5 things Ravens coach John Harbaugh said about Sunday’s game vs Bengals

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 12:31 PM


            CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens is seen in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens is seen in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

During a conference call with Cincinnati media this week, John Harbaugh wouldn’t speculate whether his Baltimore Ravens are dangerous enough to make a run through the playoffs.

The 10th-year Ravens head coach knows he likely has to beat the Bengals at home Sunday to even get to the playoffs, so his first focus is taking care of business this week.

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Cincinnati dashed the Detroit Lions’ postseason hopes on Christmas Eve and have a chance to play spoiler to the Ravens this week. Here are five things Harbaugh said about the matchup:

A better Baltimore offense

A lot has changed with these two teams since Week 1 when Baltimore handed the Bengals a 20-0 loss at home with an dominant defensive effort, but the Ravens’ offense has evolved the second half of the season.

The Ravens produced just 268 yards of offense against Cincinnati in the opener but now average 304 yards per game, and Harbaugh said a lot of that has to do with cleaning up mistakes.

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“The fact we’re playing better is probably the biggest difference,” Harbaugh said when asked about his offense. “We’re not turning the ball over as much. We had some issues with turnovers midway through.”

Turnovers better on both sides of the ball

Baltimore isn’t struggling with turnovers as much on offense, and the defense is forcing a lot more of them. The Ravens have a plus-17 turnover ratio while leading the league with 22 interceptions. They also have forced 15 fumbles with 11 recovered.

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“You get pressure and they force some errors sometimes in throwing in tight coverage and guys with ball skills in the back end help,’ Harbaugh said. “Pursuit is a big factor in that, but it’s been a little better for us this year than it has other years.”

Terrell Suggs gets better with age

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has played a role in those takeaway numbers.

Suggs is 35 years old, but Harbaugh said he is still just as much of a force as he was when he was younger. Suggs has 11 sacks and four forced fumbles to go along with 46 tackles this season.

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“He’s special, no question,” Harbaugh said. “Just at his age and the number of years he’s been in the league, I think he’s playing some of his best football right now, and that’s a credit to his work ethic and competitiveness and he’s been a great leader as well, so he’s really checking off the boxes.”

Bengals are different too

Cincinnati started the season 0-3, then won five of the next eight before three straight losses ended its playoff hopes. The Bengals bounced back last week but Harbaugh said it’s difficult to take much from the first meeting with them because so much has changed since then, especially with personnel.

Not only does Cincinnati have a new offensive coordinator, as Bill Lazor replaced Ken Zampese, but several key players are now out with injuries.

“A lot has changed,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, their best players are there with Geno (Atkins), (Carlos) Dunlap, (Gio) Bernard and (Andy) Dalton and AJ (McCarron) and the different players they have. They also have an influx of younger guys. Teams evolve.”

Matchup has seen a lot of battles

When asked about what a Marvin Lewis-coached team means to Harbaugh, he noted how competitive Lewis’ teams have been against Baltimore during his time in Cincinnati.

“We’ve had incredible battles,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve been on the short end most of the time the last few years. The defense is rough and tough and plays hard and creates tons of problems for you. I think their fronts are always really disruptive, and they can cover in the back end. They always have corners, big safeties that roam around there and are physical. The offensive line and running game, Andy Dalton has become a stable precise passing game with playmakers like A.J. Green. That’s how we see them.”

SUNDAY’S GAME

Bengals at Ravens, 4:25 p.m., WHIO-TV Ch. 7, Ch. 12, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

Nebraska-Ohio State basketball: Recap, stats, analysis (January 22, 2018)

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 2:00 PM

Nebraska basketball lost to Ohio State, 64-59, on the road Monday evening. Find the box score, key plays and more from the game below.

Nebraska-Ohio State basketball box score

Nebraska-Ohio State basketball live updates, score

Nebraska-Ohio State basketball: Game time, information

Nebraska and Ohio State play at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 22.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Date: Monday, Jan. 22

Location: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio

How can I watch the Nebraska-Ohio State basketball game on TV and online?

Nebraska and Ohio State will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.  BTN2Go and  FOX Sports Go will have the livestream.

Cory Provus and Stephen Bando will call the game.

How can I listen to the Nebraska-Ohio State basketball game on the radio?

Nebraska and Ohio State can be heard on the Husker Sports Network, including 590 AM (Omaha), 1400 AM (Lincoln) and 880 AM (Lexington). Online radio will be available at  Huskers.com, on the Huskers App, and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App. The radio broadcast begins one hour prior to tipoff.

Kent Pavelka and Ben McLaughlin will have the call.

Nebraska-Ohio State basketball preview

Nebraska comes into Monday’s matchup having won 7 of its past 9 games. The Huskers’ most recent win was a 72-52 victory over No. 23 Michigan last Thursday. Nebraska held the Wolverines to 37.5 percent shooting, as well as limiting Michigan to just 4-of-18 from 3-point range.

James Palmer Jr. led the way for Nebraska against Michigan with 19 points. Four Huskers were in double figures by the end of the night. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Wolverines that predated Nebraska’s time in the Big Ten.

The Huskers’ defense has improved significantly during the past month, which has been a major factor in recent wins. Since giving up a season-high 94 points to UTSA on Dec. 20, Nebraska has held its past eight opponents to just 38.8 percent shooting. That includes 28.8 percent from 3-point range.

