On a course many consider the toughest test of golf ever, Tiger Woods performed like, well, Tiger Woods. The old Tiger Woods, that is, meaning he managed his way around the very difficult Olympic Club in San Francisco with aplomb, hitting a variety of shots into rock-hard greens and making enough putts to post a solid 1-under 69 Thursday.An effort like that is further evidence that Woods could be truly returning to the form that made him golf’s envy. He has not won a major championship in four year, but to trail leader Michael Thompson by just three shots after the first day is a significant step toward major No. 15.Playing with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, Woods made four birdies against three bogeys. His stretch of consecutive birdies on holes 4 and 5 moved him to 2-under. He bogeyed the next hole and parred his way in from there.Meanwhile, Mickelson and Watson blew up. The pair of lefties were all over the place, shooting 76 (Mickelson) and 78 (Watson), respectively.Woods mixed driver and irons off the tee throughout his round on a course that is not particularly long for this championship but does have some dramatically long holes, especially on the front nine.Missed birdie putts on the first and second holes — yanking the latter off the lip from about 4 feet — cost Woods. But they did not distract him.Michael Thompson, the 2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up at The Olympic Club, was outstanding Thursday, taking the clubhouse lead at minus-4.
YEARSEAST TEAMWEIGHTED AGEWEST TEAMWEIGHTED AGEAVG. When the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meet on Christmas Day, each does so as a heavy favorite to reach the NBA Finals for a third-straight season, something that’s never been done by a pair of teams in the NBA’s 70-year history.But while it’s natural to focus on the current season, and to see if the clubs set a new standard by meeting for a third-consecutive summer, it’s also reasonable to think it could be years before anyone supplants them in the finals, because of their youth.The last two teams to meet in back-to-back finals, the 2012-13 and 2013-14 Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, were much older at the time of their first meeting than the Cavs and Warriors were for theirs. San Antonio had an average weighted1Weighted by minutes played. age of 28.6 years; Miami’s was 30.3 years old. Before them, the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz of 1996-97 and 1997-98 were the only other set of back-to-back finals foes from the past two decades. The Bulls were 30.7 years old on average at the start of their championship-round showdowns, and the Jazz were 29.6, per ESPN Stats & Information Group.The Cavs and Warriors, by contrast, were on average just 26.9 and 26.6 years old, respectively, when they first met in the finals back in 2015, making them the third-youngest repeat finalists ever, behind the Knicks and Minneapolis Lakers from 1951-52 and 1952-53, and the Washington Bullets and Seattle Sonics from 1977-78 and 1978-79. Put another way: The NBA hasn’t seen back-to-back finals foes as young as Cleveland and Golden State in about 40 years.2We’re using ages in the first season the teams met in the finals, a solid proxy since conference-winning teams tend to not have a lot of roster turnover. 1977-78Washington Bullets27.4Seattle Sonics26.026.7 1981-82Philadelphia 76ers28.1Los Angeles Lakers26.827.5 1987-88Detroit Pistons27.4Los Angeles Lakers28.928.2 1996-97Chicago Bulls30.7Utah Jazz29.630.2 1956-57Boston Celtics27.0St. Louis Hawks27.627.3 2012-13Miami Heat30.3San Antonio Spurs28.629.5 2014-15Cleveland Cavaliers26.9Golden State Warriors26.626.8 1983-84Boston Celtics28.0Los Angeles Lakers27.527.5 1971-72New York Knicks28.8Los Angeles Lakers29.529.2 1951-52New York Knicks25.5Minneapolis Lakers25.925.7 1964-65Boston Celtics28.3Los Angeles Lakers26.427.4 1959-60Boston Celtics27.5St. Louis Hawks27.527.5 Back-to-back finals foes, by youngest average age Rematches in the NBA Finals aren’t all that unusual. There have been 14 back-to-back occasions throughout league history. But they were a lot more common in decades past, when the league had far fewer teams and little enough competitive balance to see the Celtics and Lakers meet in the finals six times in eight years.It also helped that powerhouse teams from those eras could stay intact since salary caps and unrestricted free agency didn’t take root until the mid- to late-1980s. Far more player movement happens these days, forcing teams (even borderline dynastic ones) to make tough personnel decisions.The Warriors and Cavs, despite their willingness to spend, aren’t totally immune to those choices. Golden State, for instance, may be forced to part with one of its better players (likely