1966492.3–✓ *Argentina has one game left to play in its 2018 qualifying campaign.Source: FIFA In defense of both the Dutch and the Argentines, each has had a brutally tough path to Russia, unlike some other countries (cough, America). According to the Soccer Power Index rankings of all teams on Sept. 4, 2016 — the day that the first round of European qualifiers were played — the Netherlands’ Group A was the third-toughest of the nine European qualifying groups, with an average SPI ranking of 57. And Argentina — ranked No. 1 in the world in SPI on Oct. 8, 2015, the day of the first round of South American qualifying games — faced an even gloomier schedule. The sole South American group had an average SPI ranking of 19, including five teams rated in the top 10 in the world.Why both teams have been this bad is baffling. OK, the Netherlands hasn’t had the star-studded lineup that made the World Cup final in 2010, but the Dutch have still had stalwarts Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, among others, at their regular disposal. For Argentina, a lack of talent is also not an excuse. In its 0-0 tie with Peru on Thursday, Argentina’s squad included 10 players who are on teams playing in the Champions League this year — and this doesn’t even include Manchester City star striker Sergio Aguero, who missed the game because of injury. No, for the Argentines, they simply haven’t scored enough — which is unusual for a country where you seemingly can’t throw a rock without hitting a world-class striker. Through 17 qualifying games, Argentina has scored just 16 goals, and in seven of those matches, the team didn’t score at all. That’s the lowest goals per game in their qualifying history since, well, ever.1For years not listed in the table below, qualifying was not yet needed, Argentina withdrew or did not enter, or Argentina qualified automatically through either hosting the World Cup that year or winning the previous World Cup. 9Bolivia1742111434-2014 199816231.4–✓ 5Peru177462625+125 19584102.5–✓ 1970441.0– 201416352.2–✓ In 2014, Argentina and the Netherlands — two of the world’s most established soccer powerhouses — met in the semifinals of the World Cup. After 120 scoreless minutes, Argentina prevailed in an agonizing penalty shootout. It’s very unlikely, though, that the Dutch will be able to exact revenge on Argentina during next year’s World Cup in Russia. That’s because the Netherlands most likely won’t be there — and Argentina may not be either.The Netherlands is on the brink of soccer disaster: To make the 2018 tournament, the Dutch must beat Sweden by 7 goals in their final qualifying game, at home on Tuesday. If they don’t, it will be the fourth time that the Netherlands has failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1982, or the last 10 tournaments.More than 6,000 miles away in South America, an even bigger crisis is brewing for Argentina, which has won the World Cup twice and made it to the final in 2014. If Argentina were to fail to qualify for 2018, it would be the first time that the team has missed the tournament in 48 years. But the Argentines have more ways to get in than the Dutch do (although they’re still in deep trouble). Depending on what happens elsewhere, a loss to Ecuador on Tuesday could mean elimination — but, likewise, a win doesn’t guarantee that Lionel Messi’s men will earn a berth in Russia either.Things are so bad that the Argentine Ministry of Health has issued instructions on how to avoid a heart attack during Tuesday’s game. 6Argentina176741615+125 2018*17160.9– 201018231.3–✓ The top four teams automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup; the fifth-ranked team must win a playoff against a team from another region to make the tournament.Source: FIFA 200618291.6–✓ Deep breaths, ArgentinaSouth American standings in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers 10Venezuela1716101835-179 YEARGAMES PLAYEDGOALS SCOREDGOALS SCORED/GAMEQUALIFIED For countries with as rich a soccer history as the Netherlands and Argentina, not qualifying is unthinkable. For the Dutch, however, they’re used to struggling to make the World Cup on the heels of a good showing. They failed to make the 1982 tournament after finishing as the runner-up in 1978, and in 2002, they didn’t qualify after making the semifinals in 1998.The Oranje have been in turmoil since Louis van Gaal left for Manchester United after leading the team to third place in 2014. They failed to qualify for the 2016 European Championship in France with Guus Hiddink and then Danny Blind in charge — the first time they failed to make Europe’s national team tournament in 32 years — and are on their third manager in as many years, with Dick Advocaat at the helm. In context, the KNVB’s current crisis may be the worst in its illustrious history. In August, the Dutch dropped to 36th in the world, their lowest spot in the rankings since FIFA started them in 1992. The team’s 3-1 win over Bulgaria in September nudged it back up to 29th. Among Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain — the seven teams that have made a World Cup final since 1994 — none has been ranked as low as 29th since 1994. Although FIFA’s world rankings are flawed, this is just one measure of how far the Netherlands have fallen relative to the other top nations in the world. TEAMGPWONTIEDLOSTGOALS FORGOALS AGAINSTGOAL DIFF.POINTS 200218422.3–✓ 1994671.2–✓ 4Colombia177552018+226 2Uruguay178452818+1028 1974492.3–✓ 8Ecuador176292526-120 19866122.0–✓ 3Chile178272624+226 7Paraguay177371924-524 19622115.5–✓ 1Brazil1711513811+2738 Argentina’s attacking firepower has dried upThe number of goals scored per game in each of Argentina’s World Cup qualifying campaigns For soccer fans around the world, Tuesday may be an emotional day. This could be the last time that Robben, who is 33 years old, appears in an orange shirt on the field. And for Messi, arguably one of the greatest players ever, the 2018 World Cup is his last great opportunity to fill the one glaring hole on his stellar résumé as he will be in his mid-30s the next time the tournament comes around. It would be a shame if that chance ended before it even started.
