Just one week into the NFL season, it’s hard to know exactly which teams will be contenders and which will be focused on their spot in the draft next spring. So it probably seems too early to be discussing playoff implications — a conversation that’s usually on hold until Thanksgiving. But in a 16-game schedule, the margins are small, and each game has a big effect on the postseason picture. Week 2 is no different — after all, the season will be 12.5 percent over after Monday night.Thursday’s AFC North tilt between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens is one of those early season contests that could end up having real postseason consequences. In fact, our NFL Elo prediction model considers it the most important game of Week 2. (Remember when Thursday Night Football was a place to stash the NFL’s unwanted matchups?) With a win, each team’s chances of making the playoffs would jump by about 15 percentage points, while the loser would see a commensurate decline. Especially after the division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers stumbled out of the gate without star RB Le’Veon Bell, the chance to jump out to a 2-0 start is a big opportunity for both Baltimore and Cincy. SEA40.311.8CHI22.214.171.124 Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 1Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 1 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game PIT53.812.1KC74.89.922.0 Bengals-Ravens could help make or break their seasonsWeek 2 games with the most total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo predictions ARI61ARI55WSH 24, ARI 6+4.8– BAL59.0%+/-15.1CIN39.6%+/-14.829.9 NYJ39.013.3MIA30.312.926.2 6Minnesota4023,1180 NE86NE77NE 27, HOU 20-6.3– 1Washington4223,6423 Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com 8San Francisco3831,0285 DAL33.58.1NYG126.96.36.199 Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total Change The Bengals always get competent QB play — but no ringsMost seasons with positive yards above backup quarterback (YABQ) for NFL franchises, 1970-2017 DEN30.010.5OAK14.37.918.4 TEN30.49.7HOU188.8.131.52 WSH39.17.9IND184.108.40.206 NO74NO82TB 48, NO 40-13.5– PHI65PHI57PHI 18, ATL 12-9.6– The Ravens come into the matchup off of a 44-point demolition of the Buffalo Bills, which propelled Baltimore from 12th to eighth in our Elo rankings. With the Bills starting the comically ineffective Nathan Peterman at QB, it’s difficult to judge how much we really learned about the Ravens in the blowout. But it had to be encouraging for Baltimore fans to see Joe Flacco play well, regardless of the opponent. At home against Buffalo, Flacco generated 119 more adjusted net yards than a generic backup-level quarterback would have (aka yards above backup QB, or YABQ), which ranked sixth among all signal-callers in Week 1 — behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.In terms of YABQ, this game also represented the third-best that Flacco has enjoyed since Week 3 of the 2015 season, which helps underscore how bad Flacco has been in recent years. For instance, last season the Ravens had the third-worst quarterbacking production of any team in the league, with Flacco’s individual metrics in a three-year tailspin. For a team that featured one of the NFL’s best defenses last season, any spark that Flacco and the offense can provide could go a long way toward sending Baltimore back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. And in their first test against the overmatched Bills, Flacco and the revamped Ravens receiving corps passed with flying colors.A somewhat similar narrative is unfolding in Cincinnati. With much-maligned QB Andy Dalton embarking on his eighth season as the Bengals’ starter (and coach Marvin Lewis back for an astonishing 16th year on the team’s sidelines), Cincy went into Indianapolis and beat Andrew Luck and the Colts thanks to solid passing and rushing, plus timely defensive plays late in the game. Aside from maybe Flacco, few quarterbacks in the league needed to start the season on the right foot more than Dalton, who infamously has never won a playoff game during his time in the Queen City.A win over Baltimore on Thursday won’t change that — perhaps surprisingly, Dalton has beaten the Ravens more often than not anyway — but it would help quiet the doubts that Dalton’s best days are behind him. Since he finished third in the league in YABQ in 2015 (despite suffering a season-ending injury that December), he slipped to 11th in 2016 and 21st in 2017, and the Bengals didn’t make the playoffs either year. With a defense that projects to be mediocre at best, Cincinnati needs Dalton to reverse that slide in order to have any shot at the postseason — and probably to have any chance at salvaging the Dalton/Lewis era.The great irony of the Bengals is that their quarterbacking has always been just good enough to come up short. While the Ravens have won two Super Bowls behind a couple of QBs (Flacco and Trent Dilfer) who were below-average passers for their careers, Cincinnati has consistently had average-to-good passing over the years, aside from a few notable exceptions. Just look back at the Bengals’ history of primary quarterbacks: 40 of their 47 seasons since 1972 have been led by five quarterbacks — Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, Jeff Blake, Carson Palmer and Dalton. Although none is in the Hall of Fame (Anderson’s case is a point of contentious debate), each rates as average or better in his career according to Pro-Football-Reference.com’s advanced passing index.That’s why, from the 1970 AFL-NFL merger until the present day, no team has gotten more seasons of “competent” (above-backup level) quarterbacking than the Bengals have: OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION MIN76MIN71MIN 24, SF 16-5.3– GB63GB71GB 24, CHI 23+3.3– CAR60CAR60CAR 16, DAL 8-1.8– 7Denver3922,6483 3Miami4125,4802 3Dallas4128,3835 1Cincinnati4223,1280 LAC56LAC55KC 38, LAC 28-0.6– GB29.013.5MIN73.712.926.3 PIT79PIT76PIT 21, CLE 21+0.0 3Pittsburgh4118,7546 TB35.611.6PHI82.98.420.0 And yet, even though the teams around them on that list have won multiple Super Bowls, Cincinnati has yet to break through with even one win of its own.History says that’s unlikely to change this season. But it is fair to say that Dalton’s duel with Flacco this week has taken on unexpected importance for an early season game. The winner will ensure itself a quick boost in playoff chances — and an extra helping of redemption after the way both teams have played the past few seasons.