Buckeyes take a break before 2 biggest games

Buckeyes take a break before 2 biggest games

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Most will rest. Some will try to heal. Others will try to catch up on classwork or a personal life.

A bye week is a time to take a breath for the fifth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

There are also a few who will pause, knowing there are only two games left in their college careers.

``It just hit me in the locker room,'' senior defensive lineman John Simon said Saturday after Ohio State rolled Illinois 52-22. ``It goes extremely fast. The seniors, we're making every moment count. We're trying to make this season a memorable one.''

It already has been. But it could be even more memorable.

Despite a glittering start (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) to their season, what remains will determine whether Urban Meyer's first Ohio State team is an unqualified success or one that wilted when it got close to its biggest goals.

The most difficult games on the schedule await.

After taking a couple of extra days off this week (they'll still have full-tilt practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), the Buckeyes begin to prep for the showdown at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and at home against archrival Michigan a week later.

``I need the off week. I'm still battling injuries. Any extra time I can use to rest,'' cornerback Bradley Roby said. ``The bye week is going to give us a little more time for our academic situations and things like that. It's coming at a good time even though it took a while to get here.''

Ohio State is 13-9 since 1971 in games coming off a bye week. It has won the last two (a 2010 win was vacated as part of NCAA sanctions), after losing three in a row 2003-5.

Meyer said the week will come in handy because Ohio State just moved from quarters to semesters, which has changed the academic calendar for the players. He said several players had told him the string of 10 straight games and adapting to semesters has been like ``hitting a wall.''

``We can unhit the wall for a week academically, get that in order,'' he said. ``Get their weights up and bodies right. You get (a bye) usually week six, seven. (I've) never had 10 weeks straight through.''

Ohio State will likely regain starting linebacker Etienne Sabino, who has missed the last four games after cracking a bone in his lower right leg. Almost every Buckeye who plays much has a litany of bumps and bruises, with defensive backs Orhian Johnson, Roby and Christian Bryant in particular hoping to get back to something approaching full health.

The coaches, meanwhile, will pound the pavement (or airways) doing some in-season recruiting.

Defensive co-coordinator Everett Withers relishes the chance to mention Ohio State's unbeaten record when he calls on blue-chippers.

``I'm anxious just to see. I've never been undefeated on the road recruiting,'' he said. ``I imagine it will be easy to go into that high school and talk to that high school coach and counselor with people knowing you're 10-0.''

Still, the upcoming tests will never be far from everyone's mind.

``Going to Wisconsin, it's not going to be an easy game,'' safety C.J. Barnett said. ``I've never been over there - I was hurt my sophomore year - but I heard it's a hostile environment. They have a great running back (in Montee Ball) who can run the ball, great coaches. It's going to be a tough one but I think we can do it.''

Carlos Hyde, who has become one of the top backs in the Big Ten, has solidified the tailback slot and taken some of the heat off of quarterback Braxton Miller, who was saddled with having to make almost every big play for the Buckeyes early in the season.

Hyde, who has 144 carries for 737 yards and 13 touchdowns in a breakout season, is pleased with Ohio State's lofty ranking. Sort of.

``We're pretty good, but we can be a lot better,'' he said. ``There's a lot of things to work on.''

For Roby, now is a good time to think about everything that's been done - and also everything left to do.

``It's hard to win 10 games in a row and that's what we accomplished,'' he said. ``Right now, it's a grind. The whole season is a grind. We're going to keep getting better and keep winning. Coach Meyer has given us some time off during the bye week so we can get healthy.

``That's what we're going to do.''


Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:

Quick Links

The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

USA Today Sports Images

The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

It may be the 18th of March but today could be like Christmas for five Redskins players.

The Redskins decided to use today, four days after the start of the league year, for some contract triggers. In this case, the triggers are all 2018 salary guarantees (some teams will pay out roster bonuses on trigger dates, but the Redskins rarely use that type of structure).

Here are the players whose have guarantees that kick in today 4 p.m. All data is via Over the Cap.


CB Josh Norman, base salary of $13.5 million becomes fully guaranteed—This was a window for the Redskins to move on from Norman if they were not happy with his performance after two seasons. He is 31 and he had no interceptions last season, leaving some to wonder if the Redskins might think about releasing him. But it never was a consideration.

TE Jordan Reed, $8 million of his $8.25 million salary becomes fully guaranteed—No, I’m not sure why they are leaving that $250,000 out there non-guaranteed. Fans thought that the Redskins might move on from Reed due to his injury issues. But, as with Norman, it never was a consideration.

S D.J. Swearinger, $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—This is a mere technicality, Swearinger wasn’t going anywhere after helping to solidify the safety position.


RB Chris Thompson, $1.996 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—His rehab is going well and after last year Thompson’s two-year, $7 million contract extension signed last September looks like a good deal for the team.

DE Terrell McClain, $3.25 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—If the Redskins sign a top free agent D-lineman or draft on early in the draft they could be in a numbers crunch. That new acquisition would be guaranteed a roster spot along with Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. That makes five and the Redskins kept six last year. Ziggy Hood is a favorite of the coaching staff but he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. That could tip the sixth spot in favor of McClain if he is on the roster at the close of business today. If they release McClain after today, they would take a cap charge of over $2 million. It seems unlikely that anything will happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Quick Links

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!