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Field breaks during Big Ten Championship Game

No, seriously. The field broke.

After Wisconsin scored a touchdown to pull within one score of Ohio State in the fourth quarter Saturday night, the Big Ten Championship Game was delayed for several minutes after some of the turf in the end zone got pulled up during the scoring play.

>> Click here to watch

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FOX reported that Lucas Oil Stadium had new turf put into the end zone prior to the game, and the parts that came up got slightly pulled apart as Ohio State defenders tried to dig their feet down to prevent Wisconsin from scoring.

>> Ohio State outlasts Wisconsin to win Big Ten Championship

Because the turf was uneven and extremely unsafe to play on, it took several minutes for the field crew to fix the issue.

>> See the photos here

Play eventually resumed after a nearly 12-minute delay. Wisconsin attempted a two-point conversion immediately after the fix, which was successful to make the game 24-21 in favor of Ohio State at the time. Ohio State went on to win 27-21.

Ohio State outlasts Wisconsin to win Big Ten Championship

The Ohio State Buckeyes held off Wisconsin and claimed their first Big Ten Championship since 2014, winning 27-21 on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

>> Watch a post-game interview with Robert Landers

The Buckeyes, ranked No. 8 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, will await their playoff fate on Sunday. The fourth and final playoff spot likely will come down to Ohio State (11-2) or Alabama (11-1). The Crimson Tide were No. 5 last week but didn’t play in a conference championship game. With wins on Saturday, Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia are the likely top three teams in the final rankings.

>> Read more trending news

Ohio State led 21-10 at halftime. Each team traded field goals in the third quarter. Wisconsin but Ohio State’s deficit to 21-13. Then Ohio State’s Sean Nuernberger pushed the lead back to 11 points with a 27-yard field goal.

The Buckeyes had several opportunities to add to its lead in the third quarter but went 3-and-out on one possession. Then J.T. Barrett threw his second interception.

After the Barrett interception, Wisconsin cut the deficit to 24-20 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Chris James with 12:39 left in the fourth quarter. Prior to that touchdown, Wisconsin had gone 3-and-out on its previous two drives.

J.K. Dobbins led the Buckeyes with 174 yards on 17 carries and was named the game’s MVP. Barrett completed 12 of 26 passes for 211 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

FIRST-HALF RECAP

The Buckeyes built a 21-10 halftime lead on the strength of three big plays.

Terry McLaurin caught an 84-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to open the scoring. Parris Campbell turned a short catch into a 57-yard touchdown. A 77-yard run by J.K. Dobbins set up a 1-yard touchdown run by a Barrett.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: PHOTOS: Ohio State vs Wisconsin

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Meyer praises toughness of Barrett

Here’s a quick recap of the rest of the first half:

Key player: Barrett earned the start despite having a knee procedure Sunday and didn’t look slowed in the first half. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 182 yards and rushed eight times for 31 yards.

>> On MyDaytonDailyNews.com: Seven things to know about Big Ten title gameGame previewBarrett will playLaser focus for BuckeyesFive storylinesBig Ten historyRivalry historyPlayoff possibility | Championship breakdown

Key plays: Wisconsin is in the game because of two turnovers by Ohio State. Barrett threw an interception that was returned nine yards for a touchdown by Andrew Van Ginkel. Mike Weber lost a fumble at the Ohio State 11-yard line that Wisconsin turned into a field goal.

Key stat: Ohio State held Wisconsin standout freshman running back Jonathan Taylor to 25 yards on 10 carries.

Missed opportunity: Ohio State almost stretched its lead to 28-10 just before the half. Barrett overthrew a wide-open Johnnie Dixon in the end zone. Wisconsin blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Sean Nuernberger to end the half.

Ric Flair says he's available for Tennessee football coaching job

Wrestling icon Ric Flair tossed his hat in the ring for the Tennessee head football coach or athletic director openings on Friday.

