Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Evan HahnA conversation with…Evan Hahn, Vice President of Credit, Farm Credit Mid-AmericaOCJ: There is growing concern for some farms with regard to securing enough loan funding to be able to plant a crop in 2016. What broad factors have contributed to this situation for some farms?Evan: With the end of the commodity super-cycle, farmers are now faced with commodity prices less than half of what they were just two years ago. At the same time, inputs, equipment and land rents have not dropped as quickly as commodity prices. This has heightened the need for farmers to maintain an adequate working capital position to help them weather periods of adverse economic activity.Farmers will need to proactively assess their financial position and determine if changes need to be made to their business model. If changes are necessary, I would encourage them to work with their lender to look at options and decide which ones may have the most beneficial impact for meeting both the short and long term goals of the farm.OCJ: What is your take on the farm lending situation for 2016 and beyond?Evan: This will be a challenging year for many farmers. Tighter margins will require farmers to closely examine each line item expense as well as capital needs, marketing and income strategies. This may well be the norm for a year or more, as producers adjust to lower prices and margins. The producers who are able to adjust quickly and in meaningful ways will be in a better position to handle continued adversity.Many younger or beginning farmers have not experienced a period of time with tighter margins. At Farm Credit Mid-America, we have a program for young, beginning farmers to obtain credit, as we understand the challenges they face. The program focuses on providing young farmers with tools to help them improve management skills, financial training, business plans and peer networking. All of these learning tools are available to customers who participate in the program.OCJ: What types of farm situations pose the highest risk of not being able to secure enough credit?Evan: Farms without sufficient working capital will find themselves in a difficult spot, and they may find it necessary to operate entirely on borrowed funds. While that isn’t necessarily a bad decision, it does limit options for farmers as they do not have the cash to make operational decisions throughout the production year.Other situations that cause concern are with those who cannot adjust their expenses or fixed costs quickly enough to avoid multiple years of true cash losses. While the recent past has resulted in tremendous earnings potential, we are now seeing farms that are experiencing significant year-over-year losses.OCJ: What on-farm factors are important to you as a lender in formulating credit allocation decisions?Evan: Management ability is an intangible that is always difficult to discern. However, management capabilities on the farm are crucial during times of economic stress. The ability of a farm manager to effectively incorporate risk mitigation strategies such as marketing plans, crop insurance, and the ability and willingness to adjust to the changing economic environment is vital to the success of the farm. This all starts with a deep understanding of their financial position, their risk appetite and the discipline to put together and follow a detailed plan to weather the current ag economic conditions.OCJ: In these times of tight margins, what short-term advice do you offer the farmers you work with?Evan: Be proactive in talking with your lender, don’t wait until the situation is in dire shape before having that conversation. Often, by having that conversation early in the process, there are multiple solutions that can be identified to provide relief to the farm. As time goes on and circumstances deteriorate, the options available may be fewer and more difficult to accept.Step back and objectively scrutinize all aspects of your farm operation and determine capital and expenses that are absolutely necessary, those that are beneficial, and those that are not vitally important to the ongoing success of the farm.OCJ: How does crop insurance fit into the mix?Evan: Crop insurance should be a key risk mitigation strategy for every grain farmer. With tighter margins and lower commodity prices, I would highly encourage producers to seek out a qualified crop insurance agent that can tailor a policy to their needs. This is another tool available to farmers to help them mitigate risk and formulate their marketing plan.OCJ: What are sound long-term strategies farms should employ for weathering tough financial storms?Evan: Know your break-even cost of production and have a marketing plan developed that will enable you to lock in a profit. If you find that your break-even is below the current commodity price, analyze ways that you can improve your margins by cutting expenses, improving production or marketing more effectively.Also, build and maintain a level of working capital that will enable you to weather periodic downturns in the ag economy. A minimum level of working capital we would expect to see is 20% of your gross farm income. During times of adversity, higher levels of working capital will provide a farm operation with more options.OCJ: Relationships are important in securing credit. What steps should farmers take to develop better relationships with their lenders?Evan: Be proactive in knowing and understanding where you stand with your lender. Find out what key financial ratios are important to them and update them annually at a minimum.Additionally, set goals for your operation and share them with your lender. Knowing where you want to be three, five, or 10 years down the road will help your lender understand your operation and can then provide feedback in ways to help you achieve your goals.OCJ: What is the toughest part of your job in all of this? I would guess tough lending decisions are no fun for anyone involved.Evan: Working with customers during times of stress can be challenging. It is important to recognize that farming is not only their livelihood, but for many, it is a way of life. Treating customers with respect and being open, honest, transparent and realistic about issues is important. The lender cannot be all things to all customers at all times, but by being proactive, working together and treating each other with integrity we can oftentimes find workable solutions for both the farm and Farm Credit Mid-America. The rewarding part of the job is finding ways that we can work with our customers.
