Benny Kauff191424IND0.98188.82 Ted Williams193920BOS1.045316.91 Albert Pujols200121STL1.013376.89 Tony Oliva196425MIN0.916326.50 Al Rosen195026CLE0.948376.39 Corey Seager201622LAD0.877266.77 Donie Bush190921DET0.69406.43 PLAYERYEARAGETEAMOPSHRWAR Ichiro Suzuki200127SEA0.83886.85 Mike Piazza199324LAD0.931357.21 WAR is an average of Baseball-Reference.com’s and FanGraphs’ versions. Rookie status is determined using current eligibility rules.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs Kenny Lofton199225CLE0.72756.20 Billy Grabarkewitz197024LAD0.853176.30 Tommie Agee196623CHW0.773226.40 Kris Bryant201523CHC0.857266.21 Remember when New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was mired in the slump to end all slumps? Or before that, when it appeared no park could contain his titanic blasts? The larger-than-life Judge has a tendency to take us to the extremes, for good and for bad — and sometimes both at once.1Even in kinda-sorta breaking out of his skid earlier this month, the guy had a .939 on-base plus slugging … while hitting just .200.So it was against the backdrop of all that on Monday when Judge reminded us just how insane his rookie season has been, through all the peaks and valleys. Facing the Kansas City Royals, Judge teed off for home runs No. 49 and 50 on the year, breaking Mark McGwire’s 3-decade-old MLB record for the most homers by a rookie. The record is symbolic — a nice, round number to cap off a historically great campaign — but also functional, since few players have hit half as many home runs as rookies and not gone on to turn in pretty good careers. As far as anyone can tell, Judge’s future still looks very bright, weird as this season was.Back when we wrote about Judge’s rookie performance at midseason, he’d easily compiled the best first half to a first season of any player in recent memory. Of course, that was before the month-and-a-half stretch immediately following the All-Star Game, during which Judge hit .179, struck out in 37 consecutive games and generally saw his once-amazing numbers reduced to mere indicators of just how strange things can get in today’s era of Three True Outcomes baseball. (Despite the ridiculously low average, Judge still walked enough for a decent OBP, making it difficult to say quite how poorly he was playing.)But by the time of Monday’s record-breaking outburst, Judge had long since dug himself out of that slump. In September, he has a 1.338 OPS — better than any of his early-season months, even — and has poured it on especially in the last two weeks and change, with four multi-homer games since Sept. 10. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Judge’s turnaround has coincided with a significant reduction in chased pitches (18 percent since Sept. 3 versus 28 percent between the All-Star break and Sept. 2) and a big hike in hard-hit balls (27 percent of at-bats versus 16 percent).The result has been to recover one of the greatest rookie seasons by a position player in major-league history. According to Wins Above Replacement,2Averaging together the versions found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com. Judge’s recent heroics have helped him edge out Mike Piazza’s 1993 and Fred Lynn’s 1975 campaigns for fifth place on the all-time list of rookie performances. Although he probably won’t catch Dick Allen’s stunning debut from 1964, which ranks fourth, Judge has still cemented his place among the top rookies ever. (As always, Mike Trout is No. 1, because of course he is.) N. Garciaparra199723BOS0.876306.50 Dick Allen196422PHI0.939298.50 Judge’s place in the rookie pantheonThe best rookie seasons since 1901, according to wins above replacement Fred Lynn197523BOS0.967217.25 Aaron Judge201725NYY1.038507.61 Joe Jackson191123CLE1.05879.23 Carlton Fisk197224BOS0.908226.95 Mike Trout201220LAA0.9633010.53 But forget the fancy stats. Just taken by themselves, 50 homers for a rookie is absurd; even 30 is relatively unheard of, having been done just 28 times in MLB history (including twice this season — more on that later). And the rookie 30-plus homer club makes for pretty good company. Among members who’ve had at least 10 years to bash more homers after their rookie seasons, the average career total is 286 home runs, ranging from Albert Pujols’s 614 on the high side to Jimmie Hall’s 121 on the low. Most didn’t approach Pujols territory, but they did tend to settle in around 200 to 300 career homers: Some names on the list, such as Ron Kittle, Matt Nokes and even current Red Sox left fielder Chris Young, are a little odd. If Judge follows their trajectories, he’ll finish with a career on the journeyman side, far from the halls of Cooperstown. But many more in this cohort ended up being very good ballplayers, including a handful of Hall of Fame-caliber legends — such as Pujols, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Piazza and our good friend Mike Trout — sprinkled in. Plus there’s Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, the likely National League rookie of the year, who also joined the club this season with 39 homers as a rookie, his final story as unwritten as Judge’s.Judge is such a fascinating player partly because of all the highs and lows: How can one hitter be capable of so wide a range of performance? Despite his struggles after the All-Star break, though, Judge’s entire 2017 season was historic. Nobody knows exactly what’s next for the towering slugger — particularly with the ahead-of-schedule Yankees bound for the playoffs — but we’ve already seen enough to know Judge is worth geeking out over for seasons to come.
