With a few notable exceptions, one being Brother Eli on the 2007 Giants, even the dumpier quarterbacks who get to the Super Bowl tend to play at about a league-average level. But Manning has blazed a new trail for ineffective passers with eyes on the Super Bowl, so long as they play in front of a superlative defense and cobble together a few decent playoff starts. There’s a reason the 2015 Broncos’ most similar team was the 2009 New York Jets.Funny thing, however: Manning playing poorly doesn’t seem to matter very much for Denver’s chances of winning the game. Based on regular-season value over average, Cam Newton and the Panthers have a huge advantage in the passing game over the Broncos — the sixth-biggest in any Super Bowl since the merger, in fact2The biggest passing mismatch was the aforementioned 2007 Eli against the record-setting Tom Brady. — but that hasn’t mattered much in past Super Bowls. Whether you look at total or per-attempt measures of value, there’s essentially zero correlation between the disparity in regular-season QB performance for the Super Bowl opponents and the eventual point margin of the game itself. This makes sense, as the equilibrium of a successful team will account for poor play from any given position (even QB) if the rest of the team is strong enough. And given the importance of quarterbacks to modern NFL play, the Broncos’ compensation for Manning’s play is just about the most impressive thing we’ve seen out of a unit leading up to a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning, The Sheriff, is back in the Super Bowl saddle. Good for him; we’ve written many paeans to Manning over the years, for the simple reason that he’s the greatest statistical quarterback of all time. But let’s face it: 2015 was also far — faaaaaar — from Manning’s best season, and in the context of a Super Bowl appearance, Manning’s standard of play pales even in comparison to “game managers” like Trent Dilfer. In a lot of ways, Peyton’s 2015 was worst regular-season performance ever by a QB who would eventually start the Super Bowl.During the regular season, Denver had the NFL’s eighth-worst passing offense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average, with a mark one full standard deviation worse than average. That’s really bad by Super Bowl standards: If we index the Broncos’ DVOA relative to the league, the only post-merger Super Bowl team to throw the ball less effectively were the Vince Ferragamo-led 1979 Los Angeles Rams.Now, Manning was injured during the regular season and missed six games, so you might think others share in the blame over the Broncos’ lousy aerial attack. But you can’t pin this on Brock Osweiler — he was mediocre in Manning’s stead, not outright horrible. Manning, on the other hand, was the league’s worst QB (on a per-drop-back basis) according to adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A), and its second-worst according to DVOA. He ranked among the bottom 15 percent of NFL passers in not just conventional categories such as touchdown and interception rate, but also fancier numbers like the percentage of his throws that were on-target.1In the estimation of ESPN’s Stats & Information group. Plain and simple, he stank.Let’s compare Manning’s overall season to those of other Super Bowl starting QBs over the years. If we judge by ANY/A compared to the league average from the season in question, Manning’s 2015 ranks second-worst, again ahead of only Ferragamo’s catastrophic 1979 numbers. And Ferragamo’s damage was at least limited: He started only five of the Rams’ 16 games, and played in an age when teams passed less, so a poor QB wasn’t as harmful to his team’s chances as today. (Not that it mattered for Ferragamo; his Rams lost the Super Bowl to the Steelers 31-19.)Manning, by contrast, plays in a pass-crazed era and threw the ball about as often per game as his peers, despite his horrible passing efficiency rates. The result, according to Football Perspective founder Chase Stuart’s method of judging QB value versus league average (which considers both passing and rushing value) was by far the worst regular season by a Super Bowl starter since the merger.
