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Marshon Lattimore becomes sixth Buckeye, third OSU DB to leave early for 2017 NFL draft

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Ohio State’s defensive backfield has taken yet another hit, albeit a largely expected one.

Following in the footsteps of others, Marshon Lattimore announced via Twitter that he will be leaving OSU early and making himself available for the April NFL draft.  The cornerback would’ve had two years of eligibility remaining had he decided to return.

A redshirt sophomore in 2016, Lattimore tied for second on the Buckeyes in interceptions with four. That total was also tied for sixth in the Big Ten, and he was named first-team all-Conference by the coaches after the regular season.

His first two seasons in Columbus were marred by leg injuries that, after surgery, caused him to take a redshirt his true freshman season and sidelined him for nearly half of 2015.

The other of the trio of defensive backs who are leaving early are cornerback Gareon Conley (HERE) and safety Malik Hooker (HERE).  Linebacker Raekwon McMillan (HERE), wide receiver Noah Brown (HERE) and running back/wide receiver Curtis Samuel (HERE).

Curtis Samuel latest to leave Buckeyes early for NFL; Tyquan Lewis confirms he’s returning

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Since the end of their 2016 season, Ohio State had seen four of their Buckeyes football players leave eligibility on the table.  Monday, a fifth did the same.

On his Twitter account very early Monday afternoon, running back/wide receiver Curtis Samuel announced that he will bidding adieu to Columbus and saying hello to the NFL and its April draft.

Samuel was the only player at the FBS level to have at least 700 yards receiving (865) and rushing (771) this year, while scoring eight touchdowns on the ground and seven through the air.  The Associated Press tapped the Brooklyn, NY, native as a first-team All-American following the 2016 season.

With the departure of Samuel today along with wide receiver Noah Brown over the weekend, K.J. Hill (18 catches, 262 yards) will be the Buckeyes’ leading returning wide receiver in 2017.

In addition to Samuel and Brown, cornerback Gareon Conley (HERE), safety Malik Hooker (HERE) and linebacker Raekwon McMillan (HERE) have all declared early for the draft.

The Buckeyes did get some good news on the early-entry front as Tyquan Lewis, the Big Ten’s Defensive Lineman of the Year, confirmed that he will be returning to school for another season.

WR Noah Brown becomes fourth Buckeye to leave early for 2017 draft

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Ohio State’s first three early departures for the 2017 NFL draft were somewhat expected.  Their fourth will likely raise an eyebrow or two.

On his personal Twitter account Saturday night, Noah Brown surprisingly announced that he has “decided to forego my remaining years of eligibility and will be declaring for the 2017 NFL draft.” A redshirt sophomore, the wide receiver would’ve had two years of eligibility remaining.

After playing in 13 games as a true freshman in 2014, and catching one pass for nine yards, Brown missed the entire 2015 season because of a significant leg injury. Returning in 2016, the 6-2, 218-pound receiver was second on the team with 32 catches for 402 yards, and tied for the team lead with seven receiving touchdowns.

Four of those touchdowns came in the win over Oklahoma in Week 3.  One of those scores was a thing of beauty.

The first of the three Buckeyes to declare early were all defensive players — cornerback Gareon Conley (HERE), safety Malik Hooker (HERE) and linebacker Raekwon McMillan (HERE).

In surviving Northwestern, Urban Meyer passes Bob Stoops for most wins in first 15 years as coach

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It came a week later than expected, and was hardly easy, but Urban Meyer added another line to what will ultimately be a Hall of Fame résumé.

Coming off the upset loss to Penn State in Week 8, sixth-ranked Ohio State bounced back with a hard-fought 24-20 Week 9 win over stubborn Northwestern in Columbus. The Wildcats, who exit the game at 4-4, entered it as a nearly four-touchdown underdog and were looking for their first road win over the Buckeyes since 1971 and their first over the same team since 2004.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a 10-0 lead through the first quarter, only to see the Wildcats tie the game at 17-all in the third quarter.  A Curtis Samuel four-yard run with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game gave the Buckeyes the lead.  The Wildcats drove to the OSU three-yard line on the ensuing drive, but a pair of negative plays, including a backbreaking holding penalty, forced a field goal that cut the lead to four.

