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Buckeyes ride turnovers, dominant defense to Cotton Bowl victory

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 10:30 PM
Updated: Saturday, December 30, 2017 @ 12:16 AM

Ohio State celebrates Cotton Bowl victory

The Ohio State Buckeyes bid farewell to senior quarterback J.T. Barrett and a number of other cornerstones of the program and also soothed some of the pain associated with their last bowl game, beating Southern California 24-7 on Friday in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium.

» RELATED: Pregame photo gallery from Cotton Bowl

A year after losing 31-0 to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes took advantage of three first-half turnovers to build a 24-7 halftime lead against the Trojans, a program they had not defeated since 1974. That was all they would need as both defenses dominated the second half.

“It was a great win for Ohio State,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “We'll be a top five team, Big Ten champs. We just had every senior say a few words. And I can't get enough of those guys. They're everything that you want in a young person. They lead the team. They live right off the field. And, obviously, they're winners. Won a lot of games here, and they're champions.”

Ohio State closed the season with a 12-2 mark. It’s the fifth season with at least 12 victories in Meyer’s six seasons. The Buckeyes improved to 2-0 in the Cotton Bowl and won a bowl game for the first time since the 2016 Fiesta Bowl when they beat Notre Dame 44-28.

In his final game, Barrett didn’t put up big numbers, but he avoided the mistakes that plagued USC quarterback Sam Darnold. Barrett completed 11 of 17 passes for 114 yards and rushed 16 times for 66 yards.

The Buckeyes won despite getting only 57 combined yards from running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber.

Barrett, who finished his career with a 38-6 record as a starter, rushed for two scores in the half. Damon Webb returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown. Sean Nuernberger provided the other score with a 26-yard field goal.

» RELATED: Quarterback derby begins when Cotton Bowl ends

USC wide receiver Deontay Burnett lost a fumble on the third play of the game. The Buckeyes had to go just 19 yards for their first score, a 1-yard run by Barrett.

The Trojans punted on their next two possessions. Then on the first play of their fourth drive, Darnold threw a pick six to Webb. It was a big play by an Ohio State secondary missing one of its stars.

Ohio State announced just before the game junior cornerback Denzel Ward had decided to enter the NFL Draft and not to play in the game for fear of suffering an injury that would hurt his draft stock. Ward decided on the day of the game not to play, according to an Ohio State press release. Ward explained his decision on Twitter.

“At the end of the day, I feel this is the best decision for my family and I,” Ward wrote.

» PHOTOS: Faces of the Cotton Bowl

Later in the second quarter, Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis hit Darnold and forced a fumble. Jerome Baker recovered it. Two plays later, J.T. Barrett ran 28 yards for a touchdown.

USC got on the board in the final minutes of the half, capitalizing on a fumbled punt by K.J. Hill. Ronald Jones scored on a 1-yard run.

Each team punted twice in the third quarter as the Buckeyes maintained their lead. Chase McGrath’s 28-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter hit the right upright as the Trojans failed to cut into the deficit.

The Trojans had one last chance to get into the game midway through the fourth quarter. Jalyn Holmes sacked Darnold and forced a fumble. Wayne grad Robert Landers recovered it.

Darnold completed 26 of 45 passes for 356 yards. The Buckeyes shut down USC’s run game. The Trojans gained 57 yards on 36 carries.

“Whenever you turn over the ball that much, it's hard to win games,” Darnold said. “I made a bad read on the pick six. I shouldn't have thrown it, obviously. He jumped inside of the receiver right after the ball was snapped, and I didn't see him. And it was a bad play on my part.”

Ohio State will return to AT&T Stadium in 2018, playing Texas Christian on Sept. 15 in the third game of the season. The Buckeyes open the season Sept. 1 against Oregon State at Ohio Stadium and host Rutgers at home on Sept. 8.

Sports Today: Does Jags postseason success mean Bengals have a fighting chance?

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:29 AM

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05:  Members of the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars get into a scrum at the end of the first half of their game at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)
Logan Bowles/Getty Images
JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05: Members of the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars get into a scrum at the end of the first half of their game at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)(Logan Bowles/Getty Images)

After a three-day weekend there’s one obvious question to ask this morning: Was the NFL divisional round good or bad for the Cincinnati Bengals? 

Well, it probably won’t affect the team. 

They are going to be the same either way. That’s kind of their thing. 

Even when there are changes, I have succumbed to the feeling the Bengals are the Bengals. They’re not the 1990s Bengals, of course. That role has been filled by the Browns. But now they are the average franchise that no one respects because of a few high-profile meltdowns and, well, their inability to do once in 20 years what the Jaguars did twice over the last two weeks: Win a playoff game. 

