The New York Yankees, leading the American League East, will have to hold on to its advantage – for a little while, at least – without its ace, C.C. Sabathia.The left-handed pitcher was placed on the disabled list with stiffness in his pitching elbow. Not good.Sabathia was spotted icing his elbow in the trainer’s room before Saturday’s night against the Seattle Mariners. He first detected pain after pitching a complete game on August 3 at Yankee Stadium, manager Joe Giradi said.He had an MRI that came back clean, so Sabathia made his next start five days later in Detroit, but left after 6 1/3 innings and just 94 pitches.Girardi said the stiffness resurfaced after that start, but the decision to put Sabathia on the DL was not made until about 4 p.m. Saturday.“As far as our concern, it’s pretty low,” Girardi said. “It’s not like it got any worse. He wants to pitch on Monday, which I’m not surprised, because he said he’s dealt with it before. We just decided, let’s try to get it cleaned up now.”Girardi said Sabathia would see a doctor on Monday after the Yankees return to New York, but no further tests were scheduled.“It’s a tough decision,” Girardi said. “Do you let him pitch and try to fight through it, or is it enough of a concern that we have him maybe miss just two starts and we’ll get him back?”Sabathia missed three starts between June 28 and July 16 while sidelined with a left groin strain. After his return, Sabathia made five starts and won three; his record is 12-3 with a 3.56 ERA.“We’re going to deal with it; that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “We don’t want to, but we need to have him healthy. If we’re going to continue to move on, we’re going to need to have him healthy.”Girardi said no decision has been made on who will take Sabathia’s place in the rotation.
TIEBREAKER ROUNDCHANCES OF PLAYINGCARLSENKARJAKIN Rapid Game 3100.028.46.7 ARMAGEDDON!0.173.626.4 Blitz Match 26.972.025.7 Rapid Game 1100.0%0.0%0.0% Blitz Match 50.373.626.4 Rapid Game 2100.00.00.0 CUMULATIVE CHANCE OF WINNING CHAMPIONSHIP Blitz Match 120.268.924.3 Blitz Match 32.373.126.2 When will the chess end? Blitz Match 40.873.526.4 Tiebreaker games at the World Chess Championship will begin this afternoon. Over the past 19 days, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the defending champion, fought his challenger, Sergey Karjakin of Russia, to a 6-6 tie in their best-of-12 match and the battle for chess’s top prize.And they’re not done yet. According to the FIDE match rules, this is how the tiebreaker will go:First, a mini-match of four rapid games will be played. Each player gets 25 minutes for all of his moves, plus 10 bonus seconds after every move played.If the players remain tied after those four games,1Wins are worth 1 point, draws are worth a half-point for each player, and losses are worth zero points. they’ll play a mini-match of two blitz games. Each player will get five minutes, plus three seconds after every move. They’ll keep playing those, if the two-game mini-matches are tied, for up to five total mini-matches (10 total blitz games).Finally, if none of that settles it, they’ll play one sudden-death game using a format known as Armageddon. White gets five minutes and black gets four minutes, but a drawn game counts as a win for black.I’m not supposed to root from the press box, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by the possibility that the World Chess Championship will be decided by Armageddon. So what are the chances of that happening?To find out, we need to know the likelihood of draws in individual games in the rapid and blitz matches. In last year’s World Chess Rapid Championship (Carlsen won, Karjakin finished 19th), 29.9 percent of the games in the tournament were draws. So let’s suppose a 30 percent chance of draws in the individual rapid games. In last year’s World Chess Blitz Championship (Carlsen finished 6th, Karjakin 17th), 20.2 percent of the games were draws. So let’s say there’s a 20 percent chance of draws in the individual blitz games.2In the rapid and blitz championships, the time controls are similar to today’s tiebreakers, but slightly different. Players in those tournaments received 15 minutes rather than 25 for rapid, and three minutes rather than five for blitz. I’ll also use the two players’ listed rapid and blitz ratings from the FIDE website throughout my analysis to estimate chances that individual games in the two formats are won by either player. Rapid Game 464.959.720.1 I simulated tens of thousands of iterations of this afternoon’s tiebreakers using the same basic method I used to forecast the 2016 chess championship before it began. We’re guaranteed to see the first three games of rapid chess, as no player will be able to clinch the match in only two games, but there’s a 35 percent chance that one player will have clinched after those first three games. That would end the mini-match and thus the championship. There’s a 20 percent chance that Carlsen and Karjakin will be tied at the end of the rapid mini-match and that we will move on to the five-minutes-a-side blitz segment. According to my simulations, the two-game blitz mini-matches would each wind up tied about a third of the time.What all that means, sadly, is that there is just a 0.1 percent chance that Armageddon will decide the 2016 World Chess Championship.The tiebreakers begin this afternoon, and a world champion will be crowned. I’ll be covering them here and on Twitter.