As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes come into the matchup having just defeated Minnesota 67-49 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Ohio State is coached by first-year coach Chris Holtmann, who has guided the Buckeyes to 12 wins in their past 13 games.

Ohio State boasts a veteran group of athletes that includes two juniors and two seniors in its lineup. Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop averages 19.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, and is currently one of the front-runners for Big Ten Player of the Year. Junior C.J. Jackson averages 13.1 points per game and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range. Senior Jae’Sean Tate averages 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He also shoots 55 percent from the field.

Though Ohio State will be a difficult matchup for Nebraska, the past two meetings between the two programs has been decided by one point.

Michigan State-Illinois: Live updates, score, analysis (January 22, 2018)

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 3:30 PM

Michigan State basketball (17-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) and Illinois (10-10, 0-7) tip off at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in a conference matchup. Stay here for live updates, scores and analysis.

Michigan State-Illinois live updates, score

Michigan State-Illinois basketball: Game time, information

Michigan State and Illinois play at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 22.

Time: 9 p.m. ET

Date: Monday, Jan. 22

Location: State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.

How can I watch the Michigan State-Illinois basketball game on TV and online?

Michigan State and Illinois will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1. You can stream the game on  FOX Sports GO and from your  Android or  iOS device.

Tim Brando and Bill Raftery will call the game.

How can I listen to the Michigan State-Illinois basketball game on the radio?

Michigan State and Illinois can be heard over the 38-affiliate  Spartan Sports Network, including flagship stations WMMQ-FM (94.9)/WJIM-AM (1240) in Lansing and WJR-AM (760) in Detroit.

Will Tieman and Matt Steigenga will have the call.

Michigan State-Illinois basketball preview

In a wild college basketball season full of upset wins and shocking losses, one thing has remained constant: It’s not easy to win on the road.

The Big Ten has shown that. Apart from joint leaders Ohio State and Purdue, the conference is a combined 14-53 in true road games. Michigan State is the least tested, having only played two games in enemy territory and coming out at 1-1. That changes on Monday, when a road trip to Illinois kicks off a run full of road battles.

“You’ve never seen anything like that, have you?” Coach Tom Izzo said after the win on Friday. “Where seven of the last 11 [regular season games] are on the road? Our job is to get better every day so we can handle the road. What I liked about tonight; they shot [33.9] percent, [30.8 percent] from the 3. We out-rebounded them by 18. That’s all travel-worthy. That goes everywhere.

“I’m going to try my hardest to keep pushing that to these guys morning, noon and night, because when we’re moving the ball and we’re running it’s a fun team to watch.”

Illinois will test his team’s weaknesses. Michigan State, in part because it blocks so many shots, has often struggled with defensive rebounding. On the other side, the Illini rank No. 1 in the Big Ten with a 38.2 offensive rebounding percentage, 0.4 percent better than the second-place Spartans.

The Spartans’ main issue, at least in Izzo’s mind, has been turnovers. And on Monday, they’ll take on an Illinois team that forces 17.9 turnovers per game, ranking eighth in the nation and 54 spots above the closest Big Ten team, Rutgers. The Spartans must be careful not to let one poor play turn into more and more with the crowd against them.

“We’ve just got to focus and believe in our system,” sophomore big man Nick Ward plainly said.

After the win Friday, Michigan State feels it has its mojo back. And it’s high time. With the toughest stretch of a relatively easy conference slate still remaining, the Spartans sit two games behind both Ohio State and Purdue in the standings. The confidence needs to continue for them to inch toward that regular season title.

“It’s great,” sophomore point guard Cassius Winston said. “We were never worried, though. We had a week of practice, got back to our roots, and now we’re ready to go and make this strong push.”

Pair of USC contests make SB Nation’s list of worst 2017 college football games

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:48 PM

USC’s 2017 season produced the school’s first conference title in nine years but it wasn’t always pretty. The Trojans were blown out at Notre Dame in October, one of the worst losses in program history, and their performance in the Cotton Bowl against Ohio State wasn’t exactly inspiring for the future.

SB Nation singled out two of USC’s games from last fall that stood out from the pack in a bad way, including the Cotton Bowl and their Nov. 4 win over Arizona on its list of the 12 worst games of the 2017 season.

“USC got the ball first, Ohio State scored a touchdown immediately afterward, and that was just about that,” SB Nation’s Jason Kirk wrote of the Cotton Bowl, which USC lost 24-7, noting that the only interesting thing to happen was how the Trojans’ cheerleaders managed to mostly ignore a brawl on their sideline late in the game.

The 49-35 home win over Arizona, in which USC managed to overcome 161 rushing yards from Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate, made the list because of how long the game took. Per Kirk:

How did college football fans spend their extra hour of Daylight Savings time? By watching Pac-12 refs huddle to deliberate after seemingly every snap of the game. Almost three months later, and I’m still about to snap a pencil in anger.

BREAKING: Miami picks up commitment from speedy 2018 CB

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:32 PM

Miami Northwestern cornerback Nigel Bethel has verbally committed to Miami, according to Inside The U. Bethel is a 2018 prospect with blazing speed – he clocked a 4.38 40-yard dash at a camp this past summer.

Here’s what he told Inside The U:

I love Miami. I want to stay close to home.

At first the coaches were telling me that they had a lot of DBs committed, but then they got a chance to see my film and they just said that they want me bad.

Bethel, a 3-star prospect, is the No. 133 cornerback in his class, according to 247 Sports. He was once committed to Florida, but Miami remains red-hot on the recruiting trail with his commitment.