free-agent-to-be Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston) in order to give Steph Curry and Kevin Durant the max salaries they deserve.And while Cleveland has almost all of its top players inked for the foreseeable future (LeBron James can opt out in 2018), Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert paid $54 million to cover the Cavs’ league-high luxury-tax bill. (Granted, the tax helped the Cavs earn the city’s first major pro sports title in 52 years. But a looming, costly repeater tax could eventually cost Gilbert more than $100 million if the Cavs opt to keep their roster together long term.) In the shorter term, the Raptors also are a threat. According to our NBA forecast, they have a 34 percent chance of winning the East, just behind the Cavs’ 37 percent, as of Thursday. (The Warriors have a 59 percent chance of reaching the finals, and there’s about a 22 percent chance of a Warriors-Cavs final.)But stepping back for a minute, there’s still reason to think the Warriors and Cavs are a solid bet to face each other again in the finals for years to come.For starters, there’s the fact that these clubs have already been playing at a high level for years. They currently rank second all-time among back-to-back finals participants in combined win percentage over a three-season span, just behind the Bulls and Jazz from the 1995-96 season to 1997-98, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago and Utah had a .780 win percentage during their window; the Cavs and Warriors are at .770. (Similarly, with a look at the harmonic mean of the Cavs and Warriors’ Elo ratings — a system used to rate the strength of teams over time — we see that over the last two-plus-years, they trail only the Jazz and Bulls’ run in terms of teams that have played in consecutive finals.)And obviously the magnitude of the Durant signing can’t be overstated. Aside from the fact that the Warriors vastly improved their starting five, somehow becoming even less guardable than before, it’s also important to look at how that signing changed the landscape of things out West.By acquiring him, Golden State not only kept Durant from joining a 67-win Spurs team or a star-studded Clippers club (both of whom met with Durant as he mulled his options as a free agent) but also poached him from Oklahoma City, a team that nearly eliminated the Warriors last season and arguably stood as their biggest long-term threat.In Cleveland’s case, James alone gives them a good shot at returning to the finals, given that he’s reached six in a row, and has shown before that he doesn’t necessarily need both his co-stars at full strength to get there. The real question is how long James, who’s never had a serious injury that forced him to miss considerable time, can play at an all-world level.James turns 32 in a week, and has taken on a heavy load of playing time, both this season and over his career; one in which he’s already logged more career minutes than Larry Bird did during his before retiring at age 35. (The other top seven Warriors and Cavs’ players in win shares — Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson — have far less tread, and are 28 or younger.)From the looks of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which still needs to be ratified but which the owners and players’ union tentatively agreed to last week, it doesn’t look as if there will be real impediments to the Warriors’ and Cavs’ being able to stay together for the next few years. In fact, the framework of the agreement contains some elements that might actually help Golden State keep its star players despite the fact that some believed the opposite might take place after commissioner Adam Silver expressed concern with the rise of superteams after Durant chose to join the Warriors.In any case, even with months to go, it wouldn’t be surprising to anyone if the Cavs and Warriors make history to reach the finals a third-straight time. At this point, the better question might be how long they can keep the streak going.CORRECTION: (Dec. 23, 12:11 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the years the Bulls and Jazz and the Heat and Spurs played back-to-back Finals. The correct years were 1996-97 and 1997-98 for Chicago and Utah, and 2012-13 and 2013-14 for San Antonio and Miami.Check out our latest NBA predictions. 1961-62Boston Celtics27.9Los Angeles Lakers25.926.9 Ages calculated from the start of each teams’ two-year run to the NBA Finals.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 1967-68Boston Celtics29.5Los Angeles Lakers27.828.7