For every team in the College Football Playoff hunt, the path forward remains an arduous one, filled with peril at every turn. But some of those paths are at least relatively straightforward; others involve a bunch of different moving parts. Today, let’s take a look at what each significant playoff contender needs to go its way — keeping things vaguely within the realm of the likely — in order to get to at least 90 percent playoff odds in the eyes of our prediction model. In each case, we’ll try to get it there in as few results as possible,1It’s important to note that this is without regard to chronology. So for instance, winning the conference championship could be the simplest way a team gets to 90 percent playoff odds, but that team would also need to win some easy games beforehand to make the conference title game matter. Our approach would still consider a conference title game win to be the simplest path, because the high probability of getting to that game in a position to make the playoff is “baked in” to the conditional probabilities. (Yes, my head hurts, too.) which is easier said for some teams than others.ClemsonCurrent playoff chances: 87 percentPath to 90+ percent:Clemson wins the ACC championship (Week 14): +9 percentage pointsConditional playoff chances: 96 percentChance of happening: 85 percentAlabamaCurrent playoff chances: 76 percentPath to 90+ percent:Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC championship (Week 14): +23 percentage pointsConditional playoff chances: 99 percentChance of happening: 64 percentGeorgiaCurrent playoff chances: 39 percentPath to 90+ percent:Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC championship (Week 14): +52 percentage pointsConditional playoff chances: 91 percentChance of happening: 36 percentThese three are pretty basic. The undefeated Tigers and Crimson Tide are both practically assured of making the playoff if they just win their respective conference title games — even if they don’t otherwise win out. There are a few scenarios in which the two teams could miss the playoff with losses in between now and championship Saturday, but our model says the Tigers would still have an 80 percent playoff shot even if they lose to, say, Boston College this weekend but win the ACC. Likewise, Bama would be at 92 percent if it loses the Iron Bowl against Auburn but still wins the SEC.Alabama and Clemson’s chances if they win all their remaining games except the conference championship are 45 and 44 percent, respectively. But for the one-loss Bulldogs, that number is 12 percent. So for all intents and purposes, they have no choice but to hand the Tide a huge upset defeat if they want to extend their national championship hopes. The good news, though, is that if we assume UGA plays to the model’s expectations in its other three games (against Auburn, UMass and Georgia Tech), the SEC title game is the big win-and-you’re-in matchup to circle on the Bulldog calendar. In other words, for all three teams, the simplest playoff road leads through the conference championship.Notre DameCurrent playoff chances: 58 percentPath to 90+ percent:Notre Dame beats Florida State in Week 11: +5 percentage pointsNotre Dame beats Syracuse in Week 12: +15 pointsNotre Dame beats USC in Week 13: +14 pointsConditional playoff chances: 92 percentChance of happening: 49 percentOklahomaCurrent playoff chances: 41 percentPath to 90+ percent:Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State in Week 11: +4 percentage pointsOklahoma beats Kansas in Week 12: +1 pointsOklahoma beats West Virginia in Week 13: +21 pointsOklahoma wins the Big 12 championship (Week 14): +24 pointsConditional playoff chances: 91 percentChance of happening: 37 percentOhio StateCurrent playoff chances: 18 percentPath to 90+ percent:Ohio State beats Michigan State in Week 11: +12 percentage pointsOhio State beats Michigan in Week 13: +32 pointsOhio State wins the Big Ten championship (Week 14): +28 pointsConditional playoff chances: 90 percentChance of happening: 18 percentNotre Dame doesn’t have a conference and therefore doesn’t have a chance to pad its resume with another signature win, so it has no room for error. Luckily, the Irish’s remaining schedule is quite reasonable. Florida State is a shell of its former self, Syracuse is having a good season but not on the Irish’s level, and USC isn’t what it used to be either. And our model says an undefeated Notre Dame is essentially a playoff shoo-in. The only cause for concern might be the health of quarterback Ian Book, who will miss Saturday’s game against FSU with a rib injury. But the Irish are still 16½-point favorites over the Seminoles even with backup QB Brandon Wimbush at the helm.Oklahoma and Ohio State can basically control their own destinies as well — the model says both have playoff chances of greater than 91 percent if they just win out. An Irish loss could potentially help the Sooners and Buckeyes, too. Oklahoma has a greater than 90 percent playoff probability conditional on just three outcomes: beating West Virginia and winning the Big 12 while Notre Dame loses at least one game. And any Notre Dame loss would nudge OSU’s chances above the 90 percent threshold as well, provided the Buckeyes beat Michigan and win the Big Ten.MichiganCurrent playoff chances: 40 percentPath to 90+ percent:Syracuse beats Notre Dame in Week 12: +9 percentage pointsMichigan beats Ohio State in Week 13: +28 pointsMichigan wins the Big Ten championship (Week 14): +15 pointsConditional playoff chances: 92 percentChance of happening: 13 