked up 7.7 steals and 5.0 blocks per game, and the Cavaliers are by far the biggest test for OSU so far this year. Even with the seemingly insurmountable task ahead, OSU coach Thad Matta is ready to see what his team can do. “I like where this team is,” he said. “I mean, obviously, we’re playing not a really good basketball team, we’re playing a great basketball team. Very, very impressed with Virginia. I’m excited to play them all night just to … you know the game ends and we get a pretty good gauge where we are. I think that we’re making strides in the right direction.”Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Ohio State junior forward Jae’Sean Tate drives to the basket against a Purdue defender against the Boilermakers on Jan. 5 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Giustino Bovenzi | For The LanternIt wasn’t long ago that the Ohio State men’s basketball team was 6-0 heading into a matchup at Virginia. Then, the Buckeyes lost seven of their next 11 games, including four consecutive Big Ten contests. On Sunday, a win against the Northwestern Wildcats (15-4, 4-2) would make it three straight for the Buckeyes and put them right back into the thick of things in the one of the most difficult conferences to figure out this season.OSU escaped Nebraska with a 67-66 win on Thursday off a game-winning layup from senior forward Marc Loving with 0.6 seconds remaining. It was the Buckeyes first road win since Nov. 11 at Navy — the first game of the season.For the second consecutive game, the Scarlet and Gray were able to dig themselves out of a hole. The Buckeyes were down by as much as 10 in the second half, but found a way to still win the game in a tough road environment. At 2-4 in the Big Ten, OSU still has its backs against the metaphorical wall, but the team is beginning to see a little daylight.“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Loving said. “Before, we hadn’t been able to execute out of timeouts after drawing up a play and I was just happy to see that.”Last time out against Northwestern, the Wildcats had a seven-point halftime lead before OSU exploded for a 15-point advantage in the second half to take the game 71-63. Five players were in double figures for the Buckeyes, which was the case in last Sunday’s win against Michigan State.Four players scored double-digit points for the Buckeyes against Nebraska. Loving had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The second-half difference was OSU locking down on defense — the Cornhuskers shot 24 percent in the second half — and limiting turnovers. OSU committed 11 in the first half and zero in the second. A step in the right direction, maybe, but coach Thad Matta said those errors are unacceptable, especially against a Northwestern team that ranks 37th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom ratings. OSU is 72nd best in that category.“I want to see how we can continue to grow. We’re not a team that can feel good,” Matta said. “The biggest thing I want these guys to understand is we didn’t play very well in the first half. And to look and say, ‘well, we won the game, everything is fine.’ It’s not fine.”NorthwesternThe Wildcats are in the best shape the program has been in since the 2011-12 season to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Northwestern has lost close games to top-25 opponents Butler and Notre Dame, and beaten notable opponents like Dayton and Wake Forest this season. Coach Chris Collins’ team received seven votes this past week for the Associated Press top 25 and currently sits as a No. 9 seed in ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology. A road win in Columbus for the first time since 1977 would make the Wildcats even more appealing to the eyes of the selection committee and AP voters.Northwestern has three players averaging at least 12 points a game, all of whom have had success in the past against OSU. Junior leading scorer Scottie Lindsey has been the most improved player for the Wildcats, averaging 15.8 points per contest compared to 6.4 last season. Lindsey has attempted 109 3-pointers this season, converting on 41.Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh are the two other leaders for the Wildcats. Law sat out all of last season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Since his return, he is scoring better than 14 points per game and shooting 45 percent from 3. McIntosh leads the conference with 5.6 assists per game, but does turn the ball over roughly three times per contest.Northwestern is rated No. 31 by KenPom whereas OSU is No. 57.The GameIf there’s advantage anywhere in the matchup, it will be determined on the glass and in turnover margin. OSU has struggled allowing offensive rebounds in several matchups. The Buckeyes have equally struggled in keeping possession once they get it.OSU turns over the ball 13 times per game with a negative turnover margin. Northwestern commits 11 turnovers per game and has a positive turnover margin. On the glass, OSU gave up nine offensive rebounds to a Nebraska team that averages 11.7 per game. Northwestern gathers less than 10 offensive rebounds on average, but ranks tied for 117th in the nation in defensive rebounding to OSU at 15th with over 26 per game.Foul trouble for OSU’s top rebounders was a problem against Nebraska. Redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson, who averages nine rebounds per game, fouled out at the last media timeout and junior forward Jae’Sean Tate played with four fouls for the final four minutes. If it becomes an issue again on Sunday, OSU could have difficulty with putting bodies on 6-foot-8 Dererk Pardon and 6-foot-6 Sanjay Lumpkin and limit second-chance opportunities.Still, OSU has played well at home and there’s isn’t a reason why the Buckeyes shouldn’t play well with a chance to extend the winning streak. Thompson should own the glass which will prove to be the difference.Prediction: Ohio State 71, Northwestern 65