Women’s RankingMen’s Ranking 7Mikaela ShiffrinUSA191.87Kjetil Andre AamodtNOR201.2 5Janica KostelicCRO202.25Aksel Lund SvindalNOR220.7 10Renate GoetschlAUT160.110Gustav ThoeniITA173.7 13M. DorfmeisterAUT143.713Lasse KjusNOR149.6 4Anja PaersonSWE217.14Marc GirardelliLUX227.5 14Maria WalliserSUI129.914Ted LigetyUSA135.5 18Marlies SchildAUT109.718Didier CucheSUI99.6 2A. Moser-ProellAUT272.52Ingemar StenmarkSWE290.1 Vonn built her No. 1 ranking by dominating two specific disciplines: the downhill and the super-G. She occupies the top spot in the super rankings for both. They are the fastest events — speeds regularly exceed 80 mph — and they require a particular mix of balance, speed and — most especially — courage in order to excel.Nathaniel Vinton is the author of a book about the U.S. ski team’s sudden rise to dominance. The title, “The Fall Line,” refers to the path a skier would take straight down a hill if gravity were the only factor. “The fall line is the fastest way down a mountain, but because race courses require athletes to move sideways across the hill between gates, they repeatedly pass in and out of it,” he writes. “Much of the art and technique of ski racing involves channeling the power of the fall line while diverging from it, maneuvering body and skis in a way that transfers gravity into an energized traverse.”In other words, world-class skiers naturally find paths that balance the pull of the fall line against the gates they have to clear. So beating them the way Vonn has done so often over the years requires riding on the ragged edge between speed and madness: “Only the best racers have the strength and self-control to cut inside [the paths of other competitors] and go even straighter, even faster, and even closer to the fall line and all its promise of glory and destruction.”Vonn has a special knack for pushing away the fear and finding that perfect path. As Vinton writes: “Vonn seems to possess an internal gyroscope that allows her to find the fall line and embrace gravity whenever possible.” Vonn was so quick in the prime of her career that she posted speeds comparable to those of the top male racers, and she expressed the desire to race against men several times over the years.Vonn’s take-no-prisoners approach to racing has led to numerous wins, but it has also led to numerous crashes. She missed the 2014 Winter Olympics and parts of a half-dozen World Cup seasons with injuries that ranged from broken bones to torn ligaments. The cumulative toll on her body — not including Tuesday’s crash — is what convinced Vonn to retire. But she probably would not have been as great without pushing herself past the limits of safety in the name of speed.“I never think about what if I crash,” Vonn told Vinton. “While I’m skiing, I try to make the next gate. I’ll still try to not crash while I’m crashing into the net. I try to save myself until the last second. There’s no time for me to change my mindset. I’m still fighting.”It’s no coincidence that the U.S. put up a much tougher fight in Alpine during Vonn’s career. Between men and women, American skiers have won nearly twice as many World Cup races since Vonn’s first full season (2001-02) as they had in the U.S. ski program’s entire previous history combined. 1Lindsey VonnUSA295.51Marcel HirscherAUT321.7 9Maria Hoefl-RieschGER164.89Bode MillerUSA175.9 As of Feb. 6, 2019Source: Ski-DB.com 20D. CompagnoniITA107.920Karl SchranzAUT94.8 11Hanni WenzelLIE150.811Benjamin RaichAUT173.3 15Pernilla WibergSWE127.015Jean-Claude KillyFRA130.8 Vonn is the American GOATBest Alpine skiing careers since 1966, according to Ski-DB.com’s “super ranking,” which awards points for results in the FIS World Cup, Olympics and World Championships 8Tina MazeSLO166.68Alberto TombaITA195.6 12Erika HessSUI147.612Stephan EberharterAUT157.5 One of the great careers in international sport is coming to a close this weekend. Ski racer Lindsey Vonn’s final run will be Sunday, at the 2019 Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden — and in typical Vonn fashion, she’ll be bouncing back from a nasty crash to make her farewell race. Some of Vonn’s legacy will involve that toughness and perseverance, fighting back from injury after injury to make it