WATCH: Dayton Dragons celebrate the moment they made the playoffs

Published: Sunday, June 18, 2017 @ 6:06 PM

Inside the locker room on a big night for the Dragons in Ft. Wayne

The Dayton Dragons blew off some steam in the locker room in Ft. Wayne on Friday night after earning a spot in the Midwest League playoffs for the first time since 2011.

The Dragons started the weekend road trip with a magic number of two to lock up second place in the Eastern Division in the first half of the season.

Luis Bolivar’s team cut that down to one with a win over the TinCaps on Friday night, then they had to wait in the locker room before finding out that South Bend had lost their game.

The players were keeping tabs on the South Bend game on their cell phones and the locker room erupted in cheers and high-fives when they got the good news.

With nothing left to accomplish, the Dragons lost the final two games in Fort Wayne. Dayton finished with a 41-29 record in the first half, including a league-best 25 wins at home.

The Dragons will face East Division champion West Michigan in the playoffs in September in a best-of-three series. Dayton will host the first game with games two, and three if needed, on the road.

The Midwest League has an unusual playoff system that matches the top two teams in each division in the playoffs and those teams are not eligible to win the second half race.

This will be the seventh time the Dragons have made the playoffs. They have never advanced past the second round.

The second half of the season opens Thursday night at Fifth Third Field with Lake County in town for a four game series.

Barrett: No setbacks with knee since Big Ten title game

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 6:09 PM

Ohio State's J.T. Barrett talks about life after football

Eight days before they leave for Texas and 14 days before they play in the Cotton Bowl, the Ohio State Buckeyes bid farewell to one part of the season. They met with members of the local media Friday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for the last time in Columbus before their final game.

Among the players to speak after practice was J.T. Barrett, a veteran of these interviews. He sat at a circular table surrounded by reporters and TV cameras just as he’s done dozens of times in the last four seasons.

» RECRUITING: Who’s signing on Wednesday

Near the end of a session, a TV reporter asked Barrett, “Will you miss us?”

Barrett said, “No, I won’t.”

Here are other highlights from Barrett’s interview:

Looking back: Barrett will miss playing at Ohio State. There’s little doubt about that. He led the Buckeyes to a 27-21 victory against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 2, six days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He shed a little more light on his thinking about that surgery Friday.

» OHIO STATE FEATURES: Terry McLaurinPrice on center positionBuckeyes on ShazierOSU back to work

“Going into it, I just prayed about it,” Barrett said. “After praying about it, I let God handle it. I didn’t really worry about it. I just put in the work to put myself into position to play.”

Good to go: A day after the Big Ten Championship, Barrett said he would play against Southern California on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and he confirmed Friday he hasn’t had any problems with the knee in practice.

“No setbacks, no restrictions, nothing like that,” Barrett said.

Homecoming: Barrett will play his final game in his home state. He’s from Wichita Falls, Texas. He said his mom is handling ticket requests so he can focus on the game.

“It’s fair to say there’s going to be a lot of Barretts in the house,” Barrett said.

Long career: The fifth-year senior Barrett will start his 44th game and appear in his 50th game. He’s already the all-time winningest quarterback in school history, and he owns numerous other records. He’s 37-6 as a starter.

“I’ve been here a while, guys,” Barrett said. “People joke around and say I’ve been playing college football for seven years. I think that’s a little extreme. When I look back, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be at a place like Ohio State.”

The doubters: Despite his record-breaking career, Barrett has had to deal with critics throughout his career. That continued this season with the losses to Oklahoma and Iowa.

“A lot of people don’t like me, and they don’t like that it’s me playing the position,” Barrett said. “They want somebody else doing it. There’s a lot of negativity coming along with the production I’ve had. You can let that weigh on you as a person, or you can embrace it and learn to like people hating you.”

Looking ahead: Barrett wants to play in the NFL next year and got some feedback on his prospects last year. He said he has no interest in coaching when his football career ends but didn’t give many details about what he wants to do with his life beyond football.

“I want to be living a non-stressful life,” Barrett said. “I want to not have to set an alarm clock.”

Leonard Fournette after NFL fines him for role in Jaguars-Seahawks fight: ‘Worth it’

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 6:16 PM

After Sunday’s crazy ending to the Jaguars and Seahawks matchup that featured a fight on the field as well as one player trying to enter the seats to go after fans, the NFL has announced discipline for the incidents.

Former LSU star Leonard Fournette received one of the heavier penalties despite others clearly displaying worse behavior.

No players involved were suspended, but the NFL did issue a number of fines. Here’s a breakdown of all of them:

Michael Bennett, the Seahawks defensive lineman who instigated the entire fight with an attempt at a dirty, low hit on a kneel-down play, somehow avoided any discipline.

Further, Fournette received a bigger fine, by about $3,000, than the Seahawks Quinton Jefferson. Fans in Seattle were throwing objects at Jefferson from the stands, and he attempted to leap and climb over the wall boundary to enter the stands and fight them. Yes he was provoked very inappropriately, but trying to go into the stands seems like it should warrant a little stiffer penalty.

Fournette appears to think that he got a bad outcome as well, but tweeted that “it’s worth it” to defend his teammates.

Boss move, Leonard, boss move.

Oklahoma’s recent success against ranked opponents has been otherworldly

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 6:11 PM

On Jan. 1, the Oklahoma Sooners will begin the new year against a ranked foe in No. 3 Georgia.

Aside from a trip to the College Football Playoff National Championship that awaits the winner, the stakes quite literally can’t get any higher. Fortunately for Oklahoma, the Sooners have no only been in an abundance of big games throughout the past two years in preparation for the moment that awaits in the coming weeks, but absolutely thrived in such settings.

Dating back to its 52-46 win over No. 21 TCU in 2016, Oklahoma has ripped off eight consecutive victories over ranked opponents.

