Think of the Houston Astros these past few seasons, and you’re probably picturing Jose Altuve, the team’s pint-sized sparkplug of a second baseman, or Carlos Correa, its megatalented modern-shortstop prototype. Perhaps you’re thinking of all the home runs launched by George Springer in the World Series last fall. Or maybe you enjoy great pitching, and you’re imagining bearded lefty Dallas Keuchel or rejuvenated legend Justin Verlander. Those are all good options, but the best player on the 2018 Astros — a club demonstrably better than the one that won last year’s World Series — has been a guy whose name is sometimes lost among the litany of stars on Houston’s roster: Alex Bregman.Out of all the potential candidates, it’s Bregman who is leading the Astros in wins above replacement,1Averaging together the WAR values found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. edging out Verlander by a couple tenths of a win. And he’s had to be that good, too, given some of the injuries his team has faced in its championship defense. Bregman’s MVP-caliber breakout is just what Houston needed to maintain (if not increase) its position as World Series front-runners — and it’s a testament to the franchise’s incredible talent pipeline. Although the Astros have already won a title and established themselves as an annual contender, they continue to get superstar performances from less-than-expected places.Bregman’s stellar 2018 campaign is the continuation of an ongoing development from top prospect (he was drafted second overall out of LSU in 2015) to big-league star. In just three MLB seasons, Bregman has nearly doubled his base-on-balls rate (from 6.9 percent as a rookie in 2016 to 12.8 percent this year) and halved his strikeout rate (from 24 percent to 12.6 percent), all while adding enough power to potentially clear 30 homers for the first time this season.2In fact, FanGraphs thinks he’ll end the year with exactly 30 bombs.In an age of ever-increasing strikeouts, Bregman has become the rare player who walks more than he whiffs, joining an elite club with Mike Trout and Jose Ramirez as power hitters who can make that claim. While he doesn’t crush the ball quite as hard as other WAR machines like Trout and Mookie Betts, Bregman’s tremendous strike-zone discipline helps him consistently get into advantageous counts — and punish pitchers when they do have to give him something to hit.Bregman is also surging at the right time. In addition to his heroics in the All-Star Game in July, he has a 1.030 on-base plus slugging since the beginning of June, which coincides with the Astros overtaking the surprising Seattle Mariners for first place in the AL West and building their lead to its current five-game state. Among team regulars over the past four weeks, Bregman has easily been Houston’s top hitter by OPS, and the Astros have otherwise struggled to hit (by their standards) over the same span, so it’s fair to say Bregman has rounded into peak form when Houston needed him most.Houston probably didn’t expect to lean so much on Bregman blossoming into a star this year. But it’s a nice luxury to get this kind of season from a guy who might not have been among their five best players a year ago. (He ranked sixth on the team in WAR last season.)The Astro who actually seemed poised for a monster year was Correa, after posting a couple of 5-WAR seasons before he even turned 23. Instead, he’s been limited by a back injury that has cost him 30 games and counting, with Bregman picking up the slack at shortstop in his stead. Correa is but one of a few underwhelming Astros this season, whether due to injuries or performance declines: Springer has taken a step back from his form of recent seasons (down from 4.8 WAR in 2017 to a 2.8-WAR pace3Pro-rated to 162 games. this year), Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick haven’t hit as well as usual, and Altuve is currently on the disabled list with a knee ailment. Meanwhile, the team’s once-dominant bullpen trio of Will Harris, Chris Devenski and Ken Giles — the latter of whom blew up, was demoted and then traded at the deadline for Roberto Osuna (himself serving a suspension for domestic violence) — had a combined ERA of 4.47.Nobody is going to feel sorry for Houston, of course, but it’s impressive that the team has still managed to win at a blistering 102-win pace in spite of those potential setbacks.It hasn’t all been because of Bregman, of course. Verlander, Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole are each having Cy Young-caliber seasons atop Houston’s rotation, and Keuchel has been his usual steady self, too. Together, the Astros’ staff is enjoying a season for the ages. Toss in some solid work out of the bullpen by Brad Peacock, who has a 3.09 ERA as a do-everything reliever — plus, let’s face it, pretty good seasons from the usual suspects (even in “down” years) — and Bregman’s gotten plenty of help carrying the load for Houston.But that fact that Bregman now officially stands right alongside Altuve, Correa and that stacked starting rotation among the Astros’ signature stars has been an important development for the defending champs. In a ridiculously top-heavy 2018 American League (hello, Red Sox, Yankees and Indians!), Bregman’s breakout has helped Houston keep pace with the best the game has to offer, and it’s given them plenty of reason to envision another championship banner hanging in Minute Maid Park.Check out our latest MLB predictions.
