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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Mayfield must be the starter from here on out. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Baker Mayfield had his coming out party in Thursday night's 21-17 come-from-behind victory over the Jets, and there's no turning back.

    Mayfield must be the Browns starting quarterback from here on out, and there shouldn't be even a moment of hesitation on that decision.

    Jackson wasn't ready to make that announcement right after the victory, likely out of respect for Tyrod Taylor, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the second quarter.

    But it's obvious as the stripes on the Browns' helmet: Mayfield is the man and the time is now, beginning with the game in Oakland Sept. 30, which will be his first NFL start.

    "That's why we drafted him,'' Jackson said after the game.  "We drafted him for that reason. He has that magnetism. He has it. He's still a young player. He has a lot of work to do. He's got to keep working. Tonight is his night. It was his coming out party. It's just really ironic that it happened that the quarterback on the other side was a rookie, too. Baker did some good things tonight. He truly did."


    Mayfield came off the bench with 1:42 left in the half and the Browns trailing 14-0 on two Isaiah Crowell touchdown runs, and lifted the team and the town to a long-awaited victory for the first time in 20 games and 634 days. Beer coolers popped open all over the city and fans hugged and high-fives in the stands. Mayfield made it rain joy and happiness in Browns town for the first time in forever.

    And the Browns can't go back. The Baker Mayfield Era has begun and it's just what the Browns and their long-suffering fans needed. And to make it even more special, it happened on a nationally-televised NFL Network game for all the world to see, and it came against fellow rookie Sam Darnold, whom most in the football world felt the Browns were poised to take No. 1 overall instead of letting him go No. 3 to the Jets.

    Darnold (15-of-31 for 169 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) finished the game with a dismal 38.2 rating and Mayfield (17-of-23 for 201 yards, 0 TD, 0 INTs) with a stellar 100.1.

    While Darnold wilted under the Browns' pressure and ballhawking ways, Mayfield came alive and lit up FirstEnergy Stadium and everyone in it. The receivers snapped to attention with his quick release and pinpoint passes. His 73.9% completion percentage would've been higher if not for three dropped passes including two on the gamewinning touchdown drive, one by Callaway and one by Jarvis Landry. The defense fed off his energy and rewarded him with three takeaways.

    Our postgame podcast

    "Obviously, once Baker got into the game at quarterback, you just saw a different rhythm,'' said Jackson. "Obviously,  the young man did some really good things. You can't take that away from him. What a night for him. He came off of the bench, went in there and led this team and helped lead this team to victory.''

    Jackson declined to say if he would've put Taylor back in the game in the second half had he been cleared from his concussion. He did so in in the dress rehearsal game against the Eagles when X-rays on Taylor's wrist were negative.

    "(Taylor) got hurt,'' said Jackson. "Let's not talk about if I would have or would not have. Baker played great, and he won the game. That's what's important."

    So why didn't the Browns start Mayfield right off the bat against the Steelers? It's conceivable they'd be 3-0 by now instead of 1-1-1.

    "I still stand by the decision,'' said Jackson. "I think it was right. I still think he needed the time to see and understand the National Football League and how it works. We're better served - I can't tell you that Baker would have performed like that in Week 1. The way he works, the time he spends, it's  been invaluable for him.

    "That's all I ever said about Baker - when we stick him out there, he was going to play well, and I truly believe that tonight was his coming out party.''

    He acknowledged that he and GM John Dorsey collaborated on the decision to make Mayfield wait. Dorsey, afterall, had watched Aaron Rodgers sit for three years in Green Bay and then Pat Mahomes for a year in Kansas City after he drafted him. In fact, after the game, Dorsey was overheard saying to Jimmy and Dee Haslam, ''I think I picked the right one.''

    And there were extenuating circumstances for being patient, specifically that they had an undrafted rookie left tackle in Desmond Harrison who needed to get his sea legs first.

    "I wasn't really sure about the left tackle and how good that player could be protecting a very young quarterback,'' Jackson said. "Let's put him out there when we think he's ready, and let's put him out there when we feel like we're ready for Baker Mayfield too.''

    Jackson said there wasn't much about Mayfield that surprised him Thursday night, not the accuracy, the big throws, the poise or the improvising. Not even him catching the two-point conversion pass from Jarvis Landry to tie the game at 14 with 42 seconds left in the third quarter in a lefthanded version of the "Philly special.''

    During one-on-one meetings in Jackson's office, the coach often presents Mayfield with scenarios and asks how he'd handle them.

    "He normally looks at me and goes, 'Coach, basically, are you kidding me? I'm going to go out there and play my tail off,''' said Jackson. "That's what he did. He's a tremendous football player.

    Jackson couldn't help but throw a little shade at all the critics in the room who panned the Mayfield pick after the draft.

    "Are you guys surprised?'' he said. "I'm laughing because at one time people said, 'Whoa, we shouldn't have drafted him.' Now, everybody says, 'Dang, he can really throw.' In general, when we took him, it was 'he was too small, he could not throw this and could not throw that. Now, 'Dang, look at the throws that he makes.' I'm not surprised by any throws that this young man makes.

    "I told you guys, he does things in practice that I just go, 'Oh, my gosh.' Timing. Timing is everything. The right time. The right situation. You can't deny the talent. You can't deny what he is able to do. He showed that tonight."

    Jackson acknowledged that the game changed on a dime when Mayfield came in.

    "It felt like it was moving quicker,'' he said. "It felt like that position was playing quicker. Seeing things very clearly and the ball was coming out of his hand.''

    He also noted that good QB play is just what this team has needed since 1999.

    "It makes a huge difference,'' he said. "You guys have seen this organization for years, all of you have. The difference has been the quarterback play. That's what you saw when he came into the game and started to play like he did. You saw the offense start to move and the ball start to matriculate down the field. That position is huge.

    "We knew we drafted the right guy, but it was going to be the right timing. Nobody knew how that was going to happen. This is how it's unfolded."

    Does that sound like a man who would think for a split second about going back to Taylor?

    No. And he won't.

    It's Baker Time.


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    Thursday night's win has been a long time coming, but the Browns know that it takes more than one win to really turn it around. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Joel Bitonio remembers the exact date of the last time he was on the field for a win.

    "October 11, 2015 against Baltimore," Bitonio said. "I believe we won in overtime my second year and I was hurt for the other ones."