About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Real Madrid goalkeeper Casilla on his way to Leedsby Carlos Volcano9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveReal Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla is on his way to Leeds United.Marca says Casilla is set to join Leeds and has already travelled to England, being photographed at Madrid’s Barajas Airport.This means that Luca Zidane will become the third-choice for Santiago Solari.There had been talk about recalling Andriy Lunin from his loan at Leganes, but he is now set to stay there for the remainder of the campaign.
LINCOLN, NE – SEPTEMBER 03: Head coach Mike Riley of the Nebraska Cornhuskers walks onto the field before the game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Fresno State 43-10. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)“There’s No Place Like Nebraska” is a Huskers’ fight song and somewhat of a mantra for the Lincoln, Neb.-based college football program. When it comes to the academic success of its players, the mantra is true. No program has produced more Academic All-Americans than the Huskers. With school’s APR scores set to come out today, Nebraska coach Mike Riley felt it was appropriate to boast about his team’s success off the field. Is being an Academic All-American important to you? Look no further than Nebraska! #Huskers pic.twitter.com/G0W1dB7zzD— Mike Riley (@Coach_Riley) May 27, 2015It’s always nice to see program’s putting an emphasis on the student part of being a student-athlete.
Serena Williams of the United States celebrates winning her women’s singles quarterfinals match against Italy’s Camila Giorgi, at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Tuesday July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)LONDON (AP) — Serena Williams came up with a comeback to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon, then walked off Centre Court with her right index finger aloft.Yes, no matter what the rankings or seedings say, she still looks as if she’s capable of playing like someone who’s No. 1.Williams moved closer to her eighth title at the All England Club and 24th Grand Slam trophy overall — but first since missing more than a year while having a baby — by beating 52nd-ranked Camila Giorgi of Italy 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.“This is only my fourth tournament back, so I don’t feel pressure. I don’t feel I have to win this; I don’t feel I have to lose this,” Williams said. “I’m just here just to be here and to prove that I’m back. And I feel like I’m back. I still have a long way to go to be where I was.”Williams was seeded 25th by the All England Club, a nod to all of her past success at the grass-court major, including titles the last two times she entered it, in 2015 and 2016. She missed Wimbledon a year ago because she was pregnant, and she went about 16 months between Grand Slam tournaments, so her ranking is just outside the top 180.That is going to change now.Next up for the 36-year-old American is a match against No. 13 seed Julia Goerges of Germany, a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner against No. 20 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.This is all brand new for Goerges, who had never even been to a Grand Slam quarterfinal before this week. Plus, at Wimbledon in particular, she lost in the first round each of the past five years.Williams is 3-0 against Goerges, winning in straight sets each time.“Every match starts from zero,” Goerges said. “Everybody has the same chances to win that match, and I’m looking forward to it.”After their most recent meeting, in the French Open’s third round last month, Williams pulled out of that tournament, citing a chest muscle injury that made it too painful to serve.After going a couple of weeks without hitting a serve, Williams has regained her ability with that stroke nicely at Wimbledon.She hit one at 122 mph against Giorgi, delivered six of her seven aces in the final set, and won 44 of the last 54 points she served.It was the first time she’d needed to erase a real deficit this fortnight: Williams hadn’t dropped a set until facing Giorgi, who was in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.“After the first set, I was like, ‘All right, let’s go three sets.’ And that’s kind of what I thought. … ‘I’ll just keep fighting,’” Williams said.The other semifinal Thursday will be No. 11 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany vs. No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.Kerber is a former No. 1 who owns two Grand Slam titles and was the runner-up to Williams at the All England Club two years ago. Ostapenko won last year’s French Open.Kerber needed seven match points to close out No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 7-5 at Centre Court, while Ostapenko defeated 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 7-5, 6-4 on a windy No. 1 Court.Kerber took advantage of Kasatkina’s 31 unforced errors, including seven double-faults, but took a while to end things. Kerber served for the victory at 5-4 in the second set, but got broken. When she served for it a second time, she needed to navigate a 16-point game that included five deuces and all of those match points, until forcing a forehand error on the last.Ostapenko played her usual aggressive style, compiling a 33-6 edge in winners.In the last men’s quarterfinal, which was suspended because of darkness after the third set Monday night, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro defeated Gilles Simon of France 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5).Del Potro held four match points while serving for the victory at 5-4 in the fourth set, but had to wait until the last tiebreaker to advance in 4 hours, 24 minutes, making it the longest men’s singles match of the tournament.On Wednesday, del Potro faces Rafael Nadal.
New York Giants President John Mara said Tuesday that the NFL would probably not expand its postseason field from 12 to 14 teams for the 2014 season. But make no mistake, expansion is coming sooner or later. The television ratings for playoff matchups — even for early rounds — are so monstrous that it makes sense from a revenue-maximizing perspective to add postseason games.But how about from a football perspective? ESPN’s Stats & Information correctly points out that, even with 14 playoff qualifiers, only 43.7 percent of NFL teams would earn postseason berths, which is still lower than the 53.3 percent qualification rates in the NBA and NHL. Then again, both of those sports play best-of-seven series to determine who advances to the next round; the NFL’s postseason is a single-elimination tournament. (And, 2013 excepted, the NFL playoffs are trending toward less predictable outcomes as it is.)Even in a 12-team playoff format, the best team in football fails to win the Super Bowl far more often than not. But would a 14-team bracket add another layer of randomness? Using the power of Monte Carlo simulation and the theoretical distribution of true talent in the NFL, we can estimate how often a team of a given ranking in “true talent” wins the Super Bowl under both the 12-team format and the proposed 14-team arrangement. For both formats, I assigned each team a true-talent rating at random (from a normal distribution with a mean winning percentage of .500 and a standard deviation of .146) and simulated the 2013 NFL schedule 10,000 times, recording how often a team of a given talent ranking won the Super Bowl. Here are the results:As it turns out, a 14-team playoff format wouldn’t change much for the favorites’ chances of a Super Bowl victory. The No. 2 seed in each conference would be forced to play an extra game (rather than receiving a bye during the wild-card round), but that doesn’t move the needle a lot — mainly because the No. 1 seeds still get byes into the divisional round.What would really shake things up, though, would be a move to a 16-team bracket, which would give the NFL a playoff participation rate closer to the NBA and NHL (although the NFL would still be lower). If we run the same simulation process above but plug teams into a 16-team playoff format, the following probabilities emerge:Forcing the top seed in each conference to play an extra game would drastically shift the Super Bowl odds for the NFL’s three most talented teams, redistributing much of their current probabilistic advantage across the rest of the league. The move to a 16-team playoff would be a much bigger change than from 12 teams to 14.The remaining question is whether that’s a bad thing. A 16-team playoff would increase the role of chance in the NFL’s postseason — an element which has already been on the rise in recent seasons. The NFL’s landmark popularity over the past decade suggests that such parity has moved the league closer to the optimal mix of determinism and randomness. (By contrast, a system designed to turn the NFL playoffs into a science experiment always yielding the most deserving champion would be tedious and unpopular.) But it’s not clear whether there are diminishing returns to the NFL’s parity formula.