Perhaps this is partly a knee-jerk reaction to the special-teams carnage on display in Week 2, when NFL kickers missed 19 total kicks between field goals and extra points. (Although it should be noted that, on the whole, kickers have made 95.3 percent of their extra-point tries this season, which is right in line with the past couple years — and an improvement over their 94.4 percent mark from 2015, the first year at the new distance.)But maybe a better explanation is the fact that two-point conversions are working really, really well so far this year. When teams go for two, they’ve gotten into the end zone 63.2 percent of the time, which easily tops the success rates from any other season since 2006.2The first season of ESPN’s detailed play-by-play data. Remember that if the baseline accuracy rate for a regular extra-point is roughly 95 percent, a two-point conversion needs to succeed only 47.5 percent of the time to break even. So at 63 percent, the decision to go for two practically becomes a no-brainer!Of course, sustaining that 63 percent conversion rate will be pretty much impossible going forward. Prior to 2018, the league hadn’t even cracked 50 percent in any season since 2012. But the way in which teams are finding the end zone on conversions might offer some path toward sustainability. Two-point passes are being converted at a rate of 56 percent, up from their post-2005 average of 45 percent. And an even bigger leap has happened on runs, albeit in a small sample of 11 plays: 82 percent of two-point rushing attempts have found paydirt this year, way up from the historical average of 54 percent.Statheads have been saying for years that running in short-yardage situations is more effective than passing, and teams across the league have been proving that decisively this season, whether lined up on the 2-yard line after a touchdown or just in the course of regular play. In what Football Outsiders defines as “power” situations — third or fourth down, with 2 or fewer yards to go — runners are picking up the first down (or touchdown) 75 percent of the time this year, 6 percentage points more than their previous high going back to 2006. And although they haven’t figured into many two-point conversions yet in 2018,3Dallas’s Dak Prescott is the only QB to try a two-point run this year. quarterbacks are driving much of that short-yardage success, picking up the first down more than 96 percent of the time when rushing in power situations this season. (Some teams, like the Saints with Taysom Hill, are employing certain QBs as rushing specialists, which could add intrigue to conversion tries down the line.)Throw in gadget plays like Cleveland’s co-opted “Philly Special” during the Browns’ Week 3 win over the Jets, and teams may be only scratching the surface of their potential on two-point conversions early this season. After a few years of tinkering under the new rules — and perhaps a newfound willingness to accept perceived risks, following the influence of aggressive play-callers such as the Eagles’ Doug Pederson — coaches are finally starting to see the benefits that a second point after a TD can bring. Who knows? Maybe it won’t be long before we have to retrain ourselves to count in increments of eight, not seven, while doing the mental math of football.Check out our latest NFL predictions. It may be long overdue, but it appears that the NFL has finally learned to stop worrying and love the two-point conversion. Or at least that’s the leaguewide trend through four weeks in 2018.Three full seasons have passed since the league moved its extra-point distance to the 15-yard-line, making kickers boot the ball 33 yards for a PAT instead of the old, nearly automatic 20-yard distance. But head coaches seem to be embracing the trade-off between kicking and going for two more than ever this season. After they eschewed the extra point 14 times on Sunday, coaches have now gone for it after 11.8 percent of their touchdowns so far,1Through Sunday’s games. which (according to Pro-Football-Reference.com) is the highest rate for the first four weeks of any NFL season since the 1970 AFL merger.That continues a trend that has been generally building since that 2015 rule change, and it reverses a slight downturn from 2017:
Maybe you’re not into reading and you skipped our comprehensive breakdown of how EA Sports develops Madden ratings for 2,600 NFL players. Maybe you also passed on my story about what it took to get into the game and just how rough it would be for a normal person out on the NFL gridiron (even a virtual gridiron). We still have you covered with this short video produced by Paul DiNatale, Ryan Nantell and Patrick Smith on the whole process, from my grisly tryout to how I fared playing quarterback for the New York Giants.