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Flair posted a picture on Twitter of himself cropped into a photo with a Tennessee polo shirt with the caption, “If the shirt fits hire him! Available for either position! WOOOOO!”

Tennessee has yet to find a new football coach after the firing of Butch Jones on Nov. 12 despite several interviews and reportedly coming close to several deals.

Tennessee athletic director John Currie was fired Friday after failing to find a new coach and student protests on campus that called for his job over the past week.

Tennessee did name an athletic director later Friday, hiring Hall of Fame football coach Phillip Fulmer.

Fulmer coached the Volunteers from 1992 to 2008, going 152-52 overall and leading Tennessee to the 1998 national title.

Urban Meyer: J.T. Barrett will play vs. Wisconsin

J.T. Barrett will play Saturday for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

That has been the question all week, and coach Urban Meyer answered it Thursday on his weekly radio show in Columbus. Doctors cleared Barrett for the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday against Wisconsin, even though, according to a report by the Columbus Dispatch, he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Sunday, one day after the 31-20 victory at Michigan.

» WISCONSIN GAME: Laser focusStorylinesBig Ten historyRivalry historyPlayoff possibility

The good news for No. 8 Ohio State (10-2) is even if Barrett re-injures the knee or is limited in any way, the Buckeyes believe his backup is good enough to beat No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0) in Indianapolis. That’s how strong Dwayne Haskins played in Ann Arbor when he replaced the injured Barrett in the third quarter.

“To go into that arena, to go on the road and to be behind and answer the call, that was a great job by him,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said Tuesday. “It gives the team a lot of confidence.”

Wilson heard about Barrett’s run-in with a cameraman on the sideline when Ohio State was playing defense against Michigan on the opening possession. His reaction was, “What? Can he run?”

» SPORTS TODAY: What will Ohio State’s playoff fate be?

Barrett told the coaches he was good to go and didn’t feel limited. Then the offense opened the game with three three-and-out drives, losing yards on five of its first nine plays. Michigan sacked Barrett twice on those three possessions in the first quarter. The Buckeyes trailed 14-0 before they got a first down.

“We didn’t play well out of the gate,” Wilson said, “but it wasn’t because of him. It was play calling and execution.”

Barrett overcame the slow start by leading two touchdown drives in the second quarter. He got off to another slow start in the third quarter with two three-and-outs and then left the game after being tackled midway through the third quarter.

Barrett completed 3 of 8 passes for 30 yards and rushed 15 times for 67 yards. Haskins completed 6 of 7 passes for 94 yards and rushed three times for 24 yards.

There’s no question the Buckeyes would like to lean on Barrett with a Big Ten title on the line. He won the Big Ten’s Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year award on Thursday for the third time in four seasons.

» CONNECTIONS: Local players in Big Ten title game

For Barrett, beating the Badgers would cap one of the great careers in conference history, especially considering he missed his only other chance to play in the title game. He broke his ankle in the Michigan game in 2014 and watched from the sideline as Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 victory a week later against Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes planned to limit the volume of Barrett’s snaps this week in practice, Wilson said. They need him as healthy and as mobile as possible on Saturday. The quarterback run is a critical part of Ohio State’s offense. Even with a sore knee, Barrett raced 21 yards for Ohio State’s first touchdown against Michigan.

Haskins, of course, looked much faster on his key run, a 22-yard rush to the Michigan 1-yard line that set up the go-ahead touchdown. If he gets any action against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes expect more of the same.

“That’s a great feeling because if you know anyone goes down again and Dwayne comes in, there won’t be a drop-off,” wide receiver K.J. Hill said.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m., FOX, 1410

Cincinnati one of four finalists for MLS expansion team

As FC Cincinnati finalizes its stadium plans for a possible promotion to Major League Soccer, the second-division United Soccer League club and its fans can breathe a little easier today.

MLS announced Wednesday that Cincinnati is one of four finalists for the two expansion clubs that are scheduled to be named by the end of the year, and FC Cincinnati received important confirmation the local government will support its efforts to build a soccer-specific stadium required for MLS.

