TEAMYEARNET Y/A OF OPPONENTSVS. NFL AVG.PLAYOFF RESULTNET Y/A NEXT SEASON GMS 1-8 Football studies have generally shown that offenses are more consistent from year to year than defenses, and regression to the mean is always a key part of any analysis for a historically great unit. As a result, we wouldn’t expect Denver’s 2016 pass defense to be anywhere near as good as the 2015 one. And that’s exactly what you see with most of the other teams on the list above.The other pass defenses on the top 20 list above were, on average, 1.53 net yards per attempt better than average against the pass in their dominant season; however, in their first eight games of the following season, they were just 0.52 NY/A better than average. That’s a sign of how difficult is it for dominant defenses to sustain that level of excellence over a long period. Defensive backs and pass rushers are two of football’s most health-dependent roles, and even one player losing a step or leaving in free agency can sink a unit. But so far this season, the Broncos have been even better that last season, jumping from 1.30 NY/A better than league average to 1.73.There are three main variables determine a defense’s NY/A average, and Denver is great in all three areas:1. Sack rateThis year’s Broncos have taken down opposing passers on 8.4 percent of all pass plays, the third-best rate in the NFL behind the Bills and Eagles. The Broncos blitz a lot — in fact, on a league-high 38.6 percent of passes — and the team has pressured the quarterback on a league-high 50 percent of all blitz plays. But Denver has been great when not blitzing, too: The Broncos lead the league with a 10.2 percent sack rate on passes when not sending extra pressure. Von Miller is the star, of course, and his 8.5 sacks rank second in the NFL. But Derek Wolfe and Shane Ray have combined for 8.5 sacks, too, and the defense is even scarier now that DeMarcus Ware (two sacks in the first two games) is back from injury.2. Completion percentageLast year, Denver’s pass defense allowed 60 percent of passes to be completed, which ranked eighth in the league; this season, Denver has allowed opposing passers to complete just 53.5 percent of all passes, easily the best rate in the league through eight weeks. And on passes to wide receivers, Denver’s at 49.6 percent, the only defense in the league holding opposing wideouts to a rate under 50 percent.The Broncos are blessed to have two of the best cornerbacks in the game in Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. According to Pro Football Focus (link requires subscription), those two rank as two of the best three corners in the NFL this season, both overall and in pass coverage.1The third is Houston’s A.J. Bouye. And while the loss of linebacker Danny Trevathan (and pass rusher Malik Jackson) was supposed to harm the defense, linebacker Brandon Marshall and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart have helped mitigate any damage. Denver ranks seventh in completion percentage on passes to tight ends at 59.7 percent, which nearly matches last year’s production (59 percent, fourth).3. Yards per completionEven when opponents completed passes last year against Denver, they didn’t usually go for much, gaining only 10.3 yards on average, a hair behind Cincinnati for the league lead. The Broncos defense is again one of the leaders in this category, allowing only 10.7 yards per completion. Any decrease in this category is more than offset by the improved rate on completed passes, but another key is that the Broncos aren’t allowing opponents to do much after the catch. This season, opposing receivers have gained just 4.2 yards per catch after making the reception, fourth-best in the league. In other words, on the rare occasion when receivers do make a reception, they generally get tackled pretty quickly.The Broncos pass defense guided the team to a championship last year, helping shut down Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Cam Newton in the playoffs. This year, the pass defense has been even better: With a dominant pass rush, a back seven that doesn’t allow many completions, and a strong-tackling unit that limits gains, Denver’s allowing a minuscule 4.7 net yards per pass play. And while last year the pass defense allowed 19 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions, this year those numbers have flipped, with only six touchdowns against eight interceptions. By most measures, this pass defense is even better than last year’s. That’s a very scary fact for the other 31 teams in the league. 1Minnesota19703.46-2.05Lost Div-1.48 5Minnesota19894.47-1.64Lost Div-0.19 16Seattle20134.85-1.36Won SB-0.19 The Broncos defense is good Last season, the Broncos were defined by having one of best defenses in NFL history: After a dominant regular season, Denver’s defense carried the team to a Super Bowl title. The defense was particularly dominant against the pass, allowing just 5.1 yards per pass play to opposing offenses. But this year? The defense is, remarkably, even better.Let’s begin with a refresher on just how good last year’s pass defense truly was. On average, NFL teams in 2015 gained 6.4 net yards per pass attempt (net yards includes yards lost to sacks), meaning the Broncos defense was 1.3 net yards per attempt better than average. That was the 20th-best mark of any team from 1970 to 2015, and Denver was the seventh team in that group to win a Super Bowl: 6Pittsburgh19743.75-1.60Won SB-1.25 12Tampa Bay19794.36-1.40Lost Conf0.63 7New York20094.61-1.55Lost Conf-0.37 4Miami19733.51-1.77Won SB0.74 13Minnesota19714.18-1.39Lost Div-1.19 18Atlanta19773.82-1.36—-1.08 15Oakland19754.07-1.38Lost Conf0.85 10Minnesota19753.99-1.45Lost Div-1.49 9Pittsburgh20114.87-1.45Lost WC-1.05 3Miami19824.03-1.81Lost SB-0.66 8Dallas19773.69-1.49Won SB-0.09 2Pittsburgh20084.30-1.86Won SB-0.77 14Tampa Bay20024.50-1.38Won SB-0.82 19Philadelphia19914.62-1.35—-0.32 20Denver20155.11-1.30Won SB-1.73 11New Orleans19924.35-1.43Lost WC-0.54 17Los Angeles19804.60-1.36Lost WC-0.58