WORLD SERIES GM. 4 RAA -7.1+2.5 Sources: ESPN Stats & Information Group, Fangraphs PLAYERPOSREG. SEASON WOBABEFORE 7TH INN.7TH+ INN. Cody Bellinger1B.396-3.5+1.6 Justin Turner3B.411-1.2+0.0 Andre EthierRF.326+0.00.0 The Dodgers’ best bats showed up late in Game 4Weighted on-base average (wOBA) and batting runs above average (RAA) for Los Angeles hitters in 2017 regular season and World Series Enrique HernandezCF.320+0.4-0.5 Yasmani GrandalC.336-0.80.0 Austin BarnesC.396-1.6-0.5 Charlie CulbersonSS.237+1.30.0 Logan Forsythe2B.313-0.7+1.0 Chris TaylorLF.373+0.5-0.3 Joc PedersonLF.331+1.3+1.3 Total The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t buy a run, and their World Series chances were slipping away. After scoring six times off the Houston Astros but coming up short in a crazy, back-and-forth Game 2, they mustered three relatively low-leverage runs in Game 31None of those scores ever brought them any closer than within two runs of the Astros. and were shut out for the first six innings of Game 4. A loss here would have dropped LA’s World Series odds to around 20 percent, if history was any guide, and left this 104-win juggernaut staring at another postseason disappointment.But finally, after waiting most of the series for their bats to heat up, the Dodgers got what they were looking for late Saturday night. Cody Bellinger, who’d gone 0-for-13 in the World Series before the seventh inning of Game 4, delivered a double, then came around to score the tying run on a Logan Forsythe single. Two innings later, Corey Seager, who’d been hitless since Game 2, got on base with a single and scored on another Bellinger double, giving LA a lead it would never relinquish. (Joc Pederson’s three-run insurance homer four batters later also helped.) Suddenly, instead of falling into a 3-1 hole, the Dodgers knotted up the series at two games apiece and are back to being championship favorites again.Before Game 4’s assault on the Astros’ bullpen, the Dodgers as a team had produced 7.1 fewer runs than average in the series based on their weighted on-base average (wOBA),2Using the formula and constants provided at FanGraphs.com. including a collective 6.5 runs below average from the team’s four best hitters during the regular season by wOBA — Bellinger, Seager, Justin Turner and Austin Barnes. But all four batters played a role in LA’s late-innings scoring outburst, during which they collectively produced 1.6 runs above average (to go with 0.9 runs above average from their teammates): Corey SeagerSS.374-0.2+0.5 Yasiel PuigRF.360-1.2-0.5 Chase Utley2B.325-1.40.0 It’s impossible to say whether the Dodgers’ well-timed turnaround at the plate will kick-start their offense over the rest of the series. But they’d definitely been hitting below their talents up to that point — with a wOBA 94 points below their regular-season average — so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bellinger and company’s late-game performance be part of a positive regression to the mean going forward.As for the Astros, Game 4 was an enormous missed opportunity. Starting pitcher Charlie Morton pitched extremely well — he had a Game Score of 76, tied for seventh-best ever among World Series starters in a game the team ultimately lost — and it was looking like he’d steal Houston a crucial second series win in a game not started by team co-aces Justin Verlander or Dallas Keuchel. Leading up to the World Series, Houston was 5-1 in playoff games started by Verlander/Keuchel but 2-3 in all other games, so getting a pair of wins from Morton and Game 3 starter Lance McCullers would have been a major coup for the Astros at this point in the series.Instead, Houston is left wondering how a bullpen that had outpitched Los Angeles’s early in the series managed to blow such a winnable home contest. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Astros closer Ken Giles has now allowed as many earned runs (10) in 7⅔ postseason innings as he did in 50⅔ innings during his last 50 appearances of the regular season, and the Houston bullpen as a whole now has a 5.21 ERA during the playoffs — nearly two runs worse than their starters per nine innings.The Astros aren’t doomed, of course. The series is basically a toss-up now, a de facto best-of-three affair that will see them face the Dodgers’ best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) at home and also be able to use their own top starter (Verlander) to neutralize LA’s home-field advantage in Game 6. But in a flash, the Dodgers’ cold bats warmed up and saved their season, turning what would have been a commanding Houston lead into a series either team can now win.CORRECTION (Oct. 29, 2017, 11 a.m.): A previous version of this article mischaracterized the regular-season stats of Ken Giles. His 10 regular-season earned runs allowed came in his last 50 appearances of the season, not the entire season.CORRECTION (Oct. 29, 2017, 3:30 p.m.): A previous version of this article said Los Angeles scored seven times in Game 2. The Dodgers scored six times.