»RELATED: FC Cincinnnati will finance stadium with private funds

FC Cincinnati’s bid — one of 12 submitted in January as the initial application process began — was pushed through to the final stage of consideration along with Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento. Owners and officials representing the four prospective expansion markets will make formal presentations to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the league’s expansion committee in New York on Dec. 6, and a decision will be made following the Board of Governors meeting Dec. 14.

“The leaders of the Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento MLS expansion ownership groups have bold visions and innovative plans for their clubs, stadiums and their involvement in their respective communities,” Garber said in a press release. “We are pleased these highly-respected business and sports leaders have been so determined to bring Major League Soccer to their cities. We have been greatly encouraged by the progress that all four of these groups have made and we are looking forward to their presentations.”

»RELATED: FC Cincinnati, Liberty Center announce partnership

In the meantime, FC Cincinnati is still trying to nail down the last of the expansion requirements set forth by MLS, which prioritizes a soccer-specific stadium. The club originally pitched to MLS a stadium in Newport, but efforts to keep the team in Cincinnati, at a preferred site in Oakley, took a big step Wednesday with infrastructure funding plans passing a vote by the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners and City Council.

On Monday, City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee agreed to spend up to $37 million for infrastructure at the Oakley site and a 5-3 vote by Council made it official Wednesday, shortly after Hamilton County Commissioners unanimously approved spending $15 million for a 1,000-space parking garage.

“It’s time for this community now to come together — the city, count an FC (Cincinnati) — to demonstrate to MLS that we want a Major League Soccer franchise to be awarded to FC Cincinnati,” County Commissioner Todd Portune said in the meeting.

FC Cincinnati will be privately financing the $200 million stadium on the former Cast-Fab site but has asked the city and county for $75 million in infrastructure, which means there likely is still a $33 million gap in the funding even if the Council vote goes through.

»MORE: FC Cincinnati unveils design plans for proposed new stadium

After the commissioners voted, FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding told WCPO.com the Oakley site is the one the club will pitch to MLS on Dec. 6. The club likely is competing with Nashville and Detroit for a spot in the Eastern Division with Sacramento expected to claim a spot in the Western Division.

The two teams chosen after the Dec. 14 board meeting will begin play in 2020, and two more expansion teams are scheduled to be selected at a later date to bring MLS to 28 teams. The other eight markets still in consideration for the final round of expansion are Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Caught on video: 'Dads' duke it out at the Georgia-Georgia Tech game

Two guys in the running for sportsman of the year were caught in a video clip taken at the Georgia-Georgia Tech game.

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The sorry episode was billed as “Dad fight,” although it’s unclear whether these guys are actually dads.

Georgia claimed a lopsided victory on Saturday. See Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports writer Ken Sugiura’s post-game report card here.

It’s unclear when the mid-game boxing match broke out, but we’re gonna go out on a limb here and suppose that neither the Bulldog nor Jackets fan base is really proud of the antics on display.

>> On MyAJC.com: How Georgia celebrated after beating Tech

>> On MyAJC.com: 3 takeaways from the Georgia-Georgia Tech game

>> On MyAJC.com: Does Georgia Tech have any hope of a bowl game now

>> Watch the video here

Tennessee backs out of agreement with Greg Schiano after fan backlash

Greg Schiano was “finalizing” details to become Tennessee’s next head coach as late as Sunday afternoon but now won’t end up in Knoxville, according to multiple reports. This comes after an unprecedented backlash after reports that the two parties had advanced discussions about the job.

>> Read more trending news

Schiano, who is still employed as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two years. Before that, he was the head coach at Rutgers from 2001 to 2011. Schiano’s tenure in Tampa Bay cratered, with one former Schiano player telling NFL.com “It’s like being in Cuba.” His stint at Ohio State had achieved the desired results so far, with Urban Meyer saying the defensive coordinator had received two college head coaching jobs in the offseason.