percentUnlike Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma, Michigan can’t get to 90 percent simply by winning its remaining games. (That maxes them out at 82 percent.) The Wolverines need help, then, most likely in the form of an Irish loss against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 17. Michigan has other potential paths — Boston College beating Clemson this weekend, for instance, would push UM’s odds to 88 percent if coupled with Wolverine wins over Ohio State and whomever they’d play for the Big Ten title. But watching some other team vicariously avenge Michigan’s early season loss in South Bend would be a fitting way for the Wolverines to stamp their ticket into the playoff.West VirginiaCurrent playoff chances: 12 percentPath to 90+ percent:West Virginia beats TCU in Week 11: +2 percentage pointsWest Virginia beats Oklahoma State in Week 12: +6 pointsWest Virginia beats Oklahoma in Week 13: +19 pointsWest Virginia wins the Big 12 championship (Week 14): +38 pointsMichigan loses the Big Ten championship (Week 14): +14 pointsConditional playoff chances: 91 percentChance of happening: 2 percentWVU needs even more help than does Michigan. And in fact, it might need help from Michigan. Generally speaking, it needs whoever wins the Michigan-Ohio State game — which will torpedo the chances of one member of the one-loss club — to then proceed to lose in the Big Ten title game. (Our model gives West Virginia slightly higher odds under the configuration where Michigan beats OSU, then loses.) Either way, the one-loss Mountaineers need as many teams with a similar resume as possible to move aside. But West Virginia isn’t necessarily putting all its eggs in the Big Ten basket. It could also see its playoff odds soar into the high-80-percent range if Notre Dame loses one of its remaining games (while WVU wins out).Washington StateCurrent playoff chances: 13 percentPath to 90+ percent:Washington State beats Colorado in Week 11: +5 percentage pointsWashington State beats Arizona in Week 12: +3 pointsUSC beats Notre Dame in Week 13: +5 pointsWashington State wins the Pac-12 championship (Week 14): +48 pointsMichigan loses the Big Ten championship (Week 14): +17 pointsConditional playoff chances: 91 percentChance of happening: 1 percentOne-loss Wazzu is in the same boat as West Virginia in terms of benefiting from a Michigan defeat in the Big Ten title game. (Assuming it wins its own remaining games — including the Pac-12 title, most preferably over Utah.) Washington State could get another boost if USC beats Notre Dame since both teams would then have one loss, against the Trojans in each case. It’s unclear how realistic this actually is (since our model doesn’t have a specific Notre Dame adjustment reflecting its tendency to, um, get the benefit of the doubt), but the Irish make the playoff only 18 percent of the time in the scenario laid out above, compared with the Cougars’ 91 percent mark.Central FloridaCurrent playoff chances: 4 percentPath to 90+ percent:¯\_(ツ)_/¯I’m kidding. But not really. This one is far more difficult to pin down than the others above, just because it’s so rare in our data for UCF to make the playoff (and the specifics of each scenario are rarer still). So I’ll just list some of the common outcomes in what few simulations give UCF a relatively large probability of making the playoff:UCF wins all four remaining games, including the American championship. (Duh.)Both Notre Dame and Washington State lose at least one remaining game, and at least one loses twice.Oklahoma and Michigan both fail to win their respective conference championships.Chance of happening: less than 1 in 2,000These probably aren’t the only scenarios under which UCF makes the playoff, but there just aren’t very many UCF-friendly combinations that come up in the simulations. Their 4 percent overall probability of making the playoff is more about adding up a bunch of fractional chances over the course of many simulations — where they’re not overly likely to make it in any given one, but there’s enough uncertainty that they could potentially get in.And that’s the important thing to remember when discussing UCF’s playoff chances: The selection committee has never taken an undefeated Group-of-Five conference team2Schools from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference and the Sun Belt Conference. in four years of picking playoff squads, and similar undefeated candidates (UCF last year, Western Michigan two years ago) have been denied entry by the committee. So all of this is, by definition, theoretical. Our model bases its predictions on the way in which college football’s power structure has traditionally grouped teams into tiers and given priority to different types of resumes, which is why there are at least some universes where a team like UCF can get real consideration if all hell breaks loose elsewhere. But more likely, they’re getting stray points of probability from the fact that we still don’t always know how the committee will react to a team like the Knights.Of course, a cynic would say we do know — and the answer will always be “no.” But that’s part of what’s interesting about the playoff. There’s much we still don’t know when it comes to who will win upcoming games, and that’s one source of uncertainty built into our model. But we also can’t perfectly predict how the committee itself will react. All UCF and the rest of this year’s contenders can do is win the games in front of them and hope for the right combination to fall into place around them.Check out our latest college football predictions.
