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Two more draft-eligible Buckeyes opt to remain at Ohio State

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It’s been a banner day for Ohio State when it comes to staving off the NFL for another year.

Earlier in the day, wide receiver Parris Campbell announced that he would be eschewing the NFL draft and returning to the Buckeyes for the 2018 season.  Not long after, another receiver, Johnnie Dixon, along with defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones announced that they too opted against declaring in order to come back to OSU for another season.

The return of Jones is the more surprising of the two most recent ones as he had been viewed in some corners as a potential first-round pick.

Dixon led the Buckeyes in receiving touchdowns with eight and yards per catch at 23.4.  For the season, he totaled 18 catches for 422 yards, both career highs

Thus far, Ohio State has lost cornerback Denzel Ward (HERE), defensive end Sam Hubbard (HERE) and linebacker Jerome Baker (HERE) to early entry into the draft.  The deadline for the rest of the draft-eligible players to declare is Jan. 15.

No. 8 Ohio State awaits CFP fate after toppling No. 4 Wisconsin to take B1G title

Associated Press
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It wasn’t 59-0, but it might be just enough to do the job. On the same stage that Ohio State used a Big Ten Championship win over Wisconsin to launch an 11th hour run to the College Football Playoff and an eventual national championship three years ago, No. 8 Ohio State hopes to do the same after taking down undefeated No. 4 Wisconsin 27-21 to win the Big Ten title.

J.T. Barrett famously did not play in the 2014 rout, but the fifth-year senior created his own legend by leading the Buckeyes to the win six days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to lead the Buckeyes with 211 passing yards, 60 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.

The win pushes Ohio State to 11-2 on the season and gives the Buckeyes two wins over top-10 foes, bolstering the Buckeyes’ case as they look to edge 11-1 and fifth-ranked Alabama to reach their third Playoff in four seasons — all of which would come under controversial circumstances. The 2014 blowout of Wisconsin — with Hall of Fame Badgers coach Barry Alvarez serving on the selection committee — allowed Ohio State to pass both TCU and Baylor on Selection Sunday. A year ago, Ohio State became the first non-conference champion to reach the Playoff, beating out a 2-loss Penn State team that both won the head-to-head matchup over the Buckeyes and and claimed the Big Ten championship.

And now Ohio State looks to become both the first 2-loss team and the first team to suffer a blowout loss to reach the 4-team field.

Trailing 21-10 at the half, Wisconsin pulled within one score with a 46-yard Rafael Gaglianone field goal to open the third quarter, but Ohio State answered with a 27-yard Sean Nuernberger boot. 

The score remained at 24-13 when Barrett tossed his second interception of the night, which Leon Jacobs grabbed and returned to the Wisconsin 48-yard line. Given the short field, Wisconsin’s offense charged to its first offensive touchdown of the night, a 1-yard Chris James plunge that literally ripped the Lucas Oil Stadium turf in two.

After a 15-minute delay in which grounds workers repaired the field, Alex Hornibrook found Troy Fumagalli for a 2-point conversion to pull the Badgers within 24-21 with 12:39 remaining. 

Ohio State’s next possession consumed 7:19 of the clock over a 15-play march, extended by a 4th-and-1 conversion by Barrett, but stalled at the Wisconsin 3. A 20-yard Nuernberger field goal did not put Wisconsin away, but did force the Badgers to score a touchdown to win instead of needing a field goal to tie.

Wisconsin moved only 19 yards on the ensuing possession, as Paul Chryst bet on his defense by electing to punt on a 4th-and-3 from his own 38 with 3:20 to play and a full compliment of timeouts. That gamble paid off when Barrett threw behind a wide open J.K. Dobbins on 3rd-and-5, giving Wisconsin the ball back at its own 30 with 2:59 to go.

Wisconsin moved the ball as far as the Ohio State 43, but a called holding penalty and a missed pass interference flag pushed the Badgers back to a 1st-and-20 and the drive could not recover. Hornibrook fired three straight incomplete passes and was intercepted on fourth down by Damon Webb to allow Ohio State to seal the win.

A Wisconsin turnover started the scoring. The Badgers moved into the Ohio State red zone on their first possession, but Hornibrook’s lob near the end zone was intercepted by Denzel Ward at the 4-yard line. The Buckeyes needed only four plays to traverse the 96 yards ahead of them, the last 84 coming on a Barrett pass to Terry McLaurin to open the scoring.

Barrett then gifted Wisconsin a touchdown with a 9-yard pick-six to Wisconsin’s Andrew Van Ginkel. He quickly erased that score, though, completing a 4-play, 75-yard drive with a 57-yard snatch-and-dash to Parris Campbell, giving Ohio State a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After three straight three-and-outs, Ohio State again put together another blitzkrieg drive, this time moving 82 yards in three plays, 77 of which came on a Dobbins run. Barrett pushed the lead to 21-7 with a 1-yard plunge one play later.