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersLast week, we relaunched our NFL Elo prediction interactive, which you can use to track every team in the league in the race for the Super Bowl. Along with it, we also brought back a popular feature from last season — a prediction game that lets you test your football smarts against our model (and thousands of fellow readers). Here were Elo’s best and worst picks against the field in Week 1: IND50IND50CIN 34, IND 23-1.9– JAX58JAX62JAX 20, NYG 15+0.7– BAL64BAL72BAL 47, BUF 3+2.9– OAK50%LAR68%LAR 33, OAK 13+11.7– Overall, it was a pretty impressive opening week for Elo — in fact, our model cleaned up nicely, beating readers by 28.3 total points on average. This is especially surprising because Week 1 would seem to be the moment of the season when human pickers have the greatest edge on the algorithm. In our NFL preview, I noted that Elo can get caught a little flat-footed early in the season because it doesn’t know about all the roster and coaching moves that transpired over the summer. Theoretically, that should have made it as unprepared for Week 1 as Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions … but unlike the Lions, Elo proved the naysayers (i.e., me) wrong.Elo’s biggest win was in not dismissing the Buccaneers completely. While our readers gave the home Saints a better than 80 percent chance of winning, the model was more cautious, and it ended up paying off when Tampa (and backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) dropped 48 points on New Orleans. Elo also picked up credit for calling the Dolphins’ protracted win over the Titans and for once again showing faith in the Eagles (just like in last year’s playoffs).If the readers did have a crowning moment in Week 1, though, it was for calling the Rams’ big win over the Raiders in Oakland on Monday night. Elo thought the game was a pick ’em, but the readers knew better, giving L.A. a 68 percent chance of spoiling Jon Gruden’s return to the sidelines.Thanks to everyone who played on opening week, and remember that it’s not too late to start, even if you missed Week 1. So be sure to get your picks in now!Check out our latest NFL predictions. 8New England3825,4785 Playoff %Playoff % LAR58.110.9ARI14.17.918.8 SEA54SEA52DEN 27, SEA 24+0.0 PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET points ATL51.114.1CAR52.413.928.1 NO27.84.2CLE220.127.116.11 *Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN.com LAC33.312.4BUF21.89.822.2 DET19.18.7SF22.28.417.1 8Philadelphia3816,0041 JAX64.310.8NE81.88.819.6 MIA53TEN55MIA 27, TEN 20-10.3– DET71DET71NYJ 48, DET 17-2.4– The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. FranchiseSeasons above backup level since 1970Total YABQSuper Bowls
Obviously, those 2018 youth players won’t be old enough in 2019 to figure into the senior team’s World Cup fortunes. But the lack of earlier success could suggest a down period coming for the Americans in upcoming World Cups. At least, that’s assuming youth-level results are predictive of future senior-team outcomes. But is that true?Fortunately for the U.S., the relationship there is only a moderate one. To measure this, I’m using a system called “Dynasty Points,” which I’ve used before to track a team’s postseason success over multiple years. In each tournament, you get 1,000 points for winning the whole thing, 500 for finishing second, 250 for losing in the semifinals (with a 100-point bonus for finishing third), 115 for losing in the quarters and 40 for losing in the Round of 16 (when applicable).2These values are roughly scaled to reflect how many teams you needed to beat out in order to reach a given level of the tournament, while keeping the value of winning at a constant 1,000. If a team’s performance at the youth level was cause for concern or optimism for later iterations of the senior team, we’d expect a strong relationship between World Cup dynasty points and dynasty points produced by the youth teams in the decade between five and 15 years before.But looking at the 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups (and weighting by the number of youth tournaments that led up to each — meaning 2015 had more of a sample, since the era of two youth tournaments didn’t begin until 2008), the correlation coefficient between youth performance and World Cup success is 0.49. That’s not a nonexistent relationship by any means, but it also indicates that about three-quarters of the variation between countries in World Cup success is explained by something other than youth-level results in the years beforehand.Broadly speaking, if a team consistently finishes well in the Under-17 and Under-20 events, it tends to do better at the World Cup as well. Many of the most successful youth-level countries — such as Germany, the U.S. and Japan — are also among the best World Cup teams. But the relationship isn’t perfect. According to Dynasty Points, North Korea is the most successful youth-level team since 2002, winning four tournaments and finishing second on two other occasions. Yet North Korea has advanced out of the group stage just once in its World Cup history.3The North Korean team was banned from the 2015 World Cup after a doping investigation. Meanwhile, Norway and Sweden have been incredibly successful at the World Cup level (they rank third and fifth in all-time Dynasty Points, respectively) and have combined to advance out of the group stage of a youth tournament just twice since 2002.The U.S.’s own history is instructive in the imperfect relationship between youth results and World Cup outcomes. Although it dominated junior tournaments from 2002 to 2008 — winning two events, finishing second in another and never losing before the semifinals — it has also made two World Cup Finals and won Olympic gold with the senior squad since its ongoing youth-level dry spell began in 2010. 