The Ohio State baseball team entered this season expecting to win another Big Ten title.But with just three regular-season games remaining, the defending champions are fifth in the conference standings.Instead of trying to close out another season atop the conference, the Buckeyes are fighting for their postseason lives. “It’s definitely a bit of a change of pace for us,” senior Ryan Dew said. “I think we need to take two of three this weekend to be sure to get into the tournament.”The Big Ten Tournament accepts only the top six teams from the conference. The Buckeyes are on the fringe as they are in a four-way tie for fifth place. Consequently, the Buckeyes need to win this weekend’s series in order to ensure themselves a spot in the tournament.However, that will be no easy feat as the Buckeyes play host to first-place Minnesota, and the Buckeyes have lost their last four Big Ten series. “This team has had a black cloud over it and I don’t know how to get out from under it,” coach Bob Todd said. He said all the breaks seem to be going the opponent’s way this season and that’s just the game of baseball.One break that may go the Buckeyes’ way this weekend is the return of pitcher Alex Wimmers. The All-American ace has been sidelined the past four weeks with a hamstring injury, but might be ready to take the mound this weekend.“We’ve got Dean (Wolosiansky) and (Drew) Rucinski pitching lights out. So if we get Wimmers back like he always is we can take three games this weekend,” senior Cory Kovanda said. Although Todd was vague when addressing whether Wimmers would be ready to go this weekend, players hinted that he could be back. Wimmers’ return would serve as a huge boost as he is 9-0 on the season and injects confidence into his teammates whenever he toes the rubber. “Obviously he’s a huge talent,” Dew said. “Every time he takes the mound we know we are going to win.”Win is exactly what the Buckeyes must do if they wish to continue their season. And even with their recent struggles, the team is still confident in its ability to take this weekend’s series. “We’re a very close team and we’re confident in ourselves,” Dew said. “When we play a complete game, most of the time we win. I know we can do it and the team is confident we can.”Dew and Kovanda, two of eight seniors on this year’s team, expressed their desire to keep playing in their final season at OSU. They also want to send Todd, their storied head coach, off with another Big Ten championship.Earlier this year, Todd announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. In his 23-year tenure at OSU, the Buckeyes have missed the Big Ten tournament only once. “I’ve only missed it once in my life,” Todd said. “For this team, that has so much potential and so many high expectations, which I thought were justified — For us to be in this position is very uncharacteristical.”The Buckeyes open the three-game series against the Golden Gophers Thursday at 7 p.m. at Bill Davis Stadium.