2003Kentucky2149IUPUI155998.119.9 1991UNLV2187Montana159298.443.1 2012Syracuse2054UNC-Asheville161994.97.5 1987Indiana2007Fairfield147398.066.0 1992Kansas2106Howard141098.937.8 2009Pittsburgh2021East Tennessee St.153696.210.4 2008Memphis2023Texas Arlington144298.111.4 2010Duke2059Arkansas Pine Bluff142298.79.5 2002Duke2193Winthrop141199.522.5 CHANCE THAT NO. 1 SEED WINS … 1996Purdue2050Western Carolina153996.829.5 2013Indiana1986James Madison157494.56.2 2002Kansas2066Holy Cross156197.321.9 1997Kentucky2181Montana157897.727.9 1988Temple2058Lehigh152197.258.2 1988Purdue2015Fairleigh Dickinson150297.562.6 2007Florida2046Jackson St.136598.712.4 1994Purdue2036Central Florida137399.034.2 1988Arizona2003Cornell149497.756.9 1993Kentucky2066Rider142798.835.1 1988Oklahoma2043Chattanooga152995.759.9 1989Illinois2094McNeese St.150998.553.6 2001Duke2149Monmouth154498.623.7 1985Georgetown2135Lehigh125699.7%99.7% 2015Kentucky2158Hampton150399.05.4 2000Stanford2092South Carolina St.141798.424.1 More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed 1985St. John’s1948Southern163687.783.7 1999Auburn1988Winthrop143897.425.7 1991Ohio St.1997Towson153096.540.4 2011Kansas2117Boston U.157098.18.1 1992Ohio St.2038Miss. Valley St.147598.138.3 2015Duke2028Robert Morris155496.45.2 1985Michigan2024Fairleigh Dickinson146198.082.0 1989Arizona2117Robert Morris136099.556.6 2011Pittsburgh2008UNC-Asheville159494.58.3 1987North Carolina2133Pennsylvania149298.869.3 1994Missouri2003Navy141498.333.6 1986Duke2116Miss. Valley St.160797.577.7 1992Duke2209Campbell134599.738.2 2006Connecticut2109Albany153197.916.2 1992UCLA1959Robert Morris148597.036.6 2008North Carolina2141Mount St. Mary’s156398.311.6 2003Texas1919UNC-Asheville127298.419.6 1998Duke2135Radford146298.826.5 2013Gonzaga2032Southern143598.46.7 1995UCLA2059Florida Intl.131399.531.2 1991Arkansas2034Georgia St.144896.639.0 1999Duke2295Florida A&M124899.925.3 2000Michigan St.2125Valparaiso147098.824.7 2011Duke2117Hampton147598.78.2 1998North Carolina2155Navy146498.926.8 2014Arizona2012Weber St.155795.75.6 1990Michigan St.2052Murray St.160794.543.8 1997Minnesota2023Texas St.142398.327.4 2012Michigan St.2029Long Island U.157995.76.9 2006Duke2084Southern143199.116.5 2010Kentucky2029East Tennessee St.152696.59.8 2002Maryland2110Siena154298.321.5 2005North Carolina2095Oakland151098.417.0 1999Connecticut2140Texas San Antonio146898.625.3 1989Georgetown2055Princeton153196.751.9 2015Villanova2086Lafayette149998.05.4 1996Massachusetts2127Central Florida136599.629.4 2009Louisville2059Morehead St.153497.010.1 2014Wichita St.2041Cal Poly153997.45.9 1995Kentucky2115Mount St. Mary’s144399.031.4 2003Arizona2069Vermont148198.520.3 1986Kansas2059North Carolina A&T151797.179.6 2005Washington1964Montana150495.217.4 2001Illinois2030Northwestern St.147598.023.0 YEARNO. 1 SEEDELONO. 16 SEEDELOTHIS GAMECUM. GAMES 1997North Carolina2099Fairfield143399.128.8 2007Kansas2063Niagara161395.212.6 2002Cincinnati2055Boston U.149497.821.1 1994Arkansas2001North Carolina A&T136498.932.7 1990UNLV1989Ark.-Little Rock160794.048.0 2007North Carolina2097Eastern Kentucky149498.413.5 1995Kansas2049Colgate147997.732.0 2004Saint Joseph’s1941Liberty144896.518.9 2004Duke2037Alabama St.133999.318.8 1991North Carolina2108Northeastern155797.241.9 2010Syracuse1986Vermont161992.68.8 2004Stanford2041Texas San Antonio145098.418.5 2007Ohio St.2084Central Conn. St.155097.713.2 2011Ohio St.2115Texas San Antonio152398.78.0 2009Connecticut2024Chattanooga150397.411.1 2001Stanford2113UNC-Greensboro145999.123.4 1993Indiana2130Wright St.155797.935.5 1998Arizona2159Nicholls St.152198.827.1 It’s the sort of statistic that seems ripped from pages of the Washington Generals media guide. Since the men’s NCAA Tournament went to a 64-team format in 1985, No. 16 seeds are winless: an imperfect 0-124 record.No. 16 seeds can be pretty bad basketball teams, of course. Often, they’re teams from small conferences that won automatic bids by winning their conference tournament in a series of upsets after having barely cleared .500 during the regular season. (Small-conference teams that win both the regular season and their conference tournaments will usually wind up with No. 13, 14 or 15 seeds instead.) Furthermore, No. 16s have the misfortune of being matched up against No. 1 seeds, which are theoretically the four best teams in the country.But being bad is one thing; going 0 for 124 is another. My hunch is that No. 16 seeds have been unlucky not to have pulled off at least one upset.Consider that in the 1998 women’s NCAA Tournament, No. 16 seed Harvard (those plucky upstarts) beat No. 1 seed Stanford. And in the men’s tournament, several No. 16 seeds have come close to winning. Two of them, Princeton and East Tennessee State, lost by a single point in 1989 to Georgetown and Oklahoma, respectively. The next year, No. 16 seed Murray State took Michigan State to overtime before losing by four.Meanwhile, plenty of No. 15 seeds have won. Well, not plenty, but seven of them have upset No. 2 seeds. And No. 14 seeds have beaten No. 3 seeds 20 times. These results