Correction: Oct. 29, 2013Andrea Kacsits’ name was initially spelled wrong in this article. It was been changed to reflect the correct spelling. Sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits (4) defends a shot during a match against Nebraska Oct. 25 at St. John Arena. OSU lost, 3-1.Credit: Brandon Klein / Lantern photographerThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team, which has now dropped six straight matches, hit the half way point of the conference season with a 2-8 record.“We are not the team we were in this nightmare of a first half,” sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits said. “We’ll be better in the second half (of the season) for sure.”The No. 24 Buckeyes, who have not won since Oct. 5 at Indiana, dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 13 Nebraska Friday at St. John Arena.“We need to remember what it feels like to win, and love that feeling enough to want to do it every time,” Kacsits said of the team’s recent struggles.The Buckeyes looked strong early Friday, taking the first set 25-22, but were unable to build on that form the rest of the way.Nebraska jumped out to a 12-4 lead over OSU in the second set, eventually winning it 25-12. The third ended 25-17 in favor of the Cornhuskers, and a late rally was not enough for OSU as they fell 25-19 in the final set.The final period was close until the end, as the Buckeyes only trailed one point, 20-19, but five straight Nebraska points closed out the match.Coach Geoff Carlston said his team can take positives from the match, but they still have work to do in the second half of Big Ten play.“I thought some individuals played really well (against Nebraska),” Carlston said. “I think (we had) … the effort that we need to get better.”Carlston has been working with multiple lineups during the losing streak, going with a two setter look against Nebraska as freshman Maggie Heim and junior Taylor Sherwin both saw significant playing time.“It’s an option, something that I like components of,” Carlston said about the different look.Heim finished with three kills and 14 assists while Sherwin tallied 24 assists.Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary led the Buckeyes with 12 kills, while Kacsits added eight of 14 attempts for an attack percentage of .500.Senior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson led the match with 19 kills for Nebraska, while freshman outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen had 16 and sophomore middle blocker Meghan Haggerty added 10.After the loss, the Buckeyes have a week to rest, with their next match scheduled for Friday against No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich.Leary said the second half of the season gives the Buckeyes a chance to see teams again and learn from their mistakes.“The good thing about the Big Ten is you play everyone twice,” she said. “Now everyone knows the teams better, they know us better, we know them better.”Carlston said the time off will help his team’s rhythm and give them a chance to get back on the same page.“We’re going to take these days off, regroup, and really focus on the second half of the season,” he said.After their match at Michigan State, the Buckeyes are scheduled to head to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a date with the No. 17 Michigan Wolverines.
Sophomore guard Cait Craft (13) looks for an open pass during a game against Old Dominion Nov. 22 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 75-60.Credit: Liz Young / Campus editorThe Ohio State women’s basketball team entered day two of the Big Ten Tournament as the only remaining team in the tournament with a losing record.The Buckeyes proceeded to pull the biggest upset in the conference this year, upsetting No. 1-seeded Penn State, 99-82.The 99 points scored by the Buckeyes were the most points ever scored in a single game in the 20-year history of the women’s Big Ten Tournament. OSU also broke the record for most points scored in the first half as it jumped out to a 58-34 halftime lead.OSU coach Kevin McGuff said post-game that he was pleased with the energy his team came out with against the Nittany Lions.“I am really proud of our players,” McGuff said in a post-game interview with the Big Ten Network. “We played incredibly hard and we played to win the game. I think that was the most important thing.”The Buckeyes caught fire early, hitting on 10-14 3-point shots in the first half, nine of which came from sophomore guards Ameryst Alston and Cait Craft.Recently named first team All-Big Ten, Alston recorded a career-high 33 points to go along with nine assists. It was her fourth 30-point performance in her last six games.Craft has her highest scoring game since scoring 29 against Florida Atlantic Nov. 10, as she finished with 24 points and six assists.Craft said the Buckeyes are playing with nothing to lose.“They were the No. 1 seed, they had all the pressure on them, and I think our group realizes that this could be the last time we ever play with each other,” Craft said in a post-game interview with the Big Ten Network. “Everybody is just playing for each other right now, trying to do what we can for one another.”Five Buckeyes scored in double-figures, including senior centers Ashley Adams and Darryce Moore, who combined for 22 points and 11 rebounds. Adams, who finished with 11 points, did all of her damage in the second half after not playing in the first.Despite trailing by as much as 27 points in the second half, Penn State was able to trim the Buckeye lead to just nine with under four minutes to play, something McGuff said he wasn’t surprised to see.“They were going to make a run because they are a good team, but we really stayed relentless,” McGuff said.Contributing to the Penn State run was two-time Big Ten player of the year, senior guard Maggie Lucas, who scored 13 of her 21 points in the second half, including a fade-away 3-point shot that made her the Big Ten’s all-time leader in 3-pointer shots made. The Nittany Lions also received a big game from senior forward Ariel Edwards, who scored a team-high 29 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.Although she scored 21 points, Lucas was held to just 5-16 shooting thanks in part to the defensive effort put forth by Craft.