Redskins

Buckeyes go 12-0 but their season is done

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Buckeyes go 12-0 but their season is done

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) No one could have blamed at least a few of the 19 seniors on Ohio State's football team if they had bolted for somewhere else.

The NCAA decreed last December that the Buckeyes couldn't play in a bowl or even in their own conference championship game after the 2012 season. The NCAA also said players were free to transfer without the usual penalty of having to sit out a year.

But all of those seniors stayed, and they were rewarded Saturday with an improbable 12-0 season.

``The most selfless group I've ever been around,'' coach Urban Meyer said after Saturday's 26-21 victory over archrival Michigan.

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, now it's as if they're all dressed up with no place to go. While other, lesser teams prepare for postseason trips, they are on the outside looking in.

``It's all right,'' said safety Christian Bryant. ``We're 12-0. That's good enough for me.''

What bothers them the most is that no one will ever know what might have been.

``We've known for a while that we're not going to be able to prove at the end of the season how good we are,'' wide receiver/tight end Jake Stoneburner said. ``If we are the last (unbeaten) team, I certainly think we deserve to be in the top two if not No. 1. But that's not for us to decide.''

Their last victory was much like many of the others. In only a handful of games did Ohio State have the victory well in hand in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes ended up winning six games by seven or fewer points, including two in overtime.

``The biggest thing is we refused to lose,'' safety C.J. Barnett said. ``There's a bunch of times we were down, had to go to overtime and stuff like that. We found a way to win.''

A lot of teams might have buckled under all the pressure. The Buckeyes relied on a number of bit players to take starring roles.

``I haven't been doing this a whole long time but I can't remember a greater `team' season - somebody else (making a big play) every time. Some other guy,'' said co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, the interim head coach during the tumultuous 6-7 season in 2011. ``This team is unbelievable how they feed off each other.''

Meyer gave all the credit to the seniors. Some of them deflected it back to him.

``I want to make sure they're properly recognized as one of the great groups of seniors in the history of this program - however we're going to do that,'' the first-year Buckeyes coach said.

Then, tongue in cheek, he added, ``Maybe we'll get 19 bronze statues.''

Better make that 20.

``(Meyer) is the key ingredient that pushed us over the top,'' said one of the seniors, special teams player Zach Domicone. ``Just the way he pushed us every single day and made us love one another and really preach team over self.''

There is still a void left by not getting a reward for recording just the sixth unbeaten and untied season in Ohio State's 123 years of intercollegiate play.

``It's going to hit me when I'm not doing something next week, preparing for the next game,'' offensive tackle Reid Fragel said.

Ohio State's fans are angry that this year's team must pay for the infractions committed by former coach Jim Tressel. No member of the current team was ever linked to the tattoo scandal that led to the NCAA penalties.

The Buckeyes can't play in next week's Big Ten title game, even though they won the conference's Leaders Division outright. They won't go to a major bowl game, even though they're one of only two FBS unbeatens (No. 1 Notre Dame is the other). They won't be mentioned in the Bowl Championship Series title talk because of the NCAA penalties.

But they will be getting a Big Ten division championship trophy. And they'll receive rings for winning that title.

Plus they'll know that they did everything they possibly could.

``Hey, we're 12-0. That's all I can say,'' linebacker Etienne Sabino said. ``People can talk what they want. There's a lot of `what ifs' right now but we did what we had to do. We set out to win every single game this year, and that's what we did.

``It wasn't pretty but it happened. I'm happy.''

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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Redskins fans and players can both be right about FedEx Field frustrations

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USA Today Sports

Redskins fans and players can both be right about FedEx Field frustrations

The Redskins moved to 6-3 on Sunday by beating the Buccaneers in Tampa, and now sit two games clear in first place in the NFC East. 

That should be the biggest football story inside the Beltway. But it isn't. 

The story has become that two of the most high-profile members of the Washington defense said that they prefer playing road games to being in their home stadium. Why? Because on the road they can hear better and focus more since they don't have fans booing them. 

Seriously. 

"Home games, that’s some of the worst things I’ve seen. I’ve played on four different teams, never seen it that bad, with other team’s jerseys in the stands, the boos, whatever it may be," Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger said during an appearance on 106.7 the Fan's Grant and Danny program on Monday. 

"I’ve never been a part of nothing like that."

This freight train started moving on Sunday, when after the win in Tampa, Josh Norman said he likes playing on the road. Why? Because there aren't any boos.

"We go into the homestands, and it’s like an open bubble,” Norman said. “Like the other team’s turf or something. You hear more of them than you do us. Then if something bad happens, they suck. They sit back in their seat, and they boo."

There's a lot to unpack here. 

Norman and Swearinger are right. There are always a lot of visiting fans at FedEx Field. Some of that might be that Washington is a transient city, but some of it is also because other fans have determined that it's easy to get tickets at FedEx Field. 

Why is it easy for visiting fans to get tickets? Well, there's not much sizzle at FedEx Field.

The area doesn't have shopping or restaurants around it like many newer NFL stadiums. The traffic, like much of life in the D.C. area, is awful. The stadium itself is underwhelming; old and lacking character. 

The Redskins are working hard to overhaul the game day experience, and some of the efforts are alrady working. But the problem is some fans have soured on the idea of spending the day at FedEx Field, and that will take time to fix. Probably years. 

One obvious fix? A new stadium, preferably back in downtown D.C. That is a long way off though. 

Plenty of fans are bothered by Swearinger and Norman's comments, and they have reason for that, too. 

To start with, there are tens of thousands of fans at every home game, cheering on their club. Lifelong, loyal fans that pay good money to watch the Burgundy and Gold. 

Do some boo? Certainly. But they only boo when the team is bad. Play good, no boos. It's fairly simple.