    Granted, there haven't been many since then -- two, to be exact, before Thursday night -- but it's been a long time for Bitonio. He said he was at home, on his scooter, fresh off surgery and watching that Christmas Eve miracle against San Diego.

    "For me, it's been a long time coming and I didn't realize how much I needed it until after the final bell sounded and I was like that felt really good," he said.

    This was Kevin Zeitler's first win in a Browns uniform.

    "I can't even complain," he said. "Joel's been here longer than me."

    Look back on how it started, tough, and it felt like just another disaster, the 20th time in the last 20 games the Browns would come away empty. The Jets ran out to a two-touchdown lead and only a late first-half drive, engineered by Baker Mayfield, salvaged any hope at halftime.

    "Our coaches preach all the time, don't panic," Zeitler said. "They came out, got on us fast. We knew things we had to figure out."

    And they didn't panic. Which is weird for a team that hasn't won very often.

    "We were just preaching the fact that everything that we got, we gave it to them," linebacker Joe Schobert said. "They didn't make anything happen, any explosive plays, anything like that."

    "We were pissed," Larry Ogunjobi said, "but we knew that it was about to be a change as far as when Baker came in. We went into halftime like, we're going to win this."

    Again, that seems strange for a team that hasn't won in its last 19 tries. Then again, they are a couple of kicks away from being 3-0.

    "When you're so close in the first couple games against good teams, you've got to find a way to win," Bitonio said. "It's hard in the NFL. No one said it was going to be easy, and we found a way and that's a big step for us."

    The Browns responded the way good teams should -- they outscored the Jets, 18-3, in the second half. They didn't blink when the Jets retook the lead with 8:56 left in the game.

    "We fought," Bitonio said. "And, for us, the defense gave us chances on offense."

    For the first time this season, the Browns truly played complementary football. Denzel Ward forced a fumble and the offense came away with a field goal. Mayfield and the offense took the lead late and the defense responded with interceptions that ended back-to-back drives and finished off the victory.

    The Browns won a game. It's the earliest they've won since that 2015 season. Now they turn their eyes towards the Raiders.

    "We come out and lay an egg against Oakland, then it's just like, now we're back where we were, we've got to find a next win," Bitonio said. "But if we can build on it and have a good performance out there and keep working and try and improve, it can be a big step for us this year."

    A small step Thursday. Bigger steps await.

    "It feels damn good," Myles Garrett said, "but I know the next one will feel even sweeter."

    Hopefully it won't take 20 tries this time.


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    Our picks for Ohio State's final non-conference game of the season against Tulane. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football is in a weird spot. Sandwiched between games against TCU and Penn State. Maybe a little distracted by a big win last week and what's coming next Saturday.

    We're not thinking trap game. The Buckeyes are going to win.

    Trap cover? Is that a thing? The spread in this game is huge, with Ohio State favored by 37 at the time we made our picks on Wednesday night. Doug Lesmerises and I are a little leery of OSU covering that.

    Partly because of where the game falls on the schedule, and the fact that Ohio State could want to get some young guys in during a controlled game while resting up some starters for Penn State

    Tulane is 1-2 with a win over FCS Nicholls State, and close losses to Wake Forest and UAB. The Green Wave are better than Oregon State and Rutgers on paper, and might have enough to stay within 37 if Ohio State is a little distracted. But also, Urban Meyer is back and the Buckeyes might want to go out and crush somebody in their head coach's return.

    So hard game to wrap your mind around, when it comes to the spread. Here are our picks:

    * Bill Landis: Ohio State 40, Tulane 10

    Take Tulane +37 (1 confidence point)

    * Doug Lesmerises: Ohio State 52, Tulane 21

    Take Tulane +37 (1 confidence point)

    Ohio State game picks record

    Bill: 3-0, 2-1 against the spread

    Doug: 3-0, 2-1 against the spread

    Also, check out all the picks for this weekend from our cleveland.com betting expert Aaron Marshall.


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    While lawyers debate a financial settlement over cancelled Akron-Nebraska season opener, the Zips need a game to fill schedule.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - It's official. Akron's makeup game with Nebraska will not happen. The Cornhuskers announced Thursday they have replaced Akron Zips with an Oct. 27 game against Bethune-Cookman, an FCS team.

    That leaves Akron scrambling to find a replacement game, most likely to be played in December.

    The Zips' season opener Sept. 1 at Nebraska was postponed due to lightning following several delays just after the game began. When no arrangements could be made satisfactorily to play the following day, the Zips returned to Akron, but without a check.

    "We showed up, we kicked off, we played,'' Akron AD Larry Williams said Thursday night.

    Since then, Nebraska has shied away from paying Akron the $1.17-million due from the contract.

    "That's all in the hands of the lawyers now,'' Williams said.

    Nebraska will pay Bethune-Cookman $800,000. Nebraska AD Bill Moos told the Omaha World-Herald he is willing to cover Akron's expenses for making the trip to Lincoln. "We have to find a number," Moos said.

    There was initially talk of the two teams playing at the end of the regular season, in December, if one or both teams could need a victory to become bowl eligible. But that is now off the table.

    Scott Frost, first-year coach for the now 0-2 Huskers, said the December date was bad considering Nebraska expected to be playing in the Big Ten championship game.

    Williams sees it differently.

    "They didn't want to compete at our level,'' he said.

    The Zips are undefeated (2-0) are coming off a 39-34 victory over Northwestern, also a member of the Big Ten. And this week will play at Iowa State (0-2) from the Big 12 Conference.

    Still, the Nebraska game is what the Zips wanted to play, for the national exposure as well as the opportunity and belief they could pull the upset.

    "Severe disappointment,'' Williams said.


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    Trevor Bauer is scheduled to come off the disabled list and make his first start since Aug. 11 on Friday night at Progressive Field.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Here is the preview and pitching matchups for the Indians' series against the Red Sox.

    Where/when: Progressive Field, Friday through Sunday.

    TV/radio: SportsTime Ohio will carry Friday and Saturday's games. ESPN2 carry Friday's game and ESPN will do Sunday's game. WTAM and WMMS will carry the series.

    Pitching matchups and starting times: LHP Chris Sale (12-4, 1.92) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (12-6, 2.22) Friday at 7:10 p.m.; RHP Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.30) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.06) Saturday at 7:10 p.m. and undecided vs. RHP Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.27) Sunday at 7:05 p.m.

