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Is there really a competition for the Big Ten East?

Plus, Dwayne Haskins’ friendship with another Heisman contender, and more.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

“I know, I know. For us to believe the Big Ten East race is a race, we have to believe Michigan is capable of beating Ohio State in Columbus.”

— Bill Connelly, SB Nation

Even before the season started, the Big Ten was expected to be among the top conference in college football in 2018. Things started off to a bit of a rocky start, but the Big Ten East continued to look like a strong division, and one filled with more than a couple contenders.

Now that we’re almost halfway through the season, SB Nation’s Bill Connelly re-evaluated some of the division races and ranked them based on the potential for drama. (Although, if we’re being honest, just about everything related to college football includes some semblance of drama, but I digress.)

Sitting at No. 5 among the 18 different division races, is the Big Ten East. As Connelly mentioned, there’s really only potential for drama surrounding the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry game. Sure, the Wolverines haven’t beaten the Buckeyes in (checks notes) the past six seasons, but they’ve been in some incredibly close, nail-biting matchups.

Ohio State has already told Penn State to sit this one out, as the Nittany Lions are 1-1 heading into Week 7, and only OSU and Michigan stand 3-0 in the conference. Unless things get crazy—like OSU losing to Michigan State, or Michigan not going 2-1 against Wisconsin— this year’s edition of The Game could be a winner-take-all for the Big Ten East.

“No competition, I was like ‘how did you go 10-for-13 for 300 yards?,” Haskins said. “He’s like ‘I don’t know,’ but I mean that’s pretty cool, I wish I could do that one of these games this year.”

— Wyatt Crosher, The Lantern

It didn’t take long for Dwayne Haskins to end up in the Heisman Trophy discussions, but one of the interesting bits is that he has a close relationship with another Heisman hopeful, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Haskins admits that he tries to avoid the Heisman conversations, but that being in the discussion with some of the top players in the country is an honor. Specifically, though, Haskins talked about his friendship with Tagovailoa and how they communicate each week and support each other with scripture before games.

The Ohio State quarterback may say there isn’t a competition among them, but the rest of the country would probably disagree. As we sit and compare stat lines for weekly individual honors, and as the College Football Playoff committee begins setting the landscape for the playoffs, Haskins and Tagovailoa will be compared each step of the way.

So far this season, Haskins has thrown for 1,919 yards, 25 touchdowns and four interceptions on a 71.7 completion percentage rate. He had a career-high 455 yards last week against Indiana, and is averaging just under 10 yards per attempt.

Tagovailoa has fared just a tick better in regards to efficiency, leading with a 75.2 completion percentage rate thanks to 1,495 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Alabama quarterback is averaging 14.8 yards per attempt and has been much more effective as a runner than Haskins.

But at the end of the day, Haskins is still adding his name to the Ohio State and Big Ten history books each week, and with over half the season still to play, could make some waves in the NCAA record books too.

The Heisman Trophy is the endgame, but there’s still a lot of football to be played between now and then, and the Haskins-Tagovailoa friendship won’t be tested unless (read: until) both Ohio State and Alabama make it to the CFP.

“Chris Holtmann’s second year running the Ohio State basketball program is beginning with slightly bigger expectations for the Buckeyes. Just slightly, though.”

— Bill Landis,

Men’s basketball season is inching closer, and with that, comes preseason polls. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s plenty to go around.

On Wednesday, the media’s Big Ten Conference preseason poll was released, with the Buckeyes nabbing the No. 8 spot. This is up three spots from last year’s preseason poll, but still near the back end of the conference—which isn’t entirely surprising given the strength of teams like Michigan, Indiana, and Purdue.

Chris Holtmann’s second season in Columbus will continue to build on the surprising success of the 2017-18 season, but while the potential is there, he’s working with a very young group of players and lost some of the key leaders from last year.

The age of the group probably had a little—if not a lot—to do with the small bump in rankings. It’s become obvious quickly that Holtmann is building a program to be proud of at Ohio State, but he’ll need some recurring success before media and other outlets start buying in to Buckeye basketball again.

Holtmann at least predicted being around No. 8 or 9 in the preseason polls, and noted that while he may not pay a lot of attention to this things, Ryan Pedon will probably make another wall of preseason predictions to serve as motivation.

Personally, I like when the Buckeyes are a little under-the-radar. It gives the team room to move up, but doesn’t come with as much pressure to stay on top. If this young group of guys can build some consistency on the court early in the season, there’s no doubt they could finish the season ranked way higher than No. 8.

Dwayne Haskins and Dre’Mont Jones have been huge factors for the Buckeyes this season. Haskins has been leading the charge, unsurprisingly, as the team’s starting quarterback, but Jones has really stepped up with Nick Bosa rehabbing from core muscle surgery.

Now, they’ve both been added to some pretty prestigious watch lists.

Haskins is now named among some of the top offensive talents in the country on the Maxwell Award watch list. The latest round of additions to the watch list include Clemson’s freshman QB Trevor Lawrence, Penn State running back Miles Sanders, and Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook, along with six other names.

The Ohio State quarterback is already looking like a lock for several postseason honors, as his stat line keeps going up and he keeps setting school and NCAA records.

Jones, on the other hand, has been added to a list of some of the top defensive talent throughout college football. The Buckeye was among nine other names to be added to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, including two players from Alabama (Quinnen Williams, Deionte Thompson) and two players from Washington (Ben Burr-Kirven, Byron Murphy).

Buckeyes in the NFL

Bengals rookie DE Sam Hubbard credits veterans for starting rally against the Dolphins — Nick Manchester, Cincy Jungle

Hubbard’s first career touchdown could not have come at a better time. The Bengals were holding onto a three point lead late in the game and needed a stop. Carlos Dunlap responded by knocking the ball out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s hand. Hubbard collected it and took it 19 yards to the house.

Raiders see former top pick CB Gareon Conley as ‘basically a rookie’ — Levi Damien, Silver and Black Pride

“[Conley] didn’t play much last year and he’s basically a rookie player,” said Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther. “He is learning a lot of things. Unfortunately, he gives up the one play off the goal line and we are in a pretty good call to stop it. I don’t want to give him too much right now. If we can give him little by little by little just like a normal rookie player. That’s how I’m viewing Gareon...”

Coach Tomlin recalls the Steelers’ last trip to Cincinnati and playing after Ryan Shazier’s injury — Dave Schofield, Behind the Steel Curtain

It remains to be seen if the emotions of their last visit will affect the Steelers’ play on Sunday. But watching Ryan Shazier walk to the sidelines with his teammates this week will mean a lot to players and fans, regardless of team affiliation. Last year’s game aside, the Steelers and Bengals don’t need any extra motivation, or bad blood, to get them fired up for the upcoming game.

On Panthers winners and losers from Week 5 — Jannelle Moore, Cat Scratch Reader

Curtis Samuel: Samuel returned to action after missing three games due to a medical procedure on his heart, and made his presence felt on his first reception of the season. The 5’11 speedster hauled in a catch from Cam Newton and scampered to the end zone and through a stunning number of missed tackles for a 25 yard touchdown