Sports Today: NFL draft day thoughts on the Bengals, Browns and Buckeyes 

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 9:55 AM

090316 Atlanta: North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws as Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Davin Bellamy leaps over a defender during the second half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome Saturday September 3, 2016. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Brant Sanderlin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
090316 Atlanta: North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws as Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Davin Bellamy leaps over a defender during the second half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome Saturday September 3, 2016. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM(Brant Sanderlin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Welcome to NFL draft day! 

The league’s nefarious plot to make us care about football year round continues to be a success, and no, I’m not complaining. 

The first draft item to run across my feed this morning was about the Cleveland Browns considering taking second-round talent Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 overall pick. 

Will Less-Experienced Andy Dalton pan out for the Orange and Brown or be the newest mistake by the lake? Only time will tell! 

As we discussed on our Facebook Live last night, I think Trubisky would be a reach at 12 (where the Browns are currently scheduled to pick again), but if they snag the consensus top player in the draft (Myles Garrett) to open things up, the rest of the first round they are more or less playing with house money... 

And what about the Cincinnati Bengals? 

They are sitting pretty at No. 9 with at least a half-dozen prospects they could really use there. 

I am warming to the idea of O.J. Howard even though I will be saying the defense needs a talent upgrade until I see an improvement on the field. 

Questions about Tyler Eifert’s durability are definitely legitimate, and having two tight ends too good to keep off the field is a nice problem to have. 

RELATED: Where the Bengals should be looking if they draft offense

It’s probably not worth much, but I have seen recent projections with Malik Hooker sliding past them. I would take him before anyone who could realistically be available except for Jonathan Allen (who may not realistically be available). 

Given his adventurous path to the draft, the most likely pick might be Rueben Foster, though. 

Here are Jay Morrison’s five players the Bengals are most likely to draft in the first round… 

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Tight end O.J. Howard #88 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs to the end zone after making a 68-yard touchdown reception during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)(Staff Writer)

What of the Ohio State Buckeyes? 

Everyone agrees Hooker and Marshon Lattimore will be gone early tonight, but Gareon Conley continues to twist in the wind. 

Conley released a statement yesterday insisting he is innocent and noting charges have not been filed against him at this point. 

TMZ then released a video showing Conley and his accuser interacting at a bar before the alleged incident. 

Why is that significant? 

The video is critical because it appears to contradict what the accuser told police -- that she first met Conley in an elevator at the Westin hotel around 2:45 AM. 

The accuser’s lawyer responded by telling TMZ an “incomplete” police report was released to the public. 

The biggest development from the NBA playoffs last night was the Boston Celtics beating the Chicago Bulls to take a three games to two lead in their series. 

Boston, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, has won three in a row after looking fairly lost in the first two games. 

The Bulls have badly missed former Celtic Rajon Rondo, who is out with a hand injury. 

The other game last night saw the Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks to take a 3-2 series lead as well… 

The Reds lost to the Brewers again. 

They got a terrible start from a young pitcher, but Joey Votto, Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler hit home runs. 

In other words, it was basically the same game they have already played about a dozen times this year. 

If anything changes (other than Devin Mesoraco coming back Friday), we’ll let you know… 

In keeping our streak of covering college basketball in this column alive, Ohio State lost a verbal commitment from Darius Bazley yesterday. 

The Cincinnati Princeton junior shared later in the same day he got an offer from Xavier. 

If that doesn’t tell you a lot about the current states of Thad Matta’s current program and his previous one, I don’t know what does (aside from actually making the NCAA tournament and winning tourney games, of course). 

I saw Bazley play in Kettering in January, and his potential was obvious even though he was rusty from sitting out the first half of the season. 

After the Vikings were run off the floor by a team from Georgia, Bazley said he has hopes of being the next Evan Turner for the Buckeyes — a do-it-all wing. 

Princeton guard talks about first game with the Vikings and looking forward to playing at Ohio State.

Lastly, my column about the decline of ESPN has gotten a lot of attention, including a couple of people pointing out cord-cutting is also a major issue for the network. 

This is true, and falling revenues are no doubt a factor in to their deciding to cut costs by trimming payroll. 

However, my focus was more on what the personnel decisions they made tell us. 

There are many ways they could have reduced expenses, and the one they chose was to remove the salaries of people who gather news while keeping many “opinionists” who I’m sure in some (perhaps many) cases make more money than the people they let go. 

Michigan football vs. Penn State: 3 keys, predictions

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 9:20 AM

Michigan plays Penn State at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. The No. 19 Wolverines  (5-1, 2-1) need a win to strengthen its spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and even to vault it back into the top 10. The Wolverines defeated Indiana 27-20 in overtime last weekend, and look for a signature win this season, against the No. 2 Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0).