14Joe Ingles10.4511.1532.8913.0519.85 4Brook Lopez10.4111.1132.773.3829.38 20Jusuf Nurkic9.039.6428.4211.1117.31 17Monte Morris6.376.8020.051.3518.70 19Willie Cauley-Stein7.237.7122.764.7018.06 15Patrick Beverley7.908.4324.875.0319.84 18D’Angelo Russell8.098.6325.467.0218.44 5Karl-Anthony Towns11.3312.0935.667.8427.82 RKNAMERPM WINSAdjusted WINS*WINS VALUEACTUAL SALARYSURPLUS VALUE 1Pascal Siakam11.8712.67$37.36M$1.54M$35.82M 8Donovan Mitchell8.899.4927.983.1124.87 9Giannis Antetokounmpo14.8815.8846.8424.1622.68 Check out our latest NBA predictions. 3Paul George19.3120.6060.7830.5630.22 We won’t find out who won until late June, but the 2018-19 NBA season treated basketball fans to one of the great MVP battles in recent memory. Several worthy players hung around the race for large portions of the season, including Paul George and Nikola Jokic. But in the end, there were two: Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden — each of whom has several arguments working in his favor.Antetokounmpo is the best player on the best team1By record, at least. in the league, and he led the 60-win Bucks to the best defense and fourth-best offense in the NBA. He averaged an unheard of 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He is also one of the best defenders in the league — a top-tier candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.Harden, meanwhile, carried an offensive burden unlike any in modern NBA history. His 40.5 percent usage rate is the second-highest of all time. He finished the season averaging 36.1 points per game, eighth-most in league history and the most since Michael Jordan ticked off 37.1 per game in 1987. Harden boosted his deep attempts far beyond what previously seemed either possible or reasonable, taking 13.2 triples per game and connecting on them at a 37 percent rate.2He made 378 shots from beyond the arc, second only to only 2016 Stephen Curry in NBA history.Really, though, the argument between the two players is less about who had the better season and more about the definition of “valuable.” Is it just the best player in the league? Is it the best player on the best team? Is it the player whose performance was most outstanding, whatever you decide that means? Is it the player whose team needs him the most? Is it some combination of all of those things, as well as a few others? Different players, coaches, executives, fans and media members have different definitions.What if we took the word “valuable” as literally as possible, though, and tried to identify the player who provided his team with the greatest bang for its buck throughout this season? After all, what’s more valuable than performing at a level that far outstrips your salary, allowing your team to spend those surplus dollars on more talent elsewhere?The first step to answering this question is to quantify the dollar value of a win in the NBA. There were 1,230 games played this season, which means there were 1,230 wins up for grabs. According to Basketball-Reference.com, NBA teams handed out more than $3.6 billion in salary this year. Dividing that figure by 1,230 means that a single win was valued at $2,949,908.82.We can then turn to ESPN’s Real-Plus Minus and specifically RPM wins, a stat that uses a player’s RPM and his possessions played to estimate his contribution to the number of his team’s wins. Not all players qualified for the RPM leaderboard, so there was a slight shortfall of wins produced by the 514 players who did qualify. We applied a multiplier to each of those player’s totals in order to account for the shortfall. Then, we multiplied the dollar value of a win by the number of adjusted RPM wins each player produced to pinpoint the dollar value of that player’s production. Subtracting his actual 2018-19 salary from that number yields a surplus, meeting our goal of identifying the best bang-for-buck player in the league this season. 13Ben Simmons8.398.9526.416.4319.97 7Danny Green11.6012.3836.5110.0026.51 Pascal Siakam led the NBA in most bang for the buckNBA players by value provided to their teams above their salaries as measured by Real Plus-Minus (RPM) wins, 2018-19 season 10Kemba Walker10.5611.2733.2412.0021.24 16Nikola Jokic14.0114.9544.1024.6119.49 11De’Aaron Fox8.398.9526.415.4720.94 It should come as no surprise that both Antetokounmpo and Harden ranked among the league leaders in both the value of their production and the surplus value they provided their teams. The Rockets received more than $27 million in surplus value on Harden; the Bucks got nearly $23 million in surplus on Antetokounmpo. Neither player, though, led the league in surplus value. Harden ranked sixth, while Antetokounmpo ranked ninth (and second on his own team).3Brook Lopez, who produced $32.77 million in value compared with a paltry $3.38 million salary, held that crown. Fellow MVP candidates George ($30.22 million) and Jokic ($19.49 million) also ranked highly in surplus value, but again, neither of them led the league.4Though George did