Jonathan Vilma, the most aggressive attacker of the New Orleans Saints bounty program suspensions and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, has been place on the physically unable to perform list. And so, his battle to be reinstated to play this year was overturned on Friday, but off-season knee surgery will not allow him to play for at least five more games.Vilma, who was called the “ring leader” of the so-called bounty system where players were paid to injury opponents, will be eligible to return after Week 7. The Saints, who will have their bye in Week 6, opted to put Vilma on the PUP list after his roster exemption expired Monday.Vilma, 30, can participate in team meetings and will be allowed to use the Saints’ training and medical facilities. But the three-time Pro Bowler cannot practice with the team.Vilma had his season-long suspension overturned Friday by a three-member appeals panel, which ruled that Goodell did not have authority to punish players for any salary-cap violations committed in the Saints’ alleged bounty scheme. Vilma countered with suits challenging Goodell’s authority and said the commissioner’s signaling out of him as a participant damaged his reputation.Granted the reprieve by the panel, Vilma attended the Saints’ season-opening 40-32 defeat to the Washington Redskins. He did not suit up for that game, but Vilma led the Superdome crowd in a spirited pregame “Who Dat” chant and watched the game from the sideline.New Orleans sure could have used Vilma’s prowess on defense, as Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III masterfully dissected the Saints’ defense to the tune of 320 yards passing and two touchdowns while giving up 40 points. The Redskins also ran the ball effectively. In short, the Saints’ defense was dominated by an offense that had not shown itself to be that potent in the preseason.
20092.72.63.53.912.7 Once we have those ratings, we can add them up to get an overall score for each playoff game. Unsurprisingly, wild-card games have the lowest average score, followed by divisional games, conference championships and the Super Bowl. (Hey! It works!) But this year’s opening weekend scored lower than the typical wild-card round in three of four categories; total scoring was the only metric in which it didn’t underperform, and even then, these games were basically average by wild-card standards. Pittsburgh’s 30-12 blowout over Miami was the eighth-lowest-rated wild-card game since 1990, and the rest of the opening weekend’s slate didn’t fare much better.4The highest-rated game of the weekend was, remarkably, Houston-Oakland, which ranked 43rd among the 108 wild-card games played since 1990.Overall, it was the fourth-worst wild-card weekend since 1990 according to my measure of game quality: Wild card avg.126.96.36.199.411.7 The good news is that things should get much better from here. Although New England is a massive favorite over Houston, the rest of the divisional round is filled with high-quality teams who should be relatively closely matched. That’s not always a guarantee of great football — looking back at my college-bowl grades, how about the barn-burner that was my highest-rated matchup? (Clemson trounced Ohio State 31-0 … oops.) — but it can’t hurt, particularly after the relative snoozefest that opened the playoffs. 20188.8.131.52.913.3 199184.108.40.206.610.4 19902.33.12.43.411.2 20052.62.92.34.011.8 199220.127.116.11.510.3 20012.72.92.83.011.4 2018.104.22.168.512.0 19922.214.171.124.511.2 If you’re like me, the start of the NFL playoffs is always a source of excitement — until you remember that the two best teams in each conference have bye weeks, leaving the dregs of the postseason field to play games that aren’t much better than the league’s standard regular-season fare. Sometimes wild-card games can rise above all that, producing classic games in spite of themselves, but those games are the exception to the rule.Even by those low standards, this weekend’s wild-card action was full of duds. Texans-Raiders was one of the ugliest on-paper playoff matchups in recent memory — and it ended up being arguably the weekend’s most exciting game. Every matchup was decided by double digits, only one featured an above-average amount of scoring,1Relative to the NFL’s regular-season average of 46 total points per game. and there was only one upset in the bunch (if you even could call it that — our Elo ratings gave Oakland a slight edge over Houston, though Elo didn’t know about Oakland’s mess at QB). Add