“You just have to stay glued to her,” Craft said. “My teammates trusted me to guard her so I just take that in stride.The Buckeyes scored more points in the quarterfinal game (99) than they did in their first two games against Penn State combined (96), losing to the Nittany Lions both times.The Buckeyes are scheduled to play the winner of Iowa against Purdue Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett speaks to the media March 12.Credit: Ryan Cooper / Senior Lantern reporterMuch like this offseason, last year, the Ohio State football team had a heated battle for the quarterback depth chart on its hands.Only then, the race was on for the No. 2 slot.Now, the two contenders for last year’s backup spot — redshirt-sophomore J.T. Barrett and redshirt-junior Cardale Jones — are entrenched in a race for the starting job with the incumbent heading into the 2014 campaign, redshirt-senior Braxton Miller.Jones said it’s easy for people to forget that the quarterbacks are constantly in competition, even if the starter is firmly in place.“It’s always been a competition to us,” Jones said Thursday. “Ever since I stepped on campus when (former OSU quarterback) Kenny (Guiton) was here, it’s always been a competition.”Barrett agreed with his teammate that the situation isn’t new for the Buckeyes.“Last year at this time, Braxton was coming off his surgery, me and Cardale was competing for the No. 2 spot,” Barrett said. “So it’s still the same, we still critique each other, run around and give each other advice. Braxton and Cardale help me, and I try to do my best to help them.“There’s no bad blood out here. We’re all still friends and trying to help each other.”Jones said while he and his teammates are aware of the ongoing competition, his main focus isn’t on next season, but rather just working to improve.“I don’t know (how the competition will play out). That’s up to the coaches. I’m just going through the spring, trying to get better,” Jones said.The Glenville High School product added that he doesn’t think that any decisions will be made for the foreseeable future, which helps alleviate some of the pressure.“I don’t think anything will be decided in the preseason. That’s not up to me, but I don’t think I have an advantage over the guys, because they’re still doing things to get better. Quarterbacks always get better,” he said.The résumés of the three quarterbacks could only make the situation murkier for coach Urban Meyer and new co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck.Miller is a two-time Big Ten Quarterback of the Year, and Barrett is the reigning holder of that title. Jones made three starts last season, throwing for 742 yards as a starter — which just so happened to come in emphatic victories in the Big Ten Championship Game, Allstate Sugar Bowl and College Football Playoff National Championship Game.However, Jones said he thinks, in the eyes of both the candidates and the coaching staff, that the past is the past and should not play into the decision of who the best man for the job is in 2015.“That really don’t mean anything now,” Jones said. “That meant a lot to us, going through that run we had, but I don’t think last year’s going to affect the competition for this year.“If we would’ve won or lost the national championship or Big Ten championship, I still would’ve come into spring the same.”OSU quarterback Cardale Jones speaks to the media March 12.Credit: Ryan Cooper / Senior Lantern reporterBarrett said the on-field abilities of the trio are not in question. What the battle could come down to, he said, are some of the other qualities that a coach needs out of his quarterback.“For me to be that guy, I think just being able to lead the guys around me,” Barrett said. “I think all three of us definitely have the ability to definitely go out there and play good, but being able to go out there and lead the people who may not have the same ability and give them confidence will be big.”One advantage over the competition that Jones might hold is the ability to work with the team as spring practice begins. Barrett is still recovering from a fractured right ankle suffered Nov. 29 against Michigan, while Miller’s road to recovery from August shoulder surgery is still ongoing.Barrett said he is on track in his recovery, but there is no timetable for the Wichita Falls, Texas, native to see the field. He said he is more concerned with entering the competition healthy than returning quickly.“I’m on schedule, but there’s not really a set date where I’ll be ready to pass and run, things like that. It’s really just how I feel,” Barrett said.An update on Miller’s return to the field was not available Thursday, as the redshirt-senior opted not to speak with the media after practice.One thing Barrett doesn’t expect to see in 2015 is a two- or three-quarterback system. He said that he believes one player will be the starter, and the other two will simply be waiting in the wings.But if Barrett is not named the first-stringer, he doesn’t anticipate a loss in motivation.“If I’m not the starter, then obviously I’m not doing something right. I can always get better,” Barrett said. “So I would keep trying to get better.“Somebody’s going to be the best quarterback for Ohio State, so whoever that is, I think that’s going to be a great situation for our team, and we just let the other two guys know that they need to get better and have things to work on.”OSU will have until Sept. 7 to select the starter, when it is scheduled to open the season against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