It’s how the Sooners are coming out on top each time that’s so impressive. Since its six-point win over the Horned Frogs, Oklahoma has since toppled its next seven ranked opponents by double digits, and collectively, Oklahoma’s eight-straight ranked wins have come by a combined 135 points; a 16.9-point margin of victory.

Such success can largely be credited to an explosive, Baker Mayfield-led offense, which has averaged 555 yards per game during its more recent eight ranked wins. Are individually, Mayfield has averaged 323 passing yards against the aforementioned foes, and passed for 24 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions, while rushing for another 202 yards and 5 scores.

Simply put, Oklahoma has largely made light work of ranked foes for more than an entire year, and done so courtesy of elite efforts from the latest Heisman Memorial Trophy winner.

Now fresh off of a 24-point victory over TCU to secure the Big 12 Championship, Oklahoma will enter its meeting with No. 3 Georgia with higher stakes and arguably a taller test than any of its previous eight ranked foes during this mind-boggling stretch. If that’s good news for the Bulldogs, though, the bad news is exactly what Oklahoma has done to each ranked opponent since Oct. 1, 2016, which is simply win by an average of more than two touchdowns.

Now set to enter the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma doesn’t exactly need to continue to control its competition at the imposing level it has as of late, but for its season-long aspirations to prove true, the streak of consecutive ranked wins will, at the least, need to reach 10.

Washington football recruiting: Huskies vault up rankings after multiple commitments this week

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 6:11 PM

After winning the Pac-12 Championship and earning a trip to the College Football Playoff last year, the Washington Huskies were on the rise in the recruiting world. While the Huskies did not make the Pac-12 Championship game this season, they’ve put together another strong year and the direction of the program is resonating with recruits. The Huskies have finished in the top 30 in recruiting ranks for each of the last few years, and had the No. 24 class this season.

Its class for next year (based on average recruit rank) is just outside of the top 10. There’s no doubt coach Chris Petersen is building a powerhouse program in the Pacific Northwest with the Huskies. They’ve vaulted up the team rankings in recent weeks, and could continue to do so after three more signings this week. With the early signing period set for Dec. 20-22, more good news could be coming the Huskies way.

Here’s an update on where things stand for the  Class of 2018:

Where Washington’s class ranks

Washington’s 2018 class has 17 commits and rose eight spots from last week to  No. 11 in the country and  No. 2 in the Pac-12, according to 247Sports composite rankings. The Huskies have an average commit ranking of 89.48, which ranks 16th in the country and third in the conference.

Latest Washington recruiting headline

In case you missed it, here is the noteworthy headline from the last week:

Offers by the numbers

Reported offers: 85

5-star offers: 4

4-star offers: 53

In-state offers: 7

California offers: 34

Texas offers: 11

Florida offers: 4

Commits

QB  Jacob Sirmon, 4-star, Bothell (Bothell, Wash.)

QB  Colson Yankoff, 4-star, Coeur d’Alene (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)

WR  Marquis Spiker, 4-star, Murietta Valley (Murietta, Calif.)

OG S am Taimani, 4-star, East Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, Utah)

WR  Austin Osborne, 4-star, Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.)

RB  Trey Lowe, 4-star, Jesuit (Portland, Ore.)

RB  Richard Newton, 3-star, Palmdale (Palmdale, Calif.)

Matteo Mele, 3-star, Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.)

ILB MJ Tafisi, 3-star, Alta (Sandy, Utah)

DE Zion Tupuola-Fetui, 3-star, Pearl City (Pearl City, Hawaii)

WR  Devin Culp, 3-star, Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.)

DE  Draco Bynum, 3-star, Wilsonville (Wilsonville, Ore.)

OLB  Jack Sirmon, 3-star, Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.)

Victor Curne, 3-star, Second Baptist (Houston)

CB  Dominique Hampton, 3-star, Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.)

M.J. Ale, 3-star, Fife (Tacoma, Wash.)

DE Mosiah Liu, 3-star, Emerald Ridge (Puyallup, Wash.)

Top uncommitted targets

WR  Amon-Ra St. Brown, 5-star, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)

CB  Isaac Taylor-Stuart, 5-star, Helix (La Mesa, Calif.)

ILB  Soloman Tuliaupupu, 4-star, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)

DT  Tommy Togiai, 4-star, Highland (Pocatello, Idaho)

CB  Kyler Gordon, 4-star, Archbishop Murphy (Everett, Wash.)

OG  Chris Murray, 4-star, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Julius Irvin, 4-star, Servite (Ahaheim, Calif.)

DT  Caleb Tremblay, 4-star, American River C.C. (Sacramento, Calif.)

Position breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the number of commits by position with DieHards’s projection of how many will be signed:

  • QB: 1/2 (Sirmon)
  • RB: 2/2 (Lowe, Newton)
  • TE: 0/0
  • WR: 3/3 (Spiker, Osborne, Culp)
  • OL: 4/4 (Taimani, Mele, Curne, Ale)
  • DL: 3/3 (Tupuola-Fetui, Bynum, Liu)
  • ILB: 1/1 (Tafisi)
  • OLB: 1/1 (Sirmon)
  • CB: 1/1 (Hampton)
  • S: 0/0

Geographical breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the number of commits by state:

  • Washington: 4 (Jacob Sirmon, Culp, Ale, Liu)
  • California: 3 (Spiker, Osborne, Newton)
  • Texas: 1 (Curne)
  • Oregon: 2 (Lowe, Bynum)
  • Arizona: 2 (Mele, Hampton)
  • Hawaii: 1 (Tupuola-Fetui)
  • Idaho: 1 (Yanikoff)
  • Tennessee: 1 (Jack Sirmon)
  • Utah: 2 (Taimani, Tafisi)