it all up, and it was one of the worst wild-card rounds since the NFL playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990.We can measure the quality of each playoff game using a metric similar to the one I used to grade college football bowls. To rate the NFL games, I graded each postseason matchup since 1990 by summing up four different five-point ratings2Where the average is 3, the maximum is 5, and the lowest possible score is 1.: how good the teams were, how close the game was, how many points were scored, and how much upset potential the game had.3Here’s how each is defined in more detail:How good the teams were. This is based on the harmonic mean of the two teams’ pregame Elo ratings. Better matchups, like Super Bowl XLIX between the Patriots and Seahawks, get a 5; worse ones, such as 1999’s Cardinals-Cowboys wild-card tilt, get a 1.How close the game was. For this, I estimated the average margin of the game at any given moment, from the perspective of the eventual winner. Higher grades are given to great comebacks — see the Bills’ epic 1993 victory over the Oilers — and to nail-biters like the Giants’ last-second win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV. Lower grades go to laughers like the Jaguars’ 62-7 demolition of Miami in 2000.How much scoring the teams did. This is just the total number of points scored in the game. (High-scoring games aren’t always exciting, but they tend to be more watchable than grind-it-out defensive struggles.) The Cardinals’ 51-45 win over the Packers in 2010 gets a 5; the Steelers’ inelegant 7-6 victory over the Patriots in 1998 gets a 1.How much upset potential the game had. All else being equal, possible upsets make for interesting games. So for this category, I estimated the underdog’s average win probability at any given moment in the game. Games where the underdog dominates, such as when Baltimore thrashed New England in 2010, score highest; ones where the favorite’s victory was never in doubt, like when Tim Tebow’s Broncos never had a chance against the Pats in 2012, score lowest. 20062.13.22.92.710.9 20072.23.12.93.711.9 Conf. champ.3.63.13.03.112.8 199126.96.36.199.211.6 20188.8.131.52.011.1 20184.108.40.206.010.7 20220.127.116.11.211.5 20042.12.83.33.711.9 19918.104.22.168.813.2 20102.33.23.03.912.4 20082.53.22.93.512.1 19922.214.171.124.211.1 199126.96.36.199.610.3 199188.8.131.52.511.5 The best NFL wild-card weekends (1990-present) 20184.108.40.206.612.4 Super Bowl4.13.03.23.313.6 Divisional3.13.03.03.012.0 20032.32.93.12.911.2 20002.53.32.64.112.5 PLAYOFF YEARGOOD TEAMSCLOSE GAMESHI SCORINGUPSET CHANCETOTAL SCORE 199220.127.116.11.612.2 AVERAGE SCORE OF GAMES IN ROUND Each game is graded on a five-point scale in four categories: how good the teams were, how close the score was throughout the game, how many points were scored and the chances of an upset throughout the game.Based on data from Pro-Football-Reference.com 20022.03.23.43.912.6
Logan Schuss, Buckeye lacrosse midfielder, received ECAC Co-Rookie of the Week honors after an impressive performance in the ‘Showdown in the ‘Shoe.’ The British Columbia native had a team-best and game-high four points with two goals and two assists against Air Force. Schuss leads the ECAC in points per game and is second in total points. He leads the Buckeyes with 21 assists and is the second leading scorer with 22 goals. This season Schuss has accumulated four conference player of the week selections, three rookie of the week awards and was named offensive player of the week March 29.Senior co-captain Justin Kronauge of the men’s tennis team received his third nod as Big Ten Co-Athlete of the Week this week. Kronauge was a key player in securing two singles and two doubles matches in route to the Buckeyes’ fifth-consecutive Big Ten regular-season title. Kronauge, No. 40 in the nation, holds the team-high 32 wins. This season has propelled Kronauge to becoming the third Buckeye to have more than 100 singles wins and more than 100 doubles wins. Kronauge and his doubles partner, junior Balazs Novak, are undefeated on the season with 16 wins.The No. 23 women’s golf team received its 16th consecutive bid for the NCAA Regional Tournament. With a No. 4 seed, the Buckeyes travel to the West Regional in Stanford, Calif., May 6-8. The Buckeyes have met and beat 10 of the 24 teams competing in the West and are the only Big Ten representative in the West. The Buckeyes must finish in the top 8 teams to advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament.