Great athletes must often overcome great adversity to reach their full potential. Brandon Wynn, a junior gymnast for Ohio State, faced his biggest challenge following the 2009 season.After being ranked at the top of the nation on the rings all season, Wynn fell on his dismount in one of the qualifying events for the NCAA Championships.“Heartbreaking” is how Wynn described the incident.This season, the same story played out. Wynn was ranked No. 1 all season, and he won all 10 events that he participated in.But this time, Wynn succeeded, winning the national championship on rings in April.“It felt awesome,” Wynn said.Coach Miles Avery was proud, but not wholly surprised.“It was expected,” he said. “He gained a lot of experience through not winning (last year).”“He had the maturity of knowing he didn’t have to do anything amazing (to win), but others would,” said Avery, who has coached five other national champion gymnasts while at OSU.His experience from the 2009 season was essential for this year’s success, but Wynn’s preparation began at a young age.Unofficially, his training began in his backyard.“I had a pool and a diving board when I was a kid,” Wynn said.But formally, Wynn began with gymnastics when he was 7. When he was 12 or 13, Wynn noticed he was more focused than the other members of his class, he said.It was then that he decided to get all he could out of his abilities. Wynn said he might not be the most talented gymnast out there, but he works as hard as he possibly can.Even if competitions did not go his way, he knew that how hard he worked was an aspect of gymnastics that he could completely control.Though all his hard work has paid off in a national championship, Wynn doesn’t have much time to enjoy his victory.Wynn is traveling to Moscow to compete in the FIG World Cup on May 14 and 15.“I definitely have to look at the final goal (2012 Olympics), but I have to focus on the next event,” said Wynn, originally from Voorhees, N.J.Getting on the Olympic team depends on the decision of a committee, Wynn said.And with only five gymnasts selected to the team and six events at the Olympics, Wynn described the individual team members as “puzzle pieces.”The committee has to match the strengths and weaknesses of each gymnast to form a team, Wynn said.“I am just going to lay all my cards on the table,” he said. “That’s all you can do.”After the 2012 Olympics, Wynn is planning to retire from competitive gymnastics.He is not averse to coaching gymnastics one day, but his future career as an entrepreneur is growing quickly.Wynn, who is majoring in consumer and family financial services, is already pretty far along in starting his own business, he said.He and a few colleagues have developed a resistance band-based piece of equipment and are hoping to launch it fairly soon, along with their own nutrition and workout regimen, he said.If his gymnastics career is any indication, Wynn is likely to succeed, no matter how hard he has to work.
GameDay airs at 9 a.m. on ESPNU and from 10 a.m. to noon on ESPN. Check out College GameDay’s website at collegegameday.com Follow College GameDay on Twitter @GameDayFootball. College GameDay’s new Facebook page is facebook.com/collegegameday. When Ohio State hosts Penn State on Saturday, the Buckeyes will be well-rested. That might not be a good thing. Despite its .823 winning percentage under coach Jim Tressel, OSU maintains a lackluster 2-4 record when coming off a bye week. With its last loss after a week off coming from the Nittany Lions in 2005, OSU looks to buck the trend. As one of four one-loss teams atop the conference standings, the Buckeyes’ Big Ten ambitions depend solely on their performance down the stretch. That starts with Penn State. The two squads are no strangers to jockeying for position in the Big Ten against one another. When a Big Ten title was on the line in 2008, a costly fourth-quarter fumble by OSU signal caller Terrelle Pryor dashed the No. 10 Buckeyes’ Rose Bowl aspirations and virtually punched No. 3 Penn State’s ticket to Pasadena, Calif. Last year’s meeting in State College, Pa., had similar implications but produced a much different result. Paced by 228 yards on the ground and an efficient performance from Pryor, the No. 15 Buckeyes upset the No. 11 Nittany Lions, 24-7, and moved one step closer to a Rose Bowl trip of their own. This year’s bout has significant but different Big Ten ramifications. At 6-3 (3-2 in the conference), the Nittany Lions look to play the role of spoiler, while the Buckeyes (8-1, 4-1) are fighting for a second straight Rose Bowl bid. They must remain perfect to get there. A Wisconsin loss would help their cause as well. On paper, OSU seems the overwhelming favorite. However, the Nittany Lion faithful have seen a revitalized Penn State team of late. Winners of three straight and averaging 36.3 points per game during that span, the Nittany Lions have been sparked by back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances from 2009 first-team All-Big Ten selection Evan Royster and the emergence of sophomore quarterback Matthew McGloin. Those wins have come against Minnesota, Michigan and Northwestern. The Silver Bullet defense is a different beast. Ranking third nationally in total defense and fourth in rushing defense, the Buckeyes will be no easy task for Royster and Penn State. Add 105,000-plus scarlet-clad, screaming fans, the ESPN College GameDay gang and a potential sixth straight conference title to the mix, and it appears as though this contest is OSU’s to lose. Although OSU handily defeated the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley a year ago, don’t think the Buckeyes will forget what happened in Columbus the previous year. Ask Purdue about the whole revenge thing. Couple that with a new and improved Pryor under center along with the lingering bad taste from Wisconsin, and the Buckeyes seem poised to continue their high flying show in the ‘Shoe. Either way, as the college football season comes to a close, no victory will come easy.
