Check out FiveThirtyEight’s Women’s World Cup predictions.“Dancing Swedes Shock USA” is how FIFA described the last World Cup result between the U.S. and Sweden in 2011. FIFA, the U.S. and the rest of the world were understandably shocked — the U.S. had never lost a group-stage game at the World Cup before. Four years and one head coach swap later, the teams meet again tonight in their second Group D games. Can Sweden shock the world again?According to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, the chances that Sweden beats the U.S. aren’t great. The USWNT has a 58 percent chance of winning and a 22 percent chance of drawing — pregame odds not dissimilar to the team’s first game against Australia. The U.S. won its World Cup opener 3-1, but the final score doesn’t reflect its early struggle to settle the ball and connect in the final third, two things that will be important against a better Swedish team, and for the rest of the tournament (solo runs by Megan Rapinoe will take the U.S. only so far).On the other side of Group D, Sweden was also favored to win its opening match — 59 percent to Nigeria’s 20 percent — but the Swedes were outpaced and out-hustled by the Super Falcons. In that game, Sweden was shocked, drawing 3-3. Sweden coasted on an early lead, but looked flat in the second half as Asisat Oshoala came flying down the flanks and Ngozi Okobi threaded balls between the seams. Nigeria scored three times in the second half against a shaky Swedish defense. Sweden is still likely to advance from Group D (67 percent), but its mediocre result against Nigeria means it’s far from safe.Tonight’s match is huge for both teams, with Sweden looking to solidify a spot in the knockout rounds and the U.S. women looking for redemption after the last World Cup and against their former coach (who hasn’t hesitated to say how she feels about her former players). There’s a lot at stake in this game, so we’ve made another in-game cheat sheet — a guide to when U.S. fans should start to worry and when it’s safe to relax. (You can read more about the in-game win probability model we made for women’s soccer.)If the game is tied, the USWNT’s chances of defeat hold steady around 20 percent for most of the match. Like we said before, loss probability is largely fixed, so the U.S. is trading win probability for draw probability the longer the game remains tied. If the U.S. hasn’t taken the lead by about 55 minutes, a U.S. win and a draw become about equally likely, and after that a draw becomes the most likely outcome.In the event that the U.S. trails Sweden by one goal, the stress should start to kick in around 73 minutes. With that score, the probability of a U.S. loss is just slightly greater than that of a draw for most of the first half. But at about 73 minutes, the loss probability shoots up above 60 percent. If the Americans are still down by a goal then, they might need another hail-Abby.
As the 2009 football season rolls on, each player continues to learn his role on and off the field. Whether they are current athletes or former Buckeyes in the NFL, each finds a way to make an impact on the game.One Buckeye who has made a unique impression on the lives of his teammates won’t be returning to the roster this year, but his spirit and drive will be passed from those who know him to the first-year players who may only know of him.Former Buck’s receiver and 2009 graduate Tyson Gentry is being honored with the E. Gordon Gee Spirit of Ohio State Award on Friday at the annual Alumni Awards for this legacy of inspiration.“I am extremely honored for this,” Gentry said. “Knowing how respected Gee is within the university makes it even more special.”The award is considered for outstanding OSU alumni who make an effort to honor the university and its history with devotion and integrity.Previous winners of the Spirit Award include Gee, Jim Tressel, John T. Mount and the Student-Alumni Council, according to an Ohio State Buckeyes press release.“Tyson has shown exceptional perseverance and dedication in earning his college degree,” said Archie Griffin, president and CEO of Ohio State University Alumni Association. “He clearly has the ability to overcome significant obstacles in pursuit of the things that are important to him. He truly represents the best of the Buckeye spirit.”Gentry came to OSU in 2004 as a punter. In April 2006, he moved to receiver for spring practice. During one play, Gentry went up for the pass and after what would have been a routine tackle he remained motionless on the field. The tackle broke a vertebra in his neck, leaving him partially paralyzed. Though the setback was clearly not part of his plan, Gentry said the experience has allowed him to think of his life in a different perspective.