After Andre Iguodala hit a game-sealing 3-pointer to help the Golden State Warriors even up the NBA Finals at one game apiece, he found himself in an unfamiliar place: the center of attention. Before a pivotal Game 3 tips off, we take a moment to look at Iggy’s impact on the Warriors dynasty.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
Members of the Maryland Terrapins celebrate a touchdown on Nov. 15, 2014 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. Credit: Courtesy of TNSIt’s been a bumpy start to the season for Maryland, and it does not look like it will level out any time soon. The Terrapins are sitting at 2-3 coming off back-to-back losses as they prepare to travel to Columbus on Saturday to take on top-ranked Ohio State.Here is a look at coach Randy Edsall’s team.Quarterback carouselIf you think the Buckeyes have had a complicated quarterback situation, think again.Maryland has reinvented what it means to have a quarterback controversy this season. It began during the offseason and has yet to subside.Redshirt junior Perry Hills won the three-way battle during fall camp and led the team to a season opening victory over Richmond — a Football Championship Subdivision program — but he was canned midway through Maryland’s disappointing loss to Bowling Green in favor of Caleb Rowe.The fellow redshirt junior stepped in and started the last three games for the Terrapins — a win over South Florida and back-to-back embarrassing losses against West Virginia and then-No. 22 Michigan — but struggled immensely.Rowe — who is dead last in passing efficiency among qualified quarterbacks — has thrown seven interceptions over the last two games, completed a harrowing 33 perecent of his passes and zero touchdowns. In the second half of both games, he was pulled for redshirt senior Daxx Garman.Sadly for Edsall, Garman hasn’t been able to stop the Terrapin ship from sinking.In his two relief appearances, the transfer from Oklahoma State has completed just six of 18 passes, has been sacked five times and tossed only one touchdown while also being picked off once.So which one of these underwhelming résumés will Edsall choose to start in Columbus?The coach said he does not even know, as he told reporters during his Sunday conference call that “everyone is in play.”In fact, Edsall stole a page from OSU coach Urban Meyer’s book, saying he might not announce his starter until Saturday at noon. As of Tuesday afternoon, Maryland’s depth chart lists all three as co-starters.However being on the road against the Buckeyes, it might not matter which of the three it is.No help on defenseWhen a team’s offense struggles, sometimes the defense bails it out by shutting down opponents. Just ask this year’s Buckeyes about it.Unfortunately for Maryland, the said scenario is not happening.The offense ranks 114th nationally and second-to-last in the Big Ten, just ahead of Penn State. Defensively, the Terrapins are not much better, as they are 109th in the country for total defense and second-to-last in the conference, narrowly ahead of Indiana.In its three losses, Maryland has given up point totals of 48, 45 and 28. Additionally, opponents are averaging 199 rushing yards per game.The lone bright spot for the Terrapin defense comes on the pass rush, as the unit is tied for fourth in the country with 19 sacks.But with the offense in a sizable slump — last week against Michigan it had only 105 yards — and the defense not being able to slow down opponents, victories appear like they will be hard to come by for Edsall’s Terrapins during conference play.Offensive line is innocentThe bad quarterbacking cannot be blamed on Maryland’s offensive line.The unit didn’t allow a sack in first three games and has let up just six overall — five of which have been when Garman was under center.Most of its success in pass protection can be attributed to experience.Redshirt junior left tackle Michael Dunn has started 30 consecutive games for Maryland, while redshirt senior right guard Andrew Zeller has appeared in 26 straight games — including 18 straight starts. Ryan Doyle, a redshirt senior, has a combined 31 starts at different positions on the O-line under his belt.The veteran presence these three provide has been valuable for the Maryland offense, despite its ineptitude in other areas.Mile-wide turnover marginIf turnovers have been slowing down OSU, then they have stopped Maryland.The Buckeyes have a turnover margin of minus-four — tying them for 101st in the country along with three other Big Ten teams (Minnesota, Nebraska and Purdue) — but the Terrapins are even further in the hole.Maryland has a turnover margin of minus-nine. Cincinnati is the only team with a greater deficit in the category.The Terrapins, however, do take the crown for most turnovers, as they have coughed up the pigskin 17 times — two more than Cincinnati and Florida Atlantic.With a defense as leaky as it is, the offense can’t afford to give opponents that many more offensive possessions, especially against the Buckeyes and the remainder of its conference foes.Beyond the BuckeyesAfter Saturday’s matchup versus OSU, Maryland will have a bye week before its scheduled contest against Penn State at home on Oct. 24. Kickoff time for that game is yet to be announced.