suggest that 16-versus-1 upsets ought to be possible, especially because there isn’t always a whole lot of daylight separating teams from one seed to the next. As its choices this year made clear, the selection committee is not infallible. Sometimes a team gets seeded as a 16 when it should probably have been a 14 or 15. Sometimes a No. 1 seed should have been a No. 2 seed. If a No. 15 seed can beat a No. 2 seed, then surely a 15-seed that’s mis-seeded as 16 can beat a 2-seed that’s mis-seeded as a No. 1.But we can be more precise about this. In building our NCAA Tournament forecasts this year, we developed an Elo ratings system for college basketball. Although our forecasts for this year blend Elo with several other computer ratings, we can run Elo-based projections for past tournament games going back as far as we like.Here, then, is how Elo would have forecast every past 1-versus-16 matchup on the day it was played. Once we figure out the No. 1 seed’s odds of winning each game, we can simply multiply the probabilities to figure out their cumulative odds of winning all 124. It’s a long table, so scroll down to the bottom for the punch line. 1993Michigan2095Coastal Carolina146398.534.6 2006Memphis1931Oral Roberts162987.114.1 1985Oklahoma1963North Carolina A&T154495.795.4 1994North Carolina2082Liberty145098.433.1 2000Arizona1982Jackson St.139699.024.5 1986St. John’s2006Montana St.154094.470.1 2008Kansas2102Portland St.169895.511.8 2013Kansas2024Western Kentucky149997.76.5 2008UCLA2074Miss. Valley St.135099.512.3 2009North Carolina2103Radford152098.010.8 2001Michigan St.2105Alabama St.145098.522.6 1987Georgetown2015Bucknell148197.364.2 1990Oklahoma2101Towson150498.651.1 2010Kansas2161Lehigh151499.09.7 1997Kansas2194Jackson St.145199.228.6 2004Kentucky2085Florida A&M142199.018.3 This data suggests that No. 16 seeds have in fact been pretty unlucky. On average, Elo would have given the No. 1 seed a 97.6 percent chance of winning each individual game; the range runs from 99.9 percent (Duke against Florida A&M in 1999) to 87.1 percent (Memphis against Oral Roberts in 2006). But given 124 chances to pull a rabbit out of their hats, No. 16 seeds “should” have come away with about three victories, according to Elo. Furthermore, the probability of them having gone winless is only about 5 percent. I wouldn’t call the No. 16s phenomenally unlucky — we’re talking about odds of about 20-to-1 against, not 20,000-to-1 against — but this confirms my intuition that they haven’t caught very many breaks.The good news for No. 16 seeds is that their situation has been improving very slightly. Since the tournament introduced its play-in game in 2001, the average No. 16 to play a No. 1 had an Elo rating of 1504; before that, their average rating was 1470. The play-in games are helpful to the cause of the No. 16 seeds in two ways. First, the truly execrable No. 16s, like Florida A&M in 1999 (which came into the tournament with a 12-18 record in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), will be routed into the play-in game and will usually lose it instead of wasting one of the 16-seeds’ four opportunities. Second, the play-in winners will have a game of NCAA Tournament experience under their belts. That helps both in real life and for a team’s Elo rating, since Elo weights recent games (and especially recent tournament games) more heavily.So cheer up, Holy Cross, Hampton, Florida Gulf Coast University and Austin Peay State. Yes, you’re probably going to lose by 30 points. But sooner or later, one of you is going to make history.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 March Madness Predictions. 1996Connecticut2134Colgate146698.829.1 Every No. 1 vs. No. 16 men’s NCAA Tournament matchup, ever 1998Kansas2144Prairie View131799.626.4 1990Connecticut2015Boston U.153396.446.3 By Nate Silver 2012North Carolina2059Vermont162996.07.2 1986Kentucky2029Davidson152495.674.2 2013Louisville2124North Carolina A&T145199.06.8 1995Wake Forest2077North Carolina A&T136199.131.7 1989Oklahoma2028East Tennessee St.151796.254.4 2005Illinois2132Fairleigh Dickinson147599.017.2 2014Florida2086Albany155498.06.0 2012Kentucky2105Western Kentucky147698.57.9 2003Oklahoma1975South Carolina St.147397.820.6 2014Virginia2028Coastal Carolina145197.85.5 1999Michigan St.2112Mount St. Mary’s142898.925.0 2006Villanova2035Monmouth150597.413.7 1993North Carolina2147East Carolina148098.936.2 2015Wisconsin2129Coastal Carolina148498.95.1 1996Kentucky2127San Jose St.157797.830.5 1987UNLV2064Idaho St.150697.367.4 2005Duke2058Delaware St.146998.316.7 Our sports podcast Hot Takedown previews March Madness. 2000Duke2161Lamar137299.624.0 Embed Code