The Ohio State men’s tennis team won its first two matches of the NCAA Championship on Friday and Saturday. The Buckeyes, along with 15 other teams, will now advance to round three of the tournament in Stanford, Calif. OSU shut out Notre Dame and Ball State, winning the first two rounds of the tournament, 4-0. Playing doubles for the Buckeyes this weekend were senior Matt Allare and redshirt freshman Peter Kobelt, junior Chase Buchanan and senior Shuhei Uzawa, and freshman Blaz Rola and senior Balazs Novak. “There was so much at stake today,” coach Ty Tucker said after the match against Notre Dame. “We got to be ready to play.” The Buckeyes played hard against Notre Dame, winning the doubles point after two 8-2 victories from pairs Buchanan and Uzawa, and Rola and Novak. The last three points for the Buckeyes came from three singles victories by Novak, Rola and Allare. Novak sped through his match winning, 6-0, 6-2, against Notre Dame’s Blas Moros. Rola finished soon after, beating Casey Watt, 6-2, 6-2. Scoring the final point for the Buckeyes was Allare, with a score of 6-2, 6-3 against Notre Dame’s Greg Andrews. “They’re a really tough team,” Kobelt said of Notre Dame. “They’ve got great coaches and great players one through six.” OSU came out strong against Ball State in the first round of the tournament Friday. “We have to take what we can get,” Kobelt said of the hot weather. “It’s the kind of stuff we’ll deal with if we go out to California.” Novak and Rola were the first to finish their match, beating Ball State opponents Shaun Bussert and Austin Sansone, 8-0. Finishing soon after, fellow teammates Buchanan and Uzawa won their match against Ball State’s Zane Smith and Derek Carpenter, 8-3, clinching the doubles point for the Buckeyes. Allare and Kobelt finished their match early, 6-4, because the Buckeyes had already won the doubles point after the first two OSU doubles wins. Competing in singles and earning the team’s last three points were Rola, Buchanan, Allare, redshirt sophomore Devin McCarthy, Novak and Kobelt. McCarthy finished first, beating Ball State’s Alexandre Brym, 6-1, 6-2. He was followed soon after by Allare, who won his match, 6-3, 6-2, and Buchanan, who won his match, 6-1, 6-0. “I think I played well,” McCarthy said after his match. “It’s always a little nerve-racking going into the first round of the tournament.” OSU will now advance to the third round of the NCAA Championship Tournament, and face off against either Texas or Tulsa at 6 p.m. May 19.