The Big Ten Championship meet is vital to the men’s and women’s cross country teams’ chances of making the National Championship meet. After placing 11th at the Pre-National meet, the women’s team is looking forward to a strong finish this Sunday at the Big Ten Championship meet.“I think if we’re top five, we’ve got a good chance to get in [to the National Championships],” women’s coach Chris Neal said.The Buckeyes have not fared well at the Big Ten Championships the past six years. Their highest finish was eighth in 2003.The women’s team is led by senior Katie Williams and juniors Jordan Jennewine, Sarah Foster and Ellen Birmingham.The Buckeyes can achieve a top five finish “if we’re able to pack four in tight with the kind of four-headed monster we got up front with Jordan [Jennewine], Foster, Katie Williams and Ellen Birmingham and get the low points we need,” Neal said.The women’s team is ranked No. 4 in its region — up from No. 6,its rank prior to the Pre-National meet.“I think [the Pre-Nationals] gave us the confidence going into Big Tens to beat teams like Michigan State and Michigan who maybe were ahead of us at the Pre-National meet,” Foster said.The men’s team is hoping to bounce back after its performance at Pre-Nationals, in which it finished 22nd out of 35 teams.One of the reasons for the finish was illness. Coach Robert Gary said one player did not travel with the team and several others were feeling flu-like symptoms.“I’m fully healthy again and so are our other guys who were feeling a little sick,” senior Jeff See said. “We’ve been having great workouts.”For the team to have any chance at making the National Championship meet, it needs a strong finish at the Big Ten Championships.If the Buckeyes can finish ahead of higher ranked teams at the meet, such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa, they could gain some points toward the National Championship meet.“We’re not trying to do all the math and figure out how many points we need and how well our team needs to do in order to qualify other than just being there on race day,” See said.The men’s team dropped to No. 8 in its region, down from No. 5, after the disastrous run at Pre-Nationals.The meets will be held Sunday at Penn State in State College, Pa.
