Before the biggest games of the college football season, coaches traditionally condemn the distractions that divert their players and assistants from their missions. \nDistractions can include interviews with reporters, ticket requests from relatives and even academic obligations. But this week at Ohio State, before the Buckeyes' game on Saturday against Michigan, coach Jim Tressel's diversion was worse. He had to make time to talk with an investigator from the NCAA. "Sometimes, distractions aren't fun," Tressel said. \nThis investigation rose from charges made by Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State running back, who told ESPN the Magazine that he got money from boosters at Ohio State for a no-show job, generous use of a car from friendly dealers and improper academic advantages when he helped the Buckeyes to a national championship as a freshman in 2002. \nMike Nugent, Ohio State's senior place-kicker, acknowledged that Clarett's accusations were part of the locker-room dialogue last week before the Buckeyes fell to 3-4 in the Big Ten and 6-4 over all with a 24-17 loss at Purdue. \n"Guys were talking: `We heard this, we heard that,"' Nugent said. At Purdue, fans hoisted signs that said "Coach Tressel, I can use a car" and "2002 National Cheaters." \nBut Nugent said he expects his team, representing one of the most powerful and prestigious programs in the country, to be absolved. \n"We've got great coaches, a great staff," Nugent said. "Nothing will come of this. No one would do anything to embarrass this team or this school." \nSaturday's game will be the 101st between these two universities from neighboring states and, as has often been the case, it may decide the Big Ten championship. Michigan is 9-1 over all, 7-0 in the conference. \nA victory by the Wolverines would clinch the league title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Even in defeat, Michigan could tie for the top and go to the Rose Bowl if Iowa beats Wisconsin. But victories by both the Buckeyes and the Badgers would send Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl, and Michigan to a lesser bowl. \nAs was the case when Clarett led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, Ohio State and Michigan are counting on talented freshmen. \nMichigan quarterback Chad Henne has thrown 19 touchdown passes and tailback Michael Hart has rushed for 1,311 yards. Henne has 10 interceptions in 10 games, but Hart has lost only one fumble in 243 carries. However, neither has played in the intimidating double-decked horseshoe of Columbus. \nDavid Baas, Michigan's senior center, said: "Young guys may have the jitters. It's always easier to play at home. As a leader, you have to keep your team composed." \nMichigan officials this week have limited the news media's access to Henne. After a 42-20 victory over Northwestern last week, Henne made a reference to the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, saying, "They hate us and we hate them." \nOhio State's first-year wonder is Ted Ginn Jr., a flanker who started the season as a backup cornerback and has six touchdowns despite touching the ball only 31 times. Three of his scores were against Michigan State: on an end-around run, on a pass reception and on a punt return. \nDustin Fox, a captain and cornerback of the Buckeyes, has faced Ginn's speed in practice. "We're trying to figure out what his niche is and we're trying to get him the ball," Fox said.
FIRING BLANKS: West Brom and Burnley had conceded a combined 21 goals in their seven games, but the 47th match of the season was the first to end goalless Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday climbed to sixth place in the English Premier League as Raul Jimenez sealed a 1-0 win at Leeds United on a night West Bromwich Albion and Burnley played out the first goalless draw in the division this season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves clinched their third league win of the campaign when Jimenez’s second-half strike deflected in off Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The Mexico striker’s third goal of the season made it back-to-back wins for Wolves after they beat Fulham before the international break. “It was a good performance with some aspects to improve. We were better in the second
China wants to unite its 1.4 billion people through soccer, while also using the sport as “a bridge to work with the rest of the world,” Chinese Football Association secretary-general Liu Yi told reporters in an interview published yesterday. Liu spoke about what lies behind the country’s push to become a major soccer power by 2050. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping — who is described by state media as an “avid soccer fan” — the world’s most populous country has grand plans to host and even one day win a World Cup. Liu spoke about “using football to motivate the whole nation.” “Football is
Maybe Kyler Murray will lose a game on the home field of the Dallas Cowboys one of these days. It was not going to be on Monday, when the Arizona quarterback watched the star running back of his hometown team have another night of “fumble-itis.” Murray accounted for three touchdowns in his first game back home as a professional and Ezekiel Elliott set up the visiting team’s first two touchdowns with fumbles as the Cardinals beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-10. The speedy quarterback, who won three high-school championships and a Big 12 title at the home of the Cowboys, improved to 7-0 as
Patrick Mahomes on Monday did not mind taking a back seat to rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Kansas City Chiefs’ running attack. With the Buffalo Bills working hard to limit deep throws by Mahomes, he gladly kept handing off the ball as Kansas City beat Buffalo 26-17 in a game originally scheduled for Thursday last week. “You know my nature, I want to throw it deep every time. We want to go down and throw these long touchdowns, but if teams are going to play us like this, we’ve got to show we can run the football,” Mahomes said. Mission accomplished. Led by Edwards-Helaire’s