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Dwayne Haskins ties Ohio State record with 6 TDs as No. 3 Buckeyes avoid letdown vs. Indiana

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A year ago, Ohio State celebrated a thrilling one-point victory over Penn State only to be blitzed by Iowa the following week. This year, a week after another thriller of a one-point victory over Penn State, No. 3 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) did not look particularly sharp for a while against Indiana (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) but the Buckeyes used their talent advantage to avoid a letdown with a 42-26 victory over the Hoosiers.

Dwayne Haskins tied an Ohio State record previously held by J.T. Barrett and Kenny Guiton with six touchdown passes in the same game. That, along with 455 passing yards, was enough to forget about two interceptions thrown, one of which led to an Indiana touchdown that gave the Hoosiers a 17-14 lead in the second quarter. Ohio State responded with two touchdowns before halftime to take a lead into the break, but the Buckeyes restored order in the second half.

Ohio State allowed just one touchdown by Indiana in the third quarter while the offense continued to put points on the board. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns put the game out of reach for Indiana, who suddenly struggled to get some scoring opportunities. Patrick Ramsey did throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, but there was not enough in the tank to keep pace with a stronger and deeper (and more skilled and athletic) Ohio State on the road.

There was a scary moment on the Ohio State sidelines when head coach Urban Meyer was seen receiving medical assistance and going down to one knee with a hand on his head. His medical history certainly was a cause for some alarm, however, it was later reported Meyer had just collided with someone on the sideline while running down to give some instructions.

The Buckeyes remain the lone undefeated team in the Big Ten and now sit atop the Big Ten East standings tied in conference play with their rivals from Michigan. But while the Wolverines are about to embark on a challenging three-game stretch that could define their season, Ohio State will get some games that look to be very favorable for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State will stay home next week to play Minnesota. Indiana will play at home next week against Iowa.

J.T. Barrett sees bright future for Joe Burrow at LSU

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Joe Burrow never stood much of a chance to start a football game for Ohio State while J.T. Barrett was still around in Columbus. But even after Barrett has (finally) moved on to the next stage of his football career, Burrow still felt it was in his best interest to start anew with a transfer to LSU. As Burrow gets started with the hope of sparking the LSU offense this fall, his former teammate sees big things on the horizon.

“I think the biggest attribute for him is he’s smart and knows where to go with the ball,” Barrett said to media in New Orleans at an event for New Orleans Saints rookies (Barrett signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent following the NFL Draft), per The Times-Picayune.

Barrett recalled Burrow in practices making some plays that impressed him and others, even though Burrow was buried on the depth chart behind Barrett.

“He was making throws where I turned and looked at the coach like, ‘Ooh wee!’,” Barrett said.

Burrow has officially been added to the LSU football program, and he has two years of eligibility remaining to use in Baton Rouge. Burrow is expected to compete for the starting job with Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan, and Lowell Narcisse, but he does appear to be a trendy favorite to win the job before the start of the season. LSU opens the 2018 season in Arlington, Texas against the Miami Hurricanes in Week 1.

Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love among Lombardi Award candidates

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The college football season may be in the books for the 2017 season, bu there is still a piece of hardware to present to one of the sport’s top players from the most recent season. On Monday, the Lombardi Foundation unveiled a list of 21 players named as a candidate for the Lombardi Award for the 2017 season. This year, the award is open to players of any position based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency and the list of candidates includes a number of names you should be familiar with.

2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love, Saquon Barkley, Roquan Smith, and J.T. Barrett are all among the players nominated for the award. The list of 21 candidates will be whittled down to seven finalists by a select panel of award voters this week, and four of those finalists will be invited to the Lombardi Honors presentation for the awarding of the Lombardi Award. The seven initial finalists will be announced this coming Monday, January 22.

Saquon Barkley, Penn State (RB)
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State (QB)
Bradley Chubb, N.C. State (DE)
Tyrell Crosby, Oregon (OT)
DeShon Elliott, Texas (S)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (S)
Shaquem Griffin, UCF (LB)
Lamar Jackson, Louisville (QB)
Derwin James, Florida State (S)
Joel Lanning, Iowa State (LB/QB)
Bryce Love, Stanford (RB)
Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State (DE)
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (QB)
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (G)
Ed Oliver, Houston (DT)
Da’Ron Payne, Alabama (DT)
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (RB)
Roquan Smith, Georgia (LB)
Vita Vea, Washington (DT)
James Washington, Oklahoma State (WR)
Christian Wilkins, Clemson (DT)

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award for the 2016 season.

