SPORTS DAILY: Urban Meyer and the ‘underdog’ Buckeyes?

Not that they ever should be expected to, but the Ohio State Buckeyes will not be sneaking up on anybody next football season.

That’s impossible now after Las Vegas sportsbook Bovada this week declared OSU the favorite to win a second national championship in three years.

But aren’t the Buckeyes losing almost every starter except Brutus? Aren’t 14 of their players, most of any school, headed to Indianapolis to be poked and prodded at the NFL combine?

The answer to both questions is yes.

So you need to follow the money.

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According to this cleveland.com piece, so much was being wagered on the Buckeyes after Bovada last month set OSU’s championship odds at 12-1, tied for third with Michigan and Baylor, that an adjustment was necessary. And it had nothing to do with anything that happeneed on National Signing Day.

Now the odds to win the national title look this way: Ohio State 6-1, defending national champion Alabama 7-1, Michigan and Clemson 15-2, LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee 14-1.

The lesson? No team coached by Urban Meyer stays an underdog for long.

And to think he once dated Halle Berry

Cleveland Browns fans of a certain age have vivid and mostly fond memories of Reggie Rucker. To those young enough in 1980 or so, maybe he was even a hero.

That’s what made it sad Tuesday when Rucker, 68, was accused in federal court of taking money from charities to pay off gambling debts and enhance his lifestyle.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Rucker used his charities — Amer-I-Can Cleveland and the Cleveland Peacemakers — as his personal ATMs, withdrawing more than $48,000 from those accounts at casinos in Tampa, Las Vegas and Cleveland.

Rucker, who ranks No. 79 on cleveland.com’s list of the top 100 Browns, has remained in the limelight over the years, even trying his hand at baseball commentary on Cleveland Indians games. That didn’t go well, but he later wrote a book called “From Ghetto to God: The Incredible Journey of NFL star Reggie Rucker” in which he revealed a tryst he had at age 38 with actress Halle Berry, then a 19-year-old Miss Ohio.

Wonder what Halle must be thinking.

Flyers face one tough challenge tonight

It would be easy for the Dayton Flyers to suffer a letdown today in Philadelphia against St. Joseph’s (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network, AM 1290, News 95.7 WHIO). They haven’t won on the Hawks’ home court in forever and maybe they’re still patting each other on the back after two narrow wins over quality opponents boosted them to No. 13 in one national poll, No. 15 in the other.

But I don’t see that happening. Oh, they could lose, but it won’t be because their heads are elsewhere. As David Jablonski writes, longtime St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli knows it’s no accident the Flyers are where they are.

Martelli has a hot team, too, probably his best since the days of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. So, as much as any pre-tournament college basketball game can be, this one is appointment viewing.

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