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon (25) avoids the tackle of Massachusetts defensive back Randall Jette in the second quarter on Saturday, August 31, 2013, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers defeated UMass, 45-0.Credit: Courtesy of MCTWisconsin running back Montee Ball tied the all-time NCAA record for total touchdowns last season when he scored a seven-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Ohio State.Tying the record was just part of a 191-yard rushing performance on 39 carries against the Buckeyes when the two teams met at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., last year. Ball has since moved on to the NFL’s Denver Broncos, but the Wisconsin rushing attack has the potential to give the Buckeyes trouble once again when the two teams meet Saturday at 8 p.m. in Columbus.“I can’t imagine two better backs on the same team,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday about Wisconsin’s top two running backs, redshirt-sophomore Melvin Gordon and senior James White.Through their first four games of the season, Wisconsin leads the nation with 1,399 rushing yards.Meyer specifically described Gordon, who is the Football Bowl Subdivision’s leading rusher with 624 rushing yards, as a “tremendous player.”Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, who is in his first year with the Badgers after previously coaching at Utah State, said Gordon is one of the best running backs he has ever coached or been around.“(Gordon) developed some patience within the tackles. He has tremendous speed and his God-given ability is unbelievable,” Andersen said. “He’s turned into a speed back and a power back and he’s a patient back, which is a vicious combination.”The majority of Wisconsin’s offensive production so far this season has come from their ground game. In addition to Gordon leading the nation, White ranks 10th nationally with 442 rushing yards. The Badgers have run the ball 175 times and have scored 15 rushing touchdowns, while they have completed 62 of 99 passing attempts for 792 yards and six touchdowns.Nonetheless, OSU redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby said Wednesday the Buckeyes defense could be victimized for big plays if they do not take the Badgers passing offense seriously.“They’ll lull you to sleep with the run,” Roby said.With exactly eight yards per passing attempt and 7.99 yards per rushing play, Wisconsin’s average yards per play has been nearly identical between its passing and rushing offenses.The team’s early lean toward running the football has been, at least in part, in the interest of managing the clock in Wisconsin’s three wins. The Badgers won each of those games by at least 31 points, and ran the ball at least 20 more times than they passed the ball. When the Badgers lost to Arizona State, 32-30, on Sept. 14, the team had 31 passing attempts and 32 rushing attempts.Wisconsin’s leading receiver, redshirt-senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, said Tuesday he expects the offense to be more evenly balanced against OSU.“Going into every game, you expect to throw the ball,” Abbrederis said. “When we throw it, we have to come down with it and make some plays.”The Buckeyes have a potent rushing offense of their own. While Wisconsin has the FBS’ leading rushing offense, OSU ranks second with 1,244 rushing yards.The leader of that effort thus far this season has been redshirt-senior running back Jordan Hall, who has 422 rushing yards, good for 13th in the nation, through the first four games.Senior running back Carlos Hyde, who ran five times for 41 yards and also caught a one-yard touchdown pass in his season debut last Saturday against Florida A&M, is also expected to figure prominently in the Buckeyes’ offense versus Wisconsin. Hyde ran for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns as OSU’s starting running back last season, but was suspended for the first three games of this season for his involvement in an incident at a Columbus bar in July.Practicing against such high-caliber backs like Gordon and White is helping to prepare the Badgers defense to go up against the Buckeyes’ backfield, according to Wisconsin redshirt-senior defensive end Pat Muldoon.“It’s great going against those guys (Gordon and White) … and our third running back, (freshman Corey Clement). They all challenge us every day (in practice),” Muldoon said. “When we do live tackling, it always makes you better as a defense when you have to try to tackle really good running backs, so it’ll help us with the good runners Ohio State has.”Those runners, Muldoon said, also include the Buckeyes’ two quarterbacks, junior Braxton Miller and redshirt-senior Kenny Guiton.Miller ranked third among all FBS quarterbacks with 1,271 rushing yards last season, but he has not played since suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee versus San Diego State Sept. 7.Guiton, who won back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week awards starting in Miller’s place, is also a capable runner, gaining 186 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown, on 25 rushing attempts this season.Although he said Wednesday Miller will “probably start” Saturday, Meyer has not officially named a starting quarterback for the game, instead listing the two quarterbacks as co-starters on this week’s depth chart.The possibility of going up against either quarterback hasn’t affected Wisconsin’s preparation “at all,” Andersen said.“They’re both great quarterbacks,” Andersen said of Miller and Guiton. “The scheme doesn’t change drastically. Sometimes when you prepare for two quarterbacks, there’s a drastic change or even just a little change in the scheme. I don’t see a drastic change in scheme with both of these quarterbacks.”Muldoon said the OSU offense is “similar” regardless of which quarterback plays.“They can both make plays with their feet, they can both make plays with their arm, so the offense doesn’t change much,” Muldoon said. “We’re preparing for a really athletic, good quarterback back there either way.”Regardless of whether one or both of OSU’s quarterbacks play, each team’s ability to run the ball against the opposing defense is expected to play a key role in Saturday’s outcome.“It’s obviously one of those classic smash-mouth games,” redshirt-senior offensive tackle Jack Mewhort said Wednesday. “Who wins the rushing game (will be key); that’s usually what it is in football.”The Buckeyes will be looking to extend their winning streak against Wisconsin to three games, and their overall winning streak to 17 games, Saturday.The Badgers, on the other hand, will be looking for redemption after two close losses in the team’s past two matchups. Wisconsin lost in overtime to OSU in Madison last season, and lost 33-29 two years ago in Columbus.Wisconsin is the three-time defending Big Ten conference champion, but with one loss already on their record, the No. 23-ranked Badgers are considered underdogs against the undefeated, No. 4-ranked Buckeyes.Abbrederis said he is not paying attention to OSU’s ranking or winning streak.“We’ve kind of been the underdogs for the past three years, so it’s kind of familiar territory,” Abbrederis said. “We’re just going to go out there and just do our best. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to reach our goal. It’s not about stopping somebody’s streak or whatever … it’s about getting where we want to be.”
