Ohio Sports Time

Ohio Sports Time - Ohio sports news and opinions for college and professional sports teams in Ohio. Our mission is to discuss major sports happenings across the state of Ohio. We cover teams like the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Ohio colleges like the Ohio State Buckeyes, Cincinnati Bearcats, all 6 Ohio MAC schools and more. Basically if it's a sport and it's happening in Ohio, Ohio Sports Time is the place to discuss it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Buckeyes and Big Ten Notes

The Ohio State Buckeyes will head to Iowa City on Saturday with much more than the Big Ten championship on the line. Drew Tate and the Iowa Hawkeyes stand in the way of OSU’s Big Ten aspirations, National Title run, and Troy Smith’s standing in the Heisman race.

The Big Ten is definitely up for grabs and five teams appear to be in the hunt. Four Big Ten teams enter week five with a record of 4-0. Either Ohio State or Iowa will suffer their first loss this weekend, and Purdue faces Notre Dame. Michigan will need to beat Minnesota on the road to remain undefeated. Michigan State will face Indiana to open conference play this week after suffering a tough loss to Notre Dame last week. The Buckeyes and Wolverines look to have sights set on a November 11th showdown in Columbus that could shape the Big Ten and National Championship.

Troy Smith has not separated himself from the pack of Heisman candidates but remains right in the picture. His style has changed this season as he is much more comfortable reading through his options before running the ball. He keeps the ball up by his ear in a pass-ready form which allows him to make throws easier as pressure comes from the defense. Smith’s rushing numbers entering week five are shocking: 15 rushing attempts for four yards. His passing rating of 159.9 and ability to win games will keep him in the Heisman watch, but Smith will need to put together some big numbers in the next few weeks to keep pace with Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson.

Big Ten Notes

Iowa has just two Top 25 ranked opponents on their schedule. They batt1e the #1 team in the nation Saturday and face the currently ranked #6 Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor on October 21st.

Michigan’s Chad Henne and Mario Manningham are turning into a major scoring threat. Six of Manningham’s 16 receptions have gone for touchdowns. The duo average over 20 yards per connection. Preseason Heisman hopeful Tedd Ginn Jr. has five touchdown receptions.

Purdue’s Curtis Painter leads the Big Ten in passing yards with 1,140. Troy Smith is second in the Big Ten, but he has 256 yards less than Painter. While Painter is racking up passing yards, RB Kory Sheets has been spending plenty of time in the end zone for the Boilermakers. Sheets leads the Big Ten in scoring with 10 touchdowns in the first four games.

Despite returning ten starters this season on both offense and defense, Illinois has mustered up just one win in four games. Based on their remaining games, it appears the Fighting Illini will need to defeat Indiana and Ohio University to improve on their 2005 record of 2-9.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cincinnati Reds: Can The Reds Sneak Into The Playoffs?

St. Louis has dropped 7 in a row. The Reds are only 2 and a half games back. Can they win the NL Central? I've still gotta say "No" but I am intrigued.

The Reds looked like they were left for dead upon arriving back from their west coast trip where they went 2-8. They're hardly been on fire lately (5-5 in their last 10), but the way St. Louis has looked could it really be enough? Keep in mind that Cincinnati still has to worry about the Astros as well who are only 1 and a half games back of the Cardinals, and have caught fire over the past week, winning 7 in a row, which has made them the talk of ESPN lately.

The odds that the division could end in a 3-way tie is an interesting factor that we haven't seen since realignment in 1994. Another interesting curve in this scenario is the fact that the Cardinals had an early season game against San Francisco cancelled due to inclement weather. If Houston, Cincinnati, or both, finish within a half game of the Cards they'll need to make up that game.

It's difficult to make-up 2 and a half games with only 5 remaining. To me it still looks like the Reds are a year or two away from being serious playoff contenders. They need to strengthen the back of their rotation, their lineup is much weaker since the trade of Kearns and Lopez, and Guardado's injury hurt them significantly. That said, this team has been a surprise all season, and nobody should be shocked if they pull this off.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ohio College Football Rankings after Week #4

1. Ohio State – 4-0 (1-0 Big Ten) – The Buckeyes opened Big Ten Conference play with an impressive 28-6 win over Penn State. While the game was much closer than the final score shows, the Buckeyes proved to be the superior team. The Buckeyes travel to face the #14 Iowa Hawkeyes in Saturday night’s prime-time game of the week.