RELATED: Bortles or Dalton? We crunch the numbers

Intentional or not, the Bengals even waited until 5 o’clock Friday to announce their “offensive staff overhaul.” Those in the business know that’s a time to dump news you don’t want to get a lot of scrutiny. 

There’s not a lot to take from the additions, though, other than Alex Van Pelt, Daronte Jones and Matt Raich all spent time coaching in other countries at some point in their careers. 

Van Pelt and Raich both worked in Germany while Jones did a year in the CFL. 

But I digress… 

I definitely saw a lot of excitement from people I know (and those I don’t) about the Steelers losing at least one week earlier than they were supposed to in the playoffs. 

What about the Jaguars winning? Does that mean anything? 

Should Jacksonville’s win give Bengals fans a different perspective on a 2018 season that doesn’t seem like it’s going to have as much newness as we thought when 2017 ended? 

I think it’s worth looking into how the Bengals compare to everyone in the final four, but I thought I would throw that out there to get us started on this abbreviated week… 

I didn’t see much fo the Jags-Steelers game because I was enjoying a full day of basketball at Flyin’ to the Hoop. 

How good is Springfield this year without Danny Davis? 

Pretty good apparently. 

The Wildcats are undefeated after rallying to beat Cleveland Heights on Sunday night

This team could be deeper than the one that went to the regional finals last year as some youngsters have stepped up for coach Isaiah Carson in the absence of Davis (who graduated and became an important receiver at Wisconsin as a true freshmen) and in the face of some injuries. 

These guys showed some great fortitude (and talent) in coming back Sunday night after coughing up a comfortable lead. 

Earlier in the day, Versailles beat Sidney in a matchup of the area’s top-rated senior prospect (Tiger Justin Ahrens) and the likely No. 1 junior (Andre Gordon of the Yellow Jackets). 

Ahrens won the individual matchup, and Versailles won the game

Could they be teammates some day? 

Ahrens has signed with Ohio State, and the Buckeyes are one of many teams interested in Gordon, who could still end up choosing to play football in college instead. 

They’re already friends either way… 

Wright State stayed on a roll Monday, downing Youngstown State 77-67 at the Nutter Center. 

Mark Hughes was the man this time, scoring 13 points and helping to lock down Penguins star Cameron Morse. 

›› Hughes celebrates birthday with win against hometown Youngstown State

The first-place Raiders are headed to Wisconsin this weekend to face Green Bay and Milwaukee, who both stink. 

Of course, coach Scott Nagy is on high alert for a letdown

“We’re just not used to this as this point, that at 6-0 we’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Nagy said. “We’re not good enough, we don’t have enough talent and we’re not deep enough where we’re just going to roll in and play poorly and beat people. It takes maturity to show up every night and play well.” 

Better to be the hunted than the hunter, though, right?… 

While the men are alone in first place in the Horizon League, the women’s team is tied with Green Bay and IUPUI. 

All have 5-1 marks in conference play. 

Wright State won for the fifth time in a row Monday (also against Youngstown State) with Fairmont grad Chelsea Welch scoring her 1,000th career point as a Raider

Even more impressive: She’s done that in less than two seasons…  

The Dayton Flyers are back in action tomorrow night against St. Joseph’s. 

The Hawks might stink, but that hasn’t mattered much when it comes to Dayton opponents this season. 

And apparently it hasn’t mattered much how good the Flyers are when they go to Philadelphia. 

David Jablonski points out they’ve lost eight in a row at St. Joe’s and three straight at La Salle… 

Anthony Grant’s team has suffered through some ups and downs, but Shauna Green has the Dayton women’s squad aiming for another Atlantic 10 title

The defending champs are 5-0 in league play after crushing Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon at UD Arena

Jenna Burdette is the A-10 co-player of the week after averaging 24 points, 4.5 rebounds and five assists in a pair of wins. 