Then-junior tight end Jeff Heuerman (86) is tackled out of bounds during a game against Wisconsin Sept. 28 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Lantern file photoAs we rapidly close in on the top five, The Lantern continues its countdown of the top 10 most important Buckeyes for the 2014 Ohio State football season.No. 6: Jeff Heuerman, senior tight endEvery season since Ben Hartsock’s 2003 departure, Buckeye fans across the state have been saying “this is the year” an OSU tight end becomes a key part of the passing game. Over time, after repeated underwhelming displays of production from the position, that statement has become a question.Is this the year?After years of failure, 2013 was a step in the right direction.In 2004 and 2005 it was Ryan Hamby’s chance. He’s best known for a dropped touchdown against Texas in 2005 that could have won the game. From 2006 to 2008 it was Rory Nicol’s chance, but he never managed more than 13 receptions.In 2009 Jake Ballard proved to be a solid player and had a key reception in OSU’s Rose Bowl win against Oregon, but he was not key to the offense.Jake Stoneburner broke through with 21 catches in 2010 and seven touchdowns in 2011, but he was more of an oversized receiver and still didn’t ooze production.After Stoneburner’s departure in 2012, this past season was finally Heuerman’s chance to shine.Heuerman tallied 26 receptions for 466 yards and four touchdowns –– easily the best tight end production OSU has had in a decade –– and proved to be a valuable safety valve for then-junior quarterback Braxton Miller.In 2014, Heuerman’s importance to the team will go well beyond his number of catches or his trips to the end zone. The most important thing will be when those catches occur.Miller is now a senior with another offseason under his belt, but he missed all of spring practice with a shoulder injury. He is expected to be set to go for the season opener, but that injury, and his injury in 2013 that caused then-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton to step in and attempt 109 passes, served as a wake-up call for coach Urban Meyer and his staff.For this team to be successful, Miller must be healthy, and Heuerman can do a lot to ensure he stays that way. Not only is he a strong blocker on the edge, Heuerman’s ability to bail Miller out in tough situations can prevent the signal caller from running as often as normal.Miller is certainly a runner first, but that might have to change of OSU is to be successful, and having the frame of Heuerman on the field gives him a near sure thing to check down to.Heuerman checks in at 6 feet, 5 inches and 255 pounds. He is an imposing presence on the field and the Buckeyes should hope to –– and expect to –– see a jump in his production for 2014.So is this the year? Does it really even matter?Heuerman put up great numbers last year, and as long as he continues his production and elevates his game, even more balls should be headed his way.OSU’s first game of the season is scheduled for Aug. 30 when the Buckeyes face Navy in Baltimore, Md.