All good baseball teams are built up the middle. At any level, the teams who succeed have a strong core built around their catcher, middle infielders — shortstop and second baseman — and center fielder. Managers and coaches openly admit having good defensive players at those key positions is crucial to a team’s success. But these defensive stars are rare commodities.Look at the world champion New York Yankees. Their ability to win five World Series titles since 1996 is no secret. The core of all those Yankees teams was up the middle. Jorge Posada behind the plate, perennial all-star Derek Jeter at short and Bernie Williams patrolling center field, for all but the last of the Yankees championships.The Philadelphia Phillies, who have been to the past two World Series, are built the same way. Shane Victorino in center, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins up the middle and Carlos Ruiz catching. Those four anchor the team and are in large part responsible for the Phillies’ dominance in the National League.Finding players at those positions as good with the bat as they are with the glove is even more rare. That’s why players like Jeter, Rollins and Utley are regarded as some of the best in the game.Having strength up the middle translates to success in the college game as well.“If you’re strong up the middle, I think it makes your team as a whole more solid,” Michael Stephens said. Stephens is Ohio State’s everyday centerfielder. “Every team in the nation that does really well has strong up the middle chemistry,” Stephens explained.So for the Ohio State baseball team to be able to boast outstanding players at each of the four positions is an incredible feat. The Buckeyes are both strong and experienced up the middle, the perfect storm for a team looking to claim a second consecutive Big Ten title.Stephens patrols center field for the Buckeyes, Tyler Engle and Cory Kovanda make up the middle infield and Dan Burkhart takes on the catching duties. Coach Bob Todd understands the importance of keeping that foursome in the line up. “We need all those guys to stay healthy. They give us quality play out there,” Todd said.The Junior College transfer Stephens is in his second year in the Ohio State program, but his final year of eligibility.The California native spent his first two seasons at Fullerton College — a junior college close to his hometown of Victorville, Calif. Stephens says there were many factors that influenced his decision to come to Ohio State, but one that stands out above the rest.“We travel and we get to play everywhere,” Stephens said. “Going down to Florida in the spring is a huge benefit.”Stephens elected to come to OSU due, in large part, to the amount the Buckeyes travel. He explained if he would have gone to a school like Cal State Fullerton, he would have played a majority of his games in Southern California against the same competition.His decision to come to OSU was to the delight of his teammates.“Stephens is great,” Engle said. “He plays a good center field and he’s clutch at the plate too.”Stephens immediately fit into the Buckeyes lineup and has earned his spot in a talented outfield. Last season he started all 61 games for the Buckeyes and is a key contributor in this his senior campaign.The dynamic duoWhen it comes to middle infielders, experience is the key. And that is exactly what Engle and Kovanda, a junior and a senior respectively, possess. This is the third year the tandem has played side-by-side for the Buckeyes, and their chemistry is evident.“Kovanda and Engle have done a great job defensively for us,” Todd said of the duo.Engle and Kovanda’s connection extends beyond the baseball field.“We’re great friends. We get along great,” Engle said. “With our busy schedules in the spring it’s tough, but we make it a point to hang out.” Their time spent together on and off the field is evident in their play as they combine to be the best double-play combo in the Big Ten.“We’re kind of in each other’s minds,” Engle said. “We both have a lot of confidence turning double plays, even the tough ones.”The backstopWhen talking OSU baseball, the conversation begins and ends with catcher Dan Burkhart.He has become a mainstay behind the plate for the Buckeyes. In his first year with the program Burkhart became the first freshman to start at catcher in nearly two decades. Now, as a junior, he’s collecting accolades on a seemingly weekly basis.Burkhart is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and was second-team preseason All-American. As Todd simply stated, “He’s the backbone of this team. There’s no doubt about it.”Burkhart demonstrates why he’s earned that title every game he suits up for the Buckeyes.The catcher handles the pitching staff beautifully, especially ace Alex Wimmers, who was his high school teammate. And Burkhart does it all defensively by blocking balls and throwing out base runners.“He’s a stud. You couldn’t ask for anything else behind the plate,” Engle said of Burkhart. “I wouldn’t have anybody else in the country.”At the plateWhat might be most impressive about the foursome isn’t what they do defensively, but rather on offense. Kovanda, Stephens and Burkhart make up the heart of the Buckeyes order, hitting second, third and fourth.Kovanda is near the top of the team leaders with a .379 batting average and Stephens’ eight home runs are top among the Buckeyes. And although Engle usually fills in the ninth spot in the line up, he’s a consistent contributor and serves as a second lead-off hitter.The foursome’s contributions on both sides of the ball clearly demonstrate that their play will dictate how far the Buckeyes are able to go this season.
