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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.

>> Read more trending news

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

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.

>> Read more trending news

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.

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.

Auburn fined $250K after fans storm field following win over Alabama

The SEC announced that it has fined Auburn $250,000 for fans storming the field after Saturday's win over No. 1 Alabama. This is a part of the SEC’s policy that has escalating fines for each offense, and this is Auburn’s third offense under that policy.

>> Read more trending news 

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released this statement about the fine:

“Fans are expected to remain in the stands and avoid the safety concerns associated with rushing onto the playing field. We want exciting experiences around SEC games, but also seek to maintain a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, spectators and officials.”

The No. 6 Tigers defeated Alabama by a 26-14 score at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. With the win, Auburn improves to 10-2 and will advance to the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. Auburn already beat Georgia earlier this season, winning 40-17 over the the No. 1 ranked Bulldogs.

[H/T SDS]

Trump slams 'ungrateful fool' LaVar Ball in tweets

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with NBA personality LaVar Ball in a pair of tweets Wednesday, calling Ball an “ungrateful fool” and taking full credit for getting Ball’s son and two of his UCLA basketball teammates back to the U.S. after the trio was accused of shoplifting in China.

>> Read more trending news

“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME,” the president wrote in a tweet posted around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. “Remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”

Trump and Ball have engaged in a verbal back-and-forth since the president took credit for freeing Ball’s son, LiAngelo, and two of his teammates, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, from a Chinese jail earlier this month. The trio was facing shoplifting charges and as many as 10 years in China’s prison system.

>> Related: WATCH: LaVar Ball fires back at Trump in heated CNN interview

LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill were released and allowed to return to the United States last week after Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on their behalf.

“The basketball players, by the way — I know a lot of people are asking — I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. (The Chinese) do not play games.”

>> Related: Trump again lashes out at UCLA basketball dad LaVar Ball: 'Very ungrateful!'

LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill thanked their fellow teammates, school officials and the U.S. government, including Trump, for the work they did to bring them back to the U.S. LaVar Ball, however, said in an interview Monday with CNN that he wouldn’t thank Trump.

"Did he help the boys get out? I don't know,” LaVar Ball said. “If I was going to thank somebody I'd probably thank President Xi (Jinping). ... It wasn't like he was in the US and said, 'OK, there's three kids in China. I need to go over and get them.' That wasn't the thought process.”

>> Related: Trump fires back after LaVar Ball minimizes role in getting UCLA players released

LaVar Ball told CNN that he felt if Trump helped to free his son, the president shouldn’t have felt like he needed recognition.

“If you helped you shouldn't have to say anything,” LaVar Ball said. “If I help somebody, I don't walk around saying, you know, ‘I helped you now, come on now, you give me some love, I helped you.’ Come on, for real?”

“Just think LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

The Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.

Tennessee State football player arrested after video shows him punching coach, police say

A Tennessee State University football player who was kicked off the team and expelled after he was caught on video punching his assistant coach earlier this month has been arrested in connection with the attack, according to police.

>> Read more trending news

Jail records show Latrelle Lee, 22, was arrested Monday night. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and released on a $7,500 bond later Monday, according to The Tennessean.

Police told told WKRN that Lee hit a coach in the face multiple times during a game against Southeast Missouri State University at Hale Stadium. Video of the Nov. 11 incident appeared to show Lee punching Tigers strength coach T.J. Greenstone twice in the head and knocking him to the ground on the sideline.

"Once struck about the face by the defendant, the victim fell to the ground and was dazed and somewhat unconscious from the punches," officers said in an arrest affidavit obtained by The Tennessean. "The victim has subsequently been having medical difficulties as a result from the altercation."

>> Related: Tennessee State player expelled after punching coach on sideline

The attack happened as Greenstone was walking down the sideline to ensure players who weren’t on the field were far enough away to avoid a penalty, The Tennessean reported.

In a statement released to WKRN after the incident, Tennessee State athletics director Teresa Phillps condemned the attack.

“We are committed to supporting the coach who was personally affected and our concern is now with him,” she said.

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