down the mountain one more time. But Vonn’s career will also be remembered for her unparalleled speed and success, as well as the effect that success had on America’s surging ski program — an impact that will probably be felt many years after Vonn’s retirement.To survey the career of Lindsey Vonn is to watch the golden era of United States Alpine skiing take shape. Before Vonn won the FIS World Cup overall championship in 2008, only one American woman (Tamara McKinney) — and three Americans, period (McKinney, Phil Mahre and Bode Miller) — had ever pulled off the feat. Vonn would go on to do it a total of four times as part of a resume that includes a record 82 World Cup event victories, 20 more than any other woman in history.Statistically, Vonn is the most decorated American skier in history, as well as the greatest women’s skier ever. At least, that’s according to the Ski-DB.com “super ranking,” a system that awards points for finishes in World Cup races, the World Championships and the Winter Olympics (since 1966, when the World Cup circuit was originally launched). The ranking puts heavy emphasis on World Cup performance — where Vonn has been at her most dominant, relative to the other competitions tracked — probably because that is the area that has carried the most weight in evaluations of champion skiers and their legacies.Occupying the second spot, behind Vonn, in the women’s super ranking is Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell. And there are arguments to be made that the positions should be reversed, or that other skiers are more deserving: Moser-Proell supporters can point to her six World Cup overall titles, versus Vonn’s four, and other skiers have enjoyed more Olympic and World Championship success than either Vonn or Moser-Proell. (It’s true that Vonn has only one Olympic gold medal to her name. But then again, the Olympics come around so infrequently that, depending on the timing, missing an entire Olympics — like Vonn did in 2014 — can dramatically curtail a skier’s lifetime medal count.)What might be most striking about Vonn’s placement atop the list, though, is the standard she has set for American racers. The closest American woman to Vonn is the great Mikaela Shiffrin, at No. 7 overall. The highest-ranking American man is Miller, who checks in at No. 9. The golden age of American skiing has been about more than Vonn, of course. Miller and Ted Ligety emerged around the same time as Vonn, and Vonn credits her friendly rivalry with Julia Mancuso for spurring her to work harder when the two were a promising pair of up-and-coming junior skiers.And it may be only a matter of time before Shiffrin passes Vonn as America’s greatest-ever alpiner. Eleven years Vonn’s junior, Shiffrin has far more wins and World Cup points than Vonn had at the same age, and she is already zooming up lists like the career super ranking at an unbelievable pace. And unlike Vonn, whose signature events are in the dangerous downhill, Shiffrin picks up the majority of her World Cup points in the technically demanding but comparatively safer slalom and giant slalom disciplines, so she might be able to avoid the kinds of injuries that ended Vonn’s career.1Granted, Shiffrin has begun winning more often in the fast races, taking gold in the World Championship super-G on Tuesday. As great as Vonn has been, her days as the GOAT are probably numbered.But that kind of torch-passing is at the essence of the American skiing renaissance. When Vonn was a young girl, an encounter with American gold-medalist Picabo Street at an autograph session changed the course of her life, setting her down a path toward skiing glory. Now that her career is coming to its end, Vonn is leaving U.S. skiing in the hands of a new generation, one spearheaded by Shiffrin. That legacy will last even if the records are broken and the rankings surpassed. 16Anna VeithAUT126.116Phil MahreUSA123.1 RacerPointsRacerPoints 19Petra KronbergerAUT109.519Kjetil JansrudNOR97.4 6Katja SeizingerGER194.46Pirmin ZurbriggenSUI211.2 3Vreni SchneiderSUI255.13Hermann MaierAUT252.1 17Michela FiginiSUI125.417Ivica KostelicCRO112.3
