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Ryan Day’s first staff decision removes interim tag for Brian Hartline

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Ryan Day may have to wait for one more game to really be Ohio State’s head coach, but the successor to soon-to-be-retired Urban Meyer is already working to put together his coaching staff in Columbus. On Saturday, Day’s first official staff decision was made with the removing of an interim tag for wide receivers coach Brian Hartline. Hartline was officially elevated to being the permanent wide receivers coach for Ohio State moving forward.

“Brian is a terrific young coach and mentor to our players and I am thrilled he is on our staff permanently now,” Day said in a released statement. “Brian was displaying outstanding leadership qualities when he was a quality control coach, and his efforts coaching the wide receivers this season are a huge reason we are Big Ten champions and headed to the Rose Bowl.”

Hartline joined the Ohio State coaching staff in 2017 as a quality control coach with the wide receivers. He was named interim wide receivers coach following the dismissal of former receivers coach Zach Smith this summer.

Ohio State wide receivers played a huge role for the Buckeyes this season en route to a Big Ten championship run that will take the team out west to play in the Rose Bowl next month. Ohio State receivers caught 291 passes for 4,211 yards and 43 touchdowns, fueling a run to being a Heisman Trophy finalist for quarterback Dwayne Haskins. All are new school records for receivers, which were led by Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin and K.J. Hill. Freshman Chris Olave proved ready to step up in a big spot too with a breakout performance in the regular season finale against Michigan to clinch the Big Ten East Division.

Time will tell if Day feels a need to make any further staff changes once the season is complete and the Buckeyes officially move into the post-Meyer era under Day’s leadership.

Looking for style points, Ohio State leads Northwestern in Big Ten championship game at half, 24-7

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Considering the events that have unfolded earlier on championship Saturday in college football, Ohio State may be in a position to need to win impressively against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game. After 30 minutes, Ohio State leads the Wildcats, 24-7.

Ohio State started the game the way it needed with a 10-play drive traveling 77 yards and ending with a touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins to Terry McLaurin. The defense then forced Northwestern to go three-and-out to get the ball back quickly. But after Northwestern’s defense turned in a quick defensive stand, Northwestern running back John Moten IV took off for a 77-yard run against the Buckeyes defense for a game-tying score. It was the seventh time this season Ohio State had given up a play of at least 70 yards.

But then Northwestern’s offense appeared to hit a wall. A three-and-out was followed by two straight possessions ending with turnovers; an interception in the end zone thrown by Clayton Thorson and then a Thorson fumble just moments after the Wildcats had picked off a pass from Haskins. Ohio State managed to tack on a field goal to take a 17-7 lead and has remained in control as the game approached halftime. Haskins made sure the lead was given a bit more of a cushion before the half with a 42-yard touchdown pass to McLaurin late in the half. Haskins is already up to 249 passing yards with two touchdowns.

If Northwestern is going to make a comeback in this game, they will have to do so without leading receiver Flynn Nagel. Nagel has been ruled out for the remainder of the game after limping off the field in the first half.

Maryland running game gashing Ohio State, Buckeyes on upset alert

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Is No. 10 Ohio State being caught looking ahead, or is Maryland simply taking advantage of defensive holes the Buckeyes have had all season? The Terrapins have put Ohio State in a difficult spot at halftime in College Park with freshman running back Anthony McFarland already rushing for 231 yards and two scores to help put Maryland on top of Ohio State, 24-17. Ohio State had a chance to draw even just before halftime but fumbled the ball at the Maryland one-yard line.

It was an incredibly sloppy start to the game for the Ohio State defense. McFarland ripped off an 81-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Maryland recovered a loose ball that fell in a perfect spot with Ohio State not prepared to recover. Ohio State’s defense forced a fumble one play later though to limit the damage. McFarland took off running for a 75-yard run after Ohio State settled for a field goal. Maryland took a 17-3 lead with their own field goal before the end of the first quarter.

Ohio State cut into the lead in the second quarter with Dwayne Haskins tossing a 68-yard touchdown strike to Terry McLaurin on the first play after a missed field goal try by the Terps. But the Ohio State defense failed on the ensuing drive by giving up a touchdown drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown run by Javon Leake.

But the Buckeyes did have one more answer with an eight-play 75-yard drive that was wrapped up by a J.K. Dobbins leap and stretch over a pile at the goal line for the score. Ohio State has not used Mike Weber in the running game, although he has been spotted on the sideline in uniform. A reason for his absence from this game has not been made public.

Tate Martell throws first career TD as Ohio State is routing Rutgers

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Dwayne Haskins has thrown for three touchdowns and freshman Tate Martell has thrown his first career touchdown as Ohio State is on cruise control against Rutgers in Columbus this afternoon. Ohio State is leading the Scarlet Knights in the Big Ten opener for each school, 35-0 at halftime.

Rutgers has traditionally struggled mightily when taking to the road against the top teams around the Big Ten, and today is proving to be no exception to that rule. Rutgers started the game by fumbling on the third play of the opening drive, which led to an Ohio State touchdown (Haskins to Johnnie Dixon). Rutgers then punted on their next five possessions, with four three-and-outs in that stretch. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s offense has only had to punt twice. Ohio State has out-gained Rutgers 310-49 and has 19 first downs to just three for Rutgers.

J.K. Dobbins has the only rushing touchdown for the Buckeyes so far. Dobbins has rushed for a game-high 73 yards too. Mike Weber has added 33 yards in the running game. Both should have an early rest in the second half, if they are used at all.

Martell’s first career touchdown pass was to Terry McLaurin, a 51-yard play.

Go ahead and Sharpie Ohio State in for a 2-0 start, including 1-0 in Big Ten play.

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

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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.