“It has really helped me learn about myself and who I want to be,” he said.Despite not being able to play the game anymore, Gentry remained on the Buckeye roster until his senior season last year. His teammates made sure they honored his strength in more ways than one.Each player wore his number, 24, along with their own on their helmets. And he was always seen next to coach Jim Tressel during “Carmen Ohio.” In addition, he was honorary captain for OSU against Texas at the Fiesta Bowl in January 2009.In his book, “The Winner’s Manual: For the Game of Life,” Tressel writes about Gentry, saying “Tyson has shown us that it’s not what happens to you in life that counts. It’s how you handle it … There is no question in my mind that Tyson Gentry is a hero.”Gentry says his teammates and coaches played a vital role in getting him where he is today and any way he can motivate them in return is significant to him.While many were skeptical he would ever be able to feel anything below the neck, he has regained movement in his arm and has some feeling through all of his body, including his legs. This gives him and those close to him hope that he will one day walk again.Gentry graduated from OSU in June with a B.A. in speech and hearing sciences. He remains a part of the Buckeye community as a graduate student in speech and hearing. Though he has an ultimate goal in mind, he says he wants to focus on the present and make the best of what he can.“I am always going to be working on getting out of my chair,” Gentry said. “This experience has taught me to accept everything as it comes and I’m just going to worry about today and my short term goals and hope that everything else will follow as it is supposed to.”The 2009 Alumni Awards ceremony will take place at the Hyatt Regency Columbus on 350 N. High Street.
Ohio State has announced a big-name hire to fill the open coaching position at Ohio State. Former Super Bowl champion Mike Vrabel is set to rejoin the Buckeyes. After former head coach Jim Tressel’s departure and Luke Fickell was chosen to take over the top role, a replacement was needed for Fickell’s previous position as linebacker coach. Fickell said while it took a while to finalize the decision, Vrabel was always his first choice for the job opening. “(Offering Vrabel the job) was always in my mind,” Fickell said. “And then to actually have him come in two to three days later and kind of just look at me and say ‘Give me a reason to retire,’ was something that meant a lot to me.” Vrabel, a former defensive end at OSU from 1993–96, was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year during both the 1995 and 1996 seasons. During his college playing days, Vrabel was also a defensive line mate with new OSU head coach Luke Fickell —Vrabel was a defensive end while Fickell played nose guard. Vrabel and Fickell were roommates together in college and will now come together after Vrabel’s 14-year NFL career. “I had the opportunity to play for a lot of great teams and a lot of great organizations,” Vrabel said. “Hopefully I can take what I learned from those teams and those organizations and apply to it what we’re trying to do here.” Vrabel’s acceptance of the linebacker coaching job was also the official retirement of his highly-decorated professional football career. “The biggest reason for retirement is none other than there comes a time where you can’t do what you used to do,” Vrabel said. “I’ve come to a point where I can’t train to prepare for an NFL football season … This is where I want to be.” Vrabel was drafted in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent his first four years as a professional there. Vrabel was later traded to the New England Patriots where he became a force on both sides of the ball. In short-yardage situations, Patriots coach Bill Belichick used Vrabel as a tight end. In his eight years with the Patriots, Vrabel, who typically played linebacker, had 10 receptions, all for touchdowns. During his time at New England, Vrabel won three Super Bowls and also appeared in the 2007 Pro Bowl. Vrabel was then traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, where he is still under contract. Media outlets have reported that multiple sources close to Vrabel expect the former Buckeye to retire from the NFL and accept the coaching position at OSU. Vrabel would be coming to OSU after a recent run-in with law enforcement. On April 5, Vrabel was arrested for theft at an Indiana casino and was released later that day after posting bond. Vrabel called the arrest an “unfortunate misunderstanding.” More recently, Vrabel has been a vocal member of the NFL Players Association and is one of 10 players involved in the antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. Vrabel said that while it is a blessing to be working for his best friend, he would want to coach at Ohio State no matter who was in the head-coaching role. “I work for Luke, I work for Jim Heacock. If it were another coach, I’d still wanna be at Ohio State,” Vrabel said. Jerry Emig, assistant athletics communication director, said the contract details for Vrabel’s hire were still being worked out. Fickell described Vrabel as someone he would want leading his players. “He is a very aggressive, confident person, he communicates very well, he is a very upfront honest person,” Fickell said. “Since the day I met him, he always told me, ‘I’m going to be a coach.’” Vrabel said that what he has done in the past, including winning three Super Bowls, is great, but he is looking forward to his career as a coach at OSU. “I’m proud of my career, but I’m more excited now for this opportunity,” Vrabel said.