With just one win — or a Michigan State loss — in the way of Ohio State and a ticket to the Big Ten Championship Game, coach Urban Meyer said staying healthy is the key to winning late in the season.Meyer spoke on the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday afternoon and addressed OSU’s goal of clinching a spot in the conference title game, the development of junior offensive lineman Taylor Decker and his unwavering stance on redshirting players. He also talked about the upcoming matchup with Indiana and reiterated praise for one Hoosier offensive weapon.Meyer said he hopes his players understand that “they clinch a spot in the championship game with a win.”Meyer said the Buckeyes had probably their best Sunday practice of the season this week.He said Decker is a “model citizen for a team and program … he’s a much better player too.”Meyer on Decker: “I can’t say enough about how much he’s grown in two years.”Meyer said he “probably should have played” freshman defensive lineman Sam Hubbard earlier this season because “he’s doing really, really good.” Meyer added that it’s too hard to burn a year of eligibility by putting a player on the field this late in the season.Meyer said he still doesn’t intend to redshirt players off the bat. “If you’re not good enough, you won’t play or if you’re hurt, you won’t play,” he said. “If you’re recruiting a good player, play him.”He singled out redshirt-freshman cornerback Eli Apple and redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee as two players who benefited from sitting out a season.Meyer said he doesn’t expect Apple to be at OSU for five years. “My guess is, if he continues to improve, that they move on,” he said.On what the key to winning in November is, Meyer said: “Without question, it’s the health of your team and managing practice.”He singled out freshman linebacker Dante Booker and freshman safety Erick Smith as two young players who are excelling late in the season after developing throughout the year.Meyer said Indiana junior running back Tevin Coleman is “ridiculous.” Coleman ran for 307 yards in a loss to Rutgers last week.He added that Coleman is “definitely an NFL running back.”Meyer said sophomore punter Cameron Johnston had his “worst day this year” against Minnesota last Saturday.He said current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had a similar impact at Utah that redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has had in place of senior Braxton Miller this season.The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Indiana on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.
Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer sings ‘Carmen Ohio’ after a game against Indiana on Nov. 22 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-27, in Spencer’s second-to-last game at the Horseshoe.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorIn the span of four seasons, the Ohio State senior class has experienced a 24-game winning streak, a 23-game Big Ten winning streak and a crushing loss in the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game.While the success the seniors have had is significant, there’s still something missing.OSU is already set to play in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 6 in Indianapolis, but 24 seniors will be honored this week when the Buckeyes take on Michigan on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.Starting with the Wolverines, coach Urban Meyer said the seniors’ legacy will be decided over the next two weeks.“This book’s not written yet,” Meyer said Monday. “So I’m pleased with it. But these next couple are going to … be their legacy, our legacy, I should say.”Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer said finding a way to win against the Wolverines is what makes a Buckeye’s legacy.“Whatever you do in this game is immortalized forever,” Spencer said Monday. “If you go for three touchdowns or you have however many tackles or you have however many sacks, everybody’s gonna remember this, really, forever. This game is just, it means a lot to us. And it means even more to us seniors.”As a senior set to play in his fourth Michigan game, Spencer — whose father, Tim, is a former Buckeye running back and assistant coach — said he has negative feelings every time he lays his eyes on the Wolverines.“I’ve … grown to not like them very much ever since birth,” the younger Spencer said. “So every time I see it, every time I hear that fight song, every time I see those damn helmets, I just, not great feelings come up.”When the players donning Michigan’s maize and blue uniforms are sitting in Ohio Stadium this weekend — by Spencer or anyone else — they will have a chance to derail OSU’s national championship hopes. At No. 6 in the College Football Playoff Standings, the Buckeyes would likely miss out on the top four come season’s end if they take a second loss.But even with so much on the line, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said he’s simply looking forward to a good game in his last time taking the field in Columbus.“I just hope it’s a good game. It’s my last game in the Horseshoe,” Heuerman said Monday. “Obviously we’re just gonna go out and play as hard as we can, and we’ll see. Hopefully it’ll turn out in our favor.”While he mentioned the game will be his last at Ohio Stadium, Heuerman said he didn’t “even want to think about that.” He stressed how much the school has meant to him, but added he’s looking forward to the next step.