Playoff %Playoff % This year, though, New England is a perfect 5-0 at home but only 3-3 on the road — respectable but nowhere near the league’s best. (The Pats have also been outscored by 11 points in away games, against a road schedule that ranks just 28th in average opposing Elo.) And this might come up in the playoffs, unlike so many seasons in which the Pats had home-field advantage through the AFC title game.1Since 2010, New England has played a total of 15 non-Super Bowl playoff games — of which 13 have been hosted at Gillette Stadium. Right now, New England is in line for the AFC’s No. 2 seed behind the Kansas City Chiefs, but only a half-game separates them from the fourth-seeded Steelers.Owning the turnover battleTurnover margin is one of the most important factors in determining who wins or loses any football game. Conventional stathead wisdom, though, tells us that outlier turnover seasons — whether avoiding them on offense, forcing them on defense, or both — are unsustainable. While there are some ways a team can influence its tendency to have more takeaways than giveaways, a lot of it also comes down to luck.Unless, of course, you’re the Patriots. New England perennially dominates this category, ranking first by a mile from 2010 through 2017 with a +116 turnover differential, almost double that of the next-best team. A lot of that is a function of having Tom Brady at QB; he’s tied for the second-lowest interception percentage of any passer in NFL history. But the Pats are also great at avoiding fumbles — only the Falcons had coughed it up fewer times since 2010, and no team had lost fewer fumbles than the Pats. And their defense had forced the second-most turnovers of any team this decade (behind the Giants), ranking second in interceptions and tied for third in fumbles recovered.Such opportunism has historically paid big dividends for New England, but this year’s squad is still trying to recapture that formula. The Pats are currently +5 in turnovers, which ranks ninth in the league but is nothing special by their standards. Brady has his highest interception rate since 2013 (his seven picks already are only one off of his full-season total from last year), driving a big overall increase in giveaways per game, though the team is being more careful in recent weeks. And while the Pats have forced at least one turnover in all but one game this season, they are tied for eighth-to-last in the league in games with three or more takeaways, six behind the league-leading Bears.Yards and pointsIn addition to — and correlated with — their dominant turnover differential, the Patriots have always had another trick up their sleeves in terms of winning extra games. It involves their yards per point (YPP): essentially, how efficiently they turn field position into scores on offense and how inefficiently they force opponents to do the same. By definition, when you have a lower YPP than the opponent, you will win more often because you’re trading field position for points at a more favorable rate than they are.Like turnover margin, YPP is supposed to be pretty inconsistent from year to year, bouncing around with a team’s luck at picking up key first downs and converting red zone chances, along with the all-important knack for “bending but not breaking” on defense. Yet the Pats dominate this category so thoroughly and so consistently, it might be the single biggest factor in their ongoing success. Not only had they ranked first in both offensive and defensive YPP since 2010, but their net YPP differential of +5.6 was more than double the No. 2 Packers’ +2.5 mark over that span.(This is one of the big reasons that worries about the Patriots’ defense always need to be tempered. Belichick’s team has traditionally punched above its weight in terms of points allowed, just because it always makes opponents work so hard to turn gains on the field into rewards on the scoreboard.)This season, the Pats remain among the top net YPP teams, ranking fourth, but they are not quite dominating like usual. They rank just seventh in offensive YPP and sixth on defense, with a net YPP of +2.8, which trails the Bears, Saints and Chiefs. On top of the increase in turnovers per game from above, New England’s efficiency rankings on third down and in the red zone are worse, and the team has slipped in those same “situational” categories on defense. And if you want another cause for the Patriots’ YPP decline, their net starting field position is -2.6 yards per drive this season (meaning the opponent starts 2.6 yards closer to the end zone than the Pats), after a decade in which that number was a league-best +4.6.In other words, many of the little things that usually