Ohio State senior midfielder Nikki Walts tracks a ball during the second half of the Buckeyes’ 7-0 win against Illinois at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Sept. 14. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorThe No. 9 Ohio State women’s soccer team (15-4-1, 9-2-0), the top seed in the Big Ten tournament, had their conference championship dreams fall short in a 1-0 double-overtime loss to No. 15 Penn State (11-4-4, 6-2-3 Big Ten) in the Big Ten semifinal Friday in Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana.Nittany Lion midfielder Laura Freigang hit the back of the net in the 109th minute for the game’s lone goal, leading Penn State to a dramatic 1-0 victory.Ohio State’s offense was absent nearly the entire match, only attempting four shots, none of which was on frame.Penn State finished the game with 24 shots, nine on goal. The Nittany Lions also held a 9-0 advantage in corner kicks.An early scoring threat by Penn State began in the eighth minute, when Freigang missed the Nittany Lions’ first Nittany Lions’ first shot on goal as it was saved by Ohio State goalkeeper Devon Kerr. Penn State dominated time of possession and shots on goal with seven shots, compared to Ohio State’s zero. That defensive slugfest continued through the second half, sending the game into overtime. After the first overtime period, the score was still tied, and the game advanced to a second overtime. Finally, Penn State got on the board with a goal in the 109th minute, ending the match. The Buckeyes will await their next opponent as an at-large team in the NCAA tournament Monday when the field of 64 teams is announced. If Ohio State is a top-16 seed, it will host the first round at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
MPs said the divide between health and social care services was extreme it amounted to political maladministration Credit:Dominic Lipinksi/PA ‘These shocking failures will continue to happen unless the government tackles the heart of the problem – the chronic underfunding of social care which is pilling excruciating pressure on the NHS’Dame Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Latest figures show delays in discharging fit patients from hospital have risen 23 per cent in one year, while bedblocking is at record levels.The NHS Ombudsman report – which saw a 36 per cent rise in discharge-related investigations in 2015 – found that some deaths and incidents of suffering could have been prevented if hospitals carried out the right checks before discharging people.Last night Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: “We see too many cases where discharge from hospital has gone horribly wrong, particularly for older, frail people who often don’t have the right support in place at home to cope on their own.“These shocking failures will continue to happen unless the government tackles the heart of the problem – the chronic underfunding of social care which is pilling excruciating pressure on the NHS, leaving vulnerable patients without a lifeline.”PACAC chairman Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex, said: “Hospital staff seem to feel pressured to discharge patients before it is safe to do so. Hospital leadership must reassure their staff that organisational pressures never take priority over person-centred care. And staff need to feel a level of trust and openness that enables them to raise concerns about unsafe discharge.”Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said: “This report paints a damning picture of the management of hospital discharge across many parts of the NHS. We are consistently seeing record numbers of people being kept in hospital unnecessarily because appropriate care services have not been put in place.”A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Patients should only be discharged from hospital when it’s clinically appropriate and safe for them and their families – and the best way to ensure that is to meaningfully integrate health and social care. We are investing billions to do so over the course of this Parliament to improve the experience of patients, many of whom will be vulnerable.” The Ombudsman report, published in May, highlighted nine harrowing cases of unsafe release from hospital, including two patients who died as a result. One woman said she would be “haunted” for the rest of her life by the avoidable suffering of her mother, who was repeatedly sent home against her wishes.Today’s report said the cases were “not isolated incidents but rather examples of problems that patients, relatives and carers are experiencing more widely”.“We heard that pressures on resources and capacity within hospitals are leading to worrying and unsafe discharge practices,” MPs said.The report said patients were suffering because too many were stuck in hospital despite being medically fit to leave, while others were being forced out too early, to free up beds. MPs examined the issue of hospital discharges after the NHS ombudsman found a sharp increase in complaints about patients who had been sent home in unsafe circumstances.Cases examined include an 85-year-old with dementia, sent home at 11pm, without food, drink or bedding, and unable to get to the toilet. Another elderly patient died in her granddaughter’s arms, hours after being sent home by doctors who failed to examine her.MPs today urged the Health Secretary to act to stop any patients being discharged against their will between the hours of 11pm and 6am. And they told the Government to set out plans explaining how it will fund social care so that services can survive in the long-run. Frail elderly people are being sent home from hospital in the dead of night because of a fundamental breakdown of the health and social care system, according to a damning report by MPs.Watchdogs said patients were increasingly being forced to endure “harrowing” and unsafe ordeals amid mounting pressures on services.The report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) says patients were being put at risk by gaps between health and social care services, which are so extreme that they amount to “political maladministration”.Last night the health service Ombudsman said vulnerable patients were being left without a lifeline, accusing the Government of “chronic underfunding of social care.” MPs have urged Jeremy Hunt to set out how the practice of discharge at night will be endedCredit:PA 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.