The backlash by Tennessee fans has been volatile — mostly for off-field reasons

A large issue for fans has been Schiano’s involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. Schiano is alleged to have known about Sandusky’s child sex abuse, which he denies.

The backlash online was swift. From Tennessee politicians:

To area establishments:

To many other people:

As was the backlash in real life. Fans even protested on campus:

This was something unparalleled in modern coaching searches. After all this attention, Schiano now goes back to his position as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator.

Capitals’ Ovechkin keeps promise, scores goal for cancer survivor

Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin promised a 13-year-old cancer survivor that he would score a goal during Saturday’s game against Toronto.

>> Read more trending news

Then the NHL superstar went out and scored three of them, in the Capitals’ 4-3 victory against the Maple Leafs.

When Ovechkin beat Maple Leafs goalie Curtis McElhinney at 12:43 of the first period, he gestured toward the stands at Air Canada Centre where he thought Alex Luey was sitting, NHL.com reported.

An hour earlier, the teenager was sitting on the Capitals bench when Ovechkin skated to him and promised to score a goal.

Ovechkin scored again before the first period ended and added the hat trick with nine seconds left in the third period.

Luey, a youth hockey player with the Niagara Falls Flyers, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last year, NHL.com reported. He had part of his right leg amputated, but has returned to play thanks to a prosthesis.

When Sportsnet held its "Hometown Hockey" telecast in Niagara Falls on Oct. 8, hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone surprised Luey with a video message from Ovechkin, his favorite NHL player.

“Hi, Alex. It's your buddy Ovi,” Ovechkin said in the video. “I hear you're cancer-free. You're coming to the game in Toronto in November. I can't wait to meet you, so I'll see you there soon.”

On Saturday, with the Maple Leafs celebrating Hockey Fights Cancer, Luey's hockey dream came true.

In the locker room before the game, Ovechkin gave Luey a quick pep talk. He was invited to read the starting lineup to the players. Upon the mention of each name, the player gave a yell.

“That's the best pregame pep talk I've ever heard,” coach Barry Trotz told NHL.com. “I didn't have to do anything to get the guys fired up. It was all Alex.”

Ohio State QB aggravated injury when bumped by sideline photographer

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the Ohio State-Michigan football game comes up with something new.

>> Read more trending news

Quarterback J.T. Barrett aggravated a knee injury Saturday when he was bumped by “a guy with a camera,” while warming up on the sideline, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

Barrett started the game but he Buckeyes finished their 31-20 win over the Wolverines without him. The senior quarterback limped off the field after a scramble in the third quarter and went to the locker room.

He was replaced by Dwayne Haskins, a redshirt freshman who led the Buckeyes to the go-ahead touchdown and finished the game.

After the game, Barrett and Meyer said Barrett was hurt when he was bumped by a photographer before he even went into the game. 

“I’m just so upset with myself,” Meyer said. “It was a non-football injury. Too many damn people on the sideline. A guy with a camera hit him in the knee. I’m gonna find out who. Think about that. So I’m so angry right now. I’ve got to move on. (Angry) that I let that happen.”

Until Meyer brought it up in the postgame interview room, no one in the media had been aware of the origin of Barrett’s injury.

“I looked over and he was on the ground,” Meyer said. “We were worried he wasn’t going to be able to (play). He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. It locked up on him before the game. They got it to unlock. And then it locked up on him again. That’s what happened.”

While the coach was visibly angry, Barrett, the first Ohio State quarterback to start four wins over Michigan, didn’t seem upset.

“I was warming up, trying to throw, and somebody tried to squeeze (between Barrett and the Buckeyes’ bench) I guess and he hit me,” Barrett said. “My knee just kind of shifted in, twisted up on me, and we was able to lock it out and put it back in, but that’s how it was.”

He played the first 2½ quarters, though he wasn’t sharp. He completed three of eight passes for 30 yards and a touchdown while also running for 67 yards on 15 attempts.

The Texas native also revealed he has had a recurring situation with the knee, one he has learned to deal with.