add up to that massive YPP advantage for New England aren’t quite working as well so far this year. But the good news for the Pats is that their turnover margin and net YPP tend to improve radically from this point in the season onward, in no small part because Belichick specifically tries to build a tough, physical team that thrives in bad weather. So even in a relative down season by their key indicators, don’t be surprised if the Patriots build them up at least some before season’s end.Gronk smash!Tight end Rob Gronkowski has long been the Pats’ not-so-secret weapon on offense, helping the team transition seamlessly from the powerful Randy Moss-Wes Welker offense of a previous era to the version that’s been terrorizing the league for most of this decade.But the famously fragile Gronk has appeared to show his age and mileage this season more than perhaps ever before. He’s missed three games with various ailments, and when he has played, he’s been limited to just 63.0 yards per game with a career-low 0.25 touchdown catches per contest. Gronkowski’s reduced mobility has hurt his trademark ability to rumble after the catch for spectacular gains, and it’s made him much less of a focal point in the offense than he’s accustomed to being. When on the field, Gronk has seen only 18.7 percent of the targets in the Pats’ passing game, his lowest number since getting 17.7 percent as a rookie.But Gronk’s influence on the Patriots’ offense remains undeniable. In the eight games the star tight end has played in 2018, Brady’s passer rating is 98.2; in the three he missed, it dropped to 91.6 (league average is 94.9). Even with Gronkowski playing in a more limited physical condition than usual, producing less of a statistical footprint than before, this is confirmation that he’s still one of the biggest engines driving the Patriots’ success. The biggest question might simply be what kind of durability Gronkowski’s banged-up body will have over the rest of the season.Brady stays ageless … sort ofAlong with Belichick, the one constant in New England’s dynasty has been No. 12 under center. Brady has probably been the single most valuable player in the NFL this century, and he’s been crucial in engineering five Super Bowl titles for the Patriots with his consistency, leadership and ability to rally the team back from seemingly insurmountable deficits.But at 41 — an age at which almost no other QB has ever been productive — there is a near-constant watch for any sign of slippage in Brady’s performance. And he has been a bit less sharp statistically than in years past. His adjusted net yards per attempt index at Pro-Football-Reference.com, which measures passing efficiency relative to the league (where 100 is average), is 111 this year, down from 117 last season and 138 the year before that. It hadn’t been so low since Brady was barely above average (102) in 2013.Of course, there are reasons for Brady’s decline that go beyond his advanced age, from Gronk’s aforementioned absences to a four-game suspension for top target Julian Edelman at the start of the season and a WR corps in flux early on before adding Josh Gordon and shuffling roles for the likes of Phillip Dorsett and (WR-turned-RB) Cordarrelle Patterson. But Brady has managed to work around weird receiving situations before — and, in fact, his passer rating was better over the season’s first four games (94.0) than it’s been over the four most recent ones (90.8).Combine that with a ProFootballFocus grade that’s down a bit from last season (though still sixth-best among QBs) and those ubiquitous stats about Brady’s off-target throws (at 22.1 percent, no qualified passer has thrown an errant pass more frequently this year), and it’s fair to ask whether Brady is playing at quite the same level as he did over the past few seasons. Whether because of Brady or the receivers, the Pats are currently tied for eighth in adjusted net yards per attempt — their worst showing since (again) 2013, a season that saw New England fall short in the AFC title game.2Though it does bear mentioning that six of the eight Super Bowl champs this decade ranked among the top 10 in ANY/A, right in line with the Pats’ current performance. Taken altogether, these numbers reveal a Patriots squad that is not fully playing at the level it’s used to at this stage of the season. And that shows up in big-picture indicators such as Elo or even point differential, where the Pats’ +58 margin is its weakest of the decade through 11 contests. But even so, a lessened version of the Patriots still ranks among the league’s top teams. And as we mentioned above, the Vikings will be a good opponent for Belichick to use as a measuring stick for