    Series: The Indians and Red Sox have split four games this season. The Indians lead, 1,041-983, overall.

    Hot pitchers: Clevinger is 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA and 33 strikeouts in his last four starts. Boston closer Craig Kimbrell entered Thursday's game against the Yankees having held the opposition to one hit in 21 at-bats in September.

    Hot hitters: The Indians entered Thursday night's game against Chicago hitting .330 (36-for-109) with the bases loaded this season. They lead the AL with 10 grand slams. Boston, hitting .340 with the bases loaded, is the only team with a higher batting average.

    Team updates: The Indians beat the Red Sox, 5-4 and 6-3, in the first two games of their four-game series at Fenway Park in August. Melky Cabrera went 5-for-8 with two homers in those games. The Red Sox, who clinched the AL East with a win over the Yankees on Thursday night, came back and won the last two games of the series against the Tribe by a combined score of 17-4.

    Disabled list: Red Sox - 3B Marco Hernandez (right shoulder), RHP Austin Maddux (right shoulder), 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee) and RHP Carson Smith (right shoulder) are on the disabled list. 2B Eduardo Nunez (right leg) is day to day.

    Indians - RHP Trevor Bauer (right fibula), OF Leonys Martin (illness), CF Tyler Naquin (right hip), OF Lonnie Chisenhall (left calf), RHP Nick Goody (right elbow), RHP Danny Salazar (right shoulder) and RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow) are on the disabled list.

    Next: The Indians open a three-game series against the White Sox on Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.


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    Mayfield waited patiently for his turn, and then rocked it with a come-from-behind victory over the Jets. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- After Baker Mayfield replaced a concussed Tyrod Taylor and rallied the Browns from a 14-point second quarter deficit to beat the Jets 21-17, his Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley sent him a shoutout on Twitter.

    "Hey bud, bet they forgive you for planting the flag now,'' he wrote, referring to Mayfield planting the Oklahoma flag at midfield of Ohio Stadium after the Sooners' 31-16 victory over the Buckeyes a little over a year ago.

    If Mayfield continues to play like he did Thursday night against fellow rookie Sam Darnold and the Jets in a nationally-televised NFL Network game, he can plant anything he wants, grab anything he wants and flee anyone he wants.

    He won the hearts of Browns fans everywhere and popped open the beer coolers all over town that were set to open when the Browns snapped their winless streak, which stretched to 19 games and 634 days.

    "Dilly, Dilly,'' Mayfield said, happy to provide the fans with both a cold brew and a scorching come-from-behind victory in his NFL debut.

    "The best part about it was that we were here at home,'' said Mayfield. "You guys could feel the energy of the crowd and how badly they wanted it as well. We have to play for each other, but at the same time, this city deserves it.''

    While the "Play Baker'' drumbeat has grown louder by the week, Mayfield kept his nose in his playbook and worked overtime in practice.

    "I feel like people have been talking about it for a while,'' he said. "I've just been waiting for my moment. I've been patient. I've been in a good opportunity, put in a good situation with the guys around me - veteran QBs and great coaches that I can learn from. I was never whining or complaining about playing time. I just want the team to win, no matter what the cost is."

    Mayfield had his coming out party and there's no turning back

    While Riley praised his former star pupil, Jets coach Todd Bowles refused to concede anything.

    Asked if the momentum shifted when Mayfield took over, he said, "No. I felt the same as soon as we committed two penalties before halftime, and we gave them life with the two penalties. I don't think it had to do with the quarterback.''
    Actually, it had everything do with the quarterback.

    Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, delivered from the moment he set foot on the field with 1:42 left in the half and the Browns trailing 14-0 after two rushing TDs by former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, who wiped his behind with the ball after the second one and fired it into the stands to draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct call and the ire of the Browns' bench.

    Mayfield's first NFL pass was a 14-yard completion to Jarvis Landry, followed by a 17-yard strike over the middle to David Njoku, who suddenly looked like a much better tight end. After a strip-sack and recovery by Joel Bitonio, Mayfield found Landry for another 16, and then put three points on the board when fellow rookie Greg Joseph nailed a 45-yard field goal. His first NFL drive: 3-of-4 for 47 yards.

    Suddenly, the angry mob had hope.

    By the time it was over, Mayfield completed 17-of-23 attempts for 201 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 100.1 rating. His counterpart, Darnold, earned a 38.2 rating. Mayfield, who will start the next game in Oakland Sept. 30 unless his arm falls off before then, would've had a higher completion percentage if not for three drops, including two on the gamewinning touchdown drive.

    He punted on his second possession, but then cornerback Denzel Ward, picked three spots behind Mayfield, got him the ball back at the Jets' 8 after a forced fumble and 20-yard return. Mayfield was almost picked off in the end zone when he threw for Landry into double coverage, and the Browns had to settle for another field goal that made it 14-6.

    Next drive, Mayfield hit a rejuvenated Landry (8 catches, 103 yards) with two more passes, including a 29-yarder to the 1. Carlos Hyde punched it in, and after offsetting penalties wiped out a Mayfield sack on the first two-point attempt, the Browns got another shot. They pulled off a left-handed version of the "Philly Special'' with Landry getting the ball from Duke Johnson and completing the pass to Mayfield on the left side of the end zone to tie it at 14-14 with 42 left in the third.

    Did we mention Mayfield had never practiced it because like most backups, he doesn't get any first-team reps?

    "Never taken a rep of it, but watching Ty do it all through practice, it's not too hard to walk up to the line and call a cadence and kind of  just stand there,'' said Mayfield.
    And speaking of first-team reps, he never even got any in training camp.

    "It's kind of how my life's gone,'' he told NFL Network after the game. "Now I've got better players around me so I should be able to do it.''

    After the Jets went up again 17-14 with 8:56 left, Mayfield took over at his 25 and kept his poise through a mistake-filled gamewinning TD drive: Antonio Callaway dropped a 25-yard pass down the deep left, Duke Johnson fumbled and Rashard Higgins recovered, Landry dropped a pass at the 15 and then Landry committed an illegal block in the back to wipe out a Hyde TD.