lead the league with a production value of $60.78 million. Instead, the league leader was do-it-all Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, with a surplus value of nearly $36 million.Siakam is quite good, obviously, but he’s not nearly as good as the MVP types just yet. By any traditional MVP definition, he doesn’t really fit. But we’re not looking for a traditionally defined MVP here — just the player whose value most exceeded his salary. And that’s why Siakam makes perfect sense.Siakam broke out in a huge way this season, emerging as both the favorite for Most Improved Player and a candidate for one of the All-NBA teams. He averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 combined steals and blocks per game while getting to the line 3.8 times a night and canning 36.9 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He is a wonderful defender, capable of handling himself both in space and on the block, wreaking havoc in passing lanes and containing ball-handlers off the dribble. He also served as the point man in the Raptors’ league-best zone defense and the one of the primary drivers of their defense-to-offense transition attack. Toronto outscored its opponents by 10.7 points per 100 possessions with Siakam on the floor, per NBA.com, the eighth-best figure among the 353 players who appeared in at least 40 games. He carried the Raptors in several games when Kyle Lowry and/or Kawhi Leonard sat out because of injuries or load management; he was also a rotation mainstay, playing in 80 of 82 games, all but one of which he started.And Siakam did all of this while drawing a salary of just $1,544,951, as a former No. 27 overall pick playing in the third year of his rookie-scale contract. He produced like a star — Siakam ranked 11th in production value per RPM wins — while being paid less than 391 other players in the league. Add it all up, and he produced by far the most surplus value of any player this season, with the difference between him and No. 2 Nikola Vucevic slightly exceeding the difference between Vucevic and No. 7 Danny Green, Siakam’s teammate in Toronto. Considering that neither Siakam nor Green is even Toronto’s best player, it’s no wonder the Raptors are among the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in this year’s NBA Finals.5Provided they can bounce back against the Magic.If that is indeed how these playoffs play out, Siakam will almost surely have played a valuable role — maybe not the “most valuable” by popular definitions, but one that far exceeds the value of his paycheck. * RPM wins were adjusted to account for players who did not qualify for the RPM leaderboard.Numbers may not add up because of rounding.Sources: ESPN, Basketball-Reference.com 6James Harden18.2619.4857.4730.4327.04 2Nikola Vucevic13.9114.8443.7812.7531.03 12Rudy Gobert13.7914.7143.4023.2420.16
It could be that the ongoing analytics boom in hockey has affected a change in the old “get the puck to the net however possible” evangelism that once was pre-eminent. It’s true that the puck won’t go into the net unless it’s guided toward the net, but not all shots are created equal: An unimpeded shot from between the dots has a much better chance of hitting the twine than a shot taken from the blue line and directed toward a bunch of traffic in front of the net, for example. If expected goals are any indication, players are taking smarter shots — not more shots — than they did in the past, and that’s leading to more goals.We might expect that slumping goaltending could also provide part of the answer. The average save percentage (.908) across the NHL is the lowest it’s been in a decade. But if we isolate goaltenders who were roughly in their prime (between the ages 25 and 31) in both 2015-16 and 2018-19 — presumably a group whose inherent skills haven’t changed very much even as the NHL’s goals-per-game average has — their average save percentage has dipped by an astounding 12 points over that span.By comparison, the overall league average in save percentage is down by only 7 points, which indicates that goaltenders who were not in the goalie population in 2015-16 are having a better time adjusting to the league than goalies who were already around — even ones still in their primes. It’s fair to conclude, then, that goaltending has gotten demonstrably more difficult in a short period of time, and veteran goalies appear to have had a hard time adapting to shooters who have figured out how to take smarter and more dangerous shots.This is all in sharp contrast to the amount of scoring that occurred in the past decade-plus. In the past, changes to the NHL rulebook have had a bubble effect: Scoring increases immediately but regresses within a season or two. That was certainly the case in 2005-06, which was defined by a spate of rule changes and a cadre of whistle-happy referees. That season, the size of goaltender equipment was reduced; the two-line offsides rule was abolished; the neutral zone was reduced by 4 feet, expanding the space each team had to mount an offensive zone attack; and goaltenders were no longer allowed to play the puck anywhere they wanted behind the goal line, instead restricted to a trapezoid behind their own net. Power-play opportunities skyrocketed to 5.85 per team per game, up by 1.61 from 2003-04.This all meant that scoring jumped from 5.14 goals per game in 2003-04 to 6.16 goals per game in 2005-06. The boost was short-lived, however. Scoring dipped beneath 6 goals per game the following season, and as the decade post-lockout progressed, scoring continued to suffer. Power-play opportunities declined drastically, goaltenders got better, and the average goals scored per game stayed below 6 for a dozen seasons. Until this season.Whether the scoring uptick can be attributed to a culmination of rule changes, smarter shot selection, worse goaltending or evolved tactics — or some combination of all of that — one thing is certain: The NHL is a scorer’s league again, and the 2018-19 iteration is the most entertaining in nearly three decades. Players in the NHL are scoring at a prodigious pace. Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov is on pace to score 125 points, which would be tied for the highest point tally of the new millennium. If they keep up their current clip, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid would score 122 points, Chicago’s Patrick Kane 119 points and Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen 117 points. All of these point totals would smash each player’s previous career high. This makes sense given the climate of the NHL this season — it’s the highest-scoring season since the one that took place immediately after the lockout of 2004-05. There are currently 40 players scoring at least a point per game.1Among players who have played in at least half of their team’s games. If the season ended today, it would be the highest number since 1995-96, when 42 finished the season with a point per game or better. This is excellent news for a league that’s constantly tinkering with its rulebook to increase scoring.For the first time in more than a decade, the average goals scored per NHL game has surpassed 6. But unlike previous spikes in scoring, there weren’t any sweeping changes made to the rulebook before the season,2The league did reduce the size of goaltending equipment again, but whether that meaningfully affects scoring numbers is up for debate. so what exactly is going on?An obvious stat to look at is the average number of power-play opportunities teams are getting each game. More man advantages, it would seem, might lead to more quality scoring opportunities. But power-play opportunities per game have actually decreased steadily since 2005-06, the season after the lockout, and are static when compared with last season, when the average goals scored per game was below 6.Shooters do appear to be taking better shots in five-on-five scenarios. The average for the league in expected goals per 60 minutes per team3Expected goals functions as a proxy for shot quality. is 2.38, according to data from Corsica Hockey — up from 2.19 in 2015-16. And shooters are actually performing better than the expected goals model suggests they should be: The league average goals per 60 minutes per team is 2.49. A 10th of a goal may not seem like a lot, but it translates to about 254 more goals scored per season. Shots against per game have remained fairly stable since the lockout of 2004-05, which makes it somewhat difficult to explain the sudden glut.
If there is any time to have complete focus on the mission that has been set for the No. 5 Ohio State (22-4, 14-1) women’s basketball team, it’s now, and the players are well aware.With the postseason in the near future, the Buckeyes continue to possess the “one game at a time” mentality that many teams live by, and they had Nebraska (17-9, 8-7) down to a science right from the jump, routing the Cornhuskers 96-70.Both the Buckeyes and the Huskers immediately sprung out to a fast-paced start, with Nebraska scoring within the first 15 seconds and OSU answering right after.Although the Scarlet and Gray controlled the pace of the game and showcased an abundance of energy, senior Ameryst Alston said they still believe they can do better in that realm.“In the first half, our intensity wasn’t quite there,” the guard said after the game. “We weren’t really in the right spots, but in the second half we made adjustments.”Nebraska’s first-half scoring attack was led by its freshman forward Jessica Shepard, who was nothing but smooth on the block, showing that she is one of the top post players in the Big Ten. She scored 12 points prior to the break.Shepard’s 6-foot-4 frame and ability to convert a close-range hook shot with both hands made it difficult for her to be stopped. The Buckeyes’ forwards were able to limit Shepard to 20 points by the end of the match thanks to the tempo that they initiated, forcing Shepard to limit her playing time due to fast-break style that the Buckeyes followed.When the Huskers were able to get the ball into Shepard, they had a lot more productivity within their offensive possessions. Having the basketball IQ of a veteran point guard, Shepard knew when it was appropriate to look for her own shot or to find an open teammate.