2012NY GiantsDallasHomeWed-4.0 2005New EnglandOaklandHomeThu-7.5✓ 2015New EnglandPittsburghHomeThu-7.0✓ Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com YEARDEFENDING SB CHAMPIONOPPONENTLOCATIONDAYVEGAS LINEWIN? NFL season openers, 2002-15 2014SeattleGreen BayHomeThu-8.5✓ 2013BaltimoreDenverRoadThu+7.5 2011Green BayNew OrleansHomeThu-5.0✓ 2010New OrleansMinnesotaHomeThu-5.0✓ 2007IndianapolisNew OrleansHomeThu-5.5✓ In January 1970, the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs upset the NFL’s Vikings in Super Bowl IV, 23-7. That was the last game played prior to the AFL-NFL merger, and the newly unified league had Kansas City travel to Minnesota for Week 1 of the 1970 NFL season. The Vikings, like this year’s Broncos, were playing with a new starting quarterback; Joe Kapp was in a contract dispute, leaving Gary Cuozzo as the team’s starter. It didn’t matter; the Vikings defense dominated en route to a 27-10 victory, giving the team a small measure of revenge for the ugly loss eight months earlier.Broncos fans probably noticed that the defending champion won four of the last five Super Bowl rematches, and the lone outlier — the 1993 Cowboys — wound up winning the Super Bowl that year. If you’re a Panthers fan, you can point to that 13-0 Thursday night record among favorites.And if you’re an NFL fan, you can just be happy that football is — finally — back. 2004New EnglandIndianapolisHomeThu-3.0✓ In January 1979, the Steelers beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII. The teams squared off in Pittsburgh the following October, and the Steelers again handled Dallas, winning 14-3 after knocking Roger Staubach out of the game early in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh had Dallas’ number in the late 1970s: The Steelers won all four times that Staubach and Terry Bradshaw faced off, including twice in the Super Bowl. But that doesn’t mean the Broncos are a lock to win Thursday night. All 10 of those teams were favored, which also means the favorites are 10-0 in these games (and an even better 13-0 in all Thursday Night kickoff games;2This includes the Broncos/Ravens game, along with the Thursday night openers that did not feature the Super Bowl champions in ’02 and ’03. the only favorites to lose the kickoff game being the 2012 Giants, at home on a Wednesday night.) And on Thursday, Carolina is favored by 3 points — only the third time since 19783The first season for which Pro-Football-Reference.com has data on Las Vegas lines for each game. that a defending Super Bowl champ was at home but not favored4The Patriots were 2.5-point underdogs in 2002 against the Steelers and won, 30-14. And in 1983, Washington lost 31-30 to Dallas as 1.5-point underdogs on Monday Night Football. in Week 1 of the following season.5The defending champ was a road underdog to start the season in 1987, 1988, 1993, 2003 and 2013. So it’s a split that gives both fan bases some history to point to for optimism in the opener.As for Super Bowl rematches? The defending champion has gone 4-2 in those games, and has also been at home in four of six games. (That may be a good omen for the Broncos, who were on the other side of things just two years ago.) Here’s a rundown of those rematches:In February 2014, the Seahawks embarrassed the Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. Seven months later, the rematch in Seattle turned out to be a much more exciting game. The Broncos had a mere 4 percent chance of winning the game when Denver gained possession, trailing 20-12, with 59 seconds remaining. But Peyton Manning completed three passes for 80 yards and a touchdown, then tacked on a two-point conversion to force overtime. He never saw the ball again, though: In overtime, the Seahawks won the coin toss and drove 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown. 2008NY GiantsWashingtonHomeThu-4.5✓ 2006PittsburghMiamiHomeThu-1.5✓ 2009PittsburghTennesseeHomeThu-6.5✓ The last professional football game that mattered was Super Bowl 50, when the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers, 24-10. And when those same two teams take the field Thursday night in Denver, it will be the first Super Bowl rematch ever to occur on the opening night of an NFL season.The NFL introduced the idea of a lone Thursday Night game to kick off the season in 