2. Toledo 2-2 (0-1 MAC) – The Rockets followed their impressive win over Kansas with another home win over Division I-AA McNeese State. Toledo will have yet another opportunity to impress as they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pitt Panthers this weekend.

3. Akron 2-2 (0-1 MAC) – The Zips bounced back from their loss @ CMU with an impressive 33-13 win over North Texas. The annual Akron/Kent rivalry game is set for this weekend as the defending MAC East champion Zips will face the up-and-coming Golden Flashes who come in 2-0 in MAC play.

4. Ohio 2-2 (1-0 MAC) – The Ohio loss @ Missouri should have been closer, but the Tigers proved to be the better team. The Bobcats come home to face Bowling Green this Saturday in a game that will be a nice measuring stick for both teams.

5. Cincinnati 1-3 (0-1 Big East) – The Bearcats gave Virginia Tech all they could handle before falling 29-13 to the 11th ranked Hokies. After leading 10-5 at the half UC saw Virginia Tech score 17 points in the 4th Quarter to gain the victory. The Bearcats will look to avenge their 2005 loss to Miami as the two teams face off this weekend in Cincinnati.

6. Kent State 2-2 (2-0 MAC) – The Golden Flashes’ 38-3 win over BG this weekend is certainly impressive and Kent has two road wins @ Miami and @ Bowling Green in consecutive weeks. Kent comes into their home match-up with Akron at 2-0 in MAC play and in 1st place in the MAC East.

7. Bowling Green 2-2 (1-1 MAC) – After getting thumped by Kent at home, the Falcons may deserve to be dead last in this poll. But Miami’s 0-4 start keeps BG out of the bottom spot. The Falcons travel to Athens to face off with the Ohio Bobcats this weekend.

8. Miami 0-4 (0-1) – Losing to Syracuse 34-14 is not a bad loss, but Syracuse is not a top-level Big East team and a closer game, maybe even an upset, would have been nice. Miami faces another Big East member, the Cincinnati Bearcats this weekend.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ohio College Football Rankings after Week #3

1 - Ohio State - 3-0, 0-0 Big Ten - As detailed in the BigTen-fans.com Big Ten football Week #3 recap, the Buckeyes came out of the gates against UC slowly trailing after the 1st Quarter and leading just 13-7 at the half. But nobody can argue with Ohio State's offensive talent as they rolled in the 2nd half. The #1 Buckeyes stay in Columbus this week to face off with #24 Penn State in what will be, on paper, one of the better match-ups of the weekend.

2 - Toledo - 1-2, 0-1 MAC - The Rockets jump up from #5 last week, but I think we all knew UT was better than 5th in the state. The 0-2 start was not what Rocket fans wanted, but as Nick predicted this week, the Rockets got the win over a BCS Conference school. Toledo should have no problem hanging onto the #2 spot as they face McNeese State this weekend.

3 - Akron - 1-2, 0-1 MAC - After an outstanding win over NC State last week, most fans would look at a loss @ Central Michigan as a bad one. But fans that really know MAC football know that the Chippewas have developed into a solid program, and in the 2006 MAC football preview by VanDelay Sports, CMU was picked to finish 8-4 this season. Akron faces a tough out-of-conference opponent in North Texas at home this weekend in a game that is critical for the Zips to regain their swagger heading into the MAC regular season.

4 - Ohio - 2-1, 1-0 MAC - The Bobcats dropped a spot as their offense sputtered @ Rutgers. Last week I said that a 1-1 split @ Rutgers and @ Missouri would be great for Ohio, but the Rutgers game looked to me like the more winnable of the two. The Bobcats will be looking to make it two straight weeks for the MAC with wins over Big 12 teams as they travel to Columbia, MO, this weekend to face the Missouri Tigers.

5 - Bowling Green - 2-1, 1-0 MAC - The Falcons came into their match-up @ Florida International with a chance to prove who the better team was and they did just that. I commented to a couple of my co-workers last week that "BG better not make the MAC look bad" and they did a good job of doing what they needed to do to get the win. A home game against Kent State should prove to be interesting this weekend as the Golden Flashes come in after beating Miami on the road.

