Sports Today: Cincinnati Bengals key to victory against the Bills

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 9:42 AM

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24:  A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals are back home this weekend after breaking into the win column against the Browns. 

Will the rejuvenating effects of a weekend vacation on Lake Erie carry over against the 3-1 Buffalo Bills? 

There’s no doubt the vibe around the team was different this week, but this is a sneakily big game. 

For all the positives of the past two games following a disastrous start, the Bengals could be just 60 minutes of football away from 1-4 with the Pittsburgh Steelers up next. 

This is a fascinating matchup because I’m not sure anyone knows how good either of these teams are. 

The consensus would probably be the Bills have outperformed expectations while the Bengals have underperformed. 

Cincinnati let one get away against Buffalo last year, and I see the Bengals getting payback this time around. 

A handful of explosive plays from a superior group of offensive skill players figures to be key for Cincinnati because both of these defenses have looked great so far this season, neither team has an offensive line to brag about and both quarterbacks are average. 

Prediction: Bengals 17, Bills 10 

How about Ohio State? 

The Buckeyes play host to a Maryland team that seems to be getting lumped in with dregs Ohio State faced the past three weeks. 

That is a mistake. The Terrapins are no world-beaters, but they are better — probably a lot better — than Army, UNLV and Rutgers. 

The raw stats say Maryland has a good offense and a bad defense. 

The advanced stats (courtesy Football Outsiders) say they are right in the middle of the pack in both areas. 

One thing to keep in mind about Maryland is they have some dudes. 

There are generally two ways teams are built: A handful of future pros surrounded by holes or average across the board with few difference-makers. 

The Terrapins are the former while Wisconsin and Iowa are usually examples of the latter. 

PREVIEW: Ohio State hosts Maryland

The jury is still out on new quarterback Max Bortenschlager, a sophomore who was a three-star recruit forced into duty after not one but two season-ending injuries at that position, but running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison are dangerous and the receiving corps is pretty deep. 

This should be a nice challenge for the Ohio State defense after two weeks off, but the Buckeyes have too much firepower on offense. 

I’ll be interested to see if they work on the running game more after focusing on the pass since the loss to Oklahoma. 

Prediction: Ohio State 38, Maryland 21. 

How’s this for a start to the Reds Hot Stove season: They could be in contention for Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. 

We called him the Japanese Babe Ruth yesterday, but he could also qualify as the overseas equivalent to Hunter Greene as a prospect who could make it in the majors as a hitter or a pitcher. 

(I doubt either of them are going to hit 700 home runs, to be honest.) 

Who knows how this works out, but it’s encouraging to see the Reds continue to try to turn over every stone to acquire talent. 

Their willingness to at least consider this type of financial investment is a good sign, too. 

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Reds reveal interesting winter plans

I know the economics of baseball can be discouraging to small-market teams, but I think it’s more a matter of smart investing than not having the capital to keep a winning team together. 

They were proactive (though not soon enough) in selling off assets once the downturn started in 2014, but I still believe they would have tried to spend the money to keep Johnny Cueto if they were still as close to contending as they were in 2012... 

The high school football season got off to a great start Thursday night with Sidney topping Tippecanoe 49-42 in a barn-burner

The Yellow Jackets have a Big Ten running back and buzz building throughout Shelby County. 

“It takes a little bit longer now to go to the grocery story,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “People used to turn and go the other way down the aisle to avoid me. Now, everywhere you go, people want to talk about (Sidney football). There is an excitement, no matter where you go in town. It’s neat. That’s what high school football should be like.”

Gotta love it.  

RELATED: Franklin standout commits to Cincinnati

Here’s a look at the rest of the high school football schedule this weekend, including Wayne at Beavercreek, Northmont at Springfield and Catholic Central at Greenon. 

The Fighting Irish are 3-3 but on the cusp of the playoffs. Plus they have an influx of new players since the start of the season

Internet reacts to Tennessee scoring first touchdown since Sept. 23

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 6:19 PM

Butch Jones-Tennessee Volunteers-football-Penn State-College GameDay

Tennessee went 12 quarters without a touchdown. And then, finally, the Vols broke through during the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Alabama.

Daniel Bituli’s 97-yard interception return touchdown was Tennessee’s first time in the end zone since Sept. 23 against UMass. However, the Vols’ offense still has not scored in that span.