“I just loved it so much and I just don’t want it to end. I love college, man, I love Ohio State,” he said. “I honestly just don’t want it to end, but it’s been a good ride, and all good things come to an end and move on to the next chapter.”As the seniors’ time in Columbus winds down, senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said he’s proud of the leadership his class has provided.“I think our leadership on this team and in this senior class is very good, at least that’s my personal opinion because I’m part of it,” he said Monday.But Bennett added there’s still unfinished business, meaning there’s still time for his class to leave its mark on the younger players and the program in general.“At the same time, nobody here has ever won a Big Ten championship or anything like that,” he said. “So it would be very important as the leaders to rally a lot of these young players that have been contributing.”Senior cornerback Doran Grant said the class got together and discussed what they needed to do before moving on to the next step in life.“We just sat back and really talked to each other, a lot of guys in our class, like, ‘We haven’t won anything since we’ve been here,’” Grant said. “We won a couple (division) championships, but we haven’t won a Big Ten title or anything bigger than that. So that’s our main goal is to win the Big Ten championship and, of course, beat the team up north.”Like many OSU players before him, Grant grouped beating Michigan in with winning championships. And while the Buckeye seniors haven’t picked up a championship of their own, a win on Saturday would give them a career winning record against the Wolverines.Spencer said he’s glad to be playing his last Michigan game in Columbus instead of Ann Arbor, Mich., and stressed he’ll do anything he must to come away with a win.“I’m glad I don’t have to go back to Ann Arbor and I don’t plan on ever going back,” Spencer said. “And I’m gonna do whatever I can to beat ‘em up pretty good this week and go out 3-1 against them.”Kickoff between OSU and Michigan is set for noon.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Blake Leeson celebrates a point with his teammates in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Station ManagerThe No. 5 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (9-2, 2-0 MIVA) swept No. 14 Fort Wayne (9-2, 1-1 MIVA) in three straight sets to maintain an undefeated conference record.Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said it was not clear going into the match whether to expect a three-, four- or five-set match.“They’re a much improved team, but they had a really, really tough year last year. Improvement is kind of in the eye of the beholder,” Hanson said. “They’re playing a bunch of sophomores, and some freshmen and maybe a junior, and I think the experience and the moment kind of favored us.”The first set foreshadowed a good serving match for the Buckeyes, who amounted four service aces in the first set alone. Fort Wayne struggled with receiving serves and were unable to run an aggressive offense, averaging a .143 as a team. Mastodon redshirt outside hitter Colton Stone carried Fort Wayne in kills, contributing five of its nine total kills.Ohio State also struggled with attacking in the first set, hitting a .143. Despite matching Fort Wayne’s hitting percentage, the Buckeyes won the set 25-23.Mastodon blockers were successful in moving from pin to pin across the net and keeping the ball on Ohio State’s side, but the Buckeyes countered with good defense by staying light on their feet and moving to the ball. The Buckeyes picked up their offense in the second set, hitting a match-high .393 hitting percentage and shutting down Fort Wayne’s defense and counterattacks. Ohio State middle blockers Blake Leeson and Nick Laffin showed force from the middle, contributing seven kills, helping the Buckeyes win 25-19.The night seemed to go downhill for the Mastodons in the final set with their hitting percentage dropping to -.125 for the set. Both teams passed well, but Ohio State had a better handle on the ball that allowed them to surge ahead. The Buckeyes felt comfortable enough to sub in sophomore outside hitter Reese Devilbliss and sophomore setter Andrew Hillman for some late-set gameplay. Toward the beginning, the teams were close, but leading 5-4, Ohio State went on a 10-3 point run to put them at 15-7. The third set was the lowest scoring for Fort Wayne, who lost to the Buckeyes by 11 points, 25-14.“I think Fort Wayne struggled with connecting on their pins,” Leeson said. “I think their offense was a little too fast for their own ability in some cases, forcing thins, trying to get split blocks and it worked sometimes, but they were high-error.”After the match, Hanson said he thought the team’s serving played an important role in its win. “Our servers put a lot of pressure on their passers and their offense and if you look at the stats, their hitting numbers got worse as the match went on because our serving got better as the match went on,” he said.The Buckeyes ended the weekend on a high note, starting conference season off 2-0 after their victories against Ball State and Fort Wayne. Ohio State will continue conference play at St. John Arena, facing Lindenwood University on Thursday and Quincy University on Saturday.