Brady and Garoppolo numbers reflect preseason projections. Actual (Brissett starts Wks. 3-4)3.21008236 SITUATIONWINS2+ WINS3+ WINS4 WINS ODDS OF… Garoppolo starts 4 games2.3774411 Brady starts 4 games2.586%53%17% Going into Week 1, there were at least mild concerns that Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension (upheld in July after nearly 18 months of legal theatrics) might put a dent in the New England Patriots’ season before it even began. Though few reasonable analysts expected total calamity for the Pats, terms like “survival” and “staying afloat” were tossed around in relation to New England’s four weeks under backup Jimmy Garoppolo, particularly after Brady’s understudy received mixed reviews in the preseason.1Garoppolo’s cumulative stats were actually pretty good.Halfway through Brady’s suspension, though, the Patriots are in great shape. They moved to 2-0 on the season with a 31-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins, and although Garoppolo was injured in the win — thrusting rookie third-string QB Jacoby Brissett into the starting role for at least one week, if not two — New England is still well ahead of where preseason expectations would have had them at this point in the season. In fact, it’s now likely that they’ll make it through Brady’s suspension with a better record than we’d have expected if Brady had played all along.We can show this using our Elo ratings, which are used to judge each NFL team’s quality at a given moment in time. The Patriots entered the season with an Elo of 1605 — good for sixth in the league — and if they played to that rating, they could have expected to win about 2.5 of their first four games, with an 86 percent chance of going 2-2 or better, a 53 percent shot at 3-1 or better and a 17 percent probability of going 4-0.But Elo also doesn’t know about injuries or suspensions to key players. Research has shown that starting a backup QB slices about 60 points off a team’s Elo, so a more reasonable projection might have set New England’s opening-day Elo at 1545, reflecting the drop-off from Brady to Garoppolo. Under those circumstances, the Pats would project to win an average of 2.3 games in the season’s first quarter, with a 77 percent chance of breaking even and an 11 percent shot at 4-0.Maybe that number undersells the perceived gap between Canton-bound Brady and untested backup Garoppolo — the betting markets consistently estimated that the suspension would cost New England half a win over four games — but the general point remains: Before the regular season started, the Pats were projected to win somewhere between 2 and 2.5 games during Brady’s suspension, as opposed to the 2.5 games they’d be expected to win with Brady in the lineup.Now, they’re likely to emerge from Brady’s ban in better shape than they could have expected based on preseason predictions with or without Brady. Even if Brissett proves to be among the worst QBs in the league — warranting a further deduction of 32.5 Elo points2I estimated this using the same method my colleague Harry Enten used to judge Brady’s value here, assigning Brissett the average defense-adjusted yards above replacement of a bottom-five NFL passer from the past five seasons. from New England’s rating, on top of the Garoppolo penalty from above3Though this should be mitigated a bit because the Pats’ Elo increased from 1545 to 1571 during Garoppolo’s two weeks at the helm. So I decided to average together the Pats’ hypothetical Elo if we deducted Brissett’s penalty from Garoppolo’s initial Elo (1513) and their Elo if we lopped the penalty off their updated Elo under Garoppolo (1538). The resulting Elo for the Pats under Brissett was 1526. — and the Patriots play to a 1526 Elo (think of a team somewhere between the Lions and Jets) over the next two weeks, they already have a pair of wins in the bank and can be expected to tack on 1.2 more at home against the Texans (owners of a 1544 Elo) and Bills (1478) before Brady returns. That would give them an updated projection of 3.2 wins through the season’s first four games, with an 82 percent chance of going 3-1 or better. What the Patriots could have expected during Weeks 1-4 In other words, the Pats are basically playing with house money now. Through two weeks, they’ve already won almost as many games as they could have reasonably expected to during Brady’s entire ban, and they’ll have plenty of chances for more against the Texans and Bills. Plus, Garoppolo’s injury was less severe than originally believed, so he might return for Week 4, further bolstering New England’s chances. It’s also unclear whether Brissett will play poorly — his numbers in relief of Garoppolo Sunday weren’t horrible (though the Patriots’ lead did erode under his watch).The Patriots’ season could certainly have taken a rotten turn without Brady, given how little we knew about Garoppolo’s skills — and how important the first few weeks of the season are to a team’s playoff chances. But with two wins under their belts, the Patriots have already survived the worst of Brady’s absence. Even though they’re down to a backup’s backup under center, the team Touchdown Tom inherits in Week 5 will likely carry a record he finds familiar. Some teams have all the luck.