Junior forward Sam Thompson scans the court during a game against Minnesota Feb. 22 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 64-46.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorEven Michael Jordan needed a Scottie Pippen. A star player can’t carry the team all on his own.As often as individual brilliance dazzles in the sport of basketball — NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain scored 67 or more points in losses four times in his career — a balanced attack will more often than not win the day.For the Ohio State men’s basketball team, this presents a problem.Despite leading the Buckeyes in scoring this season with 14.3 points per game, junior forward LaQuinton Ross can’t do it all alone.Since losing Deshaun Thomas to the NBA Draft at the end of last season, the No. 22-ranked Buckeyes (22-6, 9-6, fourth in the Big Ten) have relied heavily on Ross to carry the load.Emerging as the team’s top scoring threat, Ross has encountered comparisons to Thomas throughout the season, something he said isn’t exactly how he wants it.“I try not to look at it that way. I try to be myself,” Ross said Wednesday. “If other people are throwing out the comparison, that’s fine, I don’t get into that a lot. I try to do what I can at Ohio State and eventually, like Deshaun left his legacy, I try to do the same and do mine.”So far in 2013-14, Ross has six games in which he scored 20 or more points. His teammates have only managed one between all of them.Ross said he doesn’t feel the added pressure of scoring in tight situations, especially late in games.“I came into Ohio State as a scorer. I’ve been labeled as that for a long time now so in those situations in games, that’s something that’s almost a talent for me so I don’t feel pressure from it,” Ross said. “I think sometimes during those moments in the games my teammates look for me. I’ve just got to step up to the talent.”Since conference play began, Ross has seen his number called more and more often, in particular when the game is on the line.In the Buckeyes’ six conference losses this season, Ross has shot an average of 24.4 percent of the field goals attempted by OSU as a team, as compared to 19 percent of the total shots taken during wins.But in recent games, Ross has had some of the pressure alleviated with the help of a fellow junior forward.After only managing double digits in two of OSU’s first 13 Big Ten games, Sam Thompson has averaged 15 points in the last two, including a 19 point performance against Minnesota.Thompson said he can step up as the second go-to scorer for the Buckeyes, as long as he keeps playing with intensity.“I just have to continue to be aggressive, continue to make plays,” Thompson said. “Do so within the flow of the offense and do so within the flow of the team, but continue to make plays and I feel like that’s when we’re at our best.”Ross added that having Thompson scoring at a high rate will help him while the team aims for an NCAA Tournament run.“It definitely makes my job a lot easier,” Ross said. “Anytime anybody is pitching in and we’re getting that extra scoring — not even that extra scoring, just people making plays and being aggressive — I think that helps our team out a lot. I think we’re a way better team when everybody is being aggressive and trying their hardest on the offensive end and when we’re playing offense like we play defense.”Thompson has had more of a chance to shine since coach Thad Matta made the decision to put him in the starting lineup in lieu of junior guard Shannon Scott.Matta said Thompson has the ability to be the team’s second scorer, and that will help the team immensely.“It definitely gives us another guy out there that you have to be concerned about in terms of putting the ball in the basket. I think it opens things up in terms of driving opportunities, drive and kicks, even posting the basketball,” Matta said Wednesday. “I think Sam, when he’s playing like that, puts pressure on the defense to rotate more and those are things that all coaches look for. The more, the better.”Matta also said Thompson is on an upward trend as a player, provided he can continue to do what he does best.“The biggest thing he’s got to do is continue to play at this level,” Matta said. “(I’m) not saying getting 20 points or anything like that, but just bring what he has to the table. And it’s not the dunks … But it’s all the other things. Finishing around the basket, making his free throws, knocking down some threes. Those are the things that can complete kind of who he is. Assist-to-turnover ratio and those types of things.”OSU is set to travel to State College, Pa., to take on Penn State (13-14, 4-10) Thursday at 7 p.m.Thompson will be looking to continue his trend as the team’s second scorer against a team that held him to one point Jan. 29 in a 71-70 Buckeye loss in overtime.