She added: “I find the constant repetition of the same actors becomes almost farcical.”If you’re in the middle of watching a drama, you’ll think, ‘Hang on, weren’t they in EastEnders?’ and you’ve missed a whole section because you’re trying to place the actor.”The author has also been vocal about her hatred of gratuitous violence against women on screen, fearing too much television set out to glamorise it or make scenes titilating.La Plante had worked on the original series of Prime Suspect, helping it become a television hit before leaving after the third series after becoming unhappy with the way Tennison’s character was developing.In particular, she has said, she disliked Tennison being written as an alcoholic, and resented the fictional glass ceiling she had hit “with which I didn’t necessarily agree”. The television series is based on La Plante’s novel Lynda La Plante, the authorCredit:Andrew Crowley She has made no secret of her televisual tastes, famously abandoning the original incarnation of Prime Suspect when she disagreed with how producers had treated her lead character.Lynda La Plante, the author, has now walked away from the much-anticipated prequel, it has been confirmed, after disputes over how Jane Tennison’s story was to be told.La Plante, the bestselling author, had been snapped up as the writer of the new ITV drama, based on her book Tennison and telling the tale of the young officer navigating the police force in her early days.But ITV have now confirmed they have parted ways, as a representative for La Plante said she is “very sad” about the decision. Martini, the actress who will star in the Prime Suspect prequelCredit:Getty A spokesman for La Plante said he would not be commenting on the reason for the artistic difference, with the author herself insisting she has not seen the finished programme and could not judge whether she was happy with the choice of actress. She has previously been clear about her hopes for the series, saying she was personally undertaking to find a brand new star from drama school.Last year, she told newspapers: “I don’t want a known actress, that would be very dangerous.”We’re looking at new girls. She can’t be exquisite, she has to have weight to her, a stillness, a strength. The hunt is on; I want to find her.” Dame Helen Mirren, who launched to television fame in Prime SuspectCredit:ITV While she was initially credited as the writer of the series, a spokesman for the television channel has now said they are grateful to the author for “allowing us to adapt her brilliant book”. There has been speculation about disagreements over casting, with Stefanie Martini announced in the title role earlier this year.The actress, who plays the “young Helen Mirren” in the prequel, has previously starred in Endeavour and Doctor Thorne, the Julian Fellowes adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s novel for ITV earlier this year. She has since disclosed: “I have never seen the latter series of Prime Suspect. I had created what I thought became an iconic character.”I would not have let her be a drunk. I thought she’d fought too hard. I didn’t want to see the final series.”In an interview last year, she agreed the Tennison book and television series was an attempt to “regain control” over her own character.The prequel, a six-part series called Prime Suspect 1973 , is currently in post-production at ITV.It tells the story of 22-year-old Jane Tennison’s first days in the police force, in which she endured flagrant sexism before being thrown in at the deep end with a murder enquiry. Stefanie Martini in Doctor ThorneCredit:ITV La Plante told Waitrose Weekend magazine that her decision to leave the ITV series was “a sad one, more than anything else really.”Asked whether she is happy with the choice of Martini, she said: “I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.”Her spokesman confirmed that she had left, repeating that it was a “sad” decision.A spokesman for ITV said: “Lynda La Plante has decided to step back from the drama series Prime Suspect 1973.”ITV will continue to produce and broadcast the six part series, which will come to air in 2017.”We are grateful to Lynda for allowing us to adapt her brilliant book Tennison.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.