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard had to be separated by teammates following a New Year’s Day loss to Philadelphia, according to a report that two Los Angeles Lakers sources vehemently refuted. What is certain is this: the Lakers are in turmoil.They dropped their third straight Sunday night to the Denver Nuggets, dropping them to three games under .500. The storied Lakers fired coach Mike Brown after just five games, passed on a chance to re-hire the winningest coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson, and, instead, hired Mike D’Antoni, whose style of play does not seem to fit the personnel.Acquiring D’Antoni, Howard and Steve Nash has done nothing to spark the Lakers, who are 11th in the Western Conference, meaning they have to pass three teams just to make the playoffs.That is bad enough.Now comes a report by the New York Daily News that Bryant goaded Howard in the locker room, saying Shaquille O’Neal was right about Howard, that he was not physical enough. Howard then moved forward toward Bryant, but was stopped by teammates, according to the article.ESPNLA.com reported that two sources adamantly denied any such event occurred. Whatever the case, it is apparent there is not enough harmony among teammates, considering Howard’s remarks Saturday:“Those guys on the (Los Angeles) Clippers team, they really enjoy each other off the court and it shows,” he said after the Laker practice. “It’s something we have to do to get better. We have to play like we like each other. Even if we don’t want to be friends off the court, whatever that may be, when we step in between the lines or we step in the locker room or the gym, we have to respect each other and what we bring to the table.“It really starts off the court. I think you have to have that relationship and that chemistry off the court for it to really blossom on the court. It takes time to develop that. You just don’t come together and then expect to be best friends right away. It just doesn’t happen like that”
ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, among the more creative and popular personalities on the all-sports network, announced on Twitter Monday night that he is enduring a third bout with cancer.“Blessed by prayers..I’m back in the Fight. C reared its head again. Chemo evry 2 wks but I’ll still work, still work out..still #LIVESTRONG”Scott was flooded with well-wishes from fans, including Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.“Thanks for prayers..ill fight w ALL C survivors & loved ones. Cancer wants to re-appear..picked the right guy cuz I HIT HARD all day long!!”In 2007, according to Touched By Cancer magazine, Scott was first diagnosed with cancer after he got sick during a Monday Night Football game. An emergency appendectomy revealed the presence of appendiceal cancer.After six months of chemotherapy, Scott was declared cancer-free. However, in early 2011 doctors discovered that malignant tumors had developed on his small intestine. More surgery and chemotherapy were required.And now, recently, the cancer has resurfaced.Scott, who graduated from the University of North Carolina, outlined his post-chemo regimen on Twitter: “Here’s what I do right aftr chemo. Leave the infusion center & go STRAIGHT 2 either do a p90x wkout or train MMA..THATS how you #LIVESTRONG”Known for phrases such as “Boo-yeah” and “cooler than the other side of the pillow,” Scott last year said: “Cancer sucks, and the effects of chemotherapy suck, and you’re going to feel like crap sometimes. But you’re going to feel like that whether you’re lying in bed or going to work or working out, so you might as well go out there and live your life.“If you believe you’re not being touched by this, then it’s much better.”And so, he works.“I love my job,” Scott said then. “Those of us who do what we do, we’re blessed. Being on when you don’t feel well is not the challenge. I love writing. I love creating our shows every night. And by the time it’s time to go on, you’re charged. And when you’re going through something like this, going to work helps. Having that energy helps. Having a positive mindset helps.”
