EAST LANSING, Mich.: The College Football Playoff committee might not think so.
National analysts might not think so, especially given the weak state of the Big Ten Conference.
But the Ohio State Buckeyes are a totally different team than the one that lost to Virginia Tech in the second week of the season. If they win out, they belong in the new four-team playoff that will determine this year's champion.
The college football world was waiting for a signature win and Ohio State came through in spectacular fashion Saturday night in Spartan Stadium. In the league's game of the year, the Buckeyes built an 18-point fourth quarter lead and thumped Michigan State 49-37.
Ohio State (8-1, 5-0 in the league) knocked Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) out of playoff consideration and avenged a loss in last year's Big Ten Championship game.
"This is one for the ages," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said afterward. "That's how much respect we had for our opponent going into it. We saw what they did, they had one loss and were actually winning that game at Oregon. We played a top 10 team and really played our best on the road."
In last week's College Football Playoff top 25, Michigan State was ranked No. 8, Ohio State No. 14. On Saturday, four top 10 teams lost, which should help the Buckeyes' cause. No. 3 Auburn fell at home to unranked Texas A&M. No. 7 Kansas State was beaten by No. 6 TCU. No. 10 Notre Dame was upended by No. 9 Arizona State. Then the Buckeyes took care of the Spartans.
Given the anti-Big Ten bias, just how much the Buckeyes will move up is the question. There's a chance they could jump into the top eight. But they're going to need more upsets, more bizarre moments like those that doomed Auburn in the final minutes, more rivals knocking off each other to get where they want to go.
But if Ohio State can close out the season with victories over Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan and prevail in the Big Ten title game, Meyer thinks his team deserves a chance. And I agree with him.
Asked if this is a playoff team, Meyer said, "I think it is because I love my team. I haven't studied the other teams, really. If I have to go fight for this team, what they've done. If that darn loss the second game hurts us, I'll take the hit for that because that's a young team that's playing at an extremely high level right now."
Meyer figures he's starting five freshmen -- quarterback J.T. Barrett, strong side linebacker Darron Lee, cornerback Eli Apple (who played despite a hamstring injury), left guard Billy Price and H-back Jalin Marshall.
One reason the Buckeyes deserve a playoff shot, should they finish 12-1, is the rapid improvement of Barrett. Against the Spartans' press-man coverage that dared him to throw deep, Barrett completed 16 of 26 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Playing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Barrett ran 14 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He also displayed his instinctual feel for the game, telling receiver Devin Smith, "'Run really fast by them and I'm going to throw you the ball,'" and converting it for a 44-yard touchdown.
Barrett has rushed or passed for 34 touchdowns, two shy of Braxton Miller's school record of 36 set last year.
Ohio State totaled 568 total yards, nearly 300 more than MSU had allowed per game (279.4) coming in. It was the Buckeyes' sixth game of the season with at least 500 yards.
Reaching that figure against Cincinnati or Rutgers is one thing. Doing it on the road against the Spartans is another.
The Buckeyes also have a deep receiving corps loaded with speed. They have defensive end Joey Bosa, a sophomore who could become one of the program's best of all time. They have a good cover cornerback in senior Doran Grant of St. Vincent-St. Mary. They have sophomore tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who ran like a man possessed against the Spartans, gaining 154 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. They have another standout on the defensive line in tackle Michael Bennett. The rebuilt offensive line looks like it's starting to come together.
Barrett said the Buckeyes on Nov. 8 are more mature than the ones who lost on Sept. 6. He said they're more focused on each other and learning quickly from tough days against Virginia Tech and Penn State, a double-overtime victory two weeks ago.
They also like playing with a chip on their shoulder, even though they will be underdogs no longer.
"All year everyone's been down on us, saying we're too young," Elliott said. "We definitely have something to prove. People were questioning our ability to play on a big stage. Coming into this game, no one believed in us. We came out and showed the world we're ready."
The playoff committee might not think the Buckeyes are ready. But they might be on Dec. 6, the night of the Big Ten Championship, if they close out with four more victories.
"Like I said in previous interviews, it's like that ticking time bomb as we get closer and closer," Grant said. "We still haven't made it yet. We'll continue to get better."
That more than anything is the reason Ohio State deserves a playoff berth. By the time the selections are made on Dec. 7, the young team that looked like a juggernaut against average competition should be capable of competing with anyone.
Dr. Joseph McGinley credits luck and his background in mechanical engineering for fostering the idea of Botox treatments for exertional compartment syndrome.
It was 2011 and McGinley was practicing out of Casper (Wyo.) Medical Imaging, where he is still based. He was contacted by the parents of Laura Stamp, who excelled in soccer, cross country and Nordic skiing for Natrona County High School.
Here's how McGinley described the birth of his revolutionary procedure in a recent telephone interview:
"I didn't know much about compartment syndrome. We had a young girl in Casper, an excellent high school athlete, a multi-sport state champ, diagnosed with compartment syndrome. Her parents had sought every type of alternative treatment to prevent the (fasciotomy) surgery because they knew the risk and they knew the consequences. But they finally threw in the towel and conceded they were going to go have surgery.
"I happened to be giving a lecture in town on vascular compression and I was talking about artery entrapment. One of my colleagues said, 'My daughter is playing soccer with a really good athlete who has similar symptoms to that and I don't think they included that in their workup.' I said, 'Send her in, I'll work it up and make sure it's not artery entrapment.'