“Jessica Shepard is so good, that if you are going to let them walk the ball down and pound it in to her, it’s going to be a long night for us,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said.But as a result of OSU’s scheming to limit Shepard, the night ended up not being all that long.The Buckeyes followed the path of their most recent 2,000-point scorer, Alston, who went a perfect 3-of-3 in the first quarter, later ending the half with 12 points. Alston continued to orchestrate the OSU offense, finishing the game with 16 points and three assists.It was Hart’s 14th consecutive game in double-figure scoring. A Dec. 31 game against Michigan State was the last time she scored in single digits. Sophomore forward Alexa Hart remained an efficient shooter for McGuff’s team, going 8-of-10 from the field and maintaining her No. 3 rank in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (64.6 percent). Hart completed the evening with 18 points and nine rebounds.In the last 20 minutes of play, it was difficult for the Huskers to come back and make a run on the Buckeyes.The tenacious defense from OSU’s guards forced several Nebraska mistakes and made it difficult for any of the Husker ball-handlers to get the rock in Shepard’s hands.OSU sophomore guards Asia Doss and Kelsey Mitchell were the triggers to the Buckeye defensive energy, tipping and stealing a multitude of balls and creating havoc for Nebraska. Doss would finish the game with four steals, while her and Mitchell combined for a flurry of deflections, a statistic that goes unrecognized by the stat book.On the offensive end, Doss and Mitchell finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively.Besides limiting Nebraska’s Shepard to an average scoring night, the Buckeyes were able to shut down sophomore guard Natalie Romeo, who is No. 2 in the Big Ten in 3-point field goals made with 86 on the season. Romeo went 1-of-6 from behind the arc, having to rush each one of her shots due to the limited space she received from the several Buckeyes who had the opportunity to guard her.“(Limiting Romeo) was one of the goals,” Alston said. “She does a lot for her team hitting her threes.”With only three games left in the regular season, OSU will continue to have the same mentality: one game at a time.On deck, the Buckeyes will host Illinois (9-17, 2-13) at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday. The program will recognize seniors Alston and Cait Craft in the final regular-season home game of the year.The match between OSU and the Fighting Illini is set to tip off at 2 p.m. OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston (14) is honored before a game against Nebraska on Feb. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor
Play ‘Em Ryan Fitzpatrick: Is there a hotter quarterback in the NFL than Fitzpatrick? Since taking over as the Bills quarterback, the Harvard grad has thrown for 969 yards with eleven touchdowns and four interceptions. Fitzpatrick should have no trouble against Kansas City, which has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick is a great sleeper and worth a waiver claim against the Chiefs. Carson Palmer: Palmer erupted last week against Atlanta with 412 yards and three touchdowns. Look for Palmer to air it out against a Dolphins defense that has allowed back-to-back 300-yard passing games. Ryan Torain: Despite two fumbles, Torain turned in a solid performance last week against Chicago with 125 rushing yards. With Clinton Portis likely out, Torain will continue to get the majority of the carries against a Detroit run defense that allows 139 rushing yards per game. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles: Jones continues to be a factor and is a must-start against Buffalo. Last week against Jacksonville, Jones and Charles combined for 196 yards with two touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Cassel seems to have found the passing game, allowing Jones and Charles to run wild. Pierre Garcon: Garcon’s role will increase with Austin Collie recovering from hand surgery and Dallas Clark out for the year with a wrist injury. Defenses will continue to focus on Reggie Wayne, which will free up Garcon. Last week, Garcon had 103 yards and a touchdown. Coming off a bye, expect the Colts to take advantage of the worst passing defense in the NFL. Kenny Britt: Another receiver having a breakout year (seven touchdowns) is Britt. Britt torched the Eagles last week, 225 yards with three touchdowns. Britt has a tough task this week against the Chargers’ top-ranked pass defense, but at this point Britt is considered a starter. He has recorded a touchdown in five straight games. Bench ‘Em Matt Hasselbeck: Don’t be fooled by the chemistry between Hasselbeck and receiver Mike Williams. Seattle’s last two games were against Chicago and Arizona respectively. This week, Hasselbeck faces an improved Raiders defense that allowed Kyle Orton to complete 12 passes last week. The Raiders rank fifth in the league with 192 passing yards allowed per game. Ryan Mathews: One of the biggest disappointments this season has been Mathews. He has yet to eclipse 100 rushing yards and is losing carries to Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles. This week, Mathews faces a Titans run defense that ranks 10th in the league. Mathews may breakout soon, but not this week. Michael Bush: Bush continues to be productive, but the problem is Darren McFadden. McFadden continues to shine and that leaves Bush playing the backup role. Last week, Bush had 52 yards and a touchdown. Expect Bush to struggle against a Seattle defense that allows 70 yards per game on the ground. Fred Jackson: Due to Fitzpatrick’s performances, Jackson has looked like an afterthought in Buffalo. Jackson carried 23 times for 73 yards against Baltimore last week. The Bills will be tested against a stellar Kansas City run defense. Consider Jackson a flex option in deeper leagues. Wes Welker: The Patriots passing game is not the same without Randy Moss, and Welker is struggling without him too. Last week, Welker had four catches for 25 yards. Defenses will continue to locate Welker and force Deion Branch or Brandon Tate to step up. Welker is considered a No. 3 Fantasy option from here on out.