Day one of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus Friday did not disappoint. Midwest No.11-seed North Carolina State, Midwest No. 3-seed Georgetown, West No.9-seed Saint Louis and West No.1-seed Michigan State all won, advancing to the third round. Georgetown and N.C. State is scheduled to meet in the first game at Nationwide Arena at 12:15 p.m. Sunday, with MSU and SLU 30 minutes following, with berths to the Sweet 16 on the line. Midwest Region’s No. 11-seed North Carolina State upsets No. 6 Seed San Diego State, 79-65 Playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, the No. 11-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack (23-12) upended No. 6-seed San Diego State (26-8), taking advantage of its superior play in the paint on the way to a 79-65 victory. N.C. State got a team-high 22 points from junior forward Richard Howell, and sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown added 17 while grabbing nine rebounds. “I thought today inside around the basket we were able to get a lot done,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “And I thought Richard (Powell) in the first half was just sensational. And it wasn’t just him. But Richard really set the tone for us offensively.” It was a two-man show for SDSU, as sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin (23) and junior guard Chase Tapley (19), combined for 42 of the Aztecs’ 65 points. SDSU coach Steve Fisher attributed the loss to N.C. State’s size. “It’s one thing to be big. It’s another thing to be big and good. And they’re big and good. And we had a hard time with their size,” he said. N.C. State outscored the Aztecs’ 38-18 in the paint. During the first half, neither team was able to pull away, with the lead changing six times and N.C. State on top, 33-29, after twenty minutes. The beginning of the second half was more of the same, but towards the midway point, SDSU started to miss shots, and NCST didn’t. The Wolfpack shot 65 percent from the field in the final twenty minutes, with the Aztecs only managing to hit 37 percent of their second-half shots. Midwest Region’s No. 3-seed Georgetown defeats No. 14-seed Belmont, 74-59 Georgetown and senior guard Jason Clark weren’t going to be denied this time. After being one-and-done in their previous two NCAA Tournament trips, the No.3-seeded Hoyas, propelled by Clark, played with insistence Friday, cruising past No.14-seed Belmont, 74-59, in the second round. Clark led the way for Georgetown (24-8), pouring in a game-high 21 points, while Hoyas’ freshman forward Otto Porter scored 16 and senior center Henry Sims added 15. Sophomore forward Blake Jenkins dropped a team-high 17 points for Belmont (27-8). “I think it was definitely a sense of urgency, not just for me but the whole team,” Clark said. “We know what we’ve done in the past. So it was a big thing for us to get this win today.” The urgency showed early, as Clark scored 10 of Georgetown’s first 14 points. Along with Clark’s play, the Hoyas’ used a major size advantage inside to take a 36-27 lead into half time. The lead remained around the 10-point mark for the majority of the second half. Belmont coach Rick Byrd said his team was not able to make any runs against the Hoyas’ zone defense. “I just didn’t predict that we’d face zone or that we’d do as poorly as we did,” he said. “But (Georgetown’s zone is) a great one. They’re well taught, and they’ve got great athletes.” Georgetown’s efficiency on the offensive end allowed it to stave off any Belmont runs as well. The Hoyas shot 61 percent from the field, including nearly 70 percent in the final 20 minutes. West Region’s No. 9-seed Saint Louis beats No.8-seed Memphis, 61-54 In the most competitive game of the day, No.9-seed Saint Louis (26-7) held all but one No. 8-seed Memphis (26-9) player to single-digit points in a 61-54 victory. Billikens junior guard Kwamain Mitchell led all scorers with 22, and SLU senior forward Brian Conklin played tough inside against bigger Memphis defenders, adding 16 points. Conference USA Player of the Year Will Barton was the only Tiger in double-digits with 16 points. Memphis sophomore forward Tarik Black, who Barton said Thursday was the Tigers’ biggest advantage heading into the game, was held to four points and only played 19 minutes due to foul trouble. SLU frustrated the Tigers by preventing them from getting out and running. “Honestly, they didn’t even – they didn’t have nobody on offensive boards, just one guy, and the rest of their players got back on defense,” Memphis sophomore guard Joe Jackson said. “So they basically took away the fast break, and we played into their hands, just settling for bad shots.” The first half saw back-and-forth play with the teams tied, 23-23, after 20 minutes. SLU held Memphis to 33 percent shooting, 1-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half. “To keep (Memphis) to 23 points in a half is really good, but look, that’s what we pride ourselves on is our defense,” SLU junior forward Cody Ellis said. Memphis used a 7-2 run early in the second half to get up 37-29, thanks in part to a few steals by Barton and sophomore guard Chris Crawford. The Billikens followed with a 14-5 run of their own. After a long, shot-clock beating three pointer by Mitchell, SLU led, 48-44, with fewer than five minutes to play, and held on for the victory. “We could have given up and went down, 10, 15 points, but the guys kept fighting back, making big shots and knocking down key free throws,” SLU sophomore forward Dwayne Evans said, who scored six points and grabbed 11 rebounds. West Region’s No.1-seed Michigan State beats West No.16-seed LIU Brooklyn, 89-67 It was closer than expected for the first 25 minutes, but eventually, No.1-seed Michigan State (28-7) proved why it is a top-seed, as the Spartans topped the No.16-seeded LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (25-9), 89-67. MSU senior forward Draymond Green led the way with a triple-double, pouring in 24 points while adding 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Spartans’ centers sophomore Adrien Payne (16 points and seven rebounds) and junior Derrick Nix (18 points and eight rebounds)-combined for 34 points and 15 rebounds. “Those guys are monsters. They’re really good players and they’re really skilled. That’s why they’re a No.1 seed,” LIU Brooklyn coach Jim Ferry said, LIU Brooklyn jumped out to a five-point lead early, but it didn’t last long, as the Spartans started to feed their bigs, exploiting the Blackbirds lack of size inside. Greeen, Payne and Nix combined for 24 points and 16 rebounds in the first half, as the Spartans scored 34 of their 42 first-half points in the paint. A balanced attack kept LIU Brooklyn in the game, with eight different players scoring in the first twenty minutes. MSU led, 42-37, at the end of the first half. The Blackbirds held strong early in the second half, but a 28-12 run by MSU allowed the Spartans to cruise for the majority of the game’s final minutes. “It was a big win for us, on a team that I think is a very solid, good team. I was concerned (early), but I thought we took control in the second half,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said.