You see the stories everywhere. “Baseball teams are striking out more than ever,” blared an NBC Sports headline back in April. In 2015, The Hardball Times wrote a story entitled “The Strikeout Ascendant.” And the year before that, friend of the program Ben Lindbergh hosted a “rising strikeout rate symposium” on his popular podcast, Effectively Wild. Clearly, the baseball world is well aware that strikeout rates are up — way up.What’s less well-known, but equally true, is this: Baseball’s recent rise in strikeout rates has little to do with how good batters are at making contact. That’s a bit counterintuitive, I know, because strikeout rates have increased (up nearly 26 percent since 20021That’s the first year for which we have plate-discipline statistics, so that’s as far back as we can look using the data mentioned throughout this article.), and when you think of a strikeout, you usually imagine a batter taking a mighty hack and missing. And indeed, swinging strikes are up as a percentage of all pitches.But keep in mind that this isn’t only about the batters — pitchers also have a big say in the matter.And in 2009, pretty much all of a sudden, they started throwing way fewer pitches in the strike zone, as measured by Fangraphs’ zone percentage statistic.2It’s worth noting that Pitchf/x’s version of the same statistic, which uses a slightly different methodology, shows roughly the same trend, but with a different start date and a shallower slope. From 2002 (the earliest year for which we have data) through 2008, pitchers put the ball through the zone about 52 percent of the time, year in and year out. In fact, over the seven seasons from 2002 to 2008, the league-wide rate of pitches in the zone never dropped below 50.5 percent or rose above 54.2 percent. When it came to tossing strikes, MLB hurlers were a model of consistency.But during the 2009 season, pitchers threw balls in the zone just 48.3 percent of the time. In 2010, that number kept falling — to 45.4 percent! — and by 2011, the league-wide rate of pitches in the zone was just 44.6 percent. In just three years, about one out of every nine pitches that had previously been thrown in the zone started missing its mark. (Since then, MLB’s zone rate has basically leveled off: Last year, it was exactly the same — 44.6 percent — as it was in 2011.)But despite that drastic change, batters haven’t really changed how they react to pitches inside the zone. Batters still swing at basically the same proportion of pitches in the zone as they did in 2002, and they still make contact with those pitches at essentially the same rate.Instead, the big changes have come outside the zone. The trend here is striking. As pitchers started throwing outside the zone more and more — again, the really big decline in strike-throwing started around 2009 — hitters not only started swinging at more pitches outside the zone, they also started getting much better at making contact on those wayward pitches. Add it all up, and you see that instead of making contact on just 10 percent of all balls thrown outside the strike zone, as they did back in 2002, hitters made contact on nearly 20 percent of such pitches in 2016.3Note that this isn’t the same as the “contact rate” listed at FanGraphs, which only looks at balls that the batter took a swing at. This figure looks at all pitches outside the zone, which will include, for example, some pitches that were essentially unhittable or thrown as part of an intentional walk. That’s double the rate! That’s unbelievable!Let’s step back for a second, because this is a pretty counterintuitive finding. Batters are striking out more often, but they haven’t gotten any worse at their core task: hitting the ball. They’re also not getting as many good pitches to hit as they used to, but they’re about as good as they ever were at making contact on balls inside the strike zone, and far better than they used to be at making contact on balls outside the zone. Normally that should add up to swinging and missing less often, not more often. But because more of the balls they’re swinging at are outside the zone, and those balls are fundamentally harder to hit, the effect on overall contact is just about level. It’s a classic Simpson’s Paradox.So if MLB hitters suddenly started channeling their inner Vladimir Guerrero, making better contact on bad pitches, why are they still suffering so many strikeouts? We don’t really know for sure, and there’s a lot more digging to be done before anything can be said conclusively. For one thing, it’s not entirely clear which came first: pitchers throwing more outside the zone or hitters swinging at those pitches. I tested whether one month’s zone rate predicted the next month’s swing rate and vice versa, but I found almost no case for either.4The r-squared was less than 0.03 in both directions. This suggests that the complex interactions between batters and pitchers are happening on a much smaller scale than a month, and that they deserve more granular research.But here’s one possible (as-yet-untested) hypothesis for the big-picture story: Sometime in the late 2000s, pitchers began throwing more breaking pitches outside of the zone — hence the decline in zone percentage.5We know that fastball usage has dropped over the period in consideration, and given the trend in zone rate noted above, it’s not ridiculous to guess that some portion of that drop came from pitches outside the zone. At the same time — possibly out of necessity — hitters became increasingly willing to swing at pitches outside the zone, even finding some reasonable success doing it. But pitchers had another weapon: The fastball on the corner of the strike zone. Perhaps the adjustment that hitters made in order to hit breaking stuff outside the zone also made them vulnerable to hard stuff inside it — for which they were not mechanically prepared — and they started getting called out on strikes by the boatload.Again, that’s only a theory. But the fact is that batters are striking out more on called strikes in the zone even as they’re getting better at hitting pitches outside of it. So the next time you see a hitter preparing for a breaking ball out of the zone, remember: It’s not the pitches you swing at that get you. It’s the ones you don’t.