A J.T. Barrett pass for 16 yards to Noah Brown on third-and-8 and then a Barrett 35-yard run on third-and-10 helped bleed the clock as the Wildcats couldn’t get the ball back as the Buckeyes ran out the clock.

Barrett and the Buckeyes again struggled in the passing game, especially downfield, as Barrett’s 32 completions resulted in just 223 yards. OSU added 208 yards on the ground, with Mike Weber accounting for a game-high 87 of those.

The win officially marks the 161st win of Meyer’s stellar career, pushing him past Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (160) for the most victories in the first 15 seasons as a head coach. Stoops had passed both Barry Switzer of Oklahoma (148) and Tom Osborne of Nebraska (147) a couple of years ago.

Of those wins, 57 have come at OSU while he picked up 65 at Florida. He also had 22 in two seasons at Utah and 17 in his two years at Bowling Green to start his head coaching career.

Meyer’s career winning percentage of .852 (161-28) is the best of any current head coach with at least 10 years of experience. All-time at the FBS level, he trails only a Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne (.881, 105-12-5), ND/Boston College’s Frank Leahy (.864, 107-13-9) and Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry (.855, 77-11-5). The all-time leader at any level? Mount Union’s Larry Kehres with just 24 losses and three ties in 359 games (.929) over 27 seasons at the Div. III power.

The only current head coach, with at least a decade of experience, in Meyer’s percentage area code is Washington’s Chris Petersen at .826 (114-24). Alabama’s Nick Saban is fourth in that category, behind Meyer, Petersen and Stoops (.792, 183-48).

And the worst in this particular area? Doug Martin, who has a career winning percentage of .304 as he has just 38 wins in 125 career games during his 11 years as head coach at both Kent State and his current job, New Mexico State.

No. 2 Ohio State rallies for OT win at No. 8 Wisconsin

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In a classic battle of Big Ten powers, Wisconsin’s defense won the first half. But Ohio State’s won the second half and it won overtime, helping the No. 2 Buckeyes erase a 10-point deficit to defeat No. 8 Wisconsin 30-23 in overtime.

It was not the best night for Ohio State’s offense, but the Buckeyes made the plays they needed to make when they needed to make them, including overcoming two penalties at the top of the first overtime to set J.T. Barrett up for a 7-yard touchdown strike to Noah Brown.

On the ensuing possession, Alex Hornibrook found Robert Wheelwright for a 21-yard connection to set the Badgers up for a first-and-goal at the Ohio State 4. They would move no further. Corey Clement was stuffed on first down, and Hornibook threw incomplete on second down. Clement again rushed for no gain on third down, and Hornibrook’s fourth down pass never actually left his hand. Seemingly the entire Ohio State front busted through the Wisconsin offensive line, causing a startled and backpedaling Hornibook to pump fake. He was engulfed before he could load another pass, and Ohio State had its 20th consecutive win inside an opponent’s stadium.

Wisconsin (4-2 and a hard-fought 1-2 in the Big Ten) controlled the pace and the mood throughout the first half, limiting the Buckeyes to just two field goals and taking a 16-6 lead to the break.

But the Badgers’ controlled attack worked against them in the third quarter, when a three-and-out and an interception allowed Ohio State consecutive scoring drives — neither of them covering 50 yards — to grab a 20-16 lead on an 8-yard Barrett run on 3rd-and-6 with 14:09 to play. Wisconsin immediately responded with a touchdown drive of its own, chewing up 81 yards and 6:15 of clock, to regain a 23-20 advantage midway through the frame.

Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) answered, largely on the back of a 43-yard pass to Dontre Wilson, to set Tyler Durbin up for a 31-yard field goal to tie the game with 3:57 remaining.

Barrett battled through drops, rough conditions and an active defense to complete 17-of-29 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown and an end zone interception while rushing 21 times for 92 yards and two more scores. Hornibrook hit 16 of his 28 throws for 214 yards with a touchdown and a pick, while Clement rushed 25 times for 164 yards.