Breaking down Ohio State’s chances of going undefeated, Noah Spence shines in NFL, and more
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Today is Wednesday, May 31, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.
Can Ohio State run the table?
With the way things are rolling at Ohio State, it’s hard to lose more than one game in the regular season.
So hard, in fact, that it hasn’t happened during the Urban Meyer era. Meyer went undefeated in the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons and lost one game in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Last season, that 11-1 campaign and a College Football Playoff berth came after losing 12 players who were selected in the first four rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Buckeyes played night games at Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Penn State. The latter two were coming off open dates. And yet the Buckeyes went 11-1, and it took a near-miracle for Penn State to knock them off.
What’s the point? Well, it sounds like the Buckeyes have a pretty good shot at going undefeated in 2017. That’s been true every season under Meyer. But consider that none of those three aforementioned road games will happen this year. Ohio State gets Oklahoma and Penn State in Ohio Stadium, and Wisconsin is off the schedule.
On top of that, Ohio State added offensive guru Kevin Wilson as its offensive coordinator. It hired Ryan Day as quarterbacks coach and Bill Davis as linebackers coach.
For all of these reasons, it should come as no surprise that Ohio State is favored by more than a touchdown in its biggest games. South Point sports book in Las Vegas released the following Ohio State-related point spreads for 2017.
Ohio State (-8) vs. Oklahoma
Ohio State (-8.5) vs. Penn State
Ohio State (-8) at Michigan
It’s hard to be perfect over a 12-to-15 game stretch. However, Ohio State will at least have a good shot of doing so given the point spreads against its best opponents.
Noah Spence is doing just fine
“What if Noah Spence played for Ohio State in 2014?” will go down as an all-time hypothetical in Buckeyes football lore.
Ohio State won a national championship without his help, but imagine if Ohio State added an elite pass-rusher alongside defensive end Joey Bosa and defensive tackles Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett. Spence led the team in sacks with 8.0 in 2013 and had 14.5 tackles for loss. Teaming him with Bosa would have been unsafe for opposing quarterbacks.
After being ruled permanently ineligible for Big Ten play in 2014, Spence moved on to Eastern Kentucky. He entered the draft in 2016 and was chosen by Tampa Bay. By all accounts, Spence seems to be as big a handful as ever.
Despite playing hurt for most of his rookie season, Spence finished with 5.5 sacks. According to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, Spence could be on the verge of a breakout campaign.
Spence has used the time away from the field to change his body. He’s noticeably leaner and pictures of his new body next to the old one have circulated on the internet. It’s a major transformation, with his body fat now down below 10 percent.
“I eat clean now,” he said. “I wanted to be faster. I cut out a lot of stuff. I eat prepared meals and go to Whole Foods and stuff like that. I feel a lot better.”
As a rookie, Spence had 5.5 sacks. That’s a nice start, but his skill set gives Tampa Bay hope he can double that this season — at the least. He spends his off time working with pass-rush guru Chuck Smith in Atlanta, which helps with his technique and get off.
His hard work is why teammate Robert Ayers already predicted Spence could get 15 sacks this season. Last season, Atlanta’s Vic Beasley went from four sacks as a rookie to 15.5 in 2016 to lead the NFL. That jump is possible for Spence.
For NFL offenses, that’s a terrifying thought.
Women’s gymnastics gets a new coach
Ohio State women’s gymnastics needed a new coach after Carey Fagan transitioned into administration after a 13-year run at the helm.
It seems the Buckeyes may have gotten a good one.
Ohio State hired Meredith Paulicivic, a Utah assistant, to revive the program. The Utes finished fifth at the NCAA Championships in 2017. They own 10 national championships, have qualified for every national meet (the only team to do so) and have never finished worse than 10th nationally.
“We are excited to have Meredith be the new leader of our women’s gymnastics program,” Ohio State associate athletics director Shaun Richard said. “Meredith has been an integral part of an elite NCAA program at Utah, along with an elite club program, and we’re looking forward to having her guide our student-athletes to achieve their personal and team goals. Her charisma and passion for the sport are apparent and we’re excited for her vision to guide us into the future.”
Paulicivic will take over a team that has qualified for the national championship meet just once since 1990.
“I am thrilled to be named head coach at The Ohio State University,” Paulicivic said. “It’s a prestigious honor to lead this program and opportunities like this do not come around often. I’d like to thank Carey Fagan for reaching out to me about the position and Gene Smith and Shaun [Richard] for hiring me.
“Everybody was so welcoming during the interview process and I was impressed with the whole department and how supportive the administration is of its coaches, student-athletes and staff. I’m excited to hit the ground running and move forward with my vision.”
• Desmond Howard signed a multi-year contract to stay at ESPN.
• A suspended Michigan State assistant won’t be back next season.
• Why Vegas hates Nebraska football.
• Tommy Armstrong signed with the Minnesota Vikings … as a safety.