Ally Kraemer contributed to this story. It’s official: Former Florida running backs coach Stan Drayton will be the new wide receivers coach for the Ohio State football team, coach Jim Tressel announced today. “Stan Drayton, first and foremost, is a fine person and a family man,” Tressel said in a press release. “We are fortunate to gain one of the finest coaches in America to serve our kids, school and community.” Drayton will bring with him 14 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, including time at the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Villanova, Allegheny, Mississippi State and Tennessee. The Cleveland native also coached the Gators’ running backs during the team’s 41-14 victory against the Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game. Until today, spokespeople from OSU would not confirm reports that Drayton was leaving his post as the Gators’ running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Steve McClain, associate athletics director for communications at Florida, said the Gator staff wouldn’t be left shorthanded. “Yeah, I’d say that our coaching staff is intact at this time,” McClain told The Lantern on Wednesday. Tressel said Drayton will be a good addition to the Buckeyes’ football staff. “He is a Buckeye born and bred,” Tressel said of the Cleveland-born Allegheny graduate, “and will add a tremendous dimension to our football family.”
Senior running back Carlos Hyde (34) avoids a tackler during the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl against Clemson Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium. OSU lost, 40-35.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorNobody remembers who scaled Mount Everest after Sir Edmund Hillary.Now the Ohio State football team and coach Urban Meyer head into the offseason with a few question marks on their roster, potentially none bigger than the loss of their own Hillary — senior running back Carlos Hyde.Hyde became the first running back under Meyer to run for more than 1,000 yards in a single season, finishing off the season as a leader with 1,521 yards in 2013.Meyer said Hyde has grown up as a player during his time in Columbus.“(He’s) completely different,” Meyer said Nov. 18. “First off, he’s more mature. I love Carlos. He was immature a couple years ago — like very immature. (Now) he handles his business.”Although missing the first three games of the season because of a suspension that stemmed from an incident at a Columbus bar in July, Hyde managed to put together what ranks as the seventh greatest season rushing the ball by an OSU player.He also finishes his career sixth in career rushing yards, just two behind former Buckeye great Keith Byars.After the Nov. 16 matchup against Illinois when Hyde hit 1,000 yards, the running back said he played like he had to make up for something.“You know, during my suspension I told myself it’s still possible,” Hyde said. “You just got to go even harder now. That’s exactly how I play … my mindset is, ‘I got to make up time.’ So that’s how I play.”During the 60-35 victory against Illinois, Hyde had what was potentially his greatest game as an OSU player, rushing for 246 net yards, tied for the third highest single game total in OSU history.“I watched film and we have a cut out where it’s all explosive runs and I saw other teams have a lot of success on their running plays,” Hyde said. “I kept that in the back of my mind, ‘Just be patient on your runs and let it come to you, and when it comes, just explode.’ That’s exactly what I did.”Initially after returning from suspension, Hyde was still limited in the offense, only rushing for a combined 126 yards in his first two games back. Hyde ran for more than that two game total in five of the remaining nine games, never failing to eclipse 100 yards.His run of games breaching the century mark began in a tough battle against then-No. 15 Northwestern. With the Buckeyes trailing 23-13 midway through the third quarter, Meyer turned to Hyde to bring OSU back into the game.Hyde went on to score three second half touchdowns, to go along with 168 rushing yards on the day, and help push OSU over the top for the 40-30 victory.After the victory, Hyde was emotional, lamenting the opportunities he missed because of the suspension.“That suspension, it really hurt not being out there with my brothers because I made a mistake,” Hyde said. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through.”Now the Buckeyes have to replace their workhorse running back, and his backup, redshirt-senior Jordan Hall.Although OSU does have young talent returning at running back in freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott, Hyde will not be an easy piece of the puzzle to replace.However, the Buckeyes kick off their season hoping to do just that on Aug. 30 against Navy. Meanwhile, Hyde will have to wait until the 2014 NFL Draft in May to discover his fate. He is rated as a second or third round prospect by CBSSports.Hyde said after the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl his final season with OSU was a success but that he is looking forward to what comes next.“Like I said earlier during the season, this season reminds me of my senior year in high school,” Hyde said. “I almost finished pretty much like I finished my senior year in high school, close to 1,600 yards and like 18 touchdowns. So I think I had a pretty good career my last year here.“I’m looking forward to the next step in my life.”
Redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee (43) intercepts a pass from Illinois senior quarterback Rielly O’Toole during a Nov. 1 game at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 55-14.Credit: Ben Jackson / For The LanternAfter handling Illinois, 55-14, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett said the Ohio State football team has no problem taking things one step at a time.“I think we as an organization did a pretty good job of just focusing on the task at hand, and tonight that was Illinois,” Barrett said.But as soon as the clock hit zero Saturday night at Ohio Stadium, the task at hand shifted from the Fighting Illini to the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans (7-1, 4-0). The No. 13 Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0) are scheduled to play the Spartans in East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday at 8 p.m.“This is huge,” senior wide receiver Devin Smith said of the matchup with Michigan State. “We checked this on our calendar just because what happened last year.”The last time the two teams faced-off was the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. Michigan State came away with a 34-24 win, effectively ending OSU’s hopes of making an appearance in the last-ever BCS National Championship game and snapping the Buckeyes’ 24-game win streak.“I’m not gonna lie to you, I cried for like two days,” Smith said Saturday. “It was tough, and the whole team, it seemed like after we took that loss it took the whole soul out of the team.”Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said the Buckeyes put emphasis on that loss during the offseason, but added that their focus came week by week once fall rolled around.“You try to use that loss as motivation but, once the season hits, not to sound clichéd, but I mean it’s literally one game at a time,” Herman said after the win against Illinois.While the Spartans are a top-10 team once again, the Buckeyes fielded a new-look lineup that included Barrett in place of injured senior quarterback Braxton Miller and a few fresh faces on defense. One of those fresh faces — redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee — said he knows what the upcoming game means even though he wasn’t at Lucas Oil Stadium last December.“I wasn’t really in the locker room for that, but watching on TV, I mean, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt a lot,” Lee said after the Illinois game. “We feel like these guys took something from us and it’s full metal jacket now and we’re trying to go win this game.”Lee added that the Buckeyes are planning to return the favor when they make the trip to East Lansing next weekend.“Everybody is focusing on how this week is here upon us now and we’re just gonna get ready to go and take it,” he said.Barrett agreed that OSU is only focused on the Spartans coming out of the win, but made clear he feels that way because it’s the next game on the schedule, not for any other reason.“As far as our program here at Ohio State football, we’ve just been working on the next game,” he said. “And that’s it.”But as their focus shifts toward Michigan State, the Buckeyes have room to grow despite coming off a 41-point victory.While the starting defense pitched a shutout — the two Illinois touchdowns came with backups in the game for OSU — the Buckeye offense misfired on a few occasions on its way to a 31-0 halftime lead. Barrett in particular missed open receivers more than once in his half of play.While the Wichita Falls, Texas, native sat out the second half — he’s nursing a sprained MCL — he still managed to finish 15-of-24 for 167 yards and two touchdowns through the air.Herman said he wants to see Barrett correct some of the misfires, but added his ability to fight back from adversity can be a positive going forward.“(Barrett) missed some open throws that we would have liked to have completed,” Herman said. “We will figure that part out, I don’t have any hesitation there. The fact that it happened the way that it happened can only add some confidence and some toughness to him as he heads into this week.”But outside of Barrett’s early misses and a couple of big plays given up on defense, the overall performance from OSU was one of domination. The Buckeyes totaled 545 yards on offense while allowing just 243 from the Fighting Illini, and won the turnover battle, 4-1. Sophomore punter Cameron Johnston kicked the ball away just once, while Illinois was forced to punt four times and failed on two attempted fourth-down conversions.Sophomore safety Vonn Bell said OSU took Illinois seriously, but simply wanted to prove it was the better team by sticking to the game plan.“That wasn’t a sleeper team, they had good athletes,” Bell said of Illinois. “So we just had to do what we had to do. We had to execute, so it showed.”Lee said that execution, in addition to “heart,” will be important in the matchup with the Spartans.“They’re a good team without a doubt, and they’re a tough team and they’re a well-coached team,” he said. “But it’s just gonna come down to executing our game plan … on all phases. Special teams, offense and defense. We know what’s at stake here, and that’s about it.”As the preparation started just moments after the win against Illinois, OSU coach Urban Meyer said the “most prepared team will win it” when his Buckeyes visit Spartan Stadium.“That’s what’s going to win this game,” he said.With preparation in mind, Lee had one simple plan for the Buckeyes after leaving the Ohio Stadium turf and putting the 55-14 win against Illinois in the rearview mirror.“It’s time to work.”