Left: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio appears on the sidelines during a game against OSU on Sept. 29, 2012 in East Lansing, Mich. OSU won, 17-16. Credit: TNS Right: OSU co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell talks to players on the sideline during a game against Penn State on Oct. 25 in State College, Pa. OSU won in double-overtime, 31-24. Credit: Ritika Shah / Lantern TV News directorWhen Ohio State football fans, players and coaches look across the field Saturday night, there will be more than one familiar face staring back at them.With four straight years of matchups, there was bound to be some familiarity between the two teams as the co-leaders of the Big Ten East Division are scheduled to square off again.Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio spent three seasons in Columbus as the Buckeyes’ defense coordinator (2001-03), helping OSU win a national championship in 2002, before taking his first head coaching job less than two hours from OSU at Cincinnati.During his time with the Bearcats, Dantonio coached with current OSU tight ends and fullbacks coach Tim Hinton.When Dantonio accepted the head coaching job at Michigan State in 2007, Hinton said he was on his way to join him, but changed his mind on the way to East Lansing, Mich.“In reality, I was in a car with suitcases in a car driving towards an airport, and I called Mark and I said ‘I can’t go, I’m going to stay at Cincinnati,’” Hinton said Monday. “I was supposed to have gone with him.”Hinton stayed at Cincinnati for two more seasons before following Brian Kelly to Notre Dame for another two years.Now in his third year at OSU, Hinton said he expects Dantonio to use anything he can to motivate the Spartans for Saturday’s matchup.“I do know Mark very well. The thing that’s really interesting about Mark and that group, they are they have a unique way of saying, ‘OK, I’m going to put the chip on my shoulder somewhat,’” Hinton said. “There’s going to be something that comes out of this press conference, I’m going to guarantee you they’re going to put on a bulletin board somehow, some way, the world’s against them.”Dantonio acknowledged his relationship with Hinton during his weekly press conference Tuesday and said he believes a motivated team is key to winning a big game.“Sometimes I do think you have to play with an edge,” Dantonio said. “I think this is a physical type — I’m talking football in general is a very physical game and it’s a very emotional game and you have to have your tank full, emotionally full to be able to play through the ups and downs of a football game.”Dantonio isn’t the only former Buckeye assistant wearing green and white nowadays as longtime OSU offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman (2001-11) is in his second season as the Spartans co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.Current OSU co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell, who has been a Buckeye assistant since 2002, said Monday that he considers his peers in East Lansing more of acquaintances than friends.“Friends would probably be someone you talk to on a weekly basis or maybe monthly basis. If that’s the case, I don’t think I have a whole lot of friends,” Fickell said. “The reality is there is a lot of people over there (Michigan State) that I have known, I have worked with and have some long-standing relationships with.”From a game plan standpoint, OSU coach Urban Meyer said he doesn’t expect a big change from the Spartan staff.“The one thing about their coach and coaching staff, they’re pretty set in what they do. They’re really good at it,” Meyer said Monday. “But they’ll have a little wrinkle here and there that we have to be ready for. That’s why we’re watching what we did against them last year. And how do you prepare for it? We anticipate and you give them that rep in practice. That’s the only way to do it.”Friends or not, the Buckeyes and Spartans are scheduled to kick off from Spartan Stadium at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Sophomore Eleanor Harvey (left) competes at the 2015 NCAA National Championships in Columbus.Credit: Courtesy of OSU athleticsCollegiate athletes are rarely given the opportunity to travel to a foreign country to compete.But four members of the Ohio State’s co-ed fencing team are set to get that chance. Freshman epee Marc-Antoine Blais Belanger, freshman sabre Hector Florencia, freshman foil Maximilian Chastanet and sophomore foil Eleanor Harvey are scheduled to travel to Uzbekistan and compete from Wednesday through April 9 in the Junior World Championships.OSU’s fencing coach of 15 years, Vladimir Nazlymov, said while the game has changed through the years, the objective stays the same.“Fencing today has undergone a lot of change over time and has become more aggressive,” Nazlymov said. “Our goal is to recruit guys who can earn medals in the world championships. We always fight for first.”Harvey, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, has fenced for 10 years and is set to take part in her sixth junior world championships. Harvey said she has some added pressure this time around after a high finish in 2014.“Last year, I came in second at the Junior World Championships, so this year I feel pretty compelled to do well,” Harvey said. “My goal is definitely to medal. I’ve done one Junior World Cup this year and I came in second, so that showed me I have the ability to compete.”Harvey said the most challenging aspect of fencing is the planning and preparation involved.“There has to be so many things that are working for you in one day in order for you to fence well,” she said. “You have to feel really good physically, you have to be mentally focused and sharp and not distracted and you have to be thinking about the right things. It’s definitely challenging considering how many things have to be working for you to have a good day.”Harvey added that collegiate fencing in the United States is much different than fencing in her home country of Canada.“There are a lot more people to fence here,” she said. “University fencing in Canada is very similar to recreational fencing. If I would’ve stayed in Canada, I couldn’t have fenced at the collegiate level that I would have liked to, as I am here at Ohio State.”The World Championships are set to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for the first time. The competition is expected to feature more than 1,000 athletes from countries around the world, according to the International Fencing Federation.