With a trip to Wisconsin looming on Saturday, Ohio State wide receiver Jake Stoneburner is well-aware of the challenge that is keeping alive an undefeated season for the Buckeyes football team. The reality of it all, though, might be simple. “10-0 is great but if you lose your last two, what’s 10-0 for ya?” Stoneburner said. “We want to end the season without a loss.” The latter of the redshirt senior’s comments are, obviously, easier said than done. OSU – which finished 6-7 in 2011 – is eight days from its first undefeated season since 2002. A chance at perfection, however, was dashed the last time the Buckeyes played at Camp Randall Stadium. In 2010, the then No. 1-ranked Buckeyes were overpowered, 31-18, at the hands of Wisconsin, effectively ending OSU’s chances at an unblemished record and national championship. Now, more than wo years later, the Buckeyes find themselves one of four undefeated teams remaining in major college football (Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Oregon are the others) and No. 6 in the Associated Press‘ top 25 poll. Still, Stoneburner said, OSU is getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. Are the Buckeyes getting the respect they deserve? “No, not really,” Stoneburner said bluntly. “You know, they talk about (other) teams that are 10-0 or even one-loss teams before they talk about us. I don’t know if that’s because we have a bowl ban or we’re not in the BCS rankings, we’re only in one rankings.” The Dublin, Ohio, native said he thinks a lot of it has to do with OSU’s bowl ban, which was handed down to the university following NCAA violations stemming from 2010. “I think if we were playing in a bowl game, we’d maybe get talked about a little more,” he said. “For being 10-0, I kind of think we’re getting the short end of the stick.” A perceived lack of respect, though, on the national stage likely isn’t something coach Urban Meyer is concerned with. The former Florida coach said Wednesday he hasn’t even had a chance to look back on the season yet, nor would he describe the grind of the season as “fun.” “I don’t know if fun’s the appropriate word. You don’t have the time to really enjoy it until you have a chance to sit back,” Meyer said. “When I do, I enjoy it, I guess (that) is more of a proper word. I enjoy being around these players and these coaches and obviously representing Ohio State.” Meyer said this week’s focus remains squarely on the Badgers. The Buckeyes, according to Meyer, need to be “gap sound” in order to handle the different formations that Wisconsin will almost certainly present on Saturday. “There’s a time there’s four (or) there’s six linemen in the game, and there’s four or five to one side and two to the other,” Meyer said regarding the Badgers’ offensive line. “There’s six on one side, two on the other at one time. Six linemen on the right, two on the left. And that’s fine if you get lined up. If you don’t get lined up you get embarrassed.” Meyer said OSU can do two things to try to neutralize Wisconsin’s offensive formations, though. “You got to get lined up first and No. 2, you gotta tackle,” he said. “It’s crazy the formations that you’ll see.” OSU is scheduled to face the Badgers at 3:30 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
For whatever reason you want to chalk up, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas and Evan Ravenel seemed at ease taking questions from reporters at an otherwise mundane Friday press conference-even with a road trip to Michigan State looming. The two, though, wore wide grins for most of the session. Thomas even postulated the notion of what would happen if he and sophomore forward Sam Thompson combine their skill sets into one super player. “With my skills and his athleticism-man,” Thomas said, his eyes lit up at idea of such a thing. “It’d be crazy.” It seemed to establish the tone of the day which also saw Thomas assert that Thompson would be like Los Angeles Clippers standout Blake Griffin if he 20 pounds heavier. Maybe it was because they, and the rest of OSU’s No. 11-ranked men’s basketball team, notched their first win over a ranked opponent this season. Maybe it was because, in the process, they’d ridden themselves of the stigma that supposed them hapless against teams of their own athletic prowess. Maybe it was because said win was against then-No. 2 ranked and previously unbeaten Michigan. But like OSU (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) coach Thad Matta, though, Thomas and Ravenel agreed that a win like that might be best served with a short-term memory. Anything less could be cause for concern against a Spartan team (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) undefeated within the vaunted confines of the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. And even as the power structure in the Big Ten has changed in recent years, Matta said MSU’s house of horrors is as intimidating as any other place to play in the country. “I’d say it’s still right there in terms of toughest venues to play in,” Matta said. “It’s a great college environment.” Ravenel said OSU’s toughness, inevitably, will be tested. “I think Michigan State is probably one of the most physical teams you’ll ever get to play against in college basketball,” he said. “And that’s a credit to their coaching staff.” A coaching staff that has essentially assembled a program that Matta said has stood the test of time. “They play a certain way,” he said. And while Matta said the Spartans would have “certain alterations” in their game plan against OSU like they would for any other opponent, there’s certain things that the Tom Izzo-coached teams do exceptionally well. “You’ve got a team that is solid, they’ve got guys that can shoot, they’ve got guys that can rebound, they’ve got a strong low post game,” he said. Defensively, Ravenel said the teams are, in fact, actually quite similar. “The way that Coach Izzo gets his guys playing physical, lockdown defense, it’s just the way we do. We play physical,” he said. Whichever team can play more physical might be the game’s crux. OSU is set to take on MSU Saturday at 6 p.m. in East Lansing, Mich.