And the boos aren't only about a specific game, or even a specific season. Many Redskins fans are just frustrated with the franchise in general for a litany of reasons. Things have been stable under Jay Gruden, but for a long time, they weren't. 

What isn't fair for Norman and Swearinger is they played zero part in the multi-decade erosion of the Redskins fan base. And some would argue the fan base hasn't actually eroded, just that fewer fans want to make the trek to the stadium and commit to the full day that is attending an NFL game.

For 20 years, Washington has played plenty of bad football at home. During that time, some fans simply decided they'd rather watch on television, or go for a walk, or do yard work, or hang with their family. 

The toughest part is that both Norman and Swearinger can be right, but the fans that are upset with the comments can be right as well. 

Are there good fans? Absolutely. Are there lots of visiting fans? Yep. 

It won't be fixed overnight. Winning is the best cure, however, as old fans will return and new fans will be created. 

Play well and there won't be any booing. Keep winning games and there won't be anything but burgundy in the stands. 

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Virginia, Virginia Tech each moved one spot in new top-25 poll but in opposite directions

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia, Virginia Tech each moved one spot in new top-25 poll but in opposite directions

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Duke changed everything about who AP Top 25 voters considered to be the nation's best team with a single dominating performance against a marquee opponent.

It also gave the Blue Devils yet another milestone under Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski: a record number of appearances at No. 1.

The Blue Devils jumped from fourth to first Monday in the first regular-season poll, leapfrogging Kansas at the top after a blowout win against then-No. 2 Kentucky last week. That allowed Duke to set a record with its 135th week at No. 1, breaking a tie with UCLA for the most top rankings in poll history.

The 34-point win against the Wildcats in the Champions Classic to open the season marked the program's most lopsided win against a top-5 opponent. Duke was practically flawless behind star freshmen RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish, and that created a buzz about the team's already lofty potential being somehow even higher than anyone anticipated.

Granted, it was one game. And Duke (2-0) didn't look nearly so dazzling Sunday at home against Army. But that one performance caused a major voting shift, even with now-No. 2 Kansas earning a quality win of its own against then-No. 10 Michigan State in the first game of the Champions Classic.

Kansas was a solid preseason No. 1 by earning 37 of 65 first-place votes, followed by 19 for Kentucky and four for Duke. But Duke now has 48 first-place votes, claiming the top spot for all 19 voters who had Kentucky as preseason No. 1 while also causing 23 voters to switch from Kansas in the preseason Duke this week.

Duke also prompted switches from the lone voters who had Gonzaga and Villanova at No. 1 in the preseason.

The hype probably won't slow anytime soon, either. The Blue Devils have everyone's attention.

"Part of becoming good is keeping the noise out of your locker room," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the Army win. "And when something good happens and you have the start of the season ... there's a lot of noise. And for us, it's not always good noise, but in this case, it was exceptional noise. Exceptional noise.

"When you have four freshmen and we don't have veterans, you have to be more mature about listening to that."

COMPLETE MEN'S BASKETBALL TOP-25 RANKINGS WEEK 2

1. Duke 2-0 (48 votes, No. 4 last week)

2. Kansas 1-0 (14 votes, No. 1 last week)

3. Gonzaga 2-0 (No. 3 last week)

4. Virginia 2-0 (2 votes, No. 5 last week)

5. Tennessee 2-0 (1 vote, No. 6 last week)

6. Nevada 2-0 (No. 7 last week)

7. North Carolina 2-0 (No. 8 last week)

8. Villanova 2-0 (No. 9 last week)

9. Auburn 2-0 (No. 11 last week)

10. Kentucky 1-1 (No. 2 last week)

11. Michigan State (No. 10 last week)

12. Kansas State 1-0 (No. 12 last week)

13. Oregon 2-0 (No. 14 last week)

14. Florida State 2-0 (No. 17 last week)

15. Syracuse 2-0 (No. 16 last week)

16. Virginia Tech 1-0 (No. 15 last week)

17. Mississippi State 2-0 (No. 18 last week)

18. Michigan 2-0 (No. 19 last week)

19. Clemson 2-0 (No. 22 last week)

20. UCLA 2-0 (No. 21 last week)

21. TCU 2-0 (No. 20 last week)

22. LSU 2-0 (No. 23 last week)

23. Purdue 2-0 (No. 24 last week)

24. Marquette 2-0 (Not ranked last week)

25. Buffalo 2-0 (Not ranked last week)

AT THE TOP

Gonzaga stayed at No. 3, followed by Virginia and Tennessee each climbing a spot to round out the top 5. Nevada, North Carolina, reigning national champion Villanova and Auburn were next, while Kentucky slid eight spots to No. 10.

TOP RISERS

There weren't any dramatic climbs beyond the Duke-Kansas change at the top. In all, 16 teams moved up this week poll, with No. 14 Florida State and No. 19 Clemson matching Duke's three-spot jump for the biggest of the week.

Twelve of the gains were merely one spot.

LONGEST SLIDES

Kentucky's fall was the biggest for any team that stayed in the poll. The others were all modest, with four teams -- Kansas, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 21 TCU -- falling one spot each.

NEWCOMERS

There were two new teams in the poll with No. 24 Marquette and No. 25 Buffalo.

It's the first appearance for Marquette in nearly five years since last appearing at No. 25 in November 2013.

As for Buffalo, it's the first AP Top 25 appearance in program history. It comes after the Bulls got 43 points and 14 rebounds from CJ Massinburg to beat then-No. 13 West Virginia on the road -- another marquee upset for a team that beat Arizona and eventual No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Deandre Ayton in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament.

SLIDING OUT

The Mountaineers slid all the way out after losing to the Bulls, which marked their first loss in a home opener since November 2003. Washington fell out from No. 25 after a loss to Auburn.

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