Sophomore safety Jordan Fuller (4) runs the ball in the opposite direction after intercepting a pass intended for an Indiana wide receiver. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorEach game, the momentum can shift from one team to the other on one play. Every week, we will list five plays, elements of plays or series of plays that made the most significant impact in Ohio State’s games. Here’s the five plays that mattered most in No. 2 Ohio State’s 49-21 victory at Indiana.Sheffield, Fuller save a scoreOhio State was trailing 7-3 early in the second quarter when Indiana had possession. Following an Indiana fourth-down conversion that extended the drive into the Buckeyes’ red zone, safety Jordan Fuller intercepted Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow’s pass on the goal line to save a would-be touchdown.Cornerback Kendall Sheffield deflected the pass intended for Indiana’s Donovan Hale, and it fell into Fuller’s arms. The sophomore safety, who made his first-career start Thursday, returned it 40 yards, sparking an Ohio State drive that ended in a 19-yard field goal by Sean Nuernberger.Ohio State trailed 7-6 instead of potentially facing a 13- deficit. Terry McLaurin’s block on Campbell touchdownAt the 4:56 mark in the third quarter, H-back Parris Campbell electrified the Buckeyes’ sideline with his 74-yard, breakaway touchdown reception to retake the lead, 27-21, just 18 seconds after Indiana reclaimed the advantage. However, one might have missed McLaurin sealing the edge, allowing Campbell to display his world-class speed.McLaurin was arguably Ohio State’s best blocking receiver in 2016, and he showed why in a pivotal moment of the game. Matched up against Indiana defensive back Rashard Fant, McLaurin steered Fant to the ground as Campbell raced past the rest of the defense..@PCampbell21 hauls it in……aaand he’s gone. @OhioStateFB regains the lead in lightning-quick fashion! https://t.co/2WR83hQQuM— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 1, 2017Ohio State never relinquished the lead after that.Cornell forced fumble puts game on iceOhio State’s defensive line is deep, there’s no questioning that. However, it’s doubtful many foresaw defensive tackle Jashon Cornell making a profound impact this early in the season.The third-year player from St. Paul, Minnesota, rushed Indiana’s left guard on third down with 12:42 to play, sacked Lagow and forced him to fumble on the Indiana 11. The next play, quarterback J.T. Barrett found wide receiver Binjimen Victor for a score, widening the lead to 42-21.Dobbins converts on fourth down before go-ahead scoreTrailing 14-13 with 7:47 on the clock in the third quarter, coach Urban Meyer put his trust in the offensive line and freshman running back J.K. Dobbins on fourth-and-1 at the Indiana 12. Dobbins followed center Billy Price up the middle for three yards and a first down.Dobbins was the workhorse for the Buckeyes in his first career game, but what made this play particularly important was that two plays later: Barrett punched in the go-ahead score, which came on the heels of Campbell’s dropped would-be touchdown reception.The Buckeyes hadn’t had many opportunities in the red zone before this moment, so Meyer rolled the dice and Dobbins seized the moment.Worley makes pivotal third-down stopOhio State had finally built a two-possession lead following Johnnie Dixon’s 59-yard touchdown run-and-catch towards the end of the third quarter. One more score could have put the game out of reach, but first, the defense needed to get the ball back in it’s offense’s hands.On third-and-1 around the one-minute mark in the third, linebacker Chris Worley attacked the line and stuffed Indiana running back Mike Majette behind the line. The tackle forced an Indiana punt from its 20-yard line and put a tired Hoosier defense back on the field.
