An NFL team falls in love with Ohio State, how the Buckeyes can ruin the Big 12’s title hopes again and more
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Today is Tuesday, May 30, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.
The Colts’ new GM loves Ohio State players
There are quite a few NFL teams with multiple Ohio State products on their roster, which is to be expected given the dozens of Buckeyes in the league right now.
But if you need an NFL team to cheer for in 2017 — looking at you, Browns fans — there’s an increasingly enticing option not too far from Columbus. No team added more Buckeyes this offseason than the one in Indianapolis, which increased its total from one to four. The additions came after the Colts fired maligned general manager Ryan Grigson in January and replaced him with Chris Ballard.
OG Jack Mewhort was the lone Buckeye on the roster in 2016, but the Colts have since added OLB John Simon, DT Johnathan Hankins and S Malik Hooker to bolster their defense. Simon and Hankins were signed as free agents and Hooker was chosen with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kevin Bowen of Colts.com broke down the additions, saying the players should help shore up Indianapolis’ woeful defense, which finished 30th in total defense in 2016:
Simon was one of the earliest free agent signings the Colts had in 2017.
He’s one of the several new faces charged with re-shaping the new-look outside linebacker bunch for the Colts.
Just over a month after Simon signed to return to the Midwest, Hankins, his college teammate, also came back to this part of the United States.
The Colts having a player like Hankins has been missing for quite some time.
Simon knows what such a body can do for a 3-4 scheme.
“That takes guys off me when he’s in there taking two (blockers),” Simon says. “I know he’s going to help the defense a lot. He’s a great player.
“It’s a huge piece, especially for the inside linebackers, being able to get downhill on run plays fast and not have guards climb to them.”
Hankins has no shortage of confidence that he can team with Simon and Hooker to help turn things around in Indianapolis.
“Chris (Ballard) did a tremendous job of bringing a lot of guys in here,” he said. “Even going into the draft, he brought in even more defensive guys. Of course, we have a few Buckeyes on the defense too. I love the new atmosphere we’ve got going on in here about winning. I’m just ready to take the next step with them.”
Ohio State can ruin the Big 12’s season again
Despite winning the Big 12 championship in 2016, Oklahoma watched the College Football Playoff from home. Despite not winning the Big Ten championship in 2016, Ohio State took part in the College Football Playoff (well, technically, at least).
Both outcomes were completely justified thanks to the Buckeyes’ 45-24 steamrolling of the Sooners in Oklahoma. Three weeks into the season, with a loss to Houston also on their résumé, the Sooners were essentially drawing dead. Naturally, Oklahoma didn’t lose again the rest of the season, giving the Big 12 a champion that never had a chance of making the playoff.
Oklahoma once again looks like the team to beat in the Big 12, and once again has to play Ohio State. As esteemed columnist Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes, that could be a problem for the Sooners — and the rest of the conference. He ranked the matchup between Oklahoma and Ohio State — which isn’t even a conference game — as the most important game involving a Big 12 team this season.
OU, which opened the season with an upset loss to Houston, had the chance to reverse that résumé-killer with a victory over the Buckeyes. If the Sooners had won that game, they absolutely would have made the four-team playoff. Instead, they were doomed to play the rest of the season for consolation prizes.
OU-Ohio State 2016 gives us a snapshot of the importance of OU-Ohio State 2017.
Plus there’s the conference prestige angle, which in the olden days was mostly bragging rights. Not anymore.
These days, the Big 12’s mere survival is in question. The Big 12’s status clearly has dropped to a distant fifth among the Power 5 conferences. Only a series of nonconference successes — regular season and in bowls — can elevate the Big 12’s prominence.
Starting with OU-Ohio State, Sept. 9 at the Horseshoe in Columbus, the Big 12’s game of the year.
That pretty much sums it up. Whichever team wins will come out looking like a title contender, while the other will find its playoff odds diminished. Given that the Sooners are likely to win their conference, doing so while also losing to Ohio State could doom the Big 12 yet again come playoff time.
Ohio State women’s tennis takes home some hardware
The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team lost to Maryland in the national championship, but some other Buckeyes took home a national championship on Monday.
The doubles pairing of Francesca Di Lorenzo and Miho Kawase defeated an Alabama pairing to win the NCAA women’s tennis doubles title.
Photos, quotes and a full recap of the Buckeyes' first national champions
— Ohio State W Tennis (@OhioState_WTEN) May 29, 2017
Di Lorenzo and Kowase dropped the first set, 7-6, but rallied to win the second set and then prevailed 10-7 in the super tiebreak. The win gave the women’s tennis team the first national championship of any kind in program history.
“This win means so much and we can’t be more excited to bring a trophy back to Columbus,” Ohio State coach Melissa Schaub said. “The players have an unbelievable amount of pride in who they play for. I know this is an individual tournament but they are yelling Go Bucks and they aren’t just doing it for themselves but everyone in the program. This means a lot of us going forward and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. We had a great season and this is a great way to finish it off.”
Di Lorenzo, ranked No. 1 in singles, suffered a shocking first-round defeat in the singles bracket. Additionally, the team lost to Stanford in the Final Four. However, both players put aside those disappointments and got the job done in the doubles competition.
“I think after a heartbreaking end to the team season and then Francesca losing early in the singles tournament, this was a great way for them to finish,” Schaub said.
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