    Finally, Hyde ran in from the 1 to cap the 15-play, 75-yard drive for the Browns' first lead of the game that produced the final margin. Joe Schobert picked off Darnold to secure the victory with 1:21 left, and Terrance Mitchell grabbed another with 11 seconds left. The stadium erupted in cheers, hugs, high-fives and flying beer.

    Even before he went in the game, he was the sideline cheerleader.

    "I've always been like that,'' he said. "I've always been a guy to keep positive energy on the sideline. Before the game, getting guys in the right mindset and confident, you play well when you're confident. People can say cockiness or whatever, but there are results when you play with a confidence and you believe in yourself. I just tried to carry that over when I was in."

    He was happy to crack open the coolers, but is certain it's only the beginning.

    "It's not the only win that we're going to celebrate,'' he said. "It's a building block for us. We did some good things, but there's still a lot that we can work on. That is the great part about it. We are nowhere near where we want to be, but we are in a good spot to build a foundation and keep going."

    Was this what Mayfield was talking about when he said at the NFL Combine in February that if anyone could turn the Browns around, he could?

    "It might have been it,'' he said.


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    Corey Dennis, Urban Meyer's son-in-law, is in a unique position on Ohio State's coaching staff. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ryan Day got a lot of questions this week about things being back to "normal." The truth is they've been mostly normal for three weeks now. Saturdays were different, but Urban Meyer has been back at practice since Ohio State beat Oregon State in its opener.

    So any notion that Day was living in a brand new world this week was probably a touch off base.

    But for a month things were different. And while Day was getting pulled in a bunch of different directions as full-time acting head coach, someone had to help him when it comes to coaching Dwayne Haskins and the OSU quarterbacks. 

    That someone is Corey Dennis, a senior quality control coach and Meyer's son-in-law.

    "Yeah basically he's like my personal quarterbacks coach when Coach Day is not around," Haskins said this week. "I can ask him about looks, coverages, different pressures, and he has everything that Coach Day teaches him. He helps me throughout practice, throughout meetings. He helps out a lot."

    That puts Dennis in an interesting spot. Haskins in on pace for a special season, and anyone who has a hand in that can ride with him. Just as Day is bound to get a lot of deserved credit for Haskins' play and the numbers the Ohio State offense will put up, Dennis too can build up his resume.

    That's how careers start -- just like Meyer's and Day's year ago. 

    Dennis, a former receiver at Georgia Tech, is in his fourth year on Meyer's staff. The former graduate assistant is now working with receivers and quarterbacks, and has apparently made an impression on Haskins.

    Doug Lesmerises and Bill Landis talked more about what the could mean for Dennis in the video above.


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    Cleveland Indians tune up for playoffs vs. Boston Red Sox with three-game series at Progressive Field

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tonight the Cleveland Indians square off at Progressive Field against the Boston Red Sox, who happen to have the best record in baseball by a large margin.

    The last time these two division leaders met was in Boston in late August. They split a four-game series, with the Indians taking the first two games. Corey Kluber and Shane Bieber got the wins.

    Tonight, Trevor Bauer will try to show he is ready for October as he returns to the mound for the first time since Aug. 11, when he was injured by a line drive.

    As the playoffs approach, the Indians try to strike a balance between rest and staying sharp for the postseason as they try to get players like Andrew Miller and Josh Donaldson ready.

    The possibility that this matchup could be a preview of this year's ALCS should help both teams stay sharp.  

    Crowquill, by Plain Dealer artist Ted Crow, appears three times a week in The Plain Dealer and on cleveland.com.


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    Is it really possible not to be yourself?

    CLEVELAND, Ohio- The Browns traded Josh Gordon this week. The final straw regarding his ongoing employment with the Browns was his showing up late for Saturday's practice citing a pulled hamstring and seeming "not himself," as league sources told Cleveland.com.

    The super talented Gordon, 27, had a rocky career with the Browns during which he opted for drug treatment five times. He missed most of the games he was scheduled to play while was here. He inspired a popular T-shirt which had a picture of his face on a marijuana leaf with words "Legalize Gordon" across the front.

    I was kind of intrigued by that phrase "not himself." It's kind of an existential concept to be "not yourself." Is it really possible not to be yourself? I was thinking that being himself was kind of the problem. It reminded me of a cartoon in the New Yorker where a couple is at the front door of a party they are about to enter. The woman says to the man, "Don't be yourself."

    Who do you be if not yourself?

    It also made me think of that phrase: "No matter where you go, there you are." I think someone thought that up as a response to what some people call the "geographic cure." That's where someone tries to solve a problem by changing their location. With Gordon going to the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick we will have an opportunity to test the geographic cure theory out.

    When I heard he said he wasn't himself I thought who is he? Bob Marley? Cheech Marin? Willie Nelson? Louis Armstrong?

    I read somewhere that Satchmo smoke marijuana every day of his adult life. And he's considered a national treasure and an international ambassador. I also wondered what will happen when marijuana becomes legal. Can the NFL ban a legal substance? As analgesics go, marijuana has to be relatively mild solution to the problem of chronic pain. And who needs pain relief more than an NFL player? They basically get in what amounts to a car accident on every play. Better to smoke a little reefer than get strung out on legal prescription pain killers. Right?

    What are the marijuana laws in New England? Potguide.com tells me that the state of Massachusetts legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2012 and for recreational in 2016. Problem solved for Gordon, I think.

    Wouldn't be just our luck that Gordon goes on to catch ten or 12 touchdown passes this season. What are the chances we will face them in the playoffs?

    Regardless, like they say, timing is everything. I was reading a story on TotalSports.com. The writer, Darrelle Lincoln, reported that the trade for Josh Gordon that sent him to New England took place last Monday at precisely. . .you guessed it, 4:20 p.m.


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    The Akron Zips look to back up their 37-34 upset victory last week at Northwestern with another one this week at Iowa State. Buffalo is favored at Rutgers. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - With a Saturday noon start for both Akron (2-0) at Iowa State (0-2) and Buffalo (3-0) at Rutgers (1-2), it should be early in the day to know if the Mid-American Conference pulls off a pair of potential power conference upsets.

    The Zips last week knocked off Northwestern, 39-34, and now look to make it two straight over power conference teams vs. ISU, a team that defeated the Zips last season, 41-14.

    Buffalo already has a victory over Temple, and is coming off a victory over Eastern Michigan, which pulled off the first MAC win over a Big Ten team this season, at Purdue.