This is the moment a ferry crashes into a pier on the Isle of Man as its captain tries to dock the vessel in strong winds.Services from Douglas to the UK were disrupted on Sunday after the Ben-my-Chree, which sailed from Heysham, Lancashire, collided with the pier. The Isle of Man Steam-Packet Company said no passengers or crew were injured. 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.
Carnivore Keeper Rosa King with the tigers at Hamerton Zoo Park, on World Tiger DayCredit:Peterborough Tel / SWNS.com The district council, which is responsible for issuing the zoo’s licence, said: “Both the police and the council are working together within routine protocols to progress investigations into the incident as efficiently and effectively as possible.”It has emerged the zoo’s owners were warned about their ageing barriers four years ago.The zoo described Ms King’s death as a “freak accident”, but it was heavily criticised in an inspection by officials in 2013 that forced it to make improvements. A Cambridgeshire Police spokeswoman said the decision to collaborate on the case had been made on Tuesday afternoon, but could not say why the force had changed its mind.A spokesman for the zoo said it was “co-operating fully with the investigation that is currently being conducted by Huntingdonshire District Council Environmental Health Department”. The wildlife park opened in June 1990 and covers 25 acres. It includes enclosures for Malaysian tigers, Bengal tigers, cheetahs, wolves, corsac foxes, kangaroos as well as a variety of birds, reptiles and domestic animals.The zoo opened a new enclosure for its Malaysian tigers in July last year. Police have launched an investigation into the death of zookeeper Rosa King, who was mauled by a tiger, despite previously describing it as “non-suspicious”.The 33-year-old was fatally attacked during an incident at Hamerton Zoo Park near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, on Monday.Emergency services were called to the scene at around 11.15am but initially described Rosa’s death as “non-suspicious”. However, they have since launched a joint investigation with Huntingdon District Council, and officers were today seen arriving at the zoo. Show more 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.
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 study authors are calling for population-wide programmes to help improve health and the socioeconomic circumstances of women before and during pregnancy.Co-author of the study, Professor Anders Hjern, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, said: “This study shows that the main explanations for the differences in child mortality rates between England and Sweden are systemic, and beyond the reach of healthcare services alone.“The key factors here are likely to include Sweden’s broader welfare programs that have provided families with an economic safety net for over 50 years, the free and accessible educational system, including early child care, and public health policies for many lifestyle issues such as obesity, smoking and alcohol use.” These records included information on the mother’s age, family’s socioeconomic position, as well as length of pregnancy, the child’s birth weight, gender, and whether they had any birth anomalies.Overall, the study included more than 3.9 million English births, including 11392 deaths, and more than 1 million Swedish births and 1927 deaths.Between the ages of two days to four years old, the child mortality rate for England was 50 per cent higher than for Sweden – 29 deaths per 10000 children in England, vs 19 deaths per 10000 children in SwedenIf the child mortality rate was the same in England as in Sweden 607 fewer child deaths per year would have occurred in England, equivalent to 6073 fewer child deaths in total from 2003-2012.The authors said women in Sweden were better at maintaining a healthy weight, eating well, avoiding drugs, alcohol and smoking and keeping their weight down in pregnancy.They pointed out that England the most deprived people have a seven-fold lower income than the least deprived, while the gap is only four times in Sweden, suggesting that many more people in England are socioeconomically disadvantaged.Commenting on the study, Dr Ronny Cheung, of The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: “We know that deprivation plays a major part and this can lead to higher rates of poor mental health, increased chance of alcohol or substance misuse, and obesity. The study used medical data from the NHS and Swedish health services to compare births from 2003 to 2012, and track the children’s health and death records up to their fifth birthday. “Babies of the most deprived families are more likely to be born premature or with low weight than the most affluent ones, and twice as likely to die in the first year of life.“As the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, we have little chance of catching up with our European neighbours without social inequalities being addressed.” Hundreds of babies are dying needlessly in England every year because their mothers smoke, drink, use drugs, or are obese, a new study suggests.Researchers from UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health compared death rates of under-5s to those in Sweden, a country with similar levels of economic development and healthcare. They found that deaths occur one and half times more often in England, equating to 600 extra deaths a year.Writing in The Lancet, the study authors said that poorer maternal health during pregnancy caused babies to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight. Children in England are also more likely to have more birth anomalies such as congenital heart defects than in Sweden.“While child deaths are still rare, the UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe,” said lead author Dr Ania Zylbersztejn.“Babies born prematurely or with low birth weight have an increased risk of early death, and those who survive are more likely to have chronic ill health or disability.“Families need to be better supported before and during pregnancy to improve maternal health, and in turn to give all children a healthy start in life.”