CFT Previews: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

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WHO: No. 5 Ohio State (11-2) vs. No. 8 USC (11-2)
WHAT: The 82nd Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
THE SKINNY: We have ourselves a nice little Texas version of the Rose Bowl when the champions of the Big Ten (Ohio State) and Pac-12 (USC) collide in the Cotton Bowl. Because the Rose Bowl is being used to host a College Football Playoff semifinal game, and because neither the Big Ten nor the Pac-12 will be represented in the playoff field this season, the Cotton Bowl benefits by getting a great matchup between storied programs.

Similar to last year’s Rose Bowl, Ohio State is the Big Ten champion being left out of the playoff and looking to take on USC. The difference this year is the Trojans are the Pac-12 champions with quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones II pacing the offense for a strong finish to the season. Since losing on the road against Notre Dame, USC has won five straight games with three double-digit margins in their favor and a Pac-12 championship game victory over Bryce Love and Stanford. Their next opponent, the Ohio State Buckeyes, is loaded with talent.

The question for Ohio State is whether or not they will be in sync for the Cotton Bowl. At times this season, the Buckeyes have stalled. A stagnant offense could not keep up against Oklahoma early in the season and the Buckeyes were ambushed on the road against Iowa. If not for a career day from J.T. Barrett, Ohio State may have lost at home to Penn State a swell. But when the Buckeyes are locked in, they are tough to beat. The rise of freshman running back J.K. Dobbins continues to spark Ohio State’s offense, just so long as Urban Meyer doesn’t choose to move away from utilizing the young star in the making.

Odds are this game will come down to Sam Darnold vs. J.T. Barrett. Both players should have an impact in different ways. Darnold will be more likely to do most of his damage through the air, while Barrett may be looked to dabble in some runs at times to keep USC’s defense on their toes.

This one could be one of the most entertaining games of the bowl season. In this one, J.T. Barrett will go out a winner.

THE PICK: Ohio State 38, USC 34

No. 9 Ohio State beats Michigan despite losing J.T. Barrett to injury

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The Michigan Wolverines played one of their best games of the season, and it was not enough to take down an Ohio State team that lost starting quarterback J.T. Barrett to a knee injury in the second half. The No. 9 Buckeyes dug out of a 14-0 hole in the first half and once again defeated their rivals from that state up north, 31-20, as they now prepare for a shot at a Big Ten championship.

With Ohio State leading 24-20 late in the fourth quarter after missing a field goal, John O’Korn passed the ball downfield where nobody but Ohio State players were in proximity for an easy interception. J.K. Dobbins started the late drive with a six-yard run and then Mike Weber broke free for a 35-yard touchdown by getting a good burst of speed and having the perfect angle to use to his advantage.

Barrett was forced to leave the game in the second half with a reported meniscus issue that he has been playing with recently. In his place stepped Dwayne Haskins, who performed admirably the way Cardale Jones once did against the Wolverines in relief just a few seasons ago. Haskins completed six of his seven passes for 94 yards and he took off for 24 rushing yards as well. Freshman running back Dobbins led the Buckeyes ground game with 101 rushing yards as Ohio State established the advantage on the line of scrimmage. Barrett’s status moving forward will be something to watch as Ohio State gets ready for next week’s game.

It was also just another frustrating example for Michigan fans just how much work there is still to be done in order to compete with Ohio State and for a Big Ten title. Granted, this season was always expected to be a step back from a year ago and the focus should have been shifted on 2018, but Jim Harbaugh needs to get the quarterback situation settled. He clearly does not have his Andrew Luck in Ann Arbor yet.

Ohio State will now play in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis next week. The Buckeyes continue to have a slight pulse in the playoff race as they prepare to take on Wisconsin next week. With two losses, even a Big Ten championship is not going to be enough to automatically slot the Buckeyes into the playoff, so Ohio State may still need a bit of help.

Michigan will wait to learn what bowl game they will be playing in after finishing the season in fourth place in the Big Ten East with losses to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State (and Wisconsin).