2012U-20 WCYouth64.51000– 2015World CupSenior76.51000– 1999World CupSenior66.01000– 2002U-19 WCYouth66.01000– 1995World CupSenior64.5350– 2011World CupSenior64.0500– YearTournamentTypeMatchesWins*Dynasty Points 2008U-20 WCYouth65.01000– 1991World CupSenior66.01000– 2004U-19 WCYouth65.0350– 2010U-20 WCYouth42.5115– 2014U-20 WCYouth42.0115– 2003World CupSenior65.0350– 2012U-17 WCYouth32.00 2016U-20 WCYouth63.0250– 2006U-20 WCYouth64.0250– Is the USWNT’s youth-level talent pipeline drying up?Results for the United States at both the World Cup and youth-level tournaments Wherever it lands in the upcoming World Cup draw — which will be held in Paris on Saturday at noon ET — the United States Women’s National Team will go into next year’s tournament in its familiar perch as favorites. The U.S. has been the most dominant team in the history of the event (which began in 1991), capturing the Cup three times and winning more matches (33) than any other country. Along the way, Team USA has given us multiple generations of superstars, the latest of which includes names like Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath — all of whom figure to represent the Stars and Stripes in France next summer.But this won’t quite be the same roster as the one last seen hoisting the World Cup in 2015 (or even the one America sent to the 2016 Olympics). Likely gone are goalkeeper Hope Solo, forward Abby Wambach, midfielder Lauren Holiday and defenders Meghan Klingenberg, Christie Rampone and Ali Krieger, among others. And while the U.S. has perpetually been able to retool on the fly with the emergence of even greater young talent than before (remember Morgan’s breakout performance as a 22-year-old at the 2011 World Cup?), there’s growing concern that the next generation won’t be as ready to carry the torch.Specifically, the U.S. results at the youth level — including both the Under-17 and Under-20 Women’s World Cups — have been pretty mediocre in recent years. The U.S. didn’t advance out of its group in either tournament this year and has advanced past the quarterfinals just twice at the youth level since 2008.1That year, Morgan helped power the U.S. to the championship at the Under-20 Cup with this ridiculous goal. 2008U-17 WCYouth63.5500– 2016U-17 WCYouth31.00 2007World CupSenior64.5350– 2018U-17 WCYouth31.00 2018U-20 WCYouth31.50 It bears mentioning that the 2012 Under-20 squad also won gold, so the U.S.’s recent youth results haven’t been completely devoid of success. And it’s also important to note that the senior team can poach promising young stars from the youth level, inherently limiting the U.S.’s performance in U-17 and (especially) U-20 tournaments in favor of bolstering the main roster.It’s true that next summer’s team will be asking more of some players who hadn’t taken on full-fledged starring roles in previous major tournaments. But a number of those have drawn rave reviews during friendlies and qualifiers with the national team this year, including Lindsey Horan and Crystal Dunn, both of whom also logged time on the 2016 Olympic team. And forward Mallory Pugh, who will turn 21 just a few months before the World Cup, is as promising as any member of the U.S.’s next generation. Pugh returned from injury to score six goals and set up three others in 10 international games this year — and could be just scratching the surface of her talent.According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, the average age of Team USA in its 2018 games was 26.4 years old, compared with the average age of 32.6 for the group that took the field in the 2015 World Cup. A few standbys do remain from the rosters of old — Lloyd and Rapinoe are still the anchors of this team, while Morgan remains at the top of her game, having scored or assisted on 14 goals in 15 games with the national team this year. But the 2019 World Cup will also serve as a transition of sorts into a new era for the USWNT. And although America’s youth-level results leading up to next year aren’t great, we shouldn’t assume that the U.S.’s senior-team dominance will end any time soon. Dynasty Points are awarded for success in a tournament. A team gets 1,000 points for winning the tournament, 250 for losing in the semifinals (with a 100-point bonus for finishing third), 115 for losing in the quarters and 40 for losing in the Round of 16.* Ties are counted as a half-win.Source: FIFA
OSU junior left fielder Ronnie Dawson walks away from the plate during a game against Rutgers on April 15 at Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Lantern File PhotoIn its second game on Saturday and fourth game in four days, No. 4 seed Ohio State Buckeyes avoided elimination once again by defeating the No. 7 seed Michigan State Spartans on a game-winning homerun in the 10th inning off the bat of junior outfielder Ronnie Dawson. The Buckeyes’ victory in the Big Ten semifinal forces a second game with MSU on Sunday morning to determine who will play the eighth-seeded Hawkeyes in the one-game Big Ten final.Since OSU’s first game of the Big Ten tournament on Wednesday against Michigan, coach Greg Beals drew the path for his Buckeyes to reach the Big Ten final. A ninth-inning collapse against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday created a detour littered with adversity to reach the championship game, but OSU had stepped up time and time again.Dawson’s home run was his 10th hit of the tournament, leading all Buckeye hitters. He powered OSU to a victory over Big Ten regular season champ Minnesota on an identical home run in the same inning just a week ago. Dawson has become OSU’s leader on the field through its Big Ten tournament run and seems to come through at the most important times.MSU was playing its third game of the tournament, so its pitching staff was rested and ready to go. Out of necessity, Beals had to pencil in senior pitcher Daulton Mosbarger for his first start in his career with the Buckeyes. It was a classic cat-and-mouse game. When OSU scored, the Spartans retaliated. MSU took the lead in the third, OSU came right back to knot things at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. Each team traded blows throughout seven innings. After Mosbarger left in the fifth inning allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out five, redshirt sophomore Kyle Michalik took the reigns and ended all chances of MSU scoring the go-ahead run.Spartans redshirt sophomore reliever Jake Lowry was equally as impressive out of the bullpen. In the eighth, OSU junior outfielder Ronnie Dawson smacked a leadoff double down the