Ohio State redshirt senior first baseman Zach Ratcliff at bat during the Scarlet and Gray World Series in October 2016. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsMidweek games are typically where Power Five teams thrive against smaller mid-major teams. But OSU has struggled to get anything going offensively across these past two midweek games, falling to Eastern Michigan 3-1 Wednesday, a day after losing to Cincinnati.A visibly frustrating loss for the Buckeyes, the team spent nearly 30 minutes in left field after the loss in the huddle with coach Greg Beals going over the game. “We’ve got to do better offensively. That’s where I’m willing to share with you,” Beals said when asked about what he discussed in the meeting.The first batter of the game reached first base on an error, setting the tone for a long inning for OSU redshirt junior Austin Woodby. The Buckeyes’ starting pitcher was able to strike out the next batter, but a double gave the Eagles a pair of runners in scoring position with only one away.Senior right fielder John Montgomery grounded a single through the right side of the infield, scoring both runners on base and capitalizing on the Buckeyes’ early mistake.OSU eventually found the scoreboard, however, in the bottom of the fourth inning. With runners on first and second and two out, junior designated hitter Conner Pohl lined a base hit over the right side of the infield, scoring the runner from second and giving OSU their first run of the evening.In the final inning, the Eagles tacked on a run off a solo home run from sophomore first baseman John Rensel Jr, bringing the score to 3-1.The team was coming off a pair of wins on Sunday against Big Ten rival Penn State, one win of the ninth-inning-comeback variety and another a blowout. Beals said he hoped his team would be able to carry that momentum through this week into their next conference matchup, but that a deflating loss like this can siphon off any energy they harvested over the weekend.“We had a comeback win and then we had an all-Buckeye win and it was a good day on Sunday,” Beals said. “I was hoping to be able to carry that momentum as opposed to build momentum, just maintain that momentum and help that confidence, that good feeling that we had on Sunday, keep that good feeling going.”The problem with the team right now is hitting, Beals said, coming off only two runs scored spread across two midweek games. And for his team to start clicking again, they will need to continue to mix some things up until they find a winning combination.“We’ve got to keep mixing up what we’re doing to find the right thing and it’s not necessarily as much from a personnel standpoint as much as it is what’s going to spark this team and sometimes there’s personnel decisions to help spark the team and other things that we do from a preparation standpoint to help spark the team,” Beals said.The Buckeyes will try and find a win against the second Michigan-based team they play this week when they travel to East Lansing, Michigan, to face Michigan State over the weekend. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.
Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws to sophomore wide receiver Binjimen Victor (9) during the Ohio State game against Maryland on Oct. 7 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes beat Maryland 62-14. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterGames against Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Penn State, Clemson and Oklahoma are quarterback J.T. Barrett’s only blemishes on a historic career at Ohio State. But all of that won’t matter Saturday against the No. 2 Nittany Lions.This game largely defines Barrett’s career. A win and Ohio State remains in the playoff picture; a loss puts the Buckeyes out of the race.Barrett is arguably playing better than he ever has in an Ohio State uniform heading into possibly the biggest game of his career. However, even if Barrett performs at his best, that still might not be enough for a victory against Penn State, which would be the first loss in his career he has played well enough to win.When looking back at Barrett’s complex, yet fruitful, five-year journey at Ohio State his play in losses sticks out like a sore thumb. Inaccuracy and a stationary offense, coupled with a poor offensive line and lack of skill at wide receiver, catalyzed the distrust in the offense and the call for changes at the quarterback position and the coaching staff. In his losses, he simply has never been good enough to win the game.Here are Barrett’s passing numbers in losses:Virginia Tech in 2014 – 9-for-29, 219 yards, one touchdown, three interceptionsMichigan State in 2015 – 9-for-16, 46 yards, one touchdownPenn State in 2016 – 28-for-43, 245 yards, one touchdownClemson in 2016 – 19-for-33, 127 yards, two interceptionsOklahoma in 2017 – 19-of-35, 183 yards, one interceptionThose statistics speak for themselves, but Barrett can win big games. His best game of his career is arguably at Michigan State in 2014, which is a game that draws a lot of similarities to Saturday’s showdown against Penn State. Michigan State was the reigning Big Ten champion with playmakers at the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions. Barrett threw for 300 yards and scored five total touchdowns on the biggest stage he had played to date. He won in 2016 at No. 8 Wisconsin, home against No. 3 Michigan and he can win Saturday. However, the defense is the outlier that can decide the game.Penn State’s offense is cooking just as Ohio State’s offense is at the moment. Coming into Columbus off a 42-13 beatdown of then-No. 19 Michigan is a loud statement proclaiming the Nittany Lions as the team to beat in the conference, which will only be validated with a win against the Buckeyes. Even if Barrett plays the best game of his career, is the defense good enough to stop the Nittany Lions?It’s difficult to ask any defense to slow down Penn State running back Saquon Barkley; just ask head coach Urban Meyer.“He’s the best all-purpose guy we’ve probably faced in probably, maybe my career,” he said.Even if that defense manages to slow Barkley, there’s quarterback Trace McSorley, tight end Mike Gesicki and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton to contain. For an Ohio State defense that has surrendered 33 passing plays of 15-plus yards and 10 plays of 25-plus yards, that task is almost asking the unthinkable.Especially when considering Penn State had 11 plays of 15-plus yards and six plays of 25-plus yards against a Michigan defense that is ranked near the top of nearly every defensive metric.“Sometimes when you play an offense like this, you feel like you don’t have enough players to do it,” defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “That’s definitely the challenge.”Barrett will certainly have his work cut out for him as well. He will face a Penn State defense that ranks first in opponents’ scoring, ninth in total defense and has several future NFL players on its roster. Yet, as mentioned before, Barrett is at the top of his game right now and can give Ohio State the performance it needs to knock off the Nittany Lions.But will Barrett receive the needed help?When Barrett wasn’t great in games last season, the defense saved him and the offense. This time around, he must be great. He must make as many crucial plays as possible. Even then, it might not be enough to keep Penn State from appearing a second time on Barrett’s list of losses.
Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins attempts a pass against Michigan on Nov. 24 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorOhio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins broke the Big Ten single-season passing touchdowns record Saturday against Michigan.Haskins threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior wide receiver K.J. Hill, his fourth of the game and 40th this season, to break former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees’ record set in 1998. Haskins and former Ohio State quarterbacks J.T. Barrett, Troy Smith and Bobby Hoying hold five of the Top 10 spots in conference history for most touchdown passes thrown in a single season.Haskins also broke former Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter’s single-season passing yards record against the Wolverines on a 10-yard pass to redshirt sophomore tight end Luke Farrell, needing 300 yards going into the game to break the record.This season, Haskins already has broken the single season Ohio State record for most touchdowns (36) and passing yards (3,330) in a single season.The redshirt sophomore quarterback also broke the record for most completions (49), most pass attempts (73) and most passing yards (470) in a single game in Ohio State’s 49-20 loss to Purdue on Oct. 20. Haskins also threw six touchdowns on Oct. 6 against Indiana, tying Barrett and Kenny Guiton for the most by an Ohio State quarterback in a single game.Haskins also entered the game 300 yards away from breaking the Big Ten record for most passing yards in a single season, a record former Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter set in 2006.
A rich pensioner is locked in a bizarre neighbours war with a cutting-edge architect and her partner, after erecting a huge wooden barricade that blocks off the windows and back door of their innovative £2 million house.Elspeth Pirie, 67, says she put up the hoarding behind her £3.6 million period property in an exclusive Kensington street to “protect her privacy” after “modernist” architect Luz Vargas and her artist partner William Milroy reconstructed their property and put in three new windows at the back.The elderly multi-milllionaire says she complained that her privacy was being invaded by the windows that overlooked her garden, and felt forced to put up the barricade when her protests were “ignored”.The outraged architect is now suing her, seeking damages and an injunction to compel Miss Pirie to take the barricade down, saying it prevents her and her partner from seeing out of their windows or using their back door. Luz Vargas outside Central London County CourtCredit: Richard Gittins / Champion News And he argued that, because the couple’s builders made use of her garden to carry out the works, Miss Pirie should be awarded “a reasonable figure based on half the enhancement in value.”The case came before Judge Edward Bailey at Central London County Court briefly, following days of negotiations between the neighbours, before adjourning.When it comes back, the judge will have to decide what rights of light and access the architect and her husband enjoy at the back of their house, whether a light obstruction notice obtained by Miss Pirie should be cancelled, and if they are due damages in respect of the hoarding.The court must also decide if Miss Pirie is due damages for “incursion on her garden when the works were carried out” or an injunction for removal of “protrusions” from the back wall of her neighbours’ house which she says overhang her garden.Outside court after the adjournment, Mr Bickford Smith said: “They still hate each other. They will be coming back to court.” “Had she been told of the proposal, she would undoubtedly have objected in the strongest terms regarding the lack of privacy the new windows would involve and the application would most likely have been refused,” the barrister adds.”In order to protect her position, Miss Pirie erected a hoarding to obstruct the current windows and registered a light obstruction notice,” he added.The barrister says that Miss Pirie also complains that “the works were incredibly prolonged and disruptive” and caused “chaos.””The garden was greatly damaged,” he claims, adding: “The permanent results of the works have been disastrous.”Miss Pirie also says the “rough and poor quality” rendered finish on the back of her neighbours’ property “detracts from her house.”Mr Bickford Smith, urging the court to reject the couple’s bid for damages and an injunction, says Miss Pirie had every right to protect her privacy and garden.”The current hoarding is not actionable… the complaint that the hoarding is too close to the wall should be rejected. Efforts to suggest some risk of rot or damp are tenuous,” claims the barrister.He adds that, if given notice that approved works need to be carried out, “Miss Pirie is ready to move the hoarding” but that “she is entitled to ensure that the removal is for legitimate purposes.”Of her counterclaim, the barrister says: “In the present case the claimants must have been intending to enhance the value of their house… valuation evidence suggests the enhancement was in fact in excess of £100,000.” The new basement was designed so that light filters down through a glass floor at ground level, via the glazed door and three new windows at the back of the Miss Vargas’ house. The back garden in which wealthy pensioner Elspeth Pirie has erected a barricade to block off the windows and door of her architect neighbour Credit:Champion News In order to protect her position, Miss Pirie erected a hoarding to obstruct the current windows and registered a light obstruction noticeStephen Bickford Smith But the forward-thinking designer was left gobsmacked when Ms Pirie ordered the hoarding erected to block off the new windows and the door in 2014.The windows and door are now “at the heart of the dispute” between the creative couple and Miss Pirie, a property consultant.Howard Smith, for the couple, is arguing at Central London County Court that they enjoy a right to light through their new windows and also have a right of access over Miss Pirie’s garden though their back door.Ms Vargas and Mr Milroy’s property does not have a garden of its own – but backs onto the garden of Miss Pirie’s three-bedroom house – so that the couple’s