OSU sophomore guard Asia Doss (20) shoots a free throw during the second half a game against Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament on March 5 in Indianapolis. OSU lost, 82-63. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Asst. Sports EditorWhile the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be lacking scarlet and gray, the same cannot be said about the women’s 64-team field.The official bracket was announced Monday night, in which the Ohio State women’s basketball team earned a No. 3 seed, setting it up with a first-round matchup against No. 14 seed Buffalo.Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Friday at St. John Arena in Columbus.Buffalo will be making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in program history. The Bulls took down Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference championship game. They, as a No. 8 seed, became the highest-seeded team to win the MAC tournament.Although coach Kevin McGuff has to be pleased with making the tournament for the second time in his three seasons at the helm for OSU, there is likely some bitterness after his team’s final four games.Heading into the final two regular-season games, the then-fifth-ranked Buckeyes were amid an 11-game win streak, looking poised for, at least, a No. 2 seed, with an outside chance at a top seed.They lost both in overtime.Then, in the Big Ten tournament, OSU got past Rutgers in the quarterfinals, but senior guard Ameryst Alston suffered a wrist injury late in the game.Without their second-leading scorer at full ability in the semifinals, the Scarlet and Gray were trounced by Michigan State, 82-63, a rather fitting coda to the disappointing four-game stretch.After a nearly two-week break, OSU will hope to regain its footing and begin playing the team that took down Maryland, a No. 2 seed, twice during the regular season, as well as now-fourth-seeded Texas A&M.If the Buckeyes are able to get past Buffalo, they’ll be set to face the winner of sixth-seeded West Virginia versus No. 11 seed Princeton on Sunday at St. John Arena.OSU played three of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds — Connecticut, South Carolina and Notre Dame — during the regular season. The Scarlet and Gray lost all three matchups.South Carolina is the top-seeded team in OSU’s region, which is a fortunate break for the Buckeyes because they only lost to Gamecocks by eight points when the two teams played in November.Consequently, it makes a potential trip to the Final Four a little easier, as OSU won’t have to face perennial power UConn during its road to Indianapolis. The Huskies throttled the Buckeyes by 54 points on Nov. 18 in Columbus.Last season, as a No. 5 seed, OSU lost in the second round on a last-second shot by fourth-seeded North Carolina.The Buckeyes have reached the Final Four once in program history, in 1993. They lost to Texas Tech by two points in the championship game.Prior to taking over at OSU, McGuff spent nine years as the head coach at Xavier and two at Washington. His best tournament run was a trip to the Elite Eight in 2010 at Xavier.