right field line for his ninth hit of the tournament. Lowry came back with two straight strikeouts to end the Buckeye threat.Coming in for Michalik was sophomore pitcher Seth Kinker, who was on the hill when Iowa started its miraculous comeback and devastated the Buckeyes. Beals still had confidence in his pitcher to give his team a chance to survive and advance. Kinker delivered a scoreless eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts, and with the go-ahead run on second base in the ninth inning, Kinker fielded a ground ball back to the mound and alertly caught the MSU runner between base paths which ended up in a double play to clear the bases. Kinker struck out the next batter, which set the stage for Dawson to become the hero.Redshirt sophomore Yianni Pavlopoulos was credited with the save in the 10th, and the Buckeyes advance to the final day of the tournament.The victory improves the Buckeyes record to 41-18-1, likely putting them firmly in the NCAA tournament picture.Austin Woodby will start for OSU against the Spartans on Sunday at 10 a.m. for the right to go to the Big Ten tournament final.
Dr. James Borchers is the head team physician for OSU athletics and Director of Medical Services for The Ohio State Univeristy Wexner Medical Center. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Department of AthleticsLast week, Dr. James Borchers was named head team physician for the Ohio State Department of Athletics. In the new position, Borchers will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of other team physicians and ensuring that every varsity student-athlete receives the best possible care.Borchers said he is excited to take on the challenges of the new position. He started in his new role on Sept. 22.“It’s very humbling,” Borchers said. “It’s a position that I think I’ve prepared for and am really looking forward to doing. It means a lot for me in my career development, and it means a lot for me doing it here at Ohio State.”Dr. Christopher Kaeding, executive director of sports medicine at OSU, decided that with the recent expansions of the sports medicine program, it would benefit from someone heading the team physicians.“With the expansion of our program and the increase in demands, regulation and bureaucracy and the caring for a Division I collegiate athletic program, we need to expand our personnel and resources to meet those needs,” Kaeding said.And for Kaeding, Borchers was a shoe-in for the job. “I think he has a passion for the job,” Kaeding said. “He has 12 years of experience, and he understands and is very good at implementing the team concept of caring for the student athletes.”Borchers has been working at Ohio State for 12 years, but his time as a Buckeye started long before his time in the sports medicine program. After leaving his hometown of Bellbrook, Ohio, Borchers played center and long snapper for the OSU football team from 1989 to 1993. But, as a player, Borchers was still a bit unsure about what the future had in store for him.“At that time when I played, I had an interest in medicine, but I also had some other interests and I didn’t really, at that point, have it figured out that that’s what I wanted to do,” Borchers said. “But certainly we had great team physicians back then, and I really appreciated the care I got. And I think as I went on and went to medical school and got involved in medicine, I really appreciated it more.”After graduating from OSU, Borchers went on to the Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine, where he received his M.D. He completed his residency and fellowship at the University of Toledo Athletic Department from 2000 to 2004. Since then, Borchers has been providing care to varsity athletes at his alma mater in the role of team physician.While working as a physician, Borchers completed his master’s of public health at Ohio State in 2008, a degree that has done a lot to benefit him in his line of work.“It’s been helpful as a sports medicine physician because although we are concerned about individual athletes, often times we are making decisions, too, that affect teams and groups of people and looking for ways to help treat certain injury types or prevent certain injury types so it really has been helpful for me with my career,” Borchers said.Over the last two years, Borchers has had a more advanced role in the sports medicine field, serving the program at OSU as lead physician, associate professor, and division director of sports medicine.To Kaeding, Borchers’ promotion serves more as a new title than new tasks to complete.“It’s actually a very small jump from being the director of clinical operations to being the head team physician,” Kaeding said. “He’s essentially been doing the majority of the job as head team physician already; we’re just recognizing him with the formal title.”But the new title does come with some additional responsibilities. In addition to overseeing other team physicians, Borchers will serve as the executor of the policies decided on by the Ohio State Sports Medicine Administrative Group. According to Kaeding, the group has to “formulate the policies and procedures for the care of the athletes.”The group is an “intersection where the medical center and athletic department meet” and it consists of Janine Oman, senior associate athletics director for student services and sport administration, and Doug Calland, associate athletic director for sport performance, along with Kaeding and Borchers. Looking ahead, Borchers has a few goals in mind.“Primarily, first and foremost, (our goal) is to make certain that we’re leaders in advancing health and safety for our student athletes,” Borchers said. “We want to make certain that we are staying on the forefront of everything we can do to promote health and safety for our student athletes and be advocates for them.”Borchers said being at the top of sports health care and providing a friendly and helpful atmosphere is key to the success.“Secondarily, we want to make certain that we’re providing an environment where we are doing all that we can to help these student athletes be accessible to the things they love to do,” Borchers continued. “And so we have to help work within our multidisciplinary team to make that happen and if I can provide some leadership in that area, I will be happy to accomplish it.”