builders needed to access their neighbour’s garden to carry out the works.Stephen Bickford Smith, for Miss Pirie, claims that that she didn’t object to the development being given the green light in 2010, or to builders coming onto her land, because she “felt she should act in a neighbourly way.”But she had not realised at the time that the windows were being put in overlooking her garden, the barrister adds in his written argument before the court. And the fact that planning permission for new windows was not required meant that Miss Pirie never had the opportunity to object to them, he claims. The hoarding is starving them of light into their £100,000 new basement, the couple say, and also risks “rot and damp” developing in their home due to trapped moisture.Miss Pirie is fiercely defending her actions and counterclaiming for £50,000 she says she is owed because her neighbours’ builders carried out works to their house whilst standing in her garden.Her “falling out” with her neighbours dates back to 2010, when they obtained planning permission to reconstruct the back of their 200-year-old mews house in Holland Park and put in a new basement.Whilst both houses date from the Georgian era, the architect – whose aesthetic “values” are listed on her company website as “Modernists, timeless, innovative spatial experience” – had thoroughly up-to-date ideas for the redevelopment. 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The Queen hands the Commonwealth baton to Anna MearesCredit:Rex Features “However, there is an even more powerful message to be seen and experienced as the Baton passes from hand to hand, from seashore to mountaintop, through cities, towns, and villages,” the Queen will say.“It is the message of a peace-building Commonwealth.”The cornerstones on which peace is founded are, quite simply, respect and understanding for one another. Working together, we build peace by defending the dignity of every individual and community.” Earlier, with the colourful flags of the Commonwealth’s 52 member states as a backdrop, the Queen, joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, watched as the baton was carried its first few hundred metres by a succession of Olympic stars.The Queen’s baton is on a 388-day relay covering more than 140,000 miles and will visit every Commonwealth nation on its way to the Games, being hosted by the Australian Gold Coast in 2018.Inside the baton is a message from the monarch which will be read at the opening ceremony of the Games in April next year. Flags of the Commonwealth in Parliament Square ahead of the Commonwealth service in Westminster AbbeyCredit:Dinendra Haria/REX/Shutterstock Although the Queen’s message will be strictly non-political, as ever, her words are likely to be hailed by Brexiteers as a moment of hope, unifying the Commonwealth even as the UK works to sever bureaucratic ties with the European Union.Leave campaigners have already emphasised the importance of a renewed relationship with Commonwealth allies this year.In a message printed in the Commonwealth Day order of service, the Queen will say:”By upholding justice and the rule of law, and by striving for societies that are fair and offer opportunities for all, we overcome division and find reconciliation, so that the benefits of progress and prosperity may be multiplied and shared.”As members of the Commonwealth family we can find much to be thankful for in the inheritances we have received from those who came before us.“Through consensus and cooperation great things have been achieved.”We can find further reward and fulfilment by continuing to collaborate with others in a spirit of goodwill to build a peaceful and abundant future for all Commonwealth citizens.”In turbulent global times, the address emphasises the importance of the Commonwealth to the Queen, who sees it as a key unifier of communities around the world. The Queen’s message will form part of the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey being held on Monday afternoon and attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex. The Queen has set the Commonwealth Games baton on its journey around the globe following a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, ahead of a service at Westminster Abbey.Her Majesty will on Monday afternoon call on Commonwealth countries to “overcome division and find reconciliation”, urging further collaboration for a prosperous future.She will advocate “consensus and cooperation”, in her annual message to the public on Commonwealth Day on Monday, calling for the 2.5 billion people who share that connection to come together. The Queen, who was also joined by the Earl of Wessex, handed the baton to its first bearer, Australian cycling legend and Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares, after adding a capsule with her words for the Commonwealth athletes.Double Olympic gold medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton was the second baton bearer collecting it from Meares, her great sporting rival, at the palace gates, before the pair walked together around the nearby Queen Victoria memorial. The message is likely to be scrutinised keenly in Westminster, after many MPs called for a new emphasis on the UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth following the Brexit vote last year. The Queen at the launch of the Baton Relay at Buckingham Palace ahead of the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster AbbeyCredit:REX/Shutterstock The Queen holds the 2018 Commonwealth Games batonCredit:FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA In February, 45 Conservative MPs wrote to the Home Secretary to send an “important message” by allowing Commonwealth citizens to have their UK visas fast-tracked.Greg Hands, the trade minister, has disclosed that he would welcome the assistance of negotiators from the Commonwealth in the Brexit process, with many Leave voters believing that there is now an opportunity for enhanced trade deals with the UK’s historic allies.Guests at Monday’s ceremony will include Commonwealth secretary-general Baroness Scotland; Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta and chair-in-office of the Commonwealth; and senior politicians and faith leaders from the UK and Commonwealth. 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.