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer announced the post-spring practice two-deep depth chart, but also gave his input on topics concerning the Buckeyes and the current state of the Bowl Championship Series. Depth Chart OSU players were well aware that their playing time would be determined by what they accomplished during spring ball and the results of the players’ work was made public Wednesday. “We made a big emphasis with our players aboutspring practice is not just fundamentals, development and skill development, it’s about earning a spot on the team,” Meyer said. “Our focus in August is not developing a depth chart, it is trying to go win a game.” Meyer spoke about both sides of the ball, particularly the offensive line. Junior center Corey Linsley was the first topic of interest. Linsley, a redshirt junior, served as back-up to former OSU center Michael Brewster in his sophomore campaign. Meyer said Linsley has been made into one of the most important players on the offense behind sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. “(Linsley) was a journeyman player,” Meyer said. “He was a pleasant surprise. He has the potential to be a very good player. His commitment to excellence right now is real strong.” The right tackle position features a dogfight between senior Reid Fragel and freshman Taylor Decker. Meyer said without question that the offensive line was made functional with the addition of Decker. “I thought our (offensive line) coach (Ed) Warinner did a very good job with them in what some would say a somewhat complicated offense,” Meyer said. “Our offensive line was the most improved position on the team.” Recruiting Meyer did not give specific details regarding an incident involving Charles Eric Waugh, a Kentucky sex offender who came in contact with student-athletes and recruits in-person and on social media. Some believe that Waugh’s contact with players and recruits might have resulted in the de-commitment of four-star linebacker recruit and Wyomissing, Pa., native, Alex Anzalone. “The first thing you think about is the safety of your players,” Meyer said. “There are a million different stories in recruiting, but the ones you have no control over are the most bothersome.” Bowl Championship Series The BCS could be on the brink of adapting to a four-team playoff system to determine a national champion, with possible changes to come no earlier than 2014. As of Wednesday, Big Ten commissioner and Big Ten athletic directors are on board with the four-team playoff system. Meyer said the four-team playoff will produce a tremendous workload for the coaching staff and players of the teams selected. “I can’t even fathom that you are trying to get ready for a national championship in two days,” Meyer said. “‘Cause that’s what you got.” Should the change come to fruition and the Buckeyes be in the running for a future NCAA Division I playoff, Meyer explained how a team might ready itself for the task. “You will probably prepare for three teams,” Meyer said. “We’re going to prepare in case we have to play any of those three times, and that will be exhausting.” Meyer said he believes the ideal setup is what has happened over the last decade of football, but understands why the change is being made. “I was not one of the screamers and yellers saying it was broken before,” Meyer said.
OSU redshirt sophomore center David Bell (10) finds himself surrounded by three Walsh defenders during the Buckeye’s exhibition match-up on Nov. 6. The Buckeyes won 85-67. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorOhio State redshirt sophomore David Bell will transfer from Ohio State after three seasons with the program, a source close to the team confirmed to The Lantern. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.Bell was often the third center off the bench when former OSU center Trevor Thompson and now-sophomore Micah Potter were in foul trouble.The Cleveland native from Garfield Heights High School was a member of the 2014 recruiting class. He redshirted as a true freshman and averaged 5.5 minutes in 2015 and 6.1 this past season. Bell played in just 38 games the last two seasons, scoring 1.2 points and grabbing 1.6 rebounds per game.Bell joins Thompson as the two players to leave the OSU program this offseason.
