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Big Ten football transfers: Ohio State, Nebraska add key defensive pieces ready to make impact in 2022 season

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It wasn’t that long ago when coaches treated the word “transfer” as if it had only four letters. They’d speak about them in hushed tones, and they were viewed as something of a last measure for a desperate coach. Sure, you might take one, maybe even two, but the heart of your roster was and always would be your recruiting classes.

Then the NCAA got rid of the transfer waiver, and the floodgates opened immediately. “Transfer” is no longer a dirty word, and if a coach were to say he didn’t think exploring the transfer portal was a good idea, he’d get the same look astrophysicists would give Kyrie Irving as he tried to explain to them that the Earth is flat.

You might not want to build the foundation of your program on transfers, but they’re a great way to make quick improvements in areas of need and they have proven to have an immediate impact across the country. In the Big Ten, these five players below will have the most significant impact of all in the 2022 season. 

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Michigan OL Victor Oluwatimi

The Michigan defense spent a lot of time in the spotlight as the Wolverines won the Big Ten and reached the College Football Playoff last season, but the offensive line performance was crucial to the team’s success. It opened holes for the running backs and kept Michigan’s quarterbacks on their feet. It’s a unit that loses some key players, but Oluwatimi goes a long way to ensure it’ll be one of the top units in the Big Ten in 2022.

You don’t think of interior linemen as impact players, but Oluwatimi isn’t your typical interior lineman, nor is he a typical transfer. He started 32 consecutive games at Virginia and was one of three finalists for the Rimington Trophy last season, the award given to the best center in the nation.

Scott Frost hit the transfer portal hard this offseason, bringing in 16 total players for a transfer class that ranks atop the Big Ten, according to 247Sports’ transfer class rankings. While there are a lot of players in there expected to have an impact for the Cornhuskers, Mathis is the biggest name and most likely to have a loud impact in Lincoln.

Mathis was named second-team All-Big 12 in 2020 and 2021, and was honorable mention for the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2020. He’s accumulated 12.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in his career at TCU, and Nebraska needs him to help a defense that finished 12th in the conference in sacks last season and 10th in tackles for loss.

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McCalister’s numbers at Oklahoma State won’t tell you everything you need to know about his importance to Ohio State. The Buckeyes secondary has been seen as a weak spot the last two seasons, and while McCalister is expected to solidify the back-end, he brings more than talent.

McCalister has spent the past four seasons at Oklahoma State playing for new Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. While he’s intercepted only one pass, he’s tallied 123 tackles and is familiar with the scheme Knowles will be implementing. His leadership will be just as important as his production.

Arnold Ebiketie transferred to Penn State from Temple last season and led the team with 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss before leaving for the NFL. Now the Nittany Lions have gone back to the portal to find Robinson, and they hope he can have the same impact as Ebiketie.

Robinson was a four-star member of Maryland’s 2021 class and was considered the No. 68 overall prospect in the class. He appeared in 13 games for the Terps last season, finishing with 19 tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. While asking for Robinson to give Penn State the same production Ebiketie did is unrealistic considering the difference in experience, it’s not entirely out of the question.

Corners become more important every season, as even the most run-happy teams have begun to throw the ball more often, and the Badgers landed one of the most experienced corners available in the portal. In the last three seasons, Shaw appeared in 27 games for UCLA, racking up 81 tackles, five interceptions, eight passes defended and two forced fumbles.

