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Why is this news?: Kelsey Mitchell named national Player of the Week

Plus, how Joey Bosa will fare come award season, women’s volleyball earns their way into the NCAA tournament and a roundup of all the 2015 Big Ten trophy games.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

"Boy, that Mitchell is tough. Ohio State just has great guard play and she is hard to guard. I hope we can slow her down."

-Texas A&M women’s basketball coach Gary Blair, via Charlie Creme, ESPN

The leading scorer in women’s basketball had a career night in Las Vegas over the weekend. Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell dropped 42 points against 10th-ranked Texas A&M in the Buckeyes’ 95-80 victory over the Aggies, tying the school record held by Samantha Prahalis. Mitchell was 12-20 from the field, and tacked on 15 free throws to her total. After a slow start by Ohio State as a whole, 31 of Mitchell’s points came in the second half. The performance was enough to earn Mitchell espnW Player of the Week honors. Ohio State remained undefeated in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas, having defeated Liberty 75-65 behind Mitchell’s 20 points.

Though just a sophomore, Mitchell already has a number of records to her name, including the fastest player to 1,000 points in Big Ten history, taking just 41 games to hit the mark. She also scored an NCAA record 127 three-pointers last season, and nailed a three in 35 consecutive games on her way to becoming the Big Ten Co-Player of the Year for the 2014-15 season.

With a rough start to the season, having lost to the top-two teams in the country in Connecticut and South Carolina, Ohio State has rattled off four straight wins, including the most recent victory over a top-ten team, which was head coach Kevin McGuff’s 300th career win. The Buckeyes will face off against No. 3 Notre Dame in South Bend Wednesday.

"Bosa probably isn’t going to claim any individual hardware this season. But that’s a shame, because he’s the best defensive player in the nation."

-Austin Ward, ESPN

Despite his overall statistics being down this year, there is little doubt that Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa is the best defender--if not overall player--in the country this season. However, he is up against Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib for the Big Ten’s Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year award, to be announced this evening.

Bosa has been double or triple teamed for much of the season, which opens up the field for less-guarded defenders to break through the line. Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis, for example, had 12.5 sacks on the season, and owe a lot of that to Bosa. And even without huge numbers, Bosa still manages to make outstanding athletic plays, like his tipped interception against Michigan Saturday.

But Nassib, a former walk-on at Penn State, has the numbers that Bosa is simply lacking this year. He leads the NCAA in sacks with 15.5 on the season--and that is with missing almost two games due to injury. He also leads the country with six forced fumbles, and is second nationally in tackles for loss with 19.5.

There is little debate that, as far as raw talent and NFL potential is concerned, Bosa’s got it in the bag. However, in terms of pure defensive production, no one else comes close to Nassib. What will matter most for the awards?

"They all stayed after the NCAA punished the program with a postseason ban and they’re all with the program this afternoon, following Ohio State’s fourth-straight win over Michigan."

-Ramzy Nasrallah, Eleven Warriors

The senior class on the Ohio State Buckeyes football team has now earned its fourth pair of gold pants, having beat Michigan for a fourth-straight seasons--a feat thought impossible just four years ago in the wake of Tattoo Gate. At this point in 2011, Jim Tressel had long since resigned, and the full stipulations of the impending NCAA sanctions had yet to be announced.

Then-head coach Luke Fickell had led the Buckeyes to a 6-7 season in Braxton Miller’s freshman year, having ended the regular season with a disappointing-but-not-unexpected 40-24 loss at Michigan. Previously, Ohio State hadn’t lost its rivalry game since 2003. Current redshirt seniors on the roster are the only players from that squad, which stuck through the tough times to ultimately get their comeuppance over the ensuing years. But another group--those who committed in the aftermath of the 2011 scandal--also must be recognized for not only committing to the program in the first place, but also remaining with the team as NCAA sanctions were imposed in the following months.

Chief among those recruits was linebacker Joshua Perry, the senior captain, who was the first recruit from the 2012 class who remained with the team. Safety Tyvis Powell, who is also now a captain, committed the week that Jim Tressel resigned, and redshirt junior lineman Pat Elflein was not far behind. Other big names from this class include Cardale Jones, Michael Thomas, Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt and Taylor Decker, all of whom stuck with the team through NCAA sanctions that banned their post-season hopes after a perfect 12-0 season.

While Gold Pants are, perhaps, the most important pieces of hardware an Ohio State player can own, there are plenty of other trophies given out in the Big Ten, including five that were played for this past weekend:

  • Land of Lincoln Trophy: Northwestern def. Illinois 24-14
  • Old Oaken Bucket: Indiana def. Purdue 54-36
  • Heroes Trophy: Iowa def. Nebraska 28-20
  • Land Grant Trophy: Michigan State def. Penn State 55-16
  • Paul Bunyan’s Axe: Wisconsin def. Minnesota 31-21

Big Ten teams play for a total of 15 in-conference trophies, with most of the applicable rivalry games dating back to the 1890s (the oldest two matchups, between Illinois and Purdue, and Minnesota and Wisconsin--were established in 1890). The oldest actual trophy, however, is the Little Brown Jug which commemorates the annual game between Minnesota and Michigan, and which was established in 1909. The Little Brown Jug game also happens to be the oldest trophy game in college football. Rutgers and Maryland are the only two Big Ten schools who do not play for an in-conference trophy. Ohio State has only one trophy game against Illinois for the Illibuck, the second-oldest trophy in the Big Ten dating back to 1925 when a live turtle was exchanged between the teams.

Here are the results from the rest of the 2015 Big Ten trophy games:

  • Heartland Trophy: Iowa def. Wisconsin 10-6 (Oct. 3)
  • Freedom Trophy: Wisconsin def. Nebraska 23-21 (Oct. 10)
  • Paul Bunyan Trophy: Michigan State def. Michigan 27-23 (Oct. 17)
  • $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy: Nebraska def. Minnesota 48-25 (Oct. 17)
  • Old Brass Spittoon: Michigan State def. Indiana 52026 (Oct. 24)
  • Little Brown Jug: Michigan def. Minnesota 29-26 (Oct. 31)
  • Purdue Cannon: Illinois def. Purdue 48-14 (Nov. 7)
  • Illibuck: Ohio State def. Illinois 28-3 (Nov. 14)
  • Floyd of Rosedale: Iowa def. Minnesota 40-35 (Nov. 14)
  • Governor’s Victory Bell: Did not play in 2015 (Minnesota Penn State)

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team is continuing to roll on into the post-season, earning the No. 12 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes are set to face Robert Morris Friday in the first round. Ohio State will also host the second round matchup, facing either American or Kentucky with a first-round win.

Nine of 14 Big Ten programs made the 64-team field. Of these, five teams earned a top-16 seed and will be hosting at least the first round of the tournament. Minnesota, which won the outright conference title, earned an automatic berth in the tournament. Ohio State finished sixth in the Big Ten this season, despite being ranked No. 16 nationally.

The team closed out its regular season Saturday with a sweep of Rutgers on senior night. The Buckeyes finished the season 23-9 overall, and 12-8 in the Big Ten, which has turned out to be a very tough conference with four teams ranked in the top 10 nationally. With 23 wins, the squad recorded its most victories since 2009, when the team went 24-9 on the season.

The volleyball team has come on strong the past few years, having made the NCAA tournament five of the last six seasons. This season marks the 21st tournament appearance for the Buckeyes. Under head coach Geoff Carlston, the Buckeyes have made the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament three of the last five years.