Ohio State head coach Geoff Carlston instructs members of the women’s volleyball team during a timeout in a match against No. 3 Penn State on Oct. 6. The Buckeyes lost 3-2. Credit: Rebecca Farage | Lantern ReporterOhio State split two home matches this weekend as it fell 3-2 to No. 3 Penn State Friday, but returned to the court the next day and picked up a 3-0 victory versus Rutgers.No. 3 Penn StateDespite losing 3-2 to Penn State, outside hitter Bia Franklin had a big night with 10 kills and nine digs, both career-highs for the sophomore. Setter Taylor Hughes also played a solid game with a match-high 50 assists, a total she had only matched just once previously this season.Penn State quickly jumped ahead in the first set with an 8-3 lead. Even after two timeouts, the Buckeyes could not match Penn State’s energy. The Nittany Lions delivered 18 kills with a .500 hitting percentage, leaving the Buckeyes behind and allowing Penn State to take the first set 25-13.The Buckeyes did not let the first set affect their performance as they stormed out to an 11-8 lead in the second set.The game grew more intense by the point as both teams fought back-and-forth for the second set with three lead changes. Outside hitter Luisa Schirmer was responsible for five kills and Hughes added 14 assists, leading the Buckeyes to win the set 25-23.The third set was just as competitive as the second, this time with 12 ties. Penn State middle blocker Haleigh Washington helped her team with seven kills on a .364 clip. Tensions were high as both teams played a close point-by-point set, ending in a 30-28 victory for the Buckeyes.The fourth set was quite a turnaround as the Buckeyes fell to a 13-6 deficit, forcing them to call a timeout. The Nittany Lions maintained their momentum and did not relinquish their lead. With 14 kills and 13 digs, Penn State took the set 25-9.The Nittany Lions carried their vibrant energy into the fifth set, leaving the Buckeyes to trail behind them 8-0. Although the Buckeyes attempted to catch up, Penn State took the set and the match with a decisive 15-7 victoryAlthough he sees room for improvement, Ohio State head coach Geoff Carlston thought his team played well against Penn State and recognized the tough moments the Buckeyes worked through.“In this conference and to go where we want to go, you have to be able to do it,” Carlston said. “If it’s a 2 1/2 hour match, you got to do it for 2 1/2 hours. It’s hard.”RutgersThe Buckeyes dominated Saturday night, bouncing back from their loss with a 3-0 sweep against Rutgers. Outside hitter Ashley Wenz was the star of the night with a career-high 18 kills.Wenz said she was not anticipating setting any records this weekend, but sees this as a success for the team as a whole, not just for herself.“I think it helps playing all the way around,” Wenz said. “We’re running the back row attack and it’s been working really well. We have a really nice rhythm with it right now, so that definitely helps.”Ohio State played a sound first set with 11 kills and 10 digs. Wenz put away four kills in the first set, and Rutgers had just a -.050 hitting percentage. The Buckeyes won the opening set 25-15.The second set went just as well for the Buckeyes as they were able to play strong offensively with 13 kills and posses a powerful defensive line with two blocks from middle blocker Madison Smeathers and Hughes. Ohio State claimed the set 25-12 to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The Buckeyes played no differently in the third set, leading with a 9-1 opening run before the Scarlet Knights called a timeout. Although Rutgers was able to pull within just a couple points, Ohio State maintained a steady pace and won the third set 26-24, taking the match.Wenz thought playing these two teams were completely different experiences, but was proud of her team’s progress despite the weekend split.“I think [Rutgers was] pretty scrappy on defense and [we were] able to make the smart shots that we needed to make to be able to put the ball down,” Wenz said.The team’s success Saturday has shown Carlston what the Buckeyes are capable of, but he is only focused on making the team the best they can be.“We made some strides in some areas this weekend, but we just need to come back and keep getting better on Monday,” Carlston said. “We just got to stay focused. We can be really good, but we need to keep challenging ourselves to get better.”The Buckeyes will hit the road again as they face Illinois at 8 p.m. Friday and Northwestern at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Lego set even includes a mini figure of Jeremy Hillary Boob — a fictional character from the film voiced by Dick Emery, who describes himself as an “eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist, good dentist too”.Mr Szeto, an amateur musician, said: “I have always been drawn to the music of The Beatles. The creation of the Yellow Submarine model was really my way of showing my affection for The Beatles, as well as trying to pay a small tribute to The Beatles phenomenon. When a sea monster and a fisherman tangle it’s up to The Beatles to come to the rescue in their #LEGO Yellow Submarine! @LEGOIdeas pic.twitter.com/QF9xyLKlBg— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) 12 October 2016 Next stop, Penny Lane! Introducing John, Paul, George, Ringo and their iconic Yellow Submarine in #LEGO form on November 1st. pic.twitter.com/ivwZ82FfMV— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) 12 October 2016 A Beatles fan has had his dream creation realised after toy giant Lego launched its Yellow Submarine set including mini figures of the much-loved band.Lego models of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were unveiled after Kevin Szeto put forward the request to the company’s ideas section.The 550-piece set allows fans to take a surreal trip under the sea in a yellow submarine in Lego’s version of the 1968 musical fantasy film inspired by The Beatles.The animated adventure was a groundbreaking surreal tale featuring characters from Beatles songs, but with actors voicing the band members. “The Yellow Submarine is bright, fun, and colourful, which also made it a good subject to translate into Lego form.”Lego designer Justin Ramsden said seeing The Beatles in Lego form “is a dream come true”.He added: “I watched the film when I was younger and was really inspired by how it oozed so much imagination – comparable to how I view Lego elements.”I’m also a massive fan of The Beatles, having grown up with their music all my life, so to see The Beatles in Lego form is a dream come true.”The Lego set will be available worldwide in stores from November 1 at a cost of £49.99. 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.