2002, and two years later the league started making the game a home showcase for the defending Super Bowl champion. (It’s worked out in all but two years since. In 2013, a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles made the Ravens travel to Denver for the opening game, where they lost 49-27.1So the Broncos have already hosted a Thursday Night Kickoff game featuring the defending Super Bowl champions. And another conflict, this time with President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, caused the Giants to host the Cowboys on a Wednesday night — and lose, 24-17 — in 2012.) In those Thursday night home games, the defending Super Bowl champion boasts a perfect 10-0 record. In Super Bowl XI, Oakland dominated Minnesota on both sides of the ball en route to a 32-14 victory. The teams met in Oakland for a rematch in December of the 1977 season, and again the Raiders outclassed the Vikings in every fashion, winning 35-13. On Jan. 31, 1993, the Cowboys obliterated the Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII. And 364 days later, Dallas beat Buffalo in the Super Bowl again, 30-13, the only time the same teams have ever met in consecutive Super Bowls. But in between those historic games, the teams also met in Dallas during Week 2 of the 1993 regular season. The Cowboys, missing Emmitt Smith because of a contract dispute, lost 13-10 on a late field goal. It was a result symbolic of that entire Bills era: In games started by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly from 1990 to 1993, Buffalo went 14-0 in the regular season against the NFC, including a 4-0 mark against Dallas, New York and Washington. Against those same teams in the Super Bowl, of course, the Bills went 0-4. In Super Bowl XXXI, the Packers beat the Patriots, 35-21. The teams met again on a Monday night in New England during Week 9 of the 1997 season, although by then Pete Carroll had replaced Bill Parcells as New England’s head coach. Green Bay, behind great performances from Brett Favre and Dorsey Levens, easily beat the Patriots, 28-10.
Junior forward Nichelle Prince (7) dribbles with the ball during a game against Minnesota on Sept. 17, 2015. Credit: Lantern File PhotoThe No. 17 Ohio State women’s soccer team returns home in search of its first win in two weeks.The Buckeyes suffered a loss to then-No. 13 Minnesota and tied Wisconsin last weekend. OSU also lost redshirt senior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker for the season due to injury.The Buckeyes face off against tenth-ranked Nebraska in the first of two home games this weekend. Redshirt senior defender/forward Morgan Wolcott doesn’t anticipate Nebraska being an easy comeback game.“Nebraska always gives us a challenge,” Wolcott said. “They are a physical team … and we’ve struggled against them. (The team) feels prepared coming off of last weekend, which didn’t go as planned.”Nebraska has a 7-3-0 record in 2016, and the Cornhuskers will be coming to Columbus off of their most recent loss to Michigan. Overall, Nebraska has been playing a very consistent game with no notable statistical difference between its goals scored or its shots attempted in the first and second halves. The Buckeyes take on Iowa this Sunday at noon. Iowa owns a 6-4-0 record, with its two most recent losses being against Big Ten teams, Michigan and Michigan State. Before the Hawkeyes play OSU this weekend, Iowa takes on Penn State. The Hawkeyes have scored almost two-thirds of their goals in the second half. The Buckeyes have allowed 15 goals this season, 11 coming in the second half.OSU is determined to not allow the outcomes of their recent games affect their performance for the future.“Sometimes we get caught off guard … we need to get back to the basics of our system,” Wolcott said. “We tried to complicate things too much.”To keep things simple, the team has adopted a new mantra. In practices, the Buckeyes try to “get one percent better every day.”“If we can just keep getting one percent better, we feel like by November, when post-season comes, we’re going to be the team we want to be, but right now I’m pretty happy,” said senior forward Lindsay Agnew. “We have a great group of girls, so we just have to keep it going.”
