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Ohio State’s men’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams open their 2018 seasons this weekend

There will be plenty of Buckeye action to focus on over the weekend to take your mind off the Urban Meyer saga.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State’s men’s soccer team will kickoff their 2018 season tomorrow night against Furman in the Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic. The Buckeyes have posted a 19-12-7 record all-time in the early season tournament, and have won the tournament six times, with the most recent of those titles coming in 2012.

Ohio State soccer will begin a new era on Friday night, as Brian Maisonneuve will be coaching his first game for the Buckeyes. Maisonneuve not only played for the Columbus Crew from 1996-2004, but he also was a member of the 1998 United States World Cup squad. Prior to accepting the head coaching position at Ohio State, Maisonneuve was a member of the coaching staff at Indiana, which not only won the NCAA title in 2012, but also lost in double overtime to Stanford in last year’s final.

There could be some growing pains for the Buckeyes in Maisonneuve’s first season as head coach, as Ohio State was picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten preseason poll. The Buckeyes return six starters from last year’s team, which finished 8-1-10, but lost eight of nine games to close out the 2017 season.

The Buckeyes will face off against a Furman squad that was 12-5-3 in 2017, and picked to finish second in the Southern Conference Standings. Ohio State will close out the weekend on Sunday afternoon against Hofstra before heading to Dayton for matches against Marshall and Milwaukee.

Men’s soccer isn’t the only varsity sport kicking off in Columbus this weekend, as Ohio State’s women’s volleyball will take the court in the 14th annual Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic. The Buckeyes will host the four-team round robin tournament at St. John Arena, with Ohio, Albany, and Texas A&M coming into town to take part in the event.

This will mark the final year at St. John Arena for the women’s volleyball team, with the team moving to the Covelli Center, whose construction is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2019 season.

This weekend’s tournament is named in honor of D.C. Koehl, who spent 39 years with the athletic department before passing away in January 2012. Koehl not only served as communications director for the men’s and women’s volleyball programs for 30 years, but also was the go-to guy for football and basketball statistics.

Ohio State will open their 2018 campaign tomorrow night against Albany, whom they are meeting for just the second time in school history. The two teams previously played in 2011, with Ohio State winning that matchup 3-1.

Saturday afternoon the Buckeyes will take on Ohio at 12:30 p.m. Ohio State holds a 14-2 edge in the series with the Bobcats, but the last matchup between the schools four years ago saw Ohio take down the Buckeyes 3-1.

Ohio State will close out the tournament on Saturday night with a matchup against Texas A&M, whom they hold a 3-2 edge against in the all-time series. The Buckeyes have won the last two meetings between the schools, with the most recent coming in 2016.

After taking home the national title in 2016 and 2017, Ohio State struggled last season, slumping to a 15-16 record. Head coach Geoff Carlston will welcome six new Buckeyes to the roster this season, as Ohio State will attempt to reclaim some of their past glory.

With the college football season starting in just a few days, there are a number of rule changes that will go into effect at the start of the 2018 season. The biggest rule changes are taking aim at player safety, but there is also a significant change that will try and improve the pace of play of college football games.

The most notable change to the rules in college football in 2018 is the ability that kick returners now have to fair catch a football inside the 20-yard line, and have it treated the same as a touchback. In 2013, all touchbacks were moved from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line, which led to more kickers using the “pooch kick” to try and pin their opponents deep. With the increased emphasis on protection against head injuries, players are now allowed to fair catch the football inside the 20-yard line and have it moved out to the 25-yard line to help protect them against potential violent hits.

Another change in the rules for the 2018 season concerns blocking below the waist. Now, linemen in the tackle box at the snap may block below the wast from the front or side until the ball leaves the tackle box. All other players can block below the waist directly from the front, and those who are outside the tackle box, or in motion, can block below the waist from the front, but they can’t do so back towards the location of the snap. Once the player has left the tackle box, they can’t block below the waist towards their own end line.

Shorter pants had become a trend over the past few years, and while some players may think this is stylish, it does cause a safety concern, as some players had their knees completely exposed without any padding. Now players will be required to have knee pads in their pants, with the knee pads completely covering the knee. Those who don’t follow this rule will be required to leave the game for at least one down until the equipment is corrected and deemed legal.

For this season, teams have the option of keeping the points on the board when a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is called on a field goal, and having the penalty yardage assessed on the kickoff. In previous years, teams only had the options of continuing with the drive, or keeping the points on the board with no penalty yardage assessed.

Finally, a big change is being made to try and improve the pace of play of college football games. In prior years, there had been a minute in between a touchdown and an extra point, but now the 40-second play clock will start as soon as the ball is dead after the touchdown. Similarly, the 40-second play clock will also begin as soon as the ball is blown dead following a kickoff. These changes should help to move college football games along a little quicker.