Senior forward Peanut Johnson (3) surveys the field during a game against St. Louis on Aug. 28. OSU won, 5-0.Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz / Asst. Sports EditorThe Ohio State field hockey team is set to hit the road this week for East Lansing, Michigan, to face off against Michigan State.The Buckeyes and Spartans are scheduled to step on the field on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Big Ten opener.After last Friday’s 3-2 home win against Ball State, OSU (3-2) is now on a two-game winning streak with an offense that has come on strong recently. However, OSU coach Anne Wilkinson said she is cautious about getting too confident heading into conference play.“Once you get the Big Ten, it’s a whole new ballgame, and they know that,” Wilkinson said.Following in the footsteps of last week’s recipient, sophomore goalie Liz Tamburro, senior forward Peanut Johnson was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Tuesday for her strong performance last week against Ball State. Johnson earned her team five points by scoring twice and adding two assists, which brought the Dayton, Ohio, native’s season total to 10 points.Johnson said she looks to the individual accolade as a welcome recognition, but she still sees the team as a support system and large factor in her triumph.“It’s such an honor,” Johnson said. “But it’s definitely a team effort in the end, and I’m just really grateful.”Johnson and her co-captain, senior back Emma Royce, said they see Friday’s first conference game as a chance for the Buckeyes to truly shine following their winning streak.Royce said that when going up against the Spartans, the team has to be in the right mindset above anything else.“The skills are all there, it’s a lot about mentality at this point,” Royce said. “We just know that Michigan State is a very passionate and aggressive team so we’re looking to win our individual matchups and 50-50 balls.”Wilkinson said she looks for Friday’s game to be an opportunity for the Buckeyes to work on locking down the ball.“Possession is really going to be key,” Wilkinson said. “Michigan has a style where they really like to break up your plays…because we’re a fast team, they like to break that up so we need to work on playing small but opening up also.”Michigan State will go into the game tied for sixth place in the Big Ten alongside Maryland after their loss to Columbia last Sunday, bringing them to 3-3 overall on the season.Last meetingLast season’s matchup between the Buckeyes and Spartans ended in overtime at 4-3, with Michigan State taking the victory on a goal by forward Abby Barker.Players to watchWhile Tamburro and Johnson hold the consecutive titles of Big Ten Player of the Week, sophomore forward Maddy Humphrey holds team leads for Buckeyes with 12 points (five goals, two assists).
Ohio State players celebrate after Sevyn Banks scored a touchdown in the second half of the game against Michigan on Nov. 24. Ohio State won 62-39. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorOhio State senior right tackle Isaiah Prince did not want to look at the scoreboard. He said, before the game, the offense made that deal, that it would not look at the scoreboard, at how many points the unit was putting up against Michigan.“We said we were going to stick together and play the best we can together,” Prince said. As the fans flooded onto the sidelines as the clock hit zeros, Prince saw what the scoreboard read: No. 10 Ohio State 62, No. 4 Michigan 39. The scoreboard showed the most complete performance that Ohio State has had this season in the game it needed to happen in most. For redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, he knew what the expectation was. He said the coaching staff gave the players a blueprint to succeed against the Wolverines. This blueprint led to 567 yards of offense against the No. 1 total defense in the country, limiting a defensive line of redshirt senior Chase Winovich and junior Rashan Gary to zero sacks, recording only two tackles for loss. This blueprint led to Ohio State disrupting Michigan junior quarterback Shea Patterson, recording three sacks and five tackles for loss. But this is the same blueprint that Ohio State has had in games like this in the past. In the first time the Buckeyes have been the underdog since the 2015 National Championship against Oregon, Jones admitted something his team has lived by this season. “We play down or play up to our competition and we definitely played above and beyond today,” Jones said. Head coach Urban Meyer said there is never such a thing as a “bad win.” No matter the opponent, whether it is Michigan, Indiana or Maryland, he said “it’s really hard to win a college football game. And, just like any other game, the Buckeyes came into the game knowing which areas the offense and defense alike could exploit, areas of weakness. Redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon said he saw that Michigan played a lot of press-man coverages, allowing for receivers to find space to run from the slot. The Buckeyes