Ohio State field hockey announced the hiring of former Dartmouth University coach and Doncaster, England, native, Andy Smith as assistant coach this week.Smith replaces Jon O’Haire on the team’s staff and is due to make $55,000 in 2012, OSU athletics spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in an email.Smith helped lead the Big Green for 10 seasons, six of which were spent as associated head coach. He joins OSU coach Anne Wilkinson’s staff just months after the Buckeyes’ 2011 campaign, which saw the team achieve a 12-9 overall record and a berth in the NCAA tournament.The Dartmouth athletic department did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment regarding Smith’s departure from the program.“I am extremely grateful to (OSU athletic director) Gene Smith and Anne Wilkinson for the opportunity to be part of the Ohio State field hockey program,” Andy Smith said in a Tuesday press release. “My family and I are delighted to be moving to Columbus. I join a university and athletics department that are known for excellence and look forward to helping Ohio State compete at the highest level.”Andy Smith helped lead the Big Green to a 10-7 overall record and a 5-2 record in Ivy League play in 2011.Wilkinson said in a release that she is excited to have a coach of Andy Smith’s caliber join the program.“He is an outstanding coach in all aspects — on the field, in the classroom and as a recruiter of exceptional student athletes,” Wilkinson said. “We are proud that Andy and his family will be a part of the outstanding tradition of The Ohio State University.”Andy Smith was not made available for comment.
All eyes are on Ohio State junior forward Deshaun Thomas. Thomas, who elected to stay with the Buckeyes after former OSU forward Jared Sullinger declared for the 2012 NBA Draft, was named a preseason All-American by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook Wednesday. A second team All-Big Ten selection and a starter in each of OSU’s 39 games during the 2011-12 season, Thomas averaged 16 points per game on 52 percent shooting. Thomas caught fire in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, leading the Buckeyes in scoring with 19 points per game on their way to the Final Four. His postseason performance prompted some to question whether he’d stay at OSU for his junior season. OSU coach Thad Matta collected information about Thomas’ draft stock from NBA teams. Instead of leaving for the professional ranks, Thomas will remain as one of four upperclassmen on the 2012-13 Buckeyes. Junior guards Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Aaron Craft and senior forward Evan Ravenel will join Thomas as team elders. Jared Sullinger’s father, Satch Sullinger, tweeted about Thomas Wednesday, from his Twitter account, @satchsullinger: “Now DT gets all the opponents attention. Like Tupac; All Eyes On You!!!!” Thomas helped lead last season’s OSU squad to a 31-8 record. The Buckeyes lost their March 31 national semifinal game against Kansas, 64-62, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. OSU is scheduled to open the 2012 season Nov. 9 against Marquette in the Carrier Classic, which will be played on the museum ship the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
If he is given even the slightest bit of running room, he will speed through it and make the opposition pay. That’s how Ohio State coaches and players described the danger that Nebraska redshirt junior quarterback Taylor Martinez poses for the Buckeyes’ defense this Saturday. “(Martinez) is one of the best runners I’ve ever seen at the quarterback position,” said OSU coach Urban Meyer, who has coached the likes of former Florida and current New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. A quarterback who can just as easily break a long touchdown run as he can loft a 50-yard pass, Martinez has thrown for 1,059 yards this season while running for 298 more. He has 14 total touchdowns – three on the ground, including a 92-yard scamper against UCLA on Sept. 8. In his two-plus seasons as Nebraska’s starting quarterback, Martinez has 4,779 career passing yards and 2,137 career rushing yards. Three times since 2010 – Martinez’s redshirt freshman season – the quarterback has broken runs longer than 80 yards. To put that in perspective, former West Virginia quarterback Pat White, the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher at the quarterback position, never had an 80-yard run. Former Auburn quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton’s career-long run was 71 yards. Last year’s Heisman, former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, also has a career-long run of 71 yards. Martinez is one of the country’s premier dual-threat quarterbacks, and for a college defense, there might not be a more daunting task than trying to defend one. “Certainly a threat for us, running around making plays. He knows where his strengths are. His strengths are his feet, his mobility,” said OSU defensive line coach Mike Vrabel. Luckily for OSU, the Buckeyes have a pretty good dual-threat quarterback of their