6 - Cincinnati - 1-2, 0-1 Big East - A strong showing in the first half @ Ohio State coupled with an extremely poor performance by Miami moves the Bearcats up a spot to #6. The Baercats do not get to catch a break this week as they travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to face #11 Virginia Tech.

7 - Miami - 0-3, 0-1 MAC - I think there are a lot of people in the world of MAC football and beyond that are scratching their heads over Miami's loss at home to Kent State. The RedHawks trailed 16-0 late in this game and drove for two TDs, the latter of which they failed on the 2-point conversion. Some of the blame in this one should be on the RedHawk "fans" in my opinion. Despite having a storied football tradition and a perennial winner in Oxford, only 10,486 fans showed up. Now I know that Miami has a ton of die-hard fans as I see them all of the time on Miami's #1 fan site, MiamiHawkTalk.com. But come on. Under 11,000 fans this early in the season for a school who wins as many games as Miami? Pitiful. The RedHawks travel to Syracuse to face the Orangemen or whatever they call them these days this weekend. Looks for a closely-contested match and I sure do hope the RedHawks come out fired-up and looking to regain some confidence after the loss to Kent.

8 - Kent State - 1-2, 1-0 MAC - As much as Kent fans will be mad that they're still #8 on the list after beating #7 Miami in Oxford, I just do not believe they have a better team. At least not yet anyway. Kent faces Bowling Green on the road this weekend in MAC play and I think a lot of these rankings will solve themselves in the coming weeks. Which Golden Flashes team will show up @ BG? The team that lost 44-0 to Minnesota at home? Or the team that beat Miami on the road? I know which one BG fans will be hoping for.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ranking the Ohio football programs - Week #2

1 - Ohio State - Hands down the best team in the state again this year, and most think the Buckeyes are the best in the country. Expect a lot of points to be scored by OSU against UC this weekend.

2 - Akron - A fantastic, thrilling 20-17 win @ N.C. State last weekend after a respectful 34-16 loss @ Penn State in Week #1 puts Akron solidly in the #2 spot. The Zips travel to Mount Pleasant, Michigan, to face the CMU Chippewas on Saturday in what is expected to be a great early-season MAC matchup.

3 - Ohio - The Bobcats are 2-0 for the first time since 1999 and their 35-23 win @ Northern Illinois may be the biggest MAC win for the program in a decade. The next two games are tough road matchups with middle-tier BCS conference opponents, Rutgers and Missouri. A 1-1 split would be awesome for the Bobcats and their fans, but Ohio will be double-digit underdogs in both.

4 - Miami - The RedHawks seemed flat in their opening week 17-3 home loss to Northwestern, but played inspired football @ Purdue in a 38-31 OT loss. This weekend's game with Kent will tell us more about the 2006 Miami squad, but the RedHawks should handle KSU with few problems.

5 - Toledo - The Rockets are 4.5 point favorites vs. Kansas in the Glass Bowl Friday night. A win over a Big 12 team should bring the MAC further respect and turn the Rockets' slow start around.

6 - Bowling Green - Special Teams are killing the Falcons as a blocked punt in Week #1 led to a Wisconsin TD and 4 blocked kicks in Week #2 led to a 3-OT thiller against perennial doormat Buffalo. Playing @ Florida International seems like a trap as the MAC can't have losses to lower conferences if the teams want national respect and headlines.

7 - Cincinnati - UC has struggled in their first two games this season and facing #1 Ohio State this weekend means their struggles will continue.

8 - Kent State - With a chance to pull out a win @ Army and end their 11-game losing streak, the Flashes blew it in OT, falling 17-14. A trip to Oxford to play Miami will be quite the challenge this weekend.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bobcats, Buckeyes put up same offensive numbers vs. NIU

When people talk of the 2-0 Ohio team with the great offense that beat up on the Northern Illinois defense by scoring 35 points, they likely are not talking about the Ohio Bobcats. Well, in a state where anyone other than Ohio State gets very little attention, I'm going to give credit where credit is due.