Needing a score to stay in the game, Wisconsin drove to the Ohio State 37, but Chryst elected to punt on a 4th-and-3 instead of going for it or kicking a 54-yard field goal. The decision immediately worked out, though, when Van Ginkel forced a Mike Weber fumble at the Ohio State 11, leading to a 28-yard Gaglianone with 3:42 left in the half. 

Nuernberger’s 43-yard field goal on the final play of the half was blocked.

No. 8 Ohio State all over No. 4 Wisconsin halfway through B1G title game

Associated Press
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No. 8 Ohio State’s offense is simultaneously blowing No. 4 Wisconsin off the field and keeping the Badgers in the game, as the Buckeyes hold a 21-10 lead at the break in the Big Ten Championship. Ohio State’s attack not only put up three scores of its own, but also directly contributed to both of the Badgers’ scores.

But it was a Wisconsin turnover that started the scoring. The Badgers moved into the Ohio State red zone with a great chance to open the scoring, but Alex Hornibrook‘s lob near the end zone was intercepted by Denzel Ward at the 4-yard line. The Buckeyes needed only four plays to traverse the 96 yards ahead of them, the last 84 coming on a Barrett pass to Terry McLaurin to open the scoring.

Barrett then gifted Wisconsin a touchdown with a 9-yard pick-six to Wisconsin’s Andrew Van Ginkel. He quickly erased that score, though, completing a 4-play, 75-yard drive with a 57-yard snatch-and-dash to Parris Campbell, giving Ohio State a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After three straight three-and-outs, Ohio State again put together another blitzkrieg drive, this time moving 82 yards in three plays, 77 of which came on a J.K. Dobbins run. Barrett pushed the lead to 21-7 with a 1-yard plunge one play later.

Needing a score to stay in the game, Wisconsin drove to the Ohio State 37, but Paul Chryst elected to punt on a 4th-and-3 instead of going for it or kicking a 54-yard field goal. The decision immediately worked out, though, when Van Ginkel forced a Mike Weber fumble at the Ohio State 11, leading to a 28-yard Rafael Gaglianone with 3:42 left in the half. 

Sean Nuernberger‘s field goal on the final play of the half was blocked.

Hornibrook closed the half hitting 8-of-16 passes for 103 yards with an interception and Jonathan Taylor, who entered the game averaging 150 yards a game and seven a carry, was limited to 25 yards on 10 attempts. Despite gaining seven first downs and averaging just 4.54 yards per play, Wisconsin possessed the ball inside Ohio State territory four times in the half — and came away with just three points.

Wisconsin owned a 2-to-1 time of possession edge in the half and ran 35 plays to Ohio State’s 33, but the Buckeyes did much more with the ball in their hands. Barrett hit 8-of-16 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and Dobbins racked up 90 yards on six carries. As a team, Ohio State rushed for 127 yards on 17 carries and averaged 9.36 yards per play on 309 total yards.

It’s at this point we should remind you Wisconsin’s No. 1 ranked total defense managed to limit opponents to 236.9 yards per game while playing half of its schedule against teams that ranked No. 101 or lower in total offense.

Ohio State will receive to open the second half.

Two Saquon Barkley TDs help Penn State hold halftime lead at Ohio State

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For the second straight week, Penn State took a 14-0 lead just minutes into the game, but this time they did it on the road to silence the Ohio State crowd a bit out of the gates. Penn State also capitalized on a controversial call by the Big Ten officials and holds a 28-17 lead on the Buckeyes at halftime of a colossal Big Ten showdown.

Saquon Barkley returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to get Penn State off to a great start with a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.

After the defense forced a fumble by Parris Campbell, the Nittany Lions took an early 14-0 lead on a Trace McSorley pass to DaeSean Hamilton inside the red zone on third down. After Ohio State got on the board with a field goal, Penn State went back to work a couple of possessions later and extended their lead to 21-3 on a 36-yard touchdown run by Barkley, getting a key downfield block by McSorley. An official review checked to make sure Barkley did not step out of bounds and upheld the initial call for the touchdown.

Down 18 points at home, Ohio State was already getting desperate for a touchdown, and they finally got it with a J.T. Barrett touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin to cut into the Penn State lead. The pass was Barrett’s 91st career touchdown pass, breaking the Big Ten record previously set by Drew Brees of Purdue.

Penn State did get a lucky break following a terrific kick return following the Ohio State touchdown. McSorley was picked off in the end zone but a pass interference call on Ohio State negated the interception, and McSorley ran in for a score on the next play to push the lead to 28-10. The call that will be scrutinized can be seen here…

Ohio State gets the ball to start the second half. It’s still anyone’s game with first place in the Big Ten East on the line.