A veteran pilot who helped to sink the Bismarck during the Second World War has died at the age of 97.Lt Cdr John “Jock” Moffat was credited with launching the torpedo that crippled the German warship in 1941.The death of the Scottish veteran has been announced by the Royal Navy.The air strike carried out by the biplanes of HMS Victorious and Ark Royal on May 26 1941 was said to have been Britain’s last hope of sinking the Bismarck before it reached the relative safety of waters off the coast of France. The BismarckCredit:PA / IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM Mr Moffat and his crew took off in his Swordfish L9726 from the deck of Ark Royal and made for Bismarck, fighting against driving rain, low cloud and a gale.He flew in at 50 feet, barely skimming the surface of the waves, in a hail of bullets and shells, to get the best possible angle of attack on the ship, naval chiefs said.At 9.05pm he dropped the fateful torpedo, jamming the rudder of Hitler’s flagship.The battleship then steamed in circles until the guns of the Royal Navy’s home fleet arrived the next morning. He joined the Navy as a reservist in 1938 and was posted to Ark Royal with 759 Naval Air Squadron after qualifying as a pilot. Overall, he served with four squadrons in a fleet air arm career spanning eight years.After the war he trained as a hotel manager and remained with the profession for decades.But he maintained his love for aviation. He took up flying again in his 60s and flew into his early 90s.Latterly, he participated for the No side in the Scottish independence referendum campaign, appearing alongside Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson in 2014 to make the defence case for the union.He is survived by his daughters Pat and Jan. 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. “When Churchill gave the order to sink the Bismarck, we knew we just had to stop her trail of devastation at all costs,” he said.”The great thing about the Swordfish was that the bullets just went straight through. After all, it was only made of canvas. It was like David and Goliath.”John William Charlton Moffat was born in Kelso, in the Scottish Borders, in June 1919. A Swordfish biplane Recounting his role previously, he described how he flew through “a lethal storm of shells and bullets”. A Swordfish planeCredit:Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm Museum/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA
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. The father of one was hired to carry out building and decorating work at the woman’s home in Canary Wharf, Docklands, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.She gave Braithwaite “expensive and lavish gifts”, including a new mobile phone.He then told the woman “he owed money to others, that he had come about some drugs that he had lost and wanted £2,000 from [the victim] in order to repay that debt,” said prosecutor Satya Chotalia.Despite initially denying the claims, Braithwaite pleaded guilty to a single charge of blackmail on what would have been the first day of his trial.”The defendant had been doing some building and renovation work for the complainant and they began to have an affair,” said Thea Viney, prosecuting.”The victim was married and her husband was unwell at the time.”Mr Braithwaite sent a number of threatening text messages to her stating that if she did not pay him £2,000, which he urgently needed, he would reveal the fact that they had been having an affair to her husband and to her son.”Braithwaite was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and given a five-year restraining order preventing him from contacting his victim.He is also required to complete a 60-day rehabilitation activity and 100 hours unpaid work, as well as pay £1,500 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.Braithwaite, wearing a denim jacket and white tracksuit bottoms, laughed as he walked free from of the dock and shook hands with his barrister.Irfan Arif, defending, said: “The amount asked for was a relatively small amount in relation to what the earnings of the complainant were.”It was over a short period of time and there was no actual violence, it was only threats of violence.”Mr Braithwaite is extremely ashamed of himself. He understands he has acted extremely stupidly and foolishly in making these demands. He understands the pain that he’s caused the complainant.”Passing sentence the judge, Mr Recorder Mark West said: “Blackmail is a despicable crime. You, out of sheer greed, threatened to disclose your affair to the family members of your victim.”The extent of the distress that must have caused can only be imagined, given the family circumstances of the person concerned, which you knew only too well.”It is quite plain to me that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”Recorder West noted that Braithwaite had “no need at the time” for the £2,000 demanded, adding: “It was pure greed.” Tell it to the judge: Braithwaite, 25, was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence Credit:Central News A woman who had a two-week fling with a builder more than 20 years her junior who fixed her Canary Wharf flat was blackmailed in an attempt to keep it secret from her cancer-stricken husband.Liam Braithwaite, 25, demanded £2,000 from the 57-year-old woman to stop him revealing their affair to her husband, a court heard.He sent text messages and left voicemails threatening to “destroy your perfect little life” after his job at the flat and their two-week affair ended.One message read: “I promise, if you don’t help me out I’m going to destroy your family like mine has been destroyed.”Another read: “I don’t care if you go to the police, I’m still coming.”