In a game that meant less to the standings and more to its pride on senior day, the Ohio State men’s soccer team (10-5-2, 4-2-0) took down the Big Ten champion Indiana Hoosiers (9-6-2, 4-1-1) 1-0 Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. “It’s a very emotional day,” senior Sam Scales said after taking the pitch at home for the last time. “For Konrad (Warzycha), Matt (Gold) and I, it’s a dream come true. It really is bitter-sweet, to be honest.” Warzycha, Gold and Scales have been one of the most successful classes in history, amassing 48 wins during their tenure — good for third most of any four-year class at OSU. Austin McAnena scored the game’s lone goal when an Indiana defender misdirected his shot from seven yards out. If the shot went untouched, it likely would have gone right to goalkeeper Luis Soffner. “To be honest, we haven’t had a lot of breaks this year,” coach John Bluem said. “So to catch a deflection like that and see the way it spun into the net playing against the wind was great.” OSU fended off a strong second-half effort from the conference champions that was highlighted by Matt Lampson’s goalkeeping and timely defense. “They have one of the top goal scorers in the conference, and we held them,” McAnena said. “Props to our center backs and Lampson for some great saves.” Indiana’s Will Bruin has scored 15 goals this season and was mentioned by Bluem as one of the better “brute force” players in the country. Sunday’s loss to the Buckeyes was the first conference game the Hoosiers have lost this season. The Hoosiers came into Sunday’s match leading the all-time series 45-5-2 against the Buckeyes. With the win, OSU has won three straight over IU dating back to last year, when the Buckeyes took both games the teams played. “Their tradition in this conference is not matched by any of us. We’ve been battling for a long time now to try to be on an even par with them and gain some notoriety for ourselves,” Bluem said. This season marks the first time since 1974 that OSU has gone unbeaten at home with a 7-0-1 record at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU earned the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play No. 7 Wisconsin on Thursday.
Ohio State students paid $32 per ticket for home football games last season. The OSU Athletic Department spent more than $1.3 million a game to host them. The department spent nearly $9.4 million on the 2009 season. That figure would have covered the cost of tuition for nearly 1,000 in-state students. The department made almost $31.4 million on games last year, good for nearly $4.5 million a game. Department officials said they expect similar numbers for expenses and revenue for the 2010 season. Profits from each game remain relatively constant throughout the season, but the expenses vary drastically, even though the price tag per game covers similar services. The difference between the most expensive game for the athletic department, Navy, and the least expensive, University of Southern California, was $945,784. Because of agreements with contractors, the cost of electricity, cleanup services and payments to game officials is fixed. The disparity in overall cost comes largely from game guarantees. These guarantees — the amount the athletic department pays visiting schools — are usually negotiated by the athletic director. “If it was a home-and-home situation like USC was, the guarantees are usually significantly less,” said Pete Hagan, associate athletic director of finance. OSU played at USC in 2008 before the Trojans came to Ohio Stadium last season, meaning the schools essentially traded game guarantees. “The Navy one was higher because there was some glitch in the schedule that … required us to go out and give them a much higher guarantee to get them in here,” he said. Hagan said those types of scheduling problems are rare but would not disclose precisely what the “glitch” was. In the Big Ten, the more profitable teams — such as OSU — are required to distribute $1 million to opponents for home conference games, Hagan said. Removing game guarantees from the equation, the USC game cost the university $88,968 more than any other contest, looking at only operating expenses. That variation stems primarily from kickoff times. “The only thing that really affects the expense side is if it’s a noon game, a 3:30 (p.m.) start or a night game,” Hagan said. “A lot of the security and traffic control … has to start for a night game early in the morning just like a regular game would.” The USC game kicked off at 8 p.m. Those traffic control and security costs constitute the two largest portions of the operational expenses for a given game. OSU spent just more than $1.4 million on security and traffic and parking for the 2009 season. By comparison, the University of Nebraska spent nearly $849,000 on those areas last season, and the University of Iowa expects to spend $975,000 on security and traffic in 2010. Don Patko, OSU’s associate athletic director of facilities management, said the university ultimately benefits from the money spent. “Between in-bound and out-bound (traffic), we are second to none … in and out. For 102,000 fans in an urban setting, we’re one of the best,” he said, sitting in his office inside the stadium. The stadium holds 102,329 people. With that many people clustered in one area, security becomes another major factor, officials said. “We know that Ohio Stadium is a desirable target for the bad guys so we do everything that we can … to protect our fans,” said Ben Jay, associate athletic director of finance and operations. Officials said that, to protect visitors and athletes, the university works with about a dozen law enforcement agencies to secure the stadium and surrounding areas. Though officials would not say exactly which agencies are involved, it includes Columbus Police, OSU Police, the State Highway Patrol, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbus Fire Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For each agency, OSU is “at the mercy” of its union when it comes to cost, Hagan said. “Ohio State is looked at as the leader in this type of security business,” Patko said. “We’ve got to be the best secured stadium in the country.” Megan Schneider, a third-year in nursing, has attended football games at the University of Illinois in addition to OSU and noticed a difference in the level of security. In Illinois, “I still felt secure, but it wasn’t quite