Ryan Day, Buckeyes feel urgency behind second chance at CFP

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State didn’t get to control its playoff destiny after losing to rival Michigan at the end of the regular season.

No matter.

The Buckeyes are in the postseason, and they’re yearning for redemption.

Coach Ryan Day said the No. 4 Buckeyes had productive practices last week and realize the opportunity they have in front of them with a semifinals showdown against top-ranked Georgia.

“I think the guys have really had good urgency about them,” Day said Tuesday. “We’re going to start making the transition into game planning here soon and then we get down to bowl week, so we have three phases when we talk about bowl practice, but the energy has been really, really good.”

The Buckeyes took the back door into the College Football Playoff, benefiting from USC’s second loss this year to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game.

Defending-champion Georgia will host Ohio State on New Year’s Eve in its own backyard. The Bulldogs bring the No. 2 scoring defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision into the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

They allow teams to score under 13 points per game.

Defensive tackle Jalen Carter is a big reason why. The 2022 AP All-America First Team selection leads Georgia’s top-ranked rushing defense that has held opponents to 77 yards per game.

“One of the best football players in the country, and you can see it,” Day said. “He’s very, very productive, so it’ll be a big challenge for our guys up front and we’ll have to know exactly where he is.”

Aside from AP All-America Second Team tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones, Day said Ohio State’s combination of guard and center along the offensive line will be the key to opening up running lanes and protecting quarterback C.J. Stroud.

“That’ll be a big part of the game for sure is winning the game up front like it always is, but certainly on the interior it’s going to be even more amplified,” Day said.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett attended the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday as a finalist alongside Stroud.

Bennett has a range of weapons at his disposal within Georgia’s offense including tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington, who’ve combined for over 1,100 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Getting after Bennett is the top priority for Ohio State’s defense, Day said.

“It’s the quarterback that makes it all go, and he’s played unbelievable,” he said. “What an unbelievable story of somebody that came through a lot of adversity along the way in his journey to get to where he’s at. So from afar it’s been a joy to watch him compete.”

The Buckeyes will play in the Peach Bowl for the first time when they step onto the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the site of the yearly SEC Championship game.

“It’s going to be an electric atmosphere, and we’ll be ready for anything,” Day said. “I know Ohio State is going to travel very, very well, but we’ll also be ready for a loud environment and just make sure we have all tools ready if we need them.”

The Buckeyes know what could possibly await them if they get past Georgia and into the national championship game – a potential rematch with the No. 2 Wolverines, who have beat their rival two years in a row.

“You don’t want to get ahead of yourself, but that would be unbelievable,” Day said on Dec. 4. “It would be historic to have that opportunity, and to say that we haven’t thought about that, of course we have.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.