Two days into the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, veteran PGA Tour golfer Steve Stricker finds himself atop the leaderboard at 9-under-par. “Obviously, I’m happy to be where I’m at,” Stricker said, “but you’ve just got to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing and try to do the same things, play to my strengths.” Stricker, who started on the back nine, capped off his round with a hole-in-one on the eighth hole, and a birdie on the ninth to propel him three shots ahead of his closest competition. “I made the turn 1-over for the round and shot 30 on the second nine,” Stricker said, “so things got going in the right direction.” Four players find themselves three shots off the lead heading into the weekend. One of those four, Rory McIlroy, shot an even-par 72 Friday. McIlroy did not improve on his first-round 66, but is still in contention. “I felt as if I played good enough to shoot something in the 60s, but I just made too many mistakes out there,” McIlroy said. “I made two bogeys on the front nine from the middle of the fairway with a 9-iron and a sand wedge in my hand. You just can’t do that sort of stuff.” Ricky Barnes, Rod Pampling and Jonathan Byrd also find themselves at 6-under-par. One group that seemed to have the biggest crowd all day was the Phil “Lefty” Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Luke Donald trio. Donald, the No. 1 golfer in the world, finished his Friday round birdie-birdie, putting himself in a position for a late tee time. Donald is now tied for sixth, just four shots off the lead and will be a factor entering the weekend. “I played a lot of solid golf today,” Donald said. “Some careless mistakes out there, mostly short game mistakes. … A lot of positives though, and I’m still in a great place for the weekend.” Mickelson finished his day at 2-under-par, and played a nearly flawless round. Lefty recorded three birdies and one bogey Friday, putting him seven shots away from Stricker. “There’s some good chances out there,” Mickelson said. “If I can get a good round tomorrow, I hopefully will get in the mix for Sunday, which is the goal.” Seventy-three players made the cut for the Memorial’s final two rounds. Some big names missed the cut, including Stuart Appleby, Trevor Immelman, Martin Laird, Steve Marino, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Lucas Glover, Jhonattan Vegas and Justin Rose. Rose, the defending champion, will not be playing over the weekend at the Memorial this year. Rose shot a 3-over 75 Friday to finish 2-over-par for the first two rounds. The cut was 1-over-par. Rose finished the 18th, knew his weekend was over and, without hesitation, handed his putter to a child in the gallery. Play begins at 8:10 a.m. Saturday, and Stricker will tee off with Barnes at 1:40 p.m.
Junior quarterback Braxton Miller (5) runs away from a Clemson defender during the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium. OSU lost, 40-35.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorTwo days after receiving his second Silver Football as the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player, Ohio State junior quarterback Braxton Miller is set to have surgery on his throwing shoulder, according to media reports.The procedure is minor and is for an injury he sustained during OSU’s 40-35 loss to Clemson Jan. 3 in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl.Set for Friday, the surgery should not greatly affect Miller’s status for spring practice, according to the reports.An OSU spokesman did not immediately return The Lantern’s request for comment Thursday evening.When asked about his shoulder after the Orange Bowl loss, Miller said he thought his injury only affected his ability to run the ball against the Tigers.“Throwing-wise, it was cool. I don’t know what happened,” Miller said in the locker room after the game. “I landed on my elbow, but it shot up right through my shoulder. It was hurting real bad.”The injury was not the first for Miller in 2013.Miller completed 162 passes for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns while throwing seven interceptions in 2013, despite missing nearly three games for a sprained MCL in his right knee suffered in the Buckeyes’ 42-7 victory against San Diego State Sept. 7. Miller suffered the injury in the first quarter against the Aztecs.The Buckeye signal caller rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 scores on 171 carries this past season, down from his team-leading 227 carries and 1,271 yards in 2012.Miller and the Buckeyes are set to start their 2014 campaign Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