as intense as Ohio State,” she said. Molly Shlaes, a third-year in civil engineering, has attended games at Ohio Stadium and the University of Iowa. “Around the stadium, I would say there’s a lot more (security) here,” she said, “because the streets surrounding are bigger than the streets surrounding at Iowa, so they have to direct more traffic.” OSU officials said the security effort for home football games is such a smooth operation that other universities use OSU’s model as the standard. “About a year ago, the Department of Homeland Security partnered with the university creating a video that’s used as a training module for other venues on how to set up security at their stadiums,” said Tom McGinnis, assistant athletic director of administration and human resources. The video was federally funded through the Urban Area Security Initiative, said OSU Police Chief Paul Denton, in an e-mail. The stadium’s clean-up operation is another area that officials think sets OSU apart. “We probably have the lowest cleanup cost in the country,” Patko said. “A lot of stadiums go $15 (thousand) to $20 (thousand) in just power washing and trash removal, where that has been stabilized at about $7,100.” Total cleanup expenses at other universities are often around $50,000 a game, he said. The University of Georgia, whose stadium seats 10,000 fewer fans than Ohio Stadium, spent about $40,000 per game on cleanup costs last year. Lower clean-up costs are largely tied to a 43-year relationship with the university ROTC, which works alongside student employees Sunday mornings to clean the stadium. The cooperation leads not only to lower costs, but also rapid turnaround. “By 10:30 or 11 a.m. Sunday morning, we are ready for a meeting, another game, an event or anything inside” the stadium, Patko said. Though the post-game cleaning saves the department money, cleaning during games, especially in restrooms, is costly. “We have specific crews that have to hit those areas at strategic times during a game,” Patko said. The effort of the athletic department to increase recycling efforts has also resulted in higher expenses. “We are trying to get to zero waste, and that’s hard to do,” Patko said. “There’s some extra cost going to recycled products.” Although the choice to recycle has increased expenses, officials said the athletic department is looking to cut costs in other areas. “Cutting expenses, there are always ways to look at that,” Patko said. “If you cut expenses you’ve got to defer something.” Officials are wary, though, to cut corners by hiring fewer staff members. “You could save it on not having so much personnel here,” Patko said. “But personnel things can create a risk.” Although officials gave their program ample praise, they wouldn’t compare their facilities to the most prestigious football venues. “We’re not at the pro level. The pro level is the Cadillac,” Patko said. But “we’re probably giving the folks a little more service than some of the better schools.” Ultimately, some said, comparing Ohio Stadium to others around the country is difficult. “It’s very hard to compare us even to some of the major big-school programs around the country,” Jay said. “We’re a different animal than everybody else.” The differences arise because of the stadium’s size and location, he said. The urban surrounding in Columbus is rare for college stadiums. The other universities whose stadiums make up the five largest in the country, University of Michigan, Penn State University, University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama, are all in lower-populated areas. Columbus also has more than four times as many people as the cities where those schools are located. Officials toyed with Penn State and the University of Texas for size comparison but had difficulties coming up with college venues that matched Ohio Stadium in both capacity and surrounding population. “As far as (college) stadiums of our size around the country, we’re second to none,” Patko said. “Of the stadiums over 100,000 in North America, it would be Dallas Cowboys in pro and then Ohio State.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer stands during a game against Iowa Oct. 19 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 34-24.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorOhio State football coach Urban Meyer had what is being called “a short medical procedure” this past weekend to remove fluid related to a congenital arachnoid cyst, according to a press release.The procedure, done at the OSU Wexner Medical Center, was done to help alleviate pain from headaches Meyer has been experiencing the past few weeks, according to release.Meyer is “doing well” post-procedure and is set to be on the field Tuesday when the Buckeyes open spring practice.The cyst was first found in 1998 when Meyer was the coach at Notre Dame, according to the release.An arachnoid cyst typically develops in the head but can also be present around the spinal cord, and is named such because it happens in the area between the brain and the arachnoid membrane — one of three membrane layers surrounding the brain and spine.If it occurs in the head, the cyst will grow between the brain and skull or in pockets around the brain called ventricles.This is latest in a line of medical issues that have ailed Meyer throughout his coaching career, including when he was admitted to the hospital in the early morning on Dec. 6, 2009 while he was coach at Florida after the Gators lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, 32-13.Even though he was rushed to the hospital, Meyer returned to the field Jan. 1, 2010 to lead the Gators to a 51-24 victory against Cincinnati in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.Meyer announced he would step down as the Gators’ head coach following the loss to Alabama, but remained on the sidelines for the 2010 season.Florida went 7-5 that season, and Meyer saw issues with his health again, which ultimately led to him stepping down for good. He had a recurring burning sensation in his chest, and doctors told him in December 2010 that he would raise cardiovascular risk factors if he continued to coach, according to espn.com.Meyer took the following year off and became a college football analyst for ESPN, before taking the reigns at OSU prior to the 2012 season.The Buckeyes are set to take on Navy in their first game of 2014 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is set for noon.
