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Versatility of Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel keeps opposing defenses guessing

With seven touchdowns over the last four games, the junior keeps getting better as the season goes on.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“We have extreme confidence in him. He can run short routes very well. He has shown he can be adept at the deep routes and hit those. We’ve kind of mixed it up -- short, deep, and perimeter. And he had a nice touchdown run in there as well.”

Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner on Curtis Samuel via Steve Helwagen, Bucknuts.com

There’s no question that Curtis Samuel is the most dynamic player on offense for Ohio State, and he has shown why the last few weeks. Over the past four games, Samuel has accounted for seven touchdowns, and this season he has scored 13 touchdowns. Opposing defenses have such a hard time defending Samuel because he can hurt teams not only running the football, but in the passing game as well. All that and Samuel is also helping out when the football isn’t in his hands, as running backs coach Tony Alford said Samuel reminded him of Ezekiel Elliott for some of his blocking.

So far this year Samuel has rushed the football 80 times for 637 yards and seven touchdowns, while catching 57 passes for 750 yards and six touchdowns. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has said Samuel’s “sweet spot” for touches is 15 per game. Samuel didn’t have nearly that many against Maryland, but Ohio State didn’t need him to touch the football as much since they raced out to such a big lead. There could be a new wrinkle coming as well, since there hasn’t been many occurrences where Samuel and Mike Weber have been in the backfield at the same time. Packages like that could be something seen next week to try and trip Michigan up as the Buckeyes fight to make the College Football Playoff.

“Thinking back on last year we don’t want that to happen again. Providence is a different team than UT-Arlington or Louisiana Tech, but we don’t want to drop early non-conference games like we did last year ... Those two pretty much kept us out last year, and we didn’t like missing the tournament.”

Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop via Bill Landis, Cleveland.com

After watching how Ohio State played on Monday night, it’s hard to think they are a NCAA Tournament team, but that was just one game in a long college basketball season. Tonight Ohio State plays Providence, and while a win might not seem like much, it would definitely give them some confidence moving forward. A big reason why Ohio State missed the NCAA Tournament last year could be blamed on how they performed in the non-conference portion of their schedule, where they lost to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech, as well giving away a game again Memphis.

Ohio State hasn’t exactly impressed in two games this year, but there are a number of reasons for optimism going forward. JaQuan Lyle has seen limited minutes in the second half, Marc Loving was ineffective against North Carolina Central, and Keita Bates-Diop was sick heading into Monday night’s game. Not only does Ohio State have their top six scorers from last year back, but they have also gotten strong contributions so far from junior college transfer C.J. Jackson and freshman Micah Potter. Even though it might be a little early to start thinking about the NCAA Tournament, now is when the Buckeyes want to build some confidence heading into a tough Big Ten schedule.

“It’s created a strong reaction. Quite honestly, this was not a financial consideration. What we’re trying to do is find a window for good games -- maybe not the best games -- and putting them on national platforms.”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany via John Ourand, Sports Business Daily

The Big Ten recently announced an expanded Friday night football schedule starting for the 2017 season, and the news has been met with pushback from not only fans, but also from many involved with high school football. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has already stated the Wolverines have no interest in playing on Friday nights, and there are other schools who said if they prefer to play they’d rather it be on the road and not at home. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has stated he doesn’t like the idea, but the Big Ten doesn’t seem to care, as the Wildcats will play in two Friday games next year.

Who will be most impacted by the Big Ten Friday night games is high school football programs. Not only will the Big Ten games take away from some of the revenue that high school football creates for schools since some will choose to attend Friday night Big Ten games in their area over high school football games, but it also could hurt in terms of recruiting. Delany says the conference is aware of the concerns and will try to make up for it by being better partners in other areas. Even though Delany says holding Friday night games wasn’t a financial decision, it clearly is but since it won’t be hurting the Big Ten’s finances the conference is pushing ahead with the idea.

“We’ve really focused on having a warrior mentality. My team is extremely competitive and they’re highly motivated. (The mentality) is ‘I’m going to be respectful in everything that I do, but my job is to beat you’ and there’s no apologizing for that.”

Ohio State women’s soccer head coach Lori Walker via Aaron Tomich, The Lantern

On Friday Ohio State’s women’s soccer team will travel to Morgantown for a matchup against West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Earlier this year the two teams squared off with West Virginia earning a 2-1 win over the Buckeyes. Following the win, West Virginia won 15 of their next 16 games while Ohio State failed to win in four of their next five games. Ohio State was able to earn a rematch with the Mountaineers by taking down Dayton in the first round.

While West Virginia has continued their winning ways since the teams first met, Ohio State feels like they are in a better place now than they were earlier in the season. The Buckeyes feel like a strong attack as well as an efficient midfield are reasons as to why they could pull the upset over West Virginia. Ohio State’s seniors are hoping that this won’t be the last game of their college career, but even if it is, they are just enjoying the ride while it last and are going to play hard until the final whistle.

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