Junior quarterback Braxton Miller (5) runs the ball during a game against Indiana Nov. 23 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-14.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorWhether lined up as a quarterback or wide receiver, Ohio State junior quarterback Braxton Miller had no shortage of success running the ball against the Indiana defense in OSU’s 42-14 victory Saturday.“It would be hard for me to say that wasn’t the best he’s ever run that I’ve seen him play,” coach Urban Meyer said of Miller following the victory.On a day senior Carlos Hyde became the first running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season on a Meyer-coached team, it was Miller who stole the spotlight.Miller led the Buckeyes with 144 rushing yards on just 13 attempts, the third game in his OSU career in which he averaged more than 11 yards per carry.The quarterback ran for two touchdowns, and neither lacked theatrics.He accentuated his first scoring run, a 37-yard scamper, with a somersault flip into the end zone over the right front pylon.“I was just having a little bit of fun,” Miller said after the game.OSU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman did not find the end of Miller’s touchdown run as enjoyable.“He said he was just having fun out there, and I said, ‘Well, as long, you can have as much fun as you want, just don’t cost your team 15 yards,’” Herman said, who was worried about Miller picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the celebration.Miller’s second touchdown run came on a play Herman named “Jazzy,” which began with Miller lined up on the left side of the field as a wide receiver and redshirt-senior Kenny Guiton in his place at quarterback.Guiton started the play moving left toward Miller, but Miller came right on a reverse and took a pitch from Guiton. From there, Miller looked to pass but continued running forward and toward the right side of the field, capping the play by leaping and extending over a hit from a defender for a five-yard touchdown.“It’s a run/pass option and (the Indiana defense) covered the routes actually really good,” Herman said. “(Miller) has a run/pass option to throw it to (junior tight end Jeff) Heuerman or run it in himself … he did a hell of a job finding the end zone.”Meyer said he was “hoping (Miller) would throw it.”“He’s a great athlete,” Meyer said of Miller. “I’d rather him not do that, but do what he’s got to do. He played really well today.”It was important for the Buckeyes to have success from multiple rushing threats Saturday, as OSU went with a run-heavy game plan on a snowy, windy day at Ohio Stadium.“I went out there in pregame warmups and (the weather) was certainly affecting a lot of the throws,” Herman said. “When Mother Nature tells you ‘Don’t throw the football,’ you better listen to her, because she’s pretty demanding when it comes to that.”Still, on a day the Buckeyes ran the ball 39 times and only had 17 passing attempts, Miller completed 11 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns.Miller earned praise from Herman for three downfield throws that went for 25 yards or more: a 39-yard touchdown completion to junior wide receiver Devin Smith on a post route across the middle of the end zone, and two deep completions on seam routes by Heuerman for 34 and 25-yard gains.“Three unbelievable throws that stick out,” Herman said.Overall, Miller accounted for more than 64 percent of OSU’s total offense Saturday.Miller’s game was not without its mistakes, though. He had two fumbles, one of which was recovered by Indiana freshman defensive tackle Darius Latham for a takeaway. He also had a pass tipped in the backfield by Hoosiers’ redshirt-sophomore cornerback Michael Hunter and intercepted by redshirt-senior safety Greg Heban.“We got to protect the football better at our position,” Herman said. “I did a poor job of coaching him on that corner blitz that got tipped and intercepted, but the two fumbles from our position are certainly unacceptable.”Overall, however, Herman said Miller has been playing the best football of his OSU career “by far” this season.“(Miller) took a little step back against Illinois, didn’t have his greatest game, but I got asked if that was a cause for concern after that game and I said, ‘As long as it’s not a pattern,’” Herman said. “He prepared really, really well this week and played his you-know-what off, and yeah, I’m proud of him.”Miller only played one series in OSU’s second game against San Diego State and missed the next two games after suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee. In nine games, Miller has completed 67.7 percent of his passing attempts for 1,626 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions, while he has also rushed for 738 yards and five touchdowns.“He’s a freak,” junior defensive tackle Michael Bennett said. “He’s really developed as a passer this year, which was great to see because everyone knows his run threat. But you see him making passes that a lot of people can’t make, and I feel like he’s really starting to develop into that role of an NFL quarterback.”Statistically, Miller’s last two games against Illinois and Indiana have been his lowest passing outputs of the season in terms of yards, with the exception of the San Diego State game, in which he only attempted two passes before leaving with injury. But in those two games, he has rushed for the same combined number of rushing yards, 328, as he had in his first five games back from injury.“Good to see Braxton back out there looking like Braxton,” Hyde said. “I love to watch Braxton running the ball. He’s a very exciting player. Any minute, he can break off that long one or make somebody look silly, and it was exciting to be able to watch him.”Miller will look to continue making big plays, and the Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0) will be looking to extend their school-record win streak to 24, when they travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to play Michigan (7-4, 3-4) Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.