Then-freshman Kyle Snyder during a match against Minnesota on Feb. 6 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 22-13. Credit: Lantern File PhotoOhio State is used to being the home of national champions, but now a world champion is also among its ranks.Sophomore wrestler Kyle Snyder took home the gold medal in the 97-kilogram freestyle competition at the 2015 World Championships on Friday in Las Vegas. At 19 years old, Snyder became the youngest-ever world wrestling champion from the United States.Prior to Snyder’s victory, the youngest U.S. wrestler to be victorious at the World Championships was 20-year-old Andre Metzger in 1979. Snyder said he is proud of his place in the history books.“I like making history,” the Woodbine, Maryland, native said following his win. “I want to be known as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live, and that’s what I plan on doing.”Snyder credits his parents for his ability to succeed at such a young age.“They raised me the right way. They told me that if you work hard, make the right decisions and you’re just hungry for something, to do everything you can to get it,” Snyder said. “I just believed in that.”Ranked No. 15 in the world prior to the competition, his closest match came in the first round against Ukraine’s No. 11-ranked Pavlo Oliynyk, which Snyder won by a score of 2–1. Snyder breezed through the next three rounds, beating Poland’s Radoslaw Baran (ranked No. 8) and Venezuela’s Jose Daniel Diaz Robertti and Iran’s Abbas Tahan (ranked No. 13) by a combined 25–4.In the gold medal match, Snyder tied defending world champion Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia 5–5 but earned the win based on an edge in criteria.After taking second in both the Big Ten Conference Championships and the NCAA Championships just six months ago, Snyder said he was determined more than ever to prove himself as the best in the world.“When you feel pain like that, you never want to feel it again,” he said. “This is what I’ve been thinking about doing since the NCAA finals, and I’ve been working hard with the coaches at Ohio State to get it done.”Snyder is taking a redshirt this season to train for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but he said returning to OSU to finish his degree is also a priority.“If I can wrestle the best guys in the world, then I should be able to go to class every day,” he said. “Homework’s no fun, but getting a degree is fun. Getting a good job after college is fun.”The rest of the reigning NCAA champion Buckeyes are scheduled to take the mat on Oct. 29 for their annual Wrestle Offs.