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A holidaymaker from Qatar is facing jail after he was convicted of molesting a teenage girl during a seven-hour flight to Britain – while his wife sat beside him.Suman Das, 46, was arrested at Manchester Airport after the 18-year-old victim claimed he touched her between her legs while she was dozing in her seat.She said she woke up to feel a “rubbing sensation” and fled to the back of the plane in tears. At the time of the assault Das’ wife Sonia was sat beside him unaware of her husband’s behaviour.He initially claimed he must have touched her by accident while fidgeting in his seat and offered to apologise – but he later said he could not have carried out an assault as he was asleep.At Manchester magistrates court Das, who has been staying with friends in Bolton since his arrest, was convicted of sexual assault after a trial. He denied the charge.The incident occurred in July five hours into the flight from Doha to Manchester. Das and his wife were visiting the UK for a “holiday of a lifetime”. The unnamed girl was returning to Britain after spending two months travelling in Thailand.The victim told the hearing: “He knew exactly what he was doing and he wasn’t sleeping. He was looking at me, I saw he was looking at me.”He must have been looking at me to see if I was awake. He did move very quickly once he saw that I was awake.”The girl alerted a member of cabin crew and went crying to the back of the plane.In a statement Das said later: “I may have touched accidentally – but I didn’t touch her intentionally.”Prosecuting Holly Holden said: “In this case the victim has zero motivation to make a false claim. Her evidence has been consistent and credible throughout. This was an 18-year-old flying alone. She said that the defendant touched her between the legs over her clothing.”One person sitting next to another may jostle someone with their elbow but to touch them between the legs without knowing is a deliberate action. He gave two versions of events and said he was very concerned that this could prevent him from getting a UK visa and would destroy his life.”During the hearing Das’ wife of 23 years said she had “complete faith in her husband” and added: “I have had no concern. Until today I have faith in my husband and still today I have total faith in my husband.”She also told the court that Das told her following the flight that if he saw the girl and her mother he wanted to talk to them to apologise.Das’ lawyer Miss Ellie Akhgar said: “This man has no previous convictions, so why would he now decide to take the plunge into criminality and sexually assault a stranger on a plane, with his wife sat next to him. One person sitting next to another may jostle someone with their elbow but to touch them between the legs without knowing is a deliberate actionHolly Holden “He is a family man and a visitor to this country and has been here for the last three months. These cases are always very difficult cases. They are difficult, emotive and very highly charged.”You have seen the victim to be emotional and you have seen the defendant also becoming very emotional. But the fact is that emotion can be manufactured. She feels a rubbing sensation, a light rubbing sensation and she feels an arm moving away from that very tight constricted area.”She doesn’t say: ‘What the hell are you doing?’ This is a young woman who had been travelling to Thailand for two months. She would have had to have some degree of confidence – enough to say something to Mr Das.”Being awoken by the ‘sensation’ of sexual assault does not mean a sexual assault took place. The whole time she says nothing. This was a very, very long flight and this man is being scrutinised for fidgeting.”The mother of the victim went to work the very same afternoon as her daughter told her of the attack. She was described as being very calm from hearing that her daughter had just been sexually assaulted.”It is easy for a man of his age and his culture to apologise – he wanted to calm the waves in a turbulent sea of confusion. He apologised because he wants to fix what it is he has done wrong. This is a case of a very serious misunderstanding. Very serious misunderstandings can happen.”Das was granted conditional bail pending sentence on October 27.
Father Magill said he “dares to hope” that the tragedy can be “the doorway to a new beginning”.He also recalled speaking with Miss McKee as she researched her book The Lost Boys, about youngsters who had disappeared in the past, describing her as “like a dog with a bone” about the project.”I certainly experienced her gentle, determined doggedness,” he said.”I pray her work will be taken up and that their bodies will be found and, even more importantly, that there will be no more lost boys or lost girls.”When I consider Lyra’s determination, it strikes me that she was the embodiment of the St Gemma’s school motto: truth and charity.”Speaking ahead of her funeral, her mother Joan, brothers Gary and David, and sisters Joan Hunter, Nichola Corner and Mary Crossan paid tribute to her as “a best friend and confidante”. “This was no accident. There is nothing that can justify this murderous act and you are being called out for what you really are.” Lyra McKee’s funeral will take place at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast this afternoonCredit:AFP Ms McKee’s funeral was intended to be a cross-community, cross-border and multi-cultural service.Those attending were asked to wear Harry Potter and Marvel Comic merchandise in tribute to the journalist’s love of both works.The New IRA admitted responsibility for the murder on Tuesday in a statement given to The Irish News.Using a recognised code word to authenticate the statement, the group offered “full and sincere apologies” to Ms McKee’s family and friends, claiming: “We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this.” She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The war in Ireland is over, the conflict is over, the IRA arms have been destroyed or put beyond use.”We have a new democratic dispensation and it is so important we make that work, that institutions of government work.”She added: “They are a tiny, unrepresentative group that have no plan, that have no strategy.”If their alibi (for the killing of journalist Lyra McKee) is they are seeking to advance the cause of republicanism, they are very far off the mark.” Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald condemned the New IRA “unreservedly” following the statement. A priest has called on the murder of Lyra McKee to be “the doorway to a new beginning” for Northern Ireland, as it was claimed the journalist was planning to propose to her partner.Father Martin Magill said Miss McKee’s lasting legacy should be peace at her funeral earlier today in St Annes Cathedral attended by political leaders including Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.Miss McKee, 29, was killed during clashes between police and New IRA dissidents on the Creggan estate in Londonderry, on April 18.Father Magill said: “I dare to hope that Lyra’s murder on Holy Thursday night can be the doorway to a new beginning. I detect a deep desire for this.””To those who had any part in her murder, I encourage you to reflect on Lyra McKee, journalist and writer, as a powerful example of ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. Theresa May, in between Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (left) and President Michael Higgins, at the serviceCredit:Brian Lawless/PA In a statement, the family said: “On Thursday 18th April our beautiful Lyra was taken from us.”A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a great-aunt, a partner, a niece, a cousin, and above all, a best friend and confidante to so many of us.”A friend to all, a gentle innocent soul who wouldn’t wish ill on anyone. Such a warm and innocent heart, she was the greatest listener, someone who had time for everyone.” Around 600 mourners were packed inside the cathredal, where Jeremy Corbyn was seen speaking to Leo Varadkar and Arlene Foster.Fellow journalists formed a guard of honour as the service began.Father Magill, addressing the congregation, urged the New IRA, a dissident republican group which apologised for Miss McKee’s murder, to walk away from violence.”To those still intent on violence, I ask you to listen to the majority of the people on your beloved island of Ireland who are calling on you to stop.” “I plead with you to take the road of non-violence to achieve your political ends.”Following the service, Miss McKee’s friend Stephen Lusty said she was planning to propose to her partner Sara Canning and showed her pictures of an engagement ring she had identified.Mr Lusty said: “She made me put a date in my diary for the wedding in Donegal in 2022 and gave me strict instructions to wear my kilt, which she always wanted to borrow, adorn it with some Harry Potter, and to find or re-find my own version of Sara.” DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein leader Mary-Lou McDonald sat next to one another at the funeral Credit:Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye Mrs May represented the Government alongside Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley at St Anne’s Cathedral this afternoon. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was also present at the funeral.Other political leaders in attendance included Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and President Michael Higgins, as well as Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.The journalist’s funeral cortege arrived outside the cathedral for the 1pm service after passing a gay nightclub, where mourners stood with rainbow flags.Crowds gathered on the streets broke into applause as the cortege arrived.Mrs May spoke with Miss McKee’s partner Sara Canning and the rest of her family, including her mother Joan McKee, as she arrived at the funeral. Crowds gathered as the funeral cortege arrived outside St Annes Cathedral in BelfastCredit:Charles McQuillan/Getty Images Earlier today, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn missed Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) as they travelled to Belfast to attend the funeral. The McKee family added: “She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth. The coffin is carried into the funeral service of murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne’s CathedralCredit:Liam McBurney/PA Miss McKee was killed during clashes with police and New IRA dissidentsCredit:PA The New IRA admitted responsibility for Miss McKee’s death following violent clashes in LondonderryCredit:Niall Carson/PA Jeremy Corbyn and Leo Varadkar arrive at the funeral of journalist Lyra McKeeCredit:Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters “Lyra spoke to and made friends with anybody and everybody, no matter what their background, those of all political views and those with none. This openness, and her desire to bring people together, made her totally apolitical.”They said: “We would ask that Lyra’s life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together.”Lyra’s answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness.”Sara Canning, Ms McKee’s partner, said previously: “Our hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act.” Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley rejected the New IRA’s apology in a statement to the House of Commons yesterday relating to the death of the Miss McKee.She said: “It remains the case across Northern Ireland that small numbers of dissident republican terrorists remain intent on killing.”What we have seen in the days since Lyra McKee’s death is that the communities that they claim to represent and seek to control don’t want them.”Ms Bradley later said: “To those responsible for this act of terrorism, we say we have heard your excuses and your hollow apologies. No-one buys it. The New IRA is an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process and it recently claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.Police believe the violence was orchestrated in response to an earlier search by officers aimed at averting imminent trouble associated with the week’s anniversary of the Easter Rising. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.