Here are three keys to the game and predictions from Land of 10 Michigan writers Rachel Lenzi and Kevin Goheen.

1. No turnovers

The Wolverines fulfilled this goal in its win last weekend at Indiana, and needs to continue that goal of having zero turnovers in each game. Easier said than done, right? The Wolverines average two turnovers a game; at the halfway point of the year, Michigan has lost six fumbles and its quarterbacks have been intercepted six times. Michigan has a turnover margin of minus-3, 11th in the Big Ten. Penn State is the exact opposite. The Nittany Lions have a turnover margin of plus-12 and are tied with Wisconsin with a league-leading nine interceptions.

2. Score red-zone touchdowns

Michigan has scored a conference-low six red-zone touchdowns this season, including only one against Indiana: Karan Higdon’s 12-yard run in the second quarter. The Wolverines held the ball for more than six minutes on each of its opening drives against Michigan State and Indiana, but both drives ended with field goals on plays from the 11-yard-line against Michigan State and the 22-yard line against Indiana. The Wolverines cannot afford to leave points on the table, especially against Big Ten East Division opponents.

3. Win on third down

That means capitalizing on third down, on both sides of the ball. The Wolverines finished 2 for 13 on third-down offensive plays at Indiana, and is 29 for 92 (31.5 percent) on third down this season, which is second-to-last in the Big Ten. Michigan’s opponents, meanwhile, are a scant 18 for 88 (20.5 percent) on third-down; the Wolverines lead the Big Ten in that statistical category.

Predictions

Rachel Lenzi: Penn State 23, Michigan 17

Kevin Goheen: Penn State 26, Michigan 20

QB Matt Corral talks 81-0 win, visit from Florida OC Doug Nussmeier

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 9:08 AM

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Quarterback Matt Corral put on a show Friday for Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

With his future position coach looking on, Corral led Long Beach Poly to an 81-0 win over Jordan. He threw for 320 yards and 5 touchdowns on 10-of-13 passing in one half of play.

In the video interview below, Corral discusses his performance, Nussmeier’s visit and Richard Gouraige’s commitment.

The best College GameDay signs from Week 8 at Penn State

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 9:08 AM

Happy Valley is the site of ESPN College GameDay for the huge matchup between No. 19 Michigan and No. 2 Penn State.

As you’d expect, fans of the defending Big Ten champion Nittany Lions are going after Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh.

Here are the best signs on display from University Park, Pa.:

ESPN: Marcell Ateman’s emergence ‘really cranked this Oklahoma State passing offense up’

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 8:59 AM

The Texas Longhorns secondary will have its hands full on Saturday, to say the least.

With an FBS-leading Oklahoma State offense (610.7 YPG) coming to Austin, much of the defensive focus will be centered around the Pokes dynamic quarterback-receiver duo of Mason Rudolph and James Washington, and rightfully so. Rudolph leads the nation in passing yards per game (394.7), while his star wide out ranks No. 2 nationally with 882 receiving yards.

But as ESPN’s Jake Trotter noted during a Saturday morning segment on SportsCenter, it’s the added dimension that is Marcell Ateman who’s helped lift this Oklahoma State offense to mind-boggling heights.

“Everybody knew about James Washington, the All-American, coming into the season, but the emergence and Marcell Ateman on the other side has really cranked this Oklahoma State passing offense up to another level,” Trotter said.

With opposing defenses now tasked with slowing not just Washington, but Ateman, as well, the success in doing so has been minimal.

After combining for 354 yards and 2 touchdowns in Oklahoma State’s record-setting display in a 59-16 win over Baylor, in which the Pokes poured on 747 yards of total offense, Washington and Ateman became the first duo in Big 12 history to each record four-straight 100-yard games. They’re also the first to accomplish that feat among the entire FBS ranks since 1996.

As far as Atman’s personal prowess is concerned, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior ranks second on the team with 29 receptions for 568 yards. He’s on pace to concluded the regular season with career-high efforts of 58 receptions for 1,136 yards, which would be nearly 400 more yards than his 2016 production (766).

Ateman and the Cowboys will be tested today, though.

On the road in Austin, The Cowboys potent passing attack will square off with a Texas defense that ranks No. 19 in efficiency and a secondary headlined by rising stars in Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott.

Which of these two strengths gets the upper hand inside Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium should have a substantial say in which shade of orange finds itself going back to the drawing board by Sunday morning.

Oklahoma State and Texas will kick off at 11:00 a.m. CT on ABC.