There are four Ohio natives who currently suit up for the Broncos. Redshirt freshman cornerback Antione Stone went to Bedford High School, the same school OSU’s junior safety Tyvis Powell attended. Senior punter J. Schroeder is a Columbus native who attended St. Charles Preparatory School. Sophomore long snapper Wyatt Pfeifer is from Delaware, Ohio, and freshman wide receiver Giovanni Ricci is from the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland.Beyond the Buckeyes After Saturday’s game, WMU will have a week off to rest and prepare for conference play. The Broncos are set to open their MAC slate on Oct. 10 against the Central Michigan Chippewas in the “Battle for the Cannon” at home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The time of kickoff has yet to be announced. Starting right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor has only lived in the United States for five years. The 18-year-old true sophomore moved to the U.S. from Botswana in 2010. Okorafor, who measures 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, had not played football prior to his immigration. He learned the game quickly, receiving many collegiate scholarship offers from Power 5 schools, including OSU, before settling on going to WMU. Michigan State’s Joel Heath (92) sacks Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell (11) during the first half at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sept. 4.Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe next team scheduled to take on defending national champion Ohio State is the Western Michigan Broncos. The Broncos, who are members of the Mid-American Conference, head into Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium with one win in three tries. Here is a look at the 2015 Bronco squad:Up and downIn its first three games, the Broncos have looked like a different team each week. WMU opened its season against then-No. 5 Michigan State, and surprisingly, the heavy-underdog Broncos put up a fight against their in-state foe in a 37-24 loss. WMU’s redshirt junior quarterback Zach Terrell threw the ball 50 times, completing 33 attempts for 365 yards — the highest regular-season passing total against MSU since Sept. 18, 2010. Even though it was a loss, there were enough positives to draw from the game to give WMU confidence moving forward. However, that would not last long as the following week the Broncos played Georgia Southern and got blown out 43-17. In that game, Terrell threw three interceptions, and the Eagles beat up the Bronco run defense for 413 yards. WMU bounced back in its next game, as it cruised through Murray State of the Football Championship Subdivision by way of a 52-20 victory.Terrell was much improved, throwing just one more incompletion (five) than he did touchdowns (four). The Broncos also hit their stride in the running game, as they totaled 237 yards after just having 43 yards combined in the first two games. It’s been a night-and-day difference for WMU in each of its games so far. Who knows which Bronco team will show up at the ‘Shoe on Saturday.Turnovers Although WMU has been inconsistent overall thus far in 2015, there has been one overarching theme for the Broncos. Unfortunately, it is probably one that coach P.J. Fleck and his players wish didn’t exist: turnovers. The Broncos have had multiple of them in every game they’ve played, and it’s certainly holding them back. Against the Spartans in the season opener, Terrell threw two interceptions. The first one happened early in the game when the Broncos were still deep in their own territory. It turned out to be costly, as it took Michigan State just two plays to go 27 yards for the game’s first score. The turnover total ballooned to four in Week 2 against Georgia Southern.Terrell threw three picks — which on two of them, the Eagles scored on the ensuing possession — and freshman wide receiver LeVante Bellamy fumbled on a kickoff. Last week, WMU coughed up the ball on two fumbles — albeit both were late in the game when the Broncos had all but sealed up the win over Murray State. The eight Bronco turnovers have allowed opponents to score a total 27 points on the possessions directly following them. The Broncos will have to clean up the sloppy play against OSU because as the underdog they can’t afford to give the heavily favorited Buckeyes extra chances with the ball. Brief Bronco biosThe backup quarterback for the Broncos is freshman Tom Flacco, whose older brother, Joe, is the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) drops back to pass behind redshirt junior offensive tackle Brandon Bowen (76) and junior center Michael Jordan (73) in Ohio State’s game against TCU. Ohio State won the game 40-28. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThrough the first two games of the season, the Ohio State defensive line has been one of the main examples of the team’s dominance, with junior Nick Bosa and sophomore Chase Young on either end and redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones in the middle. In Saturday’s game against No. 15 TCU, Ohio State’s defensive line was the reason behind No. 4 Ohio State securing its first win of the season against a ranked opponent, defeating the Horned Frogs 40-28 at AT&T Stadium. The Ohio State defensive line came into the game with a few hurdles to overcome: a mobile quarterback, something the defense had not seen this season, and an offensive line that had not allowed a sack in their first two games this season. Bosa set the tone early. When TCU sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson hiked the ball in the second play of his second drive, the junior defensive end easily moved past the right guard, with nothing staying in between him and the sophomore quarterback. Seconds later, Bosa, from the quarterback’s blind side, collided with Robinson in the endzone, forcing him to drop the ball. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Davon Hamilton finished what Bosa had started, picking up the ball and giving Ohio State its first touchdown of the day.However, Bosa left the game in the third quarter with a lower body injury and did not return. He left with five tackles, including the strip sack, and a forced fumble.Ohio State acting head coach Ryan Day did not give any update on Bosa after the game, saying he was still being evaluated.Jones said, when Bosa left with the injury, it was a bit of “a wake-up call” for the defense as a whole moving forward.“We were like ‘Alright, we have to go out there and play,’” Jones said. ‘”There was no one relying on on him to make a play. We have to rely on ourselves, we have to rely on each other,’ and I think tonight, after a hard first half, we did.In his absence, the Ohio State defense was not done.In the third quarter, with the Horned Frog offense on its own 28-yard line, Robinson attempted a short shovel pass in front of his offensive line. However, Jones read the play, stepped in front of the passer, intercepted the ball and brought in Ohio State’s second defensive touchdown of the day, giving Ohio State the 26-21 lead, a lead that Ohio State wouldn’t give up on the way to its third win of the season. Jones would also leave the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury, but returned to the defensive line in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with two tackles for loss, including a sack, an interception and a broken up pass While the Ohio State defense scored 14 points in Saturday’s 12-point win over TCU, the Buckeye offense was not the same as what it had been against Oregon State and Rutgers. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins found his connection in the passing game early, connecting with junior wide receiver Austin Mack twice for 64 yards in the first drive of the game, bringing the Buckeyes to the TCU 2-yard line. That’s when Mack’s day started to take a turn. After handing the ball off to Dobbins for another 1-yard rush and an incomplete pass to redshirt junior tight end Rashod Berry, Haskins found Mack on a slant route in the middle. Throwing a dagger right into the hands of his receiver, something Haskins had seen work after two targets earlier in the drive, Mack dropped the pass, forcing Ohio State to hit one of two field goal makes in three attempts in the first half. Mack’s dropped pass in the end zone began what proved to be a trying day for the junior wide receiver. With nine targets from Haskins, Mack dropped four passes, bringing in four catches for 84 yards.For a quarterback whose main target was struggling to catch passes as well as experiencing an amount of pressure in the pocket he did not feel in the first two wins of the season, Haskins said he had to adjust and overcome adversity for the first time this season.“We got punched in the mouth, but it was a fight,” Haskins said. “We have to be able to rebound it, and we did in the second half.”In the second half, Haskins tightened up as a passer, completing eight of 10 pass attempts for 148 yards, throwing two touchdown passes. He finished the game with 344 yards through the air, his second of three games this season in which he has thrown more than 300 yards in a game, completing 63.2 percent of his pass attempts. Throwing two touchdown passes, including a 63-yard pass to redshirt senior receiver Parris Campbell in the third quarter, Haskins recorded his first career rushing touchdown, a five-yard rush to the left in the fourth quarter. Despite Haskins scoring the only rushing touchdown of the day for the Buckeyes, sophomore J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior Mike Weber combined for 185 yards on the ground, with Dobbins leading the way with 121 yards on 18 carries. Even with two defensive touchdowns scored, the Ohio State defense struggled to contain Robinson and the TCU offense. The Buckeyes allowed 511 yards, including 203 yards on the ground with three touchdowns. Junior running back Darius Anderson recorded two touchdowns, including a 93-yard touchdown run, the longest touchdown Ohio State has given up in school history. He finished the day with 154 yards on the ground, averaging 12.8 yards per carry.Day said he knew, going into his first ranked game of the season, that everything was not going to go in favor of Ohio State like it had been during the first two wins over Oregon State and Rutgers.“We knew there was going to be ebbs and flows in a game like this,” Day said. “We talked about how everything is not going to go perfect. There were times in the two weeks previously where things really went well for us, you know. We knew there was going to be times where we hit adversity and that we have to stick together in times like that and I thought we did.”Ohio State secured its victory with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter as junior linebacker Malik Harrison recorded his first career interception. The Buckeyes look to continue their three-game win streak at home on Sept. 22 against Tulane.Updated at 1:34 a.m. with quotes from the postgame press conference.