OSU junior attackman Carter Brown (14) scored six goals in the Buckeyes’ 15-12 win against Johns Hopkins on March 5 at Ohio Stadium.Credit: Courtesy of OSU athleticsFor the first time ever, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team defeated the nine-time NCAA Champions Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, 15-12, Sunday night at Ohio Stadium.“Awesome,” was the first word senior David Planning could muster to describe his team’s performance.“When you beat a team like that as a senior, at home, there’s no greater feeling in the world,” Planning said.Hopkins (4-6, 1-1) struck first with two early goals, but that proved to be the Blue Jays’ largest lead of the game. OSU (9-3, 2-0) registered goals from five different players, but all signs pointed to junior attackman Carter Brown.With Brown playing at the “X,” he found the back of the cage six separate times with five of those goals coming from behind-net wrap arounds.“It starts with the guys up top beating their guys. If the defense slides and starts to rotate, that makes my job really easy. I just make gains and come hard across the goal,” Brown said.But Carter was not the only Brown finding success on the field. For Johns Hopkins, junior Ryan Brown scored eight goals against the Buckeyes with one assist, giving him nine total points on the night.The game was tied nine different times as the Buckeyes struggled to pull away. But OSU redshirt-sophomore goaltender Tom Carey registered 14 saves to lead the Buckeyes’ defense.“The offense played great tonight. As a defense we didn’t play our best, but the offense had our back the whole game,” Carey said.Coach Nick Myers agreed that the OSU defense wasn’t at its best, but said he was still happy about how his team played overall.“Defensively, we knew we were going to have our hands full but I was proud of the way we fought for 60 minutes and ultimately came away with the victory,” Myers said.The win provided a lift for the Buckeyes after they fell to the Blue Jays in triple overtime last season.This time around, the OSU offense found its groove and scored more than 10 goals against Johns Hopkins for the first time in the program’s history.“We’ve been battling all week practicing so hard, but really it all starts in the back and Carey played awesome back there. We had (senior midfielder) Chris May winning faceoffs which gave us the possession, offense was just playing really simple and fast,” Brown said.Though OSU totalled 15 goals from five different players, Planning had arguably the highlight goal of the night at 13:06 in the second quarter. Sophomore attackman JT Blubaugh fed the outlet pass to Planning, who used a split dodge to beat two Hopkins defenders before rifling a shot to the back of the net.But for Planning, the night was about his teammates and the Buckeyes winning their second game in the Big Ten.“This is a whole team win, we had goals spread out throughout the entire team,” Planning said. “We are a team first and foremost. I’m so proud of what we have accomplished.”With two conference games behind them, Myers said the Buckeyes have to focus on what’s ahead.“For our men, the most important thing is to think about how to get better and get win number three next week. There will be a time to reflect on the season, but right now it’s time to get back, get our rest and improve as we head north for the weekend,” Myers said.The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich., at 2 p.m.