own in sophomore Braxton Miller, who has 1,510 total yards this season – 577 of which are rushing yards. The Buckeyes’ defense defends Miller multiple times a week in practice. OSU players said that should help them this Saturday when the No. 12-ranked Buckeyes’ square off against the Martinez-led, No. 21-ranked Cornhuskers. “Definitely I think it helps us. There’s not many quarterbacks out there that run sub 4.4s, high 4.3s (in the 40-yard dash),” said redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino. “Braxton’s obviously one of them, but so is Martinez. I think it definitely helps us going against Braxton everyday.” Meyer agrees, but he added that while OSU will benefit, so will Nebraska. They too face a speedy quarterback in practice. “I think both defenses will not be shocked by the speed. They’ve seen it in practice,” Meyer said. Miller and Martinez could not be much more alike. Both are a little undersized – Miller is 6-foot-2 and Martinez is 6-foot-1. Both lead their respective teams in total yards, and both are among the country’s fastest players, not just quarterbacks. If there is a difference between the two, it is probably straight-line speed, and according to Sabino, Martinez might have the edge. “If he sees a crease, he’ll roll with it. He’s a fast guy so we have to be very disciplined in our assignments,” Sabino said. Sabino is familiar with Martinez’s speed because he, and the rest of the 2011 Buckeyes, played against him last year in OSU’s 34-27 loss in Lincoln, Neb. Practicing against Miller last season didn’t seem to help the Buckeye defense much in defending Martinez during the 2011 contest. The then-sophomore quarterback threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns while running for 101 yards and a score last Oct. 8. This Saturday, the task of defending Martinez will be even greater. The redshirt junior has matured significantly as a player. To go along with his running ability, Martinez is now a very able and accurate passer. And Martinez is probably not just able, but elite. Martinez is 11th in the country in quarterback efficiency with a 169.6 rating, completing 67.8 percent of his passes with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11-to-1. Last season, Martinez had a 126.5 rating and completed 56.3 percent of his passes with a 13-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The improvement did not come easily for Martinez. The California native worked tirelessly on his throwing mechanics during the offseason. Las Angeles-based quarterbacks coach Steve Calhoun, a former New Mexico State quarterback and teacher of the pass since 2004, worked with Martinez on his motion, footwork and more. Martinez’s stats prove the hard work paid off. The OSU coaching staff has noticed Martinez’s progression, too. “I think he’s got a great understanding of what (Nebraska tries) to do,” Vrabel said. “Whether he’s running option or whatever, he’s not going to just drop back and try to beat you that way.” Vrabel, and the rest of the OSU coaching staff and defense understand the task at hand Saturday. “He’s going to be a huge challenge for us,” Vrabel said. Despite Martinez’s speed and breakaway ability, at least one OSU defender is confident the Nebraska gunslinger won’t be chalking up any long runs against the Buckeyes. “I don’t know what (Martinez’s) 40 time is, but if he’s out there, I’m going to catch him,” said redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby. Roby and OSU are set to take on Nebraska at 8:00 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium. The game will be nationally televised by ABC.
Ohio State continued its scheduling flurry after locking up its fourth home-and-home series in less than a month, securing contests against Boston College for 2020 and 2021 on Wednesday. The Buckeyes will host the Eagles at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 19, 2020 before traveling to Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Sept. 18, 2021. OSU athletic director Gene Smith called BC “a fine program from an outstanding conference.” “This gives Ohio State fans a chance to watch their Buckeyes in back-to-back games against Pacific 12 and ACC schools,” Smith said in a released statement. BC athletic director Brad Bates said the matchups against OSU serve as a way for the Eagles to gauge themselves against one of the nation’s best teams. “This will be a great opportunity for our team to measure itself against one of the premier programs in college football,” Bates said in a released statement. The Buckeyes are 3-0 against BC and haven’t played the school since a 38-6 win at the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in 1995. Over the course of those three games, OSU has outscored BC, 103-45. The Buckeyes will also face Oregon in 2020 and 2021 after locking in a home-and-home series with the Ducks on Oct. 23. On Oct. 18, OSU announced a rematch against Texas for 2022 and 2023. On Oct. 2, the Buckeyes inked a home-and-home series with Texas Christian University for 2018 and 2019. OSU is a combined 16-3-1 against BC, Oregon, Texas and TCU.