his roster. According to our combination of matchup quality (i.e., the harmonic mean of the teams’ Elo ratings in each game) and game importance (how likely it is to swing either team’s odds of making the playoffs), this will be the fourth-best game of the week: HOU95.73.8CLE22.214.171.12462 GB6.13.0ARI<0.1<0.13.01412 BUF56JAX55BUF 24, JAX 21-13.0– WSH38.9%+/-19.5PHI23.7%+/-11.130.61525 NO81NO83NO 31, ATL 17-0.9– CIN75%CIN63%CLE 35, CIN 20+13.4– The best matchups of Week 13Week 13 games by ranking of average Elo ratings (using the harmonic mean) plus ranking of total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions CHI96.33.9NYG<0.1<0.13.91474 KC99.90.2OAK<0.1<0.10.21479 IND29.514.5JAX0.10.114.71468 IND68IND70IND 27, MIA 24-0.6– SEA74.910.5SF<0.1<0.110.51460 HOU58HOU63HOU 34, TEN 17+2.3– PIT70PIT69DEN 24, PIT 17+0.0 Home teams are in bold.The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. DEN13.010.7CIN6.45.316.01453 Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group LAC88.27.0PIT93.95.612.61619 DET1.31.6LAR>99.9<0.11.61550 LAC84LAC85LAC 45, ARI 10-0.9– MIA5.13.9BUF126.96.36.19925 Here’s a surprise: The New England Patriots are 8-3, leading the AFC East, with some of the best odds in the conference of winning the Super Bowl.Oh, right. I’ve just described basically every Pats season in recent memory. This is the ninth consecutive season that New England has won at least eight of its first 11 games. The team’s current Elo rating of 1641, however, is the lowest it’s been through the same stage of the season since 2009 (and we don’t talk about that season).So what are we to make of these Patriots, then? After overcoming the typical early season hiccups, is this year’s version ready to build championship momentum down the stretch like normal? Or is there still something a little bit off about a team that was showering its punter (of all players) with praise after an uncharacteristically modest win over the lowly New York Jets last week?In advance of New England’s showdown Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, let’s take a look at some of the Patriots’ calling-card metrics to see whether this season is business as usual in Foxboro.Road warriors?One of the Pats’ most eye-catching statistics during Bill Belichick’s time as head coach has been their near-invincibility at home, where they’ve won 87 percent of their games this decade. But their road record — winning more than 70 percent of the time away from Gillette Stadium — could be even more remarkable. From 2010 to 2017, the Pats’ winning percentage on the road was about 10.5 percentage points higher than what we’d expect from their home record — the third biggest gap in the NFL (behind the Cowboys and Eagles): NE77NE82NE 27, NYJ 13+0.4– Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality BAL46.118.0ATL4.23.121.01539 While the game has a lot more at stake for Minnesota, whose spot in the playoffs is still not fully locked in, there is still plenty for the Patriots to play for as well. Not only will this game affect seeding for the postseason (Elo says the Pats currently have a 60 percent chance of securing a first-round playoff bye), but it will also be another telling data point as to whether the Pats can get back to their mega-dominant form of the recent past, or if they’ll be merely good — but mortal — according to their signature metrics.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersIf you want to know where your team stands, FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings are a good indicator. You can check them out in our NFL prediction interactive, which simulates the rest of the season 100,000 times and tracks how often each team should make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Did you know you can also pick against the Elo algorithm in our prediction game? Try it out, and maybe you can climb up our giant leaderboard.Here are the games in which Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the reader picks last week: CHI53CHI59CHI 23, DET 16+2.9– MIN62.813.6NE99.11.014.61610 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION MIN71MIN60MIN 24, GB 17-10.0– DAL65DAL67DAL 31, WSH 23-0.5– Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 12Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 12 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game On average, Elo beat our readers by 18.9 points in the game last week, bringing its record to 11 wins and one loss so far this season. Readers had the best pick of Week 12 — rightly pumping the brakes on Cincinnati’s chances of beating the Browns — but they were punished for picking against Elo in the Bills’ upset over the Jaguars, and they didn’t show enough faith in the victorious Vikings, Eagles and Bucs.Among individual users who did better than average, congrats are in order to Ryan Gnizak, who led all users in Week 12 with 263.5 points, and to Greg Chili Van Hollebeke, who held on to a slim lead for the entire season with 934.5 points. Thanks to everyone who has been playing — and if you haven’t, be sure to get in on the action! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you haven’t played yet.Check out our latest NFL predictions. CAR62CAR57SEA 30, CAR 27+4.1– BAL83BAL81BAL 34, OAK 17-2.3– TB63TB58TB 27, SF 9-5.7– PHI80PHI69PHI 25, NYG 22-8.1– DAL60.313.3NO>188.8.131.52635 PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS TEN20.57.2NYJ<0.1<0.17.21417 CAR30.914.9TB0.70.815.71492
The Ohio State club football team began its inaugural season Sept. 27 with a 21-20 loss to Miami University. Despite the loss, coach Max Claman feels that the team played exceptionally well considering the circumstances.“I was surprised at how well we held up,” said Claman, a junior sports and leadership studies student. “We lost by one point despite the fact that we committed six turnovers. The Miami coaches said we played the best game by a team playing their first-ever game that they had ever seen.”Nerves were high before the game since most of the players have not stepped on a field since high school, junior safety Joe Budgake said.“I was a little nervous before the game since it was going to be the first time in three years I had stepped on a football field,” said Budgake, who is also a team captain and the club’s president.The team has had to come together in light of the fact that its original coach, Jack Solak, left to play quarterback at Florida Atlantic University.“He had a great opportunity presented to him and I can’t blame him or be mad at him for it,” Budgake said. “He got us started and still was the first club football coach. His work was greatly appreciated.”In addition to losing its coach, the team is coping with players quitting the team almost every week, leaving the team’s roster at a paltry 22. Yet the team’s chemistry is a non-issue, Claman said.“That’s the least of our problems. We’ve got great cohesion and good balance,” Claman said. “This is club football; everyone here wants to be here.”However, since it is club football, the team members are students first and players second. When a player can’t make it to practice because of homework or a job, there’s nothing the team can do.“Obviously with two practices a week we’d like to get as many guys as we can here, but we can’t do anything about it if guys don’t come,” Claman said. “Who shows up dictates what we can run in practice.”According to the team’s Web site, Budgake and juniors Marshal Carpenter and Jordan Fleischman founded the team for those who “love football” and “understand what it takes to work hard and be successful.”“I started this club and play on the team because I love playing football and because I wanted to do something big here at Ohio State,” junior wide receiver Carpenter said. “Ohio State University is the largest in the nation and we have every other club sport you could think of besides the most obvious, football.”The team conducted tryouts in the middle of April and practiced sparingly over the summer.In the team’s 2009 schedule, they will host Xavier and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, host and travel to Wright State and play West Virginia either in Morgantown or Columbus. Carpenter believes the team will excel despite its lack of experience and small numbers.“We expect to win every game and beat everyone we play. That is the attitude of the team,” said Carpenter, who is also a team captain and the club’s vice president. “We all have that same attitude and believe losing is unacceptable. With that said all of these teams are just like us; college students who love football and want to keep playing.”Claman remains cautiously optimistic about the season prospects, knowing the obstacles the team is up against.“We have to be realistic,” Claman said. “We have zero funding. Miami of Ohio’s club football team gets $12,000 a year from the university. We’re just trying to make an impact and trying to show that we’re legitimate and maybe that’ll show the university we’re legitimate.”The team hopes its unity paves a path to legitimacy, Carpenter said.“The camaraderie is amazing. All the guys get together really well. We all try to hang out outside of practice and really have a good time,” Carpenter said. “We all like to joke and have fun, but when it comes down to actually doing hard work, conditioning, or running through plays we all suck it up and get the job done.”
Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) yells out a play in the third quarter of the game against Penn State on Sept. 29. Ohio State won 27-26. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorWhen No. 4 Ohio State went down to Arlington, Texas and beat a then-No. 15 TCU team without head coach Urban Meyer on the sidelines, it looked like the Buckeyes may have passed their first difficult game of the season.But No. 9 Penn State loomed two weeks away, a team that has played Ohio State tougher than anybody in the last two seasons. This was a true road game after AT&T Stadium, a supposed neutral site game, ended up being majorly filled with Ohio State fans.Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day said the Penn State matchup is one Ohio State has been waiting for.“This has been circled on our schedule for a long time,” Day said. “We knew it was going to be hard, white out conditions, night game … winning on the road in the Big Ten is hard.”The 40-28 win over the Horned Frogs hoped to prove Ohio State can play with some big talent, but Saturday’s victory in Happy Valley was supposed to establish the Buckeyes as a top team in the country.Instead, even with a 27-26 win on the road against a top-10 opponent, Ohio State looked anything but dominant.Ohio State’s offense, which has been ran mostly through redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, failed to get any momentum going in various sequences of the game, ending the day with his lowest quarterback rating of the season.“It was a learning game for the whole offense and for Dwayne,” Day said. “I think as the game went on he got more comfortable.”On the other side of the ball, Penn State redshirt senior quarterback Trace McSorley made his presence known early and often, tallying 274 yards of total offense by halftime.With the combination of his stagnating offense and a defense having to defend a dual-threat quarterback, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer agreed the play of his team in the first two quarters was sub-par.“The first half was awful, you know, in a lot of ways,” Meyer said. “That’s a hell of a team we just played.”The Buckeyes came out of the second half with an improved gameplan, and it immediately paid off with a touchdown from redshirt sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins, his second of the game, putting Ohio State up 14-13.On the opening touchdown drive in the third quarter Haskins ran short pass plays, and the run game was implemented at the right time.Ohio State looked to be turning a corner, but the Nittany Lions continued to push, opening up a 26-14 lead with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, led largely by their redshirt senior quarterback.The game looked over, the Buckeyes looked defeated, but one immaculate play by junior wide receiver Binjimen Victor turned the tide.Victor caught a high ball from Haskins, broke two tackles, then perfectly followed three blocks while he made his way to the endzone for a 47-yard score.Even then, Ohio State needed to complete a 96-yard drive to go ahead of the Nittany Lions, and they did that too.Following a flurry of screen passes and quick runs, the Buckeyes inched their way across the field, taking the lead on a 24-yard screen by redshirt junior wide receiver K.J. Hill from Haskins.Even with the lead, Ohio State seemed anything but secure.McSorley was given more than two minutes to go down the field and get into field goal range. This was the player who has never lost a start at home, a guy who torched the Buckeyes defense from start to finish in a game that put him in the record books for the most all-purpose yards in program history with 461.McSorley was given his opportunity, and he was one fourth down conversion away from completing it. But Ohio State held on. Even with nearly 100 yards less in total offense, even with a lackluster showing for the majority of the game, Ohio State held on.Day said it was all about believing.“The stakes are so high, that sometimes, you can let your emotions take over,” Day said. “Our kids didn’t do that, they hung in there, they believed and they made plays and they won the game.”Now, No. 4 Ohio State has that statement victory, that major win that could hold prove to be big when the committee begins rankings for the College Football Playoff.But the Buckeyes are far from an unstoppable force, and the victory only masks the various errors made on both sides of the ball.Ohio State needs to fix how it handles read options, McSorley broke the rushing record by a Penn State quarterback with 175 yards. Ohio State needs to fix its ability to contain big plays, this is the second time in three weeks a team has broken a 93-yard play for a touchdown, the first two times this has ever happened in program history.Ohio State needs to fix many things, and a win in Happy Valley doesn’t change that.
The footballer signed for Manchester City in 2017, but is until now when he feels he’s playing his best football for the Citizens.In 2017, footballer Bernardo Silva decided to leave French Ligue 1 club Monaco and go to English Premier League side Manchester City.But is until now when he feels he’s playing his best.“When you change you need to adapt to the club, your new team-mates, the way the manager wants you to play,” he told Sky Sports.“It’s one more season so I am used to playing here, I am confident, I feel a better player because I have learned so much over the last year-and-a-half with my team-mates, the staff, and the manager.”Premier League Betting: Match-day 5 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Going into the Premier League’s match-day five with a gap already beginning to form at the top of the league. We will take a…“I think I am a better player than when I first arrived at Manchester City,” he explained.“You know when you arrive at one of the best clubs in the world it won’t be easy to play. The amazing players that we have in our squad, you cannot play all the games, it’s impossible.”“I wanted to come here but I knew it wouldn’t be easy to start straight away in the team and play all the games,” he added.“Now I am feeling good and helping the team and doing better than last season and I am happy with it. I want to keep going in the same way.”