"She came in and we did the imaging study and by chance the technologist scanned a little bit higher in the leg than we typically would. What I noticed was that she was compressing her veins and not her artery. I thought that looked a little bit funny and atypical. I thought about it a little bit. From a fluid mechanics standpoint it made sense because blood flow was getting into the calf, but as the veins were being compressed, blood flow is not getting out. That could cause symptoms similar to compartment syndrome. That had never been proven or discussed or mentioned before.
"I did a quick procedure using Lidocaine to stop the function of the muscle that was compressing the vein. We retested that patient and she got better immediately. We could not make her symptomatic no matter how hard we tried. But the Lidocaine wore off.
"It took me a little while to figure out 'How do I stop a muscle from compressing a vessel yet still let an athlete play?' Botox came to me as an option. Once I had that idea I called the parents. I talked to the mom and said, 'Don't hang up on me, I have a great idea on what we can do to treat this. I'm not crazy.'
"They happened to be scientifically based engineers and things like that, and they loved the idea. Botox is a relatively safe drug. Worse-case scenario it doesn't work. There's really no harm in doing it. So we tried it. Two weeks later once the Botox kicked in, she got better. She completed her entire season of soccer, ran a half-marathon, stuff she could have never done before. It was a great story from the start. Some of it was luck and some of it was applying mechanics to solve the problem instead of just a flow chart of symptoms."
There is a Facebook page that offers support for those with such symptoms. Search for Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome Support on Facebook and ask to join.To read more or comment...
Marla Ridenour takes a closer look at the victories for Ohio State and the Browns. She offers some insights on Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett and Browns coach Mike Pettine. She looks ahead to the next few weeks on both teams schedules, too.
To read more or comment...
Dan Casara wasn't supposed to walk again, let alone play golf.
But he got that chance on a bigger stage than he ever thought possible Wednesday.
Casara was one of two pro-am partners of Keegan Bradley at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., who were double amputees playing on prosthetic legs.
Casara hit his approach to about 6 feet on the 523-yard, par-4 18th hole and putted for the group.To read more or comment...
Canal Fulton’s Justin Lower, a Northwest High School and Malone University graduate, shot a hole-in-one Thursday in the first round of the Web.com Tour’s Cleveland Open.
Playing the 151-yard, par-3 16th hole (his seventh hole) at Lakewood Country Club in Westlake, Lower called his 8-iron shot “just the perfect swing.”
“It’s nice when they end up that way,” he said.
It was Lower’s third hole-in-one in competition and the seventh of his career. He said his last came during a tournament in 2011 when he was still an amateur.To read more or comment...
An eagle putt by Ben Curtis at the 15th hole that missed by just a few inches might have made his day more exciting, but the Kent resident was encouraged by his tie for sixth in the Memorial Tournament, his best finish in 12 appearances.
The former Kent State All-America and 2003 British Open champion got to 10-under par on Sunday, but a bogey at 18 left him at 9-under 279. It earned him $215,450, nearly surpassing his season earnings of $241,759 coming in.
Curtis had missed the cut in his last four events, with his previous best finish a tie for 12th at the Shell Houston Open. It was his first top 10 since he tied for second at the 2012 Players Championship.
“It’s nice,” Curtis said afterward. “I had a decent finish in Houston and felt like I was going to get some momentum going, then had a bad three weeks, really a couple bad rounds more than anything. I had a couple decent rounds in there – second round at Charlotte and the first round at New Orleans (both rounds of 70). It was just a matter of time, getting somewhere comfortable, getting good thoughts in my head with the swing. I obviously had it going this week.To read more or comment...
Here's what the Tennessee Titans said Friday night after drafting Wadsworth native Bishop Sankey, a running back from the University of Washington, with the 54th overall pick.
GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER
Obviously, it’s good to add another player. We wanted to add a running back in this draft and targeted a few of them but the first one being Bishop Sankey. Really what he brings to us is a great deal of versatility, vision, feet, ability to catch the football. The important thing for us in picking one of these backs was to get the right fit for the coaches offense. Versatility and the ability to play on three downs was really one of the main criteria.
(on if this will help fill the loss of Chris Johnson in this offense)
Well he is a different type of player than CJ (Chris Johnson). We were looking for a guy like this. A guy with some versatility and not exactly just trying to replace CJ. We will have multiple backs that play and coach can address some of that. Definitely we needed a running back. I think I told you guys that that is what we were going to target when you asked about our needs and that’s what we did.
Here are some comments from Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer from his weekly radio call-in show on 97.1 The Fan and his signing day press conference:
On last-minute addition, defensive end Darius Slade of Montclair, N.J., who had been committed to Michigan State, and his connection to new assistant head coach/defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr.: "Darius Slade, I didn't know much about him or who he was," Meyer said at the press conference. "That's Larry Johnson's contact, I guess they've known each other for years and years. (Miami Dolphins defensive tackle) Jared Odrick, who Larry Johnson coached at Penn State, there's a nephew or something. I watched film on him. 'Do we want to take this kid?' I'm thinking, 'Sure."To read more or comment...
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller officially announced Thursday that he will spurn the NFL draft and return for his senior season. Here's the press release from OSU.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Braxton Miller is back. The senior-to-be quarterback, who has led Ohio State to consecutive 12-win seasons and amassed 8,346 yards of total offense and 84 touchdowns, is returning to Ohio State for the 2014 season, the 125th season of Ohio State football.To read more or comment...