“It’s not anything too crazy,” Barrett said. “I’ve played with it this whole year. It’s just twisted and I just unlocked it. This time it just didn’t unlock for me.”

He wasn’t sure who made contact with him but didn’t think it was intentional or malicious.

“Nah, I don’t think it was that type of rivalry where people would try to do that,” Barrett said.

“I don’t know who it was. Michigan has a lot of people on our sideline, whether it be fans or camera people. I don’t know. He bumped me and my knee kind of shifted in. It’s happened before where my knee has just twisted on me. I have to hyperextend it and get it to be untwisted.

“When it happened in a game I just locked my leg out and popped it back in and continued to play. I didn’t need to tell the trainers or tell anybody. I was good. I felt fine running around cutting before it happened the second time. So it wasn’t affecting me. It’s just in that few moments when it happens. Today I wasn’t able to pop it back in. So it’s not injured.”

Barrett said he will be ready when the Buckeyes play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Football Game on Saturday in Indianapolis.

As for the person who ran into him on the sideline? Meyer said he wants to find out who it was.

Barrett just recalled seeing someone wearing gray — which happens to be the color of vests worn by all photographers with credentials to shoot the game.

“He just continued to walk,” Barrett said. “I was pretty sure he got pretty nervous.”

Here are the latest scenarios for the college football playoffs

Losses by top-ranked Alabama and No. 2 Miami have scrambled the postseason college football playoff picture. Tuesday, the College Football Playoff selection will release the fifth of its six rankings, and the top four teams certainly will be different.

>> Read more trending news 

Clemson and Oklahoma will make strong cases to be ranked at No. 1, and Wisconsin and Auburn should receive some strong consideration for a top-four seeding.

Much of the playoff picture will be settled when the conference championship games are played next weekend. Who will be left standing when Selection Day rolls around on Dec. 3?

Auburn now has knocked off two teams ranked No. 1 in the CFP rankings, defeating Georgia 40-17 on Nov. 11 and then topping Alabama 26-14 on Saturday. If Auburn should win the Southeastern Conference title game against Georgia on Dec. 2, that would give the Tigers a strong case to make the CFP semifinals even though they have two losses. Auburn’s only defeats have come against ranked teams -- Clemson and LSU.

Since the current playoff system has been established, no team with two losses has made the semifinals.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, has three victories against ranked opponents, defeating Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU, and five road wins against Power 5 opponents. The Sooners’ lone loss came against Iowa State (7-5). To remain in the top four, Oklahoma must win the Big 12 conference championship game by defeating TCU for a second time this season. 

Clemson has defeated Auburn and has seven wins overall against Power 5 opponents. The Tigers’ lone loss came against Syracuse (4-8), but the committee most likely will overlook that loss as a momentary stutter in their schedule.

Don’t count out Alabama and Ohio State just yet. Despite the loss to Auburn, and even though the Crimson Tide will not play in a conference title game, there are scenarios where Alabama could back into the semifinal round. Ohio State proved last season that the lack of a conference championship game victory is not necessarily a hindrance to reaching the playoffs.

Alabama’s best chance would come if Auburn defeats Georgia in the SEC championship game, coupled with losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin in their respective conference title games. The Atlantic Coast Conference title game pits Clemson against Miami, and both teams have one loss. The winner of that game -- particularly Clemson -- has a good shot at making the postseason playoff.

Ohio State, with a victory against Wisconsin, could receive consideration even with two losses, which included an embarrassing 55-24 defeat to Iowa. A victory against the only Power 5 team with an undefeated record could push the Buckeyes past Alabama if a fourth berth should open up. Plus, Ohio State’s wins against ranked opponents such as Penn State and Michigan State might give the playoff committee some pause.

In The Associated Press poll released Sunday, Clemson is new No. 1, followed by Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Auburn. 

Next weekend’s games will go a long way toward clearing up the playoff picture. But it could remain murky until Selection Day.

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