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He steps into a Wisconsin defense that has been one of the best in the country under Jim Leonhard and has been one of the most productive at forcing turnovers. Wisconsin finished with 16 interceptions last season, which was second in the Big Ten and tied for eighth nationally. He should flourish playing behind a front seven that has proven to be one of the best in the country at pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

Top transfers for remaining Big Ten teams

  • Illinois — QB Tommy DeVito: The Illini managed to go 5-7 in Bret Bielema’s first season and nearly reach a bowl game despite not having a passing attack of which to speak. They’re hoping the former four-star recruit from Syracuse can provide one.
  • Indiana — QB Connor BazelakBazelak seemed like Missouri’s QB of the future as a freshman in 2020 but didn’t show many signs of growth during the 2021 season. Indiana hopes a change of scenery provides a jolt to help Bazelak take a step forward in 2022 and help the Hoosiers rebound from an 0-9 record in the Big Ten last year.
  • Iowa — TE Steven StilianosIt didn’t take much time to figure out the best transfer in Iowa’s class because Stilianos is the only one. The Lafayette transfer is seen as more of a blocking tight end but might impact the passing attack.
  • Maryland — WR Jacob CopelandMaryland brings in five transfers this year, and Copeland is the biggest name of them all. The former four-star recruit led Florida with 41 receptions for 642 yards and four touchdowns last season. He also saw some touches in the run game and on special teams.
  • Michigan State — EDGE Khris BogleThe transfer portal was good to Michigan State last year, and Mel Tucker hopes to strike gold again in 2022. The Spartans landed 10 transfers this cycle, and more than a few were strongly considered for one of the top five spots. Bogle, a transfer from Florida, could be the breakthrough performer. The former four-star recruit managed 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss the last three seasons with the Gators.
  • Minnesota — OL Chuck FiliagaFiliaga is one of two big offensive line additions at Minnesota, joining Quinn Carroll from Notre Dame. I give the edge to Filiaga because he was with the team during spring practice and has plenty of experience. The sixth-year super senior appeared in 39 games with the Wolverines and saw starts at both guard spots. He’ll have an impact on a Minnesota offense that loves to run the football.
  • Northwestern — DL Ryan JohnsonNorthwestern wasn’t overly active in the portal, though it did add five players. While I considered naming punter Luke Akers (UCLA) the most impactful, I’m going with the other Pac-12 newcomer, Ryan Johnson. Johnson is a sixth-year super senior from Stanford that brings experience and depth to the Wildcats defensive line. He’s appeared in 32 games for the Cardinal, and while he’s not likely to put up crazy numbers, he’ll help a rush defense that was torn apart last year.
  • Purdue — DL Cole BrevardBrevard was a four-star recruit out of Indiana who began his career at Penn State but has played only one game in two seasons with the Nittany Lions. He returns closer to home to join a Purdue defense that lost a massive piece of its defense in George Karlaftis and can use a bit more depth on its defensive line. Brevard might have one of the highest ceilings of any Big Ten transfer this year if he can live up to his offer list out of high school.
  • Rutgers — WR Taj Harris: The Scarlet Knights overhauled their offensive line in the portal, as that’s where four of their six additions will play in 2022. Because of that, it’s hard to figure out which one will be the most impactful, so let’s go with the sexiest option! Harris was a big-play threat for Syracuse, catching 151 passes for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns over four seasons.



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Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns finally clash on SmackDown! | WWE on FOX

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Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns finally stepped into the ring face-to-face, leaving The Universal Champion on the ground without his titles. 



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‘It’s everything’: Johnson leads Canada through semifinal for chance at gold – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — After an undefeated run through their first six tests at the 2022 World Junior Championship, Canada will meet its biggest on Saturday night, under the lights at Rogers Place. The red and white are going for gold.

“It’s everything,” Canadian standout Logan Stankoven said of the opportunity awaiting them, a wide grin spread across his face after his side took down Czechia 5-2 on Friday to advance. “There’s no place I’d rather be than playing for the gold tomorrow, on our home soil, in front of the fans.”

For the second straight game, it was Stankoven and his linemates who played a lead role in guiding Canada to the win column, he and wingers Kent Johnson and Tyler Foerster keeping their crown as the team’s most dominant line heading into the tournament’s finale.

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After Stankoven took his turn at a dominant performance to clinch Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Friday’s tilt was Johnson’s time to show the world what he can do.

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The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect was certainly due for a big night. Entering this semifinal with the most shots of any skater in the tournament, and only one goal to show for it — albeit a spectacular one that saw him pull off The Michigan — Johnson finally saw the floodgates creak open a little bit more on Friday.