    Ohio University (1-1) is at rugged Cincinnati (3-0), where the Bobcats have to be given an upset chance due to their high-powered offense. However, a defense that has been glaringly exposed must put up a better effort against the Bearcats to make that upset possible.

    In other non-conference MAC games of interest, Northern Illinois (1-2) is at Florida State (1-2), which is a game that could be decided more by turnovers and special teams play than by offensive performance.

    Both the Huskies and Seminoles have been tepid offensively so far this season. Also, Kent State (1-2) and its annual non-conference gauntlet comes to an end with a road game at Ole Miss (2-1), which is coming off a loss to No. 1 Alabama and looks ahead next week to a game vs. No. 6 LSU.

    The big in-conference matchup has the Miami RedHawks (0-3) at Bowling Green (1-2). After playing and losing to Marshall, Cincinnati and Minnesota to open the season, the RedHawks - even on the road - need a MAC victory to maintain hope that a turnaround season can still happen.

    BG has shown, offensively, it can be a tough team to contain. A home turf victory would keep the Falcons in line for a .500 season or better.

    This Week's MAC Schedule

    Saturday, Sept. 22

    • Akron at Iowa State, Noon (FSN)
    • Buffalo at Rutgers, Noon (BTN)
    • Kent State at Ole Miss, Noon (SEC Net)
    • Nevada at Toledo, Noon (CBSSN)
    • Ohio at Cincinnati, Noon (ESPNU)
    • Western Michigan at Georgia State, 2 pm
    • Maine at Central Michigan, 3 pm
    • *Miami at Bowling Green, 3 pm
    • Western Kentucky at Ball State, 3 pm (ESPN3)
    • NIU at Florida State, 3:30 pm (ESPNU)
    • Eastern Michigan at San Diego State, 10:30 pm (CBSSN)

    * Conference game.


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    No. 1 Alabama is home to No. 22 Texas A&M but few expect much of a challenge for the Crimson Tide. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Alabama looks to continue its roll as the No. 1 team in the nation, taking on No. 22 Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. (CBS) Saturday. Another head-to-head Top 25 game has No. 7 Stanford at No. 20 Oregon, 8 p.m. (ABC). Meanwhile No. 2 Georgia has to be careful on the road at Missouri at noon (ESPN).

    The team to watch is surging LSU, which is now ranked No. 6 and will be at home against in-state challenger Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPNU). Ohio State quarterback castoff Joe Burrow at LSU is fast becoming a cult figure in the bayou, a status that only grows with each victory Burrow notches on his belt.

    With a week to go before conference play gets into full swing, one game of in-state intrigue has No. 17 TCU on the road at unranked Texas, where the Longhorns will be looking to pull a second straight Top 25 upset, 4:30 pm (Fox).

    TOP 25 GAMES THIS WEEK

    Friday, Sept. 21

    • Florida Atlantic at No. 16 UCF, 7 p.m., ESPN
    • No. 10 Penn State at Illinois, 9 p.m., Fox Sports 1

    Saturday, Sept. 22

    • No. 2 Georgia at Missouri, Noon, ESPN
    • No. 8 Notre Dame at Wake Forest, Noon, ABC
    • Nebraska at No. 19 Michigan, Noon, FS1
    • No. 23 Boston College at Purdue, Noon, ESPN 2
    • 22 Texas A&M at 1 Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS
    • No. 3 Clemson at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m., ABC
    • Tulane at No. 4 Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., BTN 
    • Kansas State at No. 12 West Virginia, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
    • No. 13 Virginia Tech at Old Dominion, 3:30 p.m., CBSSN 
    • FIU at No. 21 Miami, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
    • No. 17 TCU at Texas, 4:30 p.m., Fox
    • McNeese at No. 25 BYU, 6 p.m., ESPN3
    • Army at No. 5 Oklahoma, 7 p.m.,
    • Louisiana Tech at No. 6 LSU, 7 p.m., ESPNU
    • No. 14 Mississippi State at Kentucky, 7 p.m., ESPN2
    • Texas Tech at No. 15 Oklahoma State, 7 p.m., FS1
    • Arkansas at No. 9 Auburn, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network 
    • No. 24 Michigan State at Indiana, 7:30 p.m., BTN
    • 7 Stanford at 20 Oregon, 8 p.m., ABC 
    • No. 18 Wisconsin at Iowa, 8:30 p.m., Fox
    • Arizona at No. 10 Washington, 10:30 p.m., ESPN

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    On Thursday night, the Browns won for the first time since December 24, 2016. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- If falling a game under .500 was bad enough, how about losing to a team that won for the first time in two seasons?
     
    That was the case for the New York Jets (1-2) in their 21-17 defeat to the Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.

    Behind the play of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, who replaced starter Tyrod Taylor late in the second quarter, the Browns ended their 19-game winless streak.

    Taylor exited the game because of a concussion. Mayfield rallied the Browns from a 14-0 deficit with four scoring drives and finished 17-of-23 for 201 yards.

    The Browns won for the first time since defeating the Chargers on Dec. 24, 2016.

    "It's definitely a tough pill to swallow," Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne said. "You don't want to have your name on the side of that as a loss, knowing the [Browns recent] history."

    The loss was so bad for the Jets that former Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor expressed his disappointment after the game with a host of obscenities mixed in with verbiage that sounded like the Browns as he entered the locker room.

    "Of course [it's tougher to swallow]," Jets safety Marcus Maye said. "You never want to lose, but anytime you step onto the field you have to come to play. They just executed more than we did."

    Especially Mayfield.

    He immediately made an impact with his precise passing. He moved a once-stagnant offense into a tie score in the third thanks to his reception from Jarvis Landry for a two-point conversion.

    Mayfield was so good that he became the first QB to come off the bench in his debut, throw for more than 200 yards and lead his team to its first victory of the season since 1961, according to Pro Football Talk.

    Mayfield made a difference for the Browns, but the Jets downplayed the switch in quarterbacks.

    "He just made a couple throws," Jets linebacker Darron Lee said. "Looking back on it, from what I recall, I am just really frustrated in the fourth [quarter] with all the penalties."
     
    Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams said he wasn't sure if anything changed when Mayfield entered.

    "Baker just came in and was on a pretty good roll," Williams said. "I don't know what changed. It was just different people and different results. I just think Baker came in and did a really good job."