Even though the streak ended, fans on Twitter did not take it easy on Tennessee, which is still having offensive struggles and has still scored only one touchdown over a span of 13 quarters.

Here’s some of the best reaction to the Vols’ streak coming to an end:

The post Internet reacts to Tennessee scoring first touchdown since Sept. 23 appeared first on SEC Country.

LSU-Ole Miss: Live updates, score, analysis for Week 8 game (October 21, 2017)

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 6:19 PM

Saturday’s LSU-Ole Miss game comes on the heels of the Tigers’ season-changing comeback win over Auburn and is LSU’s last test before a midseason bye week.

The trip to Oxford, Miss., is an interesting one for LSU, as Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron worked as the head coach at Ole Miss from 2005-07. Orgeron has not returned to Oxford as a head coach since he was relieved of his duties a decade ago.

The Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) have now defeated back-to-back ranked SEC opponents and are 6½-point favorites to defeat Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2). The Rebels ended a three-game losing streak last weekend by blowing out Vanderbilt 57-35.

This should be a matchup of strength versus strength. The Tigers’ No. 14 pass defense is hot as ever right now after breaking up 11 passes against Auburn. While Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham presented one kind of test, Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson is unlike any other QB in the SEC. Patterson has led Ole Miss to the No. 9 passing attack in the FBS and leads the SEC in passing touchdowns, yards per game, completions, completion percentage and pass attempts.

On the other side, healthy running back play will be a huge advantage for LSU. Ole Miss has the No. 118 rush defense in college football. Last year, the Tigers rushed for 311 yards and four touchdowns versus Ole Miss. Running back Derrius Guice has been limited the past two weeks and didn’t play three weeks ago as he recovers from a knee injury.

Follow the action below with SEC Country reporters Alex Hickey, Sam Spiegelman and Nick Suss.

LSU-Ole Miss live updates

LSU-Ole Miss preview coverage

Pregame score predictions

LSU 41, Ole Miss 21

Ole Miss is not a good football team. The Rebels are ranked 116th in the nation in scoring defense and 120th in rushing offense. This isn’t to say Ole Miss doesn’t have redeemable qualities. Quarterback Shea Patterson is a beast and should be counted on for 2 or 3 touchdowns on his own, even if they come in garbage time. But a healthy Derrius Guice and an LSU defense on a roll is a bad recipe for the Rebels. Coach O’s return to Oxford should be a pleasant one. — Nick Suss

LSU 35, Ole Miss 34

Getting to Shea Patterson will be vital to a Tigers win. If Arden Key continues the progress he showed last week, LSU should be able to accomplish that task. And just for fun — Ole Miss blew out South Alabama (47-27), which beat Troy (19-8), but has also been blown out by Auburn (44-23). I think those results portend a zany game in Oxford. — Alex Hickey

Ole Miss 27, LSU 24

There is a talent disparity at quarterback, with Patterson playing the best in the SEC under center. LSU quarterback Danny Etling is coming off his best game of the season, but the problem is the letdown factor. It’s difficult to find any SEC program that has ever had an emotional three-week swing in the middle of the year quite like the Tigers. And let’s be honest, both of LSU’s wins against Florida and Auburn required close-game luck in their favor. — Carter Bryant 

LSU 31, Ole Miss 19

If Arden Key can replicate how he looked against Auburn and the secondary continues to play lights-out against Shea Patterson, LSU will be 6-2 entering a bye week before the annual Alabama game. — Sam Spiegelman

Looking ahead: The Tigers have an open date in Week 9 and travel to Alabama in Week 10. Kickoff time and TV network haven’t been finalized.

Kirk Herbstreit takes jab at Tennessee program with hilarious hashtag

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 6:19 PM

Kirk Herbstreit-Matt Campbell-Iowa State Cyclones-football

Even when Tennessee gets into the endzone, things go poorly. And Kirk Herbstreit called the program during its game against Alabama.

Defensive back Rashaan Gaulden flipped off Alabama fans after his teammate returned a pick-6 for the Volunteers first touchdown in 12 quarters.

Herbstreit pointed that even when something positive happened, it ended up going poorly. He also took a jab at the program, using #hashtag.