It started as it has for his line the past few games — a dominant shift in the offensive zone in which he, Stankoven and Foerster whirled around the opposing defenders looking for the right moment to strike. Eventually, it came on the heels of a Stankoven-to-Foerster look, the chance leading to a rebound that found Johnson in the slot. After pouring on shot after shot every game for the past two weeks, the 19-year-old made no mistake.

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But it was as a setup man in the second period that Johnson truly flexed his offensive muscle. Ten minutes into the frame, he was dancing along the wall and drawing defenders towards him before flipping a beautiful backhand over to a streaking Stankoven, who put it away. Five minutes later, he was loading up a slapper at the top of the point on the power play, only to fake out the Czech defenders and instead dish it softly to a waiting Mason McTavish, who wired home the signature one-timer he’s burned many a goalie with during this tournament.

“It’s just incredible some of the passes he makes,” Stankoven said of Johnson post-game. “The things he does are crazy, and it just goes to show how great of a player he is. He’s pretty nifty.”

Added Connor Bedard, who added to Canada’s goal tally with a gorgeous snipe of his own in the first period: “He’s probably the smoothest player I’ve ever seen, just the way he can find seams and look guys off.”

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Key to Johnson’s standout performance over the course of the tournament has been the two players he’s been able to hop over the boards with, too. While the rest of Canada’s lineup has seemed in constant flux, with head coach Dave Cameron shuffling his lines in search of the right combination of skill-sets — even splitting up Bedard and McTavish for Friday’s semifinal — the trio of Johnson, Stankoven and Foerster has been a no-doubter game in and game out.

“I think [it’s] just our compete level, and being able to create chances off the forecheck,” Stankoven said of why his line has been able to emerge as the squad’s best. “I thought at the beginning of the tournament there wasn’t as much of that, but as the tournament’s gone on we’ve found our chemistry and know where each other are, so it’s been great.”

Even with the sterling night from the trio, putting away Czechia — who entered Friday’s game fresh off upsetting the similarly-undefeated Americans — was no easy assignment. Things got particularly dicey in the second period, as the Czechs picked up steam and started making a strong push, peppering Dylan Garand from all angles.

The netminder stayed calm and composed, looking as unflappable as he has each time he’s been in the cage over these past two weeks, holding the Czechs at bay.

In the third, though, Czechia finally made things interesting, sniping twice in a two-minute span to cut the host’s lead in half, before Joshua Roy tucked home Canada’s fifth to put his team’s minds at ease.

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“They’re a good team and they didn’t get away from their game at all. They pushed back, and they wanted to climb their way back into the game,” Stankoven said of that late chaos. “Obviously when they made it 4-2, we realized, ‘Hey, we’ve got to shut this thing down and make sure that we play well enough defensively.’ And that fifth goal sealed the game.”

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With Czechia dispatched, the page now turns to Saturday night, where months of preparation and weeks of toil out on the Rogers Place ice will culminate in one 60-minute chance at history.

“We’re going for the gold. That’s what we come for,” coach Cameron said of the task at hand. “It’s not going to be easy. I mean, the last couple of games showed the nitty gritty of it — it’s a grind. So, we’re excited about the challenge, but we also realize it’s going to be a battle.”

If there’s any solace to be taken, it’s that the red and white will march into the tournament’s finale with some experience under their belt, a number of this 2022 group’s leaders having claimed gold at last year’s U18 Championship in Texas.

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Bedard, Stankoven, and Brennan Othmann all put up goals in the gold-medal game during that championship run. That education is crucial, Cameron explained, because there’s simply no other way to get it.

“One of the things you can’t practice is pressure,” the coach said. “You can talk about it all you want, but the pressure of the game, the pressure of a shootout, and all that — you can practice it until hell freezes over, but you can’t duplicate that pressure.”