    Unfortunately for the Jets, Mayfield's play and the Browns' victory will have a lasting impact on them.

    "It is definitely disappointing, but not just because it's the Browns," Williams said. "It's because we lost the last one and this was the next one. ... We were definitely planning on going to the game and trying to win, then have a good few days off before going to Jacksonville. It is going to be a bad weekend for us."


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    Check here for the live second-round leaderboard for the PGA Tour's Tour Championship 2018, the finale of the FedExCup Playoffs. Tiger Woods entered tied for first.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler were tied for the lead entering the second round of Tour Championship 2018 on Friday, Sept. 21, in Georgia. Woods and Fowler were 5-under; Gary Woodland and Justin Rose were 4-under.

    The Top 30 in the FedExCup Playoffs 2018 standings comprise the field for the Tour Championship.

    Bryson DeChambeau, who won the first two of the four playoff events, is No. 1 in the standings. He is followed in the top five by Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.

    Keegan Bradley is No. 6. Bradley defeated Rose in a playoff on Monday to win the BMW -- the third postseason event. Sunday's final round had been postponed because of weather. Bradley opened the BMW at No. 52.

    Mickelson, 48, is No. 14 and Woods, 42, is No. 20. Rory McIlroy is 17th.

    Patton Kizzire claimed the 30th spot. Jordan Spieth is on the outside looking in at No. 31.

    PGA TOUR

    TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

    Site: Atlanta

    Course: East Lake GC. Yardage: 7,385. Par: 70.

    Purse: $9 million. Winner's share: $1,620,000.

    Television: Thursday-Friday, 1-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30-6:30 (NBC); Sunday, Noon-1:30 p.m. Golf Channel), 1:30-6 p.m. (NBC).

    Defending champion: Xander Schauffele.

    FedExCup leader: Bryson DeChambeau.

    Previous tournament: Keegan Bradley won the BMW Championship.

    Notes: This is the fourth and final playoff event for the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus. The top five seeds -- Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau and Justin Thomas -- only need to win the tournament to capture the FedEx Cup. ... Thomas will try to become the first player to win the FedExCup in consecutive years. ... Tiger Woods is the only player to win the FedExCup twice. Woods is in the Tour Championship for the first time since 2013. This is his first appearance in the Tour Championship without having won during the season. ... Nine of the 30 players have not won this season. ... Seventeen players from the 30-man field were in the Tour Championship last year. ... Bill Haas (No. 25) in 2011 is the lowest seed to win the FedExCup. ... Jordan Spieth missed qualifying for the Tour Championship for the first time. Spieth is the only American on the Ryder Cup team not at East Lake. ... Europe has six Ryder Cup players at the Tour Championship. ... This will be the last year of four FedExCup playoff events. There will be three events next year.

    Next week: Ryder Cup.

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Akron sophomore quarterback Kato Nelson has backed up strong finish to 2017 season with major upset over Northwestern. Will Iowa State be the next to fall?

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - When the opening game of the season for the Akron Zips, at Nebraska, was called off due to weather, there were some players in the Akron locker room who cried from frustration.

    It was a game they believed they were very capable of winning, even when most others had doubt. Two weeks later, the Zips took their frustrations out at Northwestern, a Big Ten brother of the Cornhuskers, with a 39-34 upset. That was Akron's first win over a Big Team since 1894 when Akron, then known as Buchtel College, was coached by John Heisman.

    Now the Zips (2-0) get to double-down, going after another major college upset, on the road at Iowa State, a team that defeated Akron, 41-14, last season.

    "I think we can play with them,'' Akron sophomore quarterback Kato Nelson said. "We'll be focused to try and do it again."

    In just seven games as Akron's starting quarterback, including a MAC Championship game, a bowl game and now Northwestern, Nelson has proven to be a big-game, big-play producer.

    The three-star recruit from Hollywood, Fla., was the late-season catalyst as a redshirt freshman last year. He helped Akron win the 2017 MAC East Division title when he led a key victory over favored Ohio University with touchdown passes covering 16, 71, 23 and 54 yards.

    The two big strikes were to Nelson's favorite target, 5-9 senior speedster Kwadarrius Smith, a track sprinter whose 10.29 in the 100-meter dash last spring is the fourth-fastest in Zips history.

    While three defensive turnovers for touchdowns were the highlight in Akron's upset of Northwestern, Nelson also delivered big pass plays covering 24, 25, and 40 yards, two of them for touchdowns. But it was Smith with six overall receptions, including the 40-yarder, that kept defenders heads on a swivel.

    "He's a 10.2 guy in the 100, so we try to get him on the vertical routes whenever they give us the opportunity,'' Nelson said of Smith. "With him, we feel nobody on the field can run as fast as he can. We know his fifth-gear probably kicks in about 60 yards, so we try to push it down the field."

    And there is no hesitation on Nelson's part cutting loose with the long bomb, either, and letting Smith run under it.

    "I think I'm around 60 to 65 yards, probably longer than that, because I threw it 61 yards as a sophomore in high school,'' said Nelson (6-1, 215). "We haven't actually checked that out in practice, but we probably should.''

    Last season, Nelson played the final series against Iowa State, completing a pair of passes for 21 and 32 yards before throwing an interception. He did not take over as the starter until  three games left in the regular season (Miami, OU and Kent State), winning them all.

    And that helped fuel Akron's fire for a potential season-opening upset at unsuspecting Nebraska, a team looking for a turnaround under first-year head coach Scott Frost.

    "We like it when people sleep on us," Nelson said.

    Yet, no suitable last-minute accommodations could be made for the Zips to move the weather-delayed Nebraska game to Sunday that opening weekend, and now looks to be off the docket as the Cornhuskers announced Thursday it will play Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 27 to replace the Akron game.

    Nebraska will pay Bethune-Cookman $800,000 for that game. No resolution has been announced regarding the $1.17-million contracted to the Zips. It's a lost opportunity the Zips desperately wanted.

    "We really felt like we had a chance at beating Nebraska,'' Nelson said. "Everybody was down. We'd have slept on the bus to play those guys."

    The Zips now have to find a game as well, and since they have already played one FCS team (Morgan State) will need a NCAA waiver to play another or find a FBS team with a game date to fill as well.