mercilessly attacked the Wolverines with the mesh route, which led to redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins completing 19 of 30 passes for 318 yards, throwing five touchdowns and breaking single-season conference records in the process. Jones said he saw a zone blocking scheme that gave Ohio State a unique ability to get into the backfield, keeping Michigan to 3.4 yards per rush in the first half along with getting Patterson and Michigan senior running back Karan Higdon on the ground consistently. “That gave us an advantage because we knew their game plan and we just sacked them,” Jones said. All in all, this was the game that brought everything together, encapsulated the potential, the level Ohio State wanted to be playing at for the entire season. “That was a love game,” Meyer said. “That was one of those things that you hear the word ’brotherhood,’ and why do you really play? Why does a true soldier fight? It’s not for the hatred of those in front of you; it’s for the love of those behind you. And that’s a great quote that we live by, and they proved it today.” But Ohio State had something to prove too. It had to prove that it was still in the conversation of being worthy for playoff contention.Because that’s all Jones had been hearing about. It’s something he said can be ignored, but he knows it’s there and he uses it as fuel. “Hearing the outside noise talking about how we can’t do this, we can’t stop that, that definitely fueled us 10 times more than what you guys even know,” Jones said. “We all carried the burden of people saying that we are not good.” The playoff conversation returned Saturday afternoon after the Buckeyes put up 62 points, the most points it had scored in the history of the rivalry and the most points Michigan has allowed in a regulation game in its history. Even with the success, Dixon still believes the offense has not peaked. “For us, we always think we can do better,” Dixon said. “We always think we can be better, so I still don’t think we are at the best level we can be, but it’s better. We are moving in the right direction.” Prince did not expect any huge numbers offensively, any stifling numbers from the Ohio State defense. He came in praying, simply, just for a win. “I prayed before the game and I said ‘I don’t really care what happens here in this game as long as we come out with a win for my senior day, it would make me the most happiest person,’” Prince said. When Prince looked at the scoreboard, he saw a win, but he said he also still saw a possibility to achieve every goal Ohio State had prior to the start of the 2018 season.
Ohio State then-redshirt sophomore middle blocker Jamie Wolmering (12) and then-junior setter Sanil Thomas go up for the ball in the matchup between the Buckeyes and Loyola. Credit: Ris Twigg | Former Assistant Photo EditorAfter a 2-0 start to the season, the No. 7 Ohio State men’s volleyball team will attempt to earn its first ranked victories out west against No. 5 BYU and No. 11 Stanford.Ohio State began its season with nonconference home wins against Charleston and Penn State.While BYU will begin its season with the match against the Buckeyes on Thursday, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of emotion between these two teams coming into this match.Though the Cougars topped the Buckeyes in a five-set match this past season in Columbus, the previous two NCAA tournament matchups between these teams ended in back-to-back titles for the Buckeyes in the 2016 and 2017 national championship matches.BYU sophomore opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez will look to build on an impressive freshman campaign, in which he was ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in points per set and aces per set, respectively, in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). In order to continue its perfect start to the season, Ohio State will need to rely on redshirt sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes, who currently leads the country with 5.29 kills per set and 6.14 points per set.Following the Thursday match between top 10 teams, Ohio State will face Stanford (2-0) on Saturday. The Cardinal began their season with wins against Menlo and UC Santa Cruz, and they’ll be facing off against Ball State on Thursday before taking on the Buckeyes.Ohio State has won the past three meetings against Stanford. The Cardinal are coming off a season riddled with injury in which they won just six matches.Stanford brings back sophomore opposite hitter Jaylen Jasper, who carries MPSF Offensive Player of the Week honors into the match against the Buckeyes. Jasper has a .654 hitting percentage and is averaging 4.33 kills per set through the first two matches of the season. But the Cardinal aren’t the only ones with returning top talent.Senior setter Sanil Thomas led the country with 11.28 assists per set last year, and he’ll need to play every bit like last season if the Buckeyes want to reach next week unscathed.Ohio State takes on BYU at 9 p.m. on Thursday and Stanford at 10 p.m. on Saturday.