Quarterbacks Tate Martell and Dwayne Haskins watch the 2017 Cotton Bowl from the sideline on Dec. 29. in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorJ.T. Barrett watched as Ohio State officially began spring practice.For each of the past five seasons, he has been a part of it all, suited up in pads with the practice jersey. Tuesday, however, he could only stand in the sideline and watch a trio of quarterbacks — those who waited behind him for reps last season — compete to take his old spot on the team.It will be a difficult battle to find out who replaces one of the most decorated quarterbacks in program history, but head coach Urban Meyer said he is not stressing over the uncertainty. When there is as much talent competing for the spot, he believes things will work out just fine for his team.“I think I’m more stressed about center. I think when you have quality players going at it, there’s no stress at all,” Meyer said Tuesday. “I think we’ll be fine at quarterback. Who’s it going to be? I don’t know. But I know they work really hard and I see not two, but three guys that think they should be the quarterback. So I spend more time at the positions that I don’t know.”The clear favorite heading into spring practice was redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound pocket-passer won the backup quarterback spot in 2017 after redshirt junior Joe Burrow broke his hand. For the most part, Haskins filled in the typical role of a backup, mostly appearing during garbage time in blowouts.However, during the team’s rivalry game against Michigan in a matchup that determined the winner of the Big Ten East, Haskins was called upon to take over under center after Barrett left with a knee injury with the Buckeyes trailing, 20-14.Haskins drove the team down the field for the eventual game-winning score and was quarterback for 17 of Ohio State’s 31 points in the win. He finished the game 6-for-7 with 94 passing yards.In delivering the win, many thought Haskins separated himself from the rest of the contenders for the quarterback position. Meyer hinted that while Burrow and Haskins were close at the beginning of the season, Haskins might have moved ahead.“I think we all know that Dwayne kind of finished the season and finished it strong against the team up north,” Meyer said. “Joe before his injury was neck-and-neck, so this is going to be — we’re trying to do the best we can to make sure they have equal opportunity to compete.”Burrow still has a shot to win the competition, as does redshirt freshman Tate Martell. But Burrow is in a position that neither of the other quarterbacks are in: He has a viable backup plan.If Martell or Haskins lose the battle and transfer, believing they are good enough to start elsewhere, they will be forced to sit out a full season. Burrow, on the other hand, graduates in May and could transfer to another school and play immediately without the penalty.Meyer said he has talked with Burrow and his family about the chance of a departure, and said that he probably does owe Burrow an answer on the position battle before it’s too late for him to transfer. Even so, he added he doesn’t want to rush his decision along.In a perfect world, Meyer said the team knows by the start of the summer how that position group shapes up. But he does not typically have those perfect scenarios fall his way.“I’ve had it several times where you’re nip and tuck with two guys going after each other for the next five [months] or going after the backup spot,” Meyer said.The decision of who will succeed Barrett at quarterback will likely remain unanswered for some time. It would be a surprise if anything was announced before the Spring Game on April 14. The three players will head into the scrimmage with the chance to make another pitch for the gig.Until a decision is made, Meyer will just continue to encourage the competition, knowing that the talented trio will come up with a solution in due time.“We’ve had that before here, and I just think it keeps people on pins and needles. Performance, it’s science that performance is better when you have someone beyond comfort — discomfort of competition of times,” Meyer said. “If you’re just by yourself, you have a tendency to be complacent. That’s something that you’re going to watch very closely.”