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    A gesture from former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell to the FirstEnergy crowd certainly did not go unnoticed by home sideline on Thursday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio-- As Isaiah Crowell rubbed the football upon his backside following his second touchdown run on Thursday night, so too did he rub a couple of people on the field the wrong way.

    His on-field boss, Jets head coach Todd Bowles, was definitely one of those people.

    "That was inexcusable," Bowles said of Crowell's act, that allowed the Browns better field position on the ensuing kickoff thanks to the penalty. "We addressed it and it will never happen again."

    Crowell, the former Cleveland Browns running back who signed with the Jets as a free-agent this offseason, faced his bottom towards the crowd and rubbed the football up and down it, receiving a 15-yard penalty as the Jets took a 13-0 lead in the second quarter.

    Though it would appear Crowell was showing disdain for his former home crowd at FirstEnergy Stadium, when asked about the gesture following Cleveland's 21-17 win over the Jets, the running back refuted that notion.

    "It was just passion," Crowell said. "I've just got to control myself. I don't feel like it had anything to do with the stadium I was at. I just feel like it was spur of the moment."

    The running back indicated as well that, in the heat of the moment, he probably would've pulled the maneuver at any NFL stadium.

    Crowell's former signal-caller, Browns head coach Hue Jackson, didn't see the gesture as it took place, likely with his mind elsewhere with his team facing a two-touchdown deficit.

    His players, including plenty of Crowell's former teammates, however, took plenty of notice.

    "Yes, they were," Jackson said, when asked if his players were motivated after Crowell's display. "Somebody told me they did not think it was professional."

    Whether the incident sparked a jolt in the Browns or not, when the game came to a close, there weren't any hard feelings on the Cleveland sideline.

    Well, no hard feelings at least on the part of the head coach.

    "I told him he is doing a good job and I am proud of him," Jackson said. "I just think sometimes the emotions of the game and guys will do that from time to time."

    Crowell agreed when it came to the passion and emotion, but still doesn't want to let those same feelings cost his team as they did on Thursday night.

    "You've got to play the game with passion," Crowell said. "That's how you have to play. I did it so I have to sit with whatever comes with it, but I know I can't do my teammates like that."


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    Jack Apparel and RotoWear are selling T-shirts celebrating the legend of the Browns Rally Possum.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns ended their 635-day losing streak on the same night that a possum was caught roaming the stands at FirstEnergy Stadium.

    Coincidence?

    Probably, but that's not stopping fans from taking any chances and anointing the critter as the team's good luck rally possum.

    In fact, this being Cleveland where it didn't happen until we put it on a shirt, there are at least two T-shirt companies already selling rally possum merch.

    Jack Apparel's shirt features an outline of the marsupial, colored in with orange and helmet stripes. The shirt is available in men's and women's for $25, or with long sleeves for $28. A hoodie costs $32.

    RotoWorld's version has a stock photo of a random possum with the words "Cleveland Rally Possum" around it. The shirt is available in four colors for $24.

    No word if the marsupial, whose night ended early after a fan caught it by the tail and put it in a box, will receive a cut of the proceeds. But wherever you are, Rally Possum, thank you.

    You too, Baker Mayfield.


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    The Browns coach is 1-32-1 without playing Mayfield and 1-0 with him, and we may see now what Jackson can really do. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The head coach of the Cleveland Browns cracked jokes and couldn't wipe the smile from his face, pointed to reporters in the postgame news conference who may have doubted the Browns' quarterback choice in the 2018 NFL Draft and laughed off how he couldn't even turn on the TV this week without finding someone talking about the last time the Browns won a football game.

    That was Hue Jackson, right?

    Yes. New Hue.

    The head coach who muttered, "A tie, a tie" at the postgame podium in week one after a draw with the Pittsburgh Steelers started 11 days later with, "Go Browns, Go Browns," which is the kind of thing you do after your second win in three seasons, this one 21-17 over the New York Jets.

    In a coach and quarterback league, Baker Mayfield proved Thursday night the Browns found their quarterback. Now Mayfield may give the Browns a chance to see if they have their coach.

    After two years of bemoaning a roster that lacked the talent he craved, Jackson has touted the obvious upgrades in his third season, but it took a quarterback to make them come to life.

    It took a quarterback to make him come to life.

    "It makes a huge difference. You guys have seen this organization for years, all of you have. The difference has been the quarterback play," Jackson said. "The quarterback play needed to improve and be better. That is what you saw when he came into the game and started to play like he did. You saw the offense start to move and the ball start to matriculate down the field.

    "That position is huge. We know that. We knew that we drafted the right guy. I knew that that was the right guy, but it was going to be the right timing. Nobody knew how that was going to happen. This is how it has unfolded."

    Handling Mayfield is the most critical decision of Jackson's three-year tenure, and the idea that he left Mayfield's debut to chance, and the concussion suffered by starter Tyrod Taylor, is some abdication of duties. Jackson wouldn't say whether he would have pulled Taylor for lack of performance Thursday. 

    "He got hurt," Jackson said. "Let's not talk about if I would have or would not have. Baker played great, and he won the game. That is what is important."

    It felt in the stadium like a move toward Mayfield was coming, but Jackson has steadfastly backed Taylor since the veteran arrived from Buffalo. Then the fates made the call.

    "I just think that everything was going to work itself out however it was going to work itself out," Jackson said.

    Now that it happened, Jackson's praise of Mayfield was effusive. Nothing Jackson saw Thursday night surprised him, which did beg a question. If Jackson knew this was going to happen ... why didn't the coach decide to make it happen earlier, rather than keep Mayfield on the bench for all of two games and nearly half of another?

    "I still stand by the decision. I think it was right. I still think he needed the time," Jackson said. "He needed the time to see, and understand the National Football League and how it works. We are better served. I can't tell you that Baker would have performed like that in week one. Let's just be honest.

    "It led up to when he was ready to play, he was going to play well. That is all I ever said about Baker -- when we stick him out there, he was going to play well, and I truly believe that tonight was his coming out party."

    It may have been Jackson's as well. At 1-1-1 this season and 2-32-1 in his Browns career, Jackson's record is more accurately 1-32-1 Before Mayfield, and 1-0 After Mayfield.

    The next 13 games will be about winning, but they will also be about maximizing talent and game planning and leading and getting the best out of the Baker Browns. Cleveland will get a long look at a coach who isn't distraught, isn't forlorn, isn't shaking his fists at the heavens or lowering his head in frustration.