Urban Meyer prepares to run out on to the field with the team prior to the Ohio State- Oklahoma game on Sep. 9. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorOhio State’s football team might only be No. 10 in the latest Associated Press Poll Rankings, but it ranks as the most valuable program in college football, being evaluated at more than $1 billion, according to a study done by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, and published in the Wall Street Journal.Brewer’s exact value estimate of the program is $1,510,482,000, one of only three teams that is worth more than $1 billion, with Texas being evaluated at $1.24 billion and Oklahoma at $1 billion. Michigan was the only other Big Ten team in Brewer’s top 10, ranking at No. 6 with a value of $893 million.Brewer told the Wall Street Journal that he could envision the Longhorns surpassing the Buckeyes and that the adjusted revenue Texas brings in annually is higher than Ohio State’s, but that the on-field success of the Buckeyes and lack thereof from the Longhorns pushes Ohio State out in front.The study was conducted in a way to try and measure how much a team would be worth if it were sold on the open market like a professional sports team. With that said, Ohio State would rank last among all NFL teams in terms of total value, as the 32nd team in the NFL is the Buffalo Bills worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. The Dallas Cowboys are No. 1 with a current value of $4.8 billion.Ohio State was ranked No. 1 last year in the same study, also conducted by Brewer. At the team, it was valued at $946.6 million, indicating a 59.6 percent increase from last season.Ohio State reserve quarterback Joe Burrow weighed in on the news.Our team is worth 1.5 BILLION dollars but it wouldn’t be fair to other students if we get a free hamburger https://t.co/SKHPmhzeRq— Joey Burrow (@Joe_Burrow10) September 22, 2017
Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) and junior wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) celebrate a large run in the first quarter of the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 2 in Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: James King II | Sports DirectorINDIANAPOLIS — Ohio State claimed its first Big Ten title since 2014 with a 27-21 victory against Wisconsin. The Buckeyes outgained the Badgers 449-298, and did not trail for any point during the matchup. There were plenty of statistics that tell the story of how this game finished. 18 – Wisconsin points off turnovers. The Badgers did not look great on offense. As previously stated, they had just 298 total yards, and their quarterback, Alex Hornibrook, threw two interceptions without a touchdown pass. But sometimes the best offense is a good defense. And Wisconsin’s defense essentially drove its offense Saturday. It tied the game in the first quarter on a pick-6 of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, forced and recovered a fumble on Ohio State’s 8-yard line that led to a field goal and turned an interception in the third quarter at its own 48-yard line into eight points on a touchdown that drive in the beginning of the fourth quarter.Ohio State junior cornerback Denzel Ward (12) takes down a Badger in the third quarter of the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 2 in Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorOnly once did Wisconsin start inside its own 40-yard line and march down the field to get points. The Badgers began at their own 23-yard line and marched down to the Ohio State 27-yard line and kicked a 46-yard field goal. Offensively, Wisconsin looked lost. But mistakes by Ohio State’s offense kept the game close throughout the matchup. 2.7 – Yards per carry by Jonathan Taylor. Heading into the game against Ohio State, Taylor was one of the leading rushers in the nation and had more rushing yards than any running back in the Big Ten. Despite only being a true freshman, his name quietly emerged as a darkhorse candidate in the Heisman Trophy. But just as Ohio State did to Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Michigan State’s L.J. Scott, Taylor was bottled up by a stout Buckeye rushing defense, averaging his fewest yards per carry on the season. His previous low was 4.2. The 41 total rushing yards also were the lowest, stooping below the previous low of 80. Taylor and the Badger offensive line came into the game expecting to be the catalyst for the offense, but instead the defensive line of the Buckeyes bullied the Badgers’ offensive front. No rusher had more than 7 yards on a single carry, and overall the Buckeyes had five tackles for a loss. The Badgers have relied so heavily on their freshman running back all season, but against one of the top rushing defenses in the nation in Ohio State, Taylor was unable to come through for them. And given the struggles in the passing game Wisconsin has faced all season, it was hardly a surprise to see its offense struggle to get off the ground without the help from Taylor.19 – Rushes by J.T. Barrett. A knee injury to Barrett was evidently not enough to reduce the amount of carries he received. It would have seemed like a smart move to protect Barrett as much as possible, but the redshirt senior quarterback ran read options and designed quarterback runs as often as any other game. In the end, his 19 carries were the most of any player in the game, two more than freshman running back J.K. Dobbins.Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) hands the ball back to the referee after running in a touchdown 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 | Photo EditorThe decision to use Barrett as the primary ball-carrier was made all the more puzzling by the fact Dobbins turned 17 carries into 174 yards, a 10.2 average yards per carry, while Barrett only averaged 3.2 yards per carry with 60 yards. Dobbins also had two carries each that went for more than 50 yards. If there was ever a game Ohio State would seem to lean off its quarterback for all the rushing production, it would have been this game.141 – Yards gained on two passes from Barrett. The overall numbers for Barrett in the passing game looked solid. He was 12-for-26 for 211 yards, two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He was not outstanding by any means, but he did enough to get the job done. However, his stats take a step back when his 84-yard deep ball to wide receiver Terry McLaurin and 57-yard screen pass to H-back Parris Campbell are removed. Then, Barrett was just 10-for-24 with 70 passing yards and two interceptions.Fortunately for Ohio State and Barrett, those two passes did happen, and nothing can remove them from the stat book. But Barrett was not overly effective Saturday. He missed several wide open receivers downfield and had a couple instances where he was nearly picked off because of wildly inaccurate throws. He did not look like the same quarterback whose name was found in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy earlier this season. He did just enough to win the game, but he had many more opportunities to break the game open and failed to convert. 0 – Sacks allowed by Ohio State. After the game, center Billy Price said every time Barrett took a hit, he was always one of the first people over there to help him up and check on him. He added that he didn’t like when people hit Barrett. So the offensive line simply made it the goal to prevent any sacks on the injured Barrett. And they did. Going up against a vaunted defensive front that was sixth in the nation in total sacks (39) and eighth in sacks per game (3.25), the Ohio State offensive line stood strong and gave its quarterback plenty of protection. The Buckeyes did an effective job protecting their quarterback as much as possible. Though Barrett was still hit several times whenever he attempted to carry the football, he had all the time he needed to stand in the pocket and complete passes, or wait for receivers to get open. Barrett did not make the most of every opportunity, but his offensive line certainly gave him a chance to have one of his best passing games of the season.