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On Saturday night, Canada will find out just how battle-tested they are, just how much they’ve learned on the paths that led them to this moment. For McTavish, the team’s captain, who’s dominated this tournament to the tune of eight goals and 15 points through six games, that final battle for gold can’t come soon enough.

“It’s something special,” he said Friday at Rogers Place, a maple leaf-adorned hat pulled low over his curls. “You know, it’s why you play the game. Every kid dreams about the gold-medal game.

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“Hopefully we can take advantage of the opportunity.”

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NFL preseason Week 2 scores, highlights, updates: Packers rookie Romeo Doubs continues to impress vs. Saints

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The NFL preseason has reached the midway point with Week 2, which serves as the de facto “dress rehearsal” for starters to prepare for the beginning of the regular season — which is just three weeks away. For teams that don’t have joint practices this week, Week 2 of the preseason is critical.

The Carolina Panthers won’t play Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold against the New England Patriots Friday, yet New England will play its starters after the joint practices this week. Jordan Love will start for the Green Bay Packers against the New Orleans Saints, who will be without Jameis Winston (foot). Capping off the night will be the Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams

Below, we will track all the must-see highlights from Friday’s action, the appetizer for the main course of games this weekend. 

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Schedule

Thursday

Bears 27, Seahawks 11 (Takeaways)

Friday

Patriots 13, Panthers 10 (fourth quarter –  Live blog)
Packers 13, Saints 10 (third quarter – Gametracker)
Texans at Rams, 10 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

Saturday

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Broncos at Bills, 1 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Lions at Colts, 1 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Commanders at Chiefs, 4 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Steelers at Jaguars, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Raiders at Dolphins, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
49ers at Vikings, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Buccaneers at Titans, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Cowboys at Chargers, 10 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

Sunday

Eagles at Browns, 1 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Bengals at Giants, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Ravens at Cardinals, 8 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

Monday

Falcons at Jets, 8 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

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Chris Olave scores his first touchdown

Olave is giving Saints fans a preview of what’s to come when he lines up alongside Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry this fall. The first-round pick connected with Ian Book on a 20-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half — his first in a Saints uniform. 

Olave had just one catch for four yards last week, but had two in the first half of this one. 

Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe made a dangerous throw rolling to his left, and Hayes read the pass to take the ball the other way and tie the game. Zappe hasn’t been as sharp in his second outing this preseason, one in which Matt Patricia is calling plays. 

Romeo Doubs touchdown

There’s a spot for Doubs to earn snaps with the first team this year, and this touchdown catch from Jordan Love demonstrates why. Doubs came up with this impressive four-yard touchdown reception over Brian Allen to put the Packers up, 10-3, over the Saints in the second quarter. Love is starting to show trust in the fourth-round rookie. 

59-yard field goal from Wil Lutz

Lutz missed all of 2021 with a core muscle injury, as the Saints missed his reliability in the kicking department. He certainly looked like his old self with this 59-yard field goal to close out the first quarter.

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Just 13 of 23 on 50-plus yard field goals in his career, Lutz hitting this kick is very encouraging.

Romeo Doubs making his case to move up the depth chart

Doubs was one of the young wide receivers Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers criticized during the week, so he was in the spotlight with the second teamers participating in the majority of this one. A 17-yard catch on the opening drive on a Jordan Love throw makes a strong impression, even if Doubs failed to corral a third-down pass earlier. 

No longer a quarterback for the Saints, Hill has shifted his focus to tight end for the 2022 season. The No. 2 tight end in New Orleans, Hill made an early impact by catching a 10-yard pass from Ian Book. Hill adds an extra dimension to the Saints offense in his new role, and can still play wide receiver and running back in short-yardage situations. 

The Patriots averaged just 1.9 yards per play in the first quarter with just 21 yards of offense, but Nelson Agholor changed that with this 45-yard catch on an impressive throw from Mac Jones. Going against a second-team defense or not, this is what Patriots fans want to see from their new-look offense.

New England scored a touchdown — a two-yard run from Ty Montgomery — three plays later.

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