    As both teams poured onto the field after the win, former Browns QB and current Jets backup Josh McCown wrapped Mayfield in a long hug and spoke into his ear. And then Jackson, waiting, got that to end and gave Mayfield a hug of his own.

    After his first win in 2016, Jackson said he was in the locker room crying like a baby. This time, he was beaming. He was cracking more jokes about the impending birth of running back Carlos Hyde's baby, about how skinny Joe Thomas looks, about the trick play on the two-point conversion that worked.

    And he talked proudly of how injured receiver Jarvis Landry told Jackson on Thursday that he'd play against the Jets.

    "He said, 'Coach, don't you worry about me. I got you,'" Jackson said.

    It's a sweet sentiment. But when Landry was on the field with Tyrod Taylor it didn't matter.

    When Mayfield took the field, it proved the quarterback had the coach this time.

    Jackson talked about how his team fought and pushed and never gave up. He talked about this win as one of many to come. He talked about a quarterback he said he always believed in, even if he never made the decision to play him.

    However they got here, the Browns and Hue Jackson are here, together. New Hue smiled a lot Thursday. He has 13 games to prove he's different than Old Hue.


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    Look for quite the swing in weather between Friday night's game and Sunday night's game featuring the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio-- On Friday night, it will feel like summer at Progressive Field.

    Come Saturday, however, the transition to fall on the first day of the fall season will at least feel complete.

    As the Indians face the Boston Red Sox in a three-game weekend series that could be preview the MLB Postseason, at times it will already feel like October.

    Here is the forecast for the three days.

    Friday, Sept. 21 -- 7:10 p.m. first pitch

    The final remaining day of warmth for the weekend will start with temperatures around 80 degrees at first pitch, with chances for rain around 30 percent (dropping under 10 percent at 8 p.m,), according to the National Weather Service Cleveland.

    As the night falls, that temperature will dip to 70 before continuing the plunge late into early Saturday morning.

    Saturday, Sept. 22 -- 7:10 p.m. first pitch

    Happy first day of fall, and it will feel like it inside Progressive Field, indicates the NWS Cleveland. With an overall high of 64 degrees, temperatures at first pitch will be around 60 degrees before dipping into the 50s as the game moves along.

    Rain chances, however, will be less than 5 percent all evening.

    Sunday, Sept. 23 -- 7:05 p.m. first pitch

    Though the victorious Browns won't take the field Sunday, it will still feel like football weather when the Tribe takes the diamond.

    With an expected first-pitch temperature of around 66 degrees, the sweater weather will be in play throughout the game. And rain chances are well below 5 percent.


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    It should be a cool, dry and cloudy day as Urban Meyer returns to the sidelines for the Ohio State Buckeyes following a three-game suspension. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As Urban Meyer returns to the sidelines to coach Ohio State football for the first time this season following a 3-game suspension, so too will the fall temperatures to Ohio Stadium.

    Saturday: Ohio State vs. Tulane, Ohio Stadium, 3:30 p.m. kickoff

    According to the National Weather Service in Columbus, Saturday's temperatures near Ohio Stadium should be near 60 degrees around 9 a.m., so be sure to have some warm gear to wear for your tailgate. Rain should not be an issue.

    There won't be much of an uptick in heat as the day progresses, however, thanks to the clouds that are expected to hover throughout most of the day. 

    The NWS Columbus indicates a 66-degree temperature at kickoff and a 64-degree temperature around the potential end of the game at 7 p.m.

    If you're heading to the game, don't worry about bringing an umbrella or poncho, as rain chances are at 1 percent throughout the day.


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    Bowles, when asked about Mayfield's momentum shift, attributed it to Jets' penalties and not the QB.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Jets coach Todd Bowles was in no mood to attribute his team's collapse in the 21-17 loss to the Browns to a momentum shift when Baker Mayfield entered the game 1:42 left in the half.

    Mayfield came in for a concussed Tyrod Taylor to bust open beer coolers all over town and snap a 19-game winless streak that spanned 634 days.

    "No, I felt the same as soon as we committed two penalties before halftime, and we gave them life with the penalties,'' he said. "I don't think it had to do with the quarterback."

    Despite Mayfield storming back with 21 points and 201 yards in a little over a half, Bowles pinned this loss -- which dropped the Jets to 1-2 and improved the Browns to 1-1-1 -- on penalties.

    "It's inexcusable on a few penalties we had,'' Bowles said. "We gave them life before the half. We had two of them. We had one there on the two-point conversion that we had no business having, and we let them back in the game with some key penalties and it cost us. We lost our composure. I told the team that we lost our composure and we should be pissed off up until we play the game next weekend.''

    Bowles didn't think Mayfield's quicker pace was to blame for his team's collapse.

    "I don't think it was a hurry-up at all,'' he said. "I thought guys got gassed in the second half. They were the same plays. I give the guy credit - he played well. We didn't do the things in the second half that we did in the first half."

    He said it's not that the Jets weren't prepared for Mayfield.

    "They were the same plays,'' he said. "We knew what the quarterbacks were. We knew one ran more than the other. He just did a good job and we didn't."

    One of those at the end of the first half was an unsportsmanlike conduct call for running back Isaiah Crowell wiping his rear end with the ball and then firing it into the stands.   

    "That was inexcusable,'' he said. "We addressed it and it will never happen again."

    He blamed the loss on himself.

    "I'm taking the whole ball game. This whole ball game falls on me."

    As for giving up the 2-point conversion on the Philly Special pass from Jarvis Landry to Mayfield that tied the game at 14, "it was more the coverage than the play. We were on different pages and the coverage was blown."

    Some of the Jets echoed his sentiments, attributing the loss to mistakes rather than Mayfield electrifying The Factory of Sadness.

    "He just made a couple throws,'' said linebacker Darron Lee. "Looking back on it, from what I recall, I am just really frustrated in the fourth [quarter] with all the penalties."

    Others, such as Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (15-of-31, 169 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 38.2 rating) acknowledged the spark Mayfield provided.

    "I know Baker is a great player,'' he said. "He's done some great things at Oklahoma and he continued to do great things tonight. I felt the crowd rallied pretty well around him. At the same time, I have to continue to do my job and keep the offense rolling. I'm not worried about that."


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