One of the most surprising games from this past weekend was the Ohio Bobcats upsetting the Northen Illinois Huskies in Dekalb, IL. The Huskies came into the game 14.5 point favorites; not surprising considering the NIU football program under Joe Novak is a perennial MAC title contender.

While Garrett Wolfe got his yards on the ground for NIU, the real surprise was the Ohio offense led by Senior QB Austen Everson. A quick look at the box score shows that Everson passed for 322 yards and 3 TD. At many schools these numbers would not be a big deal, but at a school that ran the triple-option in the late 1990's, that is good for the most passing yards for a Bobcat QB since 1985.

Wolfe rushed for 196 yards and 2 TD averaging 8.2 yards per carry, but the star running back on this day was Ohio's Kalvin McRae. Ohio's offensive playcalling seemed to be a step ahead of the NIU defense the entire day as Everson hit numerous receivers with short passes. McRae led the way with 5 catches for 98 yards and a TD as 9 different receivers had at least one catch for the Bobcats. McRae also rushed for 107 yards and 2 TD to cap off a stellar afternoon by the Junior RB.

While NIU is supposed to be the favorite in the MAC football race in 2006, the Bobcats' next two challenges are both tough out-of-conference road contests. Ohio will play @ Rutgers this Saturday, September 16th and follow that with a trip to Columbia, Missouri to face the Missouri Tigers of the Big XII Conference. While Ohio will not be favored in either of these two contests, the Bobcats will look to add to the national headlines that the Mid-American Conference made this past weekend when the Akron Zips upset the ACC's NC State Wolfpack.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Cleveland Browns: Center of Attention

The Cleveland Browns have once again made a move in attempt to fill their void at the center position. Since the injury to LeCharles Bentley on the first day of camp, the Browns have taken a look at six different centers to replace their prize free agent, Pro Bowl center. Their latest move brings six-year veteran Hank Fraley from the Philadelphia Eagles for an undisclosed 2008 draft pick.

At 6-2, 300 pounds, Fraley brings a wealth of experience to the offensive line. He had 71 career starts at center for the Eagles and was an important member of the line that paved the way for the Eagles during their prime over the past few seasons. With just one week before the start of the regular season, Fraley will compete with Lennie Friedman for the starting center position.

Fraley was an undrafted free agent out of Robert Morris University in 2000. He’s a hard working player who recently saw time at guard with the Eagles during the preseason. He brings value to the team with the ability to play multiple positions on the line. While Fraley looks to be a great fit to fill in for Bentley as the starting center this season for the Browns, he is also a talent that Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel may be able to use in the long-term once Bentley returns next year.

This move illustrates that the front office is trying hard to show fans that the Browns are making a push to put the days of 4-12 or 6-10 seasons behind them.

Cleveland Browns: Browns Cut Tucker

The Cleveland Browns bizarre run with the center position this preseason only got weirder today as recently aqcuired center Ross Tucker's name was included on the final cutdown list. Browns officials have not been given a chance to comment on cuts yet.

Other notable cuts included Lee Suggs, Frisman Jackson, and Pete Hunter.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Cincinnati Reds: Faltering Down the Stretch

That noise you hear in Cincinnati is the town's sports fans flipping the channel over from the Reds to the Bengals. The Bengals looked very promising with Carson Palmer's healthy return against Green Bay on Monday Night, giving Cincinnati football fans lots of hope. On the other hand, the Reds have looked awful on their latest West Coast swing and need to right the ship immediately if they still want a shot at the playoffs upon returning to Great American Ballpark next week.

A week ago, the Reds were on-top of the NL Central. After swooning to a 6 game losing streak, they're now 5 games behind the Cardinals, with only 28 games to play... all but forcing them to concentrate on a wildcard berth. If the Reds want to get back into the Wildcard race, now's the time to do it. They have a 3-game weekend series versus San Diego, who they currently trail by 1.5 games.

I'm not predicting doom and gloom for the Reds yet, like some of the local sports talk hosts and callers, but this is the most important series of the season for the Cincinnati Reds. For the Reds to survive this roadtrip, they really need to win this series. If they take 2 of 3 versus San Diego they'll be right back in the driver's seat for the Wildcard... Now it's time to sit back and see if they can do it.