Sports Today: Reds on Facebook, Buckeye on comeback trail, Peko’s Super Bowl aspirations

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 9:53 AM

Fans try to catch a foul ball during a game between the Reds and the A's on Saturday, June 11, 2016, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff
Fans try to catch a foul ball during a game between the Reds and the A's on Saturday, June 11, 2016, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff(HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff)

With there being no point to rehashing the latest Cincinnati Reds loss — they’re due for a six-game winning streak now, right? — here’s a question: Do you care about being able to watch games on Facebook? 

Whether you do or not, you will be able to tonight when the Colorado Rockies come to town. 

While I was writing that story yesterday, I was thinking this seems like a pretty good idea for all involved. 

RELATED: Reds-Rockies to be first Facebook game broadcast

I don’t really get why Twitter wants to broadcast whole games nor why the NFL would find that to be worth its while (although maybe they are just willing to take money from a company that obviously has no idea what it’s doing and succeeds in spite of itself — that’s getting easier and easier to do these days…), but I can see Facebook making some sense. 

While Twitter is an on-the-go app (unless it’s on in the background while doing something else) that is already constantly updating, Facebook is more something one can settle in with. Surf around, see what’s happening with various people and whatever subjects and news sources you have liked. 

And, of course, three times as many people are on Facebook than Twitter. 

I have an easier time envisioning Facebook serving something to an audience that isn’t necessarily looking for it and having some success hooking new fans. 

While I’m sure reaching current fans (to retain them and increase their engagement) and finding new ones are both appealing to MLB, the latter is probably more important. 

What do you think? 

RELATED: Cubs sweep Reds 

With OTAs cranking up around the NFL, there are bound to be plenty of, “So what is THAT guy up to?” stories such as this one on former Ohio State/Centerville standout Michael Bennett. (H/T Land of 10

First Coast News in Jacksonville reports the Jaguars defensive tackle is optimistic big things are in store for his third year in the NFL after hip and calf injuries marred the first two. 

He missed all of last season because of the latter and had surgeries to clean up both. 

“I’m a lot strong than I’ve ever been, same with my quickness,” Bennett said.

“Then just studying football. Going into this year, I’m very optimistic, I feel very good about it, just because I’ve never been this knowledgeable about football, I’ve never been this strong or as fast. My technique has never been this good.”

Bennett is one of the most fascinating guys I covered in my decade-plus on the Ohio State beat.

Not only was he always ready with an informative answer to football questions, he was one of the players who could speak thoughtfully on topics outside the lines like athlete compensation and unionization. 

RELATED: More than a dozen area recruits to be part of Crosstown Showdown 

He was also hell on wheels on a football field and one of the biggest reasons the Buckeyes won the 2014 national championship. 

Bennett found another level in the postseason, dominating inside and giving that OSU defense a different look and snarl against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. 

Hopefully he can make an impact this fall for the Jags… 

Ohio State defensive lineman Michael Bennett speaks to reports at Big Ten Football Media Days at the Hilton in Chicago on Monday, July 28, 2014.(David Jablonski)

Speaking of NFL defensive lineman, were you bothered by Domata Peko telling Denver media he left Cincinnati for a better shot at winning the Super Bowl with the Broncos

That was one free-agent defection that was not hard to see coming given Peko’s age and the fact the Bengals seem to have been trying to draft his replacement for a couple of years. 

I’m guessing he’ll be missed in the locker room more than on the field, but he had a great career with the Bengals. 

RELATED: Domata Peko says he left Cincinnati for better chance at championship

His differentiation between trying to win a playoff game in Cincy and winning a championship in Denver is reasonable since the Broncos recently won the Super Bowl.

It also really doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. 

I mean, it’s based in some fact, at least from an outsider’s perspective. There is a lot of focus on taking that next step and winning a playoff game since that hasn’t been done in so long. 

However, from a practical standpoint… well it’s not likely they will fold up their tents and ignore the following week once that actually happens, so again it doesn’t really matter. 

There is so much parity in the NFL, half the league could go on a run and win it all any given year. Then we spin everything based on that for the next few months. 

As for which team has more realistic hopes of winning the Super Bowl next February? 

Looks like a coin flip. The Broncos and Bengals finished last season 14-15 in Football Outsiders’ team efficiency rankings, and Denver still doesn’t have a quarterback. 

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.