The Volunteers are still trailing the Crimson Tide by a wide margin, 31-7 in the third quarter. And while it hasn’t been a great season for the Volunteers, Herbstreit is right in that players have to maintain their composure. And these actions do also reflect poorly on Butch Jones and the entire program.

The post Kirk Herbstreit takes jab at Tennessee program with hilarious hashtag appeared first on SEC Country.

Tennessee-Alabama: Recap, score, analysis for Week 8 game (October 21, 2017)

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 2:49 PM

It was going to take a perfect game for Tennessee to compete Saturday in Tuscaloosa against No. 1 Alabama and the Vols’ performance was anything but perfect as the Crimson Tide dominated from start to finish in a 45-7 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

In making his second career start, Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano was harassed all day by the Alabama defense. The freshman completed 9-of-16 passes for 44 yards and an interception and had negative-12 rushing yards. The Vols managed just 74 yards of offense while Alabama rolled up 601.

Fourth quarter

• Alabama scores on a 60-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Henrey Ruggs. Alabama 45, Tennessee 7 4:49

• Tagovailoa scores on a 23-yard run. Alabama 38, Tennessee 7 12:59

Third quarter

• Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos makes a 25-yard field goal. Alabama 31, Tennessee 7 3:11

• Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli scores on a 97-yard interception return. Alabama 28, Tennessee 7 6:03

• Alabama inserts backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for Jalen Hurts at the 9:30 mark.

• Alabama goes up 28-0 on Irv Smith Jr.’s 14-yard TD reception, the first of his career. Tide went 76 yards on eight plays in 2:21.

• Two hands to face personal foul penalties on Vols defensive end Jonathan Kongbo have negated a turnover and third-and-11 situation, leading to two of the Tide’s three touchdowns.

Second Quarter

• Alabama running back Damien Harris scores on an 11-yard run. Alabama 21, Tennessee 0 1:18

• Scarbrough scores his second touchdown from 1-yard out. Alabama’s second touchdown coming on fourth down, too. Alabama 14, Tennessee 0 4:48

• The Tennessee defense has allowed 97 total yards at the 9:23 mark.

• Key number for Tennessee is rushing yards – Vols must generate some run yardage to be any threat today.

First Quarter

• Tennessee defense forces first punt of the day, takes over at own 20.

• Trevor Daniel flips the field with a punt to Tide 2-yard line.

• Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough scored on a 1-yard run for the first score of the game. Alabama 7, Tennessee 0 8:21

• Tennessee opened the game with a 3-and-out on offense.

It’s the third Saturday in October and that means Tennessee against Alabama.

The Vols (3-3, 0-3 SEC) enters the game as a 36½-point underdog, thought to be biggest number the Vols have ever been on the wrong side of in program history.

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano will make his second start. His first start came last week in the 15-9 loss to South Carolina.

Guarantano completed 11 of 18 passes for 133 yards.

One reason Tennessee’s coaching staff made the switch from Quinten Dormady to Guarantano was to spark the offense. The Vols have now gone 10 consecutive quarters without a touchdown.

John Kelly leads Tennessee with 552 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

This opportunity to turn the trend around won’t be easy. Alabama (7-0, 4-0) has outscored SEC opponents 193-39 in 4 games this season.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has thrown for 1,025 yards and 8 touchdowns, with only 1 interception, while completing 63.1 percent of his passes this season. Damien Harris leads the Tide in rushing with 625 yards and 9 touchdowns and is averaging a gaudy 9.2 yards per carry.

Tennessee-Alabama recap

Tennessee-Alabama preview coverage

Pregame score predictions

Alabama 37, Tennessee 14

Tennessee’s offense has a bit more to it with a mobile quarterback, but this is a tough place for Jarrett Guarantano to make his first road start. — Mike Griffith

Alabama 42, Tennessee 7

Tennessee has yet to put together a full four-quarter performance. Facing the No. 1 team in the country probably isn’t the time the trend reverses itself. — Blake Morgan

Alabama 45, Tennessee 13

This one isn’t going to be fair. Alabama hasn’t had any trouble with anyone yet, and the Vols simply don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up. — Dustin Dopirak

Looking ahead to Week 9: The Vols play at Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 28. Kickoff time is 7:30 p.m. ET, and SEC Network has the television broadcast.