Dayton at St. Joe’s: Everything you need to know about Wednesday’s game

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:07 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

Highlights: Dayton's Darrell Davis against VCU on Jan. 12, 2018

Who: Dayton (9-8, 3-2) at St. Joseph’s (7-9, 2-3)

When: 6:30 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Hagan Arena, Philadelphia

TV/Radio: CBS Sports Network; AM 1290, News 95.7 WHIO

» RELATED: Ranking Dayton’s top offensive performances

Probable Dayton starters

Darrell Davis, 6-5, Sr., G, 17.6

Josh Cunningham, 6-7, R-Jr., F, 15.6

Trey Landers, 6-5, So., G, 9.0

Jordan Davis, 6-2, Fr., G, 7.8

Jalen Crutcher, 6-1, Fr., G, 6.5

Probable St. Joseph’s starters

Shavar Newkirk, 6-0, Sr., G, 17.9

James Demery, 6-6, Sr., F, 17.6

Taylor Funk, 6-9, Fr., F, 13.1

Chris Clover, 6-3, Jr., G, 7.8

Pierfrancesco Oliva, 6-8, R-So., F, 6.6

Series history: Dayton leads 21-18. The Flyers won 77-70 last season at UD Arena. Dayton lost 79-70 in 2016, the last time it played at Hagan Arena. It has lost eight straight games at Hagan.

Coaches: Anthony Grant is 9-8 as Dayton head coach. His career record in 10 seasons is 202-118. Phil Martelli is 421-302 in his 23rd season at St. Joseph’s.

» WHIO PODCASTS: Flyer FeedbackGame replaysAnthony Grant Show

Last games: On Friday, Dayton beat Virginia Commonwealth 106-79 at UD Arena. On Sunday, St. Joseph’s lost 72-69 at Massachusetts.

About Dayton: gives Dayton a 43 percent chance of winning and predicts a 76-74 score. … Dayton broke these records in its victory against VCU: most points in a first half (66); most 3-pointers made (17); and most points against an Atlantic 10 opponent (106). … Dayton ranks 70th in the RPI and 118th in the Pomeroy ratings. St. Joseph’s ranks 190th in the RPI and 142nd in the Pomeroy ratings. … Dayton is 5-0 when it shoots 50 percent or better. … Cunningham has averaged 9.6 shots in Dayton’s nine wins and 7.8 in the eight losses.

WATCH: Top plays from Dayton's 77-70 victory on Feb. 7, 2017.

» VCU GAME: NotesPhotosGrant reactsFreshmen step up

About St. Joseph’s: The Hawks opened the season with a 98-87 loss at Toledo. Their best non-conference victory was against Princeton (71-58 on Nov. 18). … St. Joseph’s has the best turnover percentage in the nation, committing turnovers on 12.9 percent of their possessions. It ranks 316th out of 351 teams in 3-point field-goal percentage (31.1) and 241st in 2-point percentage (47.8). … Oliva missed the UMass game with an illness. Freshman Anthony Longpre’ started in place of Oliva and had 11 points and seven assists. … Funk is tied for the A-10 lead with 3.1 made 3-pointers per game. … Newkirk surpassed the 900-point mark in his career in UMass game. He has 921.

Next game: Dayton plays Rhode Island (13-3, 5-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena (CBS Sports Network).
St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli on Dayton fans and UD Arena

WATCH: SEC Country Live, January 16

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:12 AM

SEC football news never stops. So join us for SEC Country Live every Monday-Thursday at 3 p.m. ET ! Host Brandon Adams and former Alabama All-American Mike Johnson break down everything you need to know in the SEC football world with news, analysis and so much more. Join the conversation on!

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Sporting News names Jevon Carter to midseason All-American team

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:12 AM

Jevon Carter is a senior leader on one of the best teams in the country, but it seems like he’s only now just getting the recognition he deserves.

Carter is one of the starting five in the Sporting News’ Midseason All-American First Team. He appears alongside Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, Arizona State’s Tra Holder and Oklahoma’s Trae Young.

In addition to being a tremendous on-ball defender, Carter is also an outstanding offensive player, averaging 16.8 points and 6.5 assists per game. He’s also a deadeye shooter, hitting 41.1 percent from three-point range.

But make no mistake about it, Carter makes his name on the defensive end. He’s averaging 3.4 steals per game — second in the nation — and leads the country in advanced stats like defensive win shares.

“Carter is the best on-ball defender in college since … who? Aaron Craft, at least, and perhaps it stretches back as far as Gary Payton,” the Sporting News’ Mike Decourcy wrote. “When Oklahoma’s sublime Trae Young got a look at Carter, he shot 8-of-22 and turned it over eight times….The reigning NABC defensive player of the year – and only the fourth point guard to win it in 30 years – Carter has managed three or more steals in 14 games. Including nine against American U.”

Carter averaged 2.5 steals per game last year when he won the NABC award. He’s besting that by nearly a full steal more per game this season. The last back-to-back winner of the award was Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet, in the ’08 and ’09 seasons.

He deserves a spot on postseason awards lists. If he keeps playing like he has been, he’ll earn those spots — and he might help the Mountaineers earn some major postseason success.