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The last two No. 1 overall draft picks meet in Cincinnati on Thursday night to kick off Week 4 of the NFL season when Joe Burrow and the Bengals host Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars. Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. Eastern. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals free live stream: How to watch, TV, odds | Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow

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Jacksonville had a halftime lead against Arizona, but struggled mightily in second half in a 31-19 defeat to stay winless. Burrow and the Bengals moved into a three-way tie for first place with a 24-10 win at the Steelers.

Who: Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-1).

When: Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

Time: 8:20 p.m. Eastern.

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati (65,535).

TV: NFL Network.

Cable channel finder: AT&T U-Verse, Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum/Charter, Optimum/Altice, Cox, DIRECTV, Dish, Verizon Fios, WOW.

Live streams: (FREE 7-day trial); Hulu + Live TV (FREE trial); and Sling TV.

Latest line: Bengals -7.5.

Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink.

Read some of what Mark Long of the Associated Press wrote about Jaguars coach Urban Meyer making his return to Ohio on Thursday night.

Urban Meyer didn’t even try to downplay his homecoming.

Jacksonville’s head coach is returning to his home state for the first time since making the jump to the NFL, and it won’t be just any road trip for Meyer when the winless Jaguars (0-3) visit Cincinnati (2-1) on Thursday night.

“I could say it’s not important,” Meyer deadpanned. Then he added: “I love Cincinnati.”

The 57-year-old Meyer was born in Toledo, grew up in Ashtabula rooting for the Bengals, went to college at Cincinnati, played safety for the Bearcats, got his first coaching job at nearby Saint Xavier High School in 1985, and has two sisters who still live there.

He was a proud member of the Buckeye State long before he became the Buckeyes’ coach.

“I love the great state of Ohio. I always will,” said Meyer, who returned to coach Ohio State in 2012 and led the team to the 2014 national championship.

Now, he’s about to face a Cincinnati team filled with former Buckeyes — players Meyer recruited during his seven-year tenure (2012-18) at Ohio State.

It starts with quarterback Joe Burrow, who ended up transferring to LSU and winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy. Cornerback Eli Apple, safety Vonn Bell, defensive end Sam Hubbard and offensive tackle Isaiah Prince also played for Meyer.

“There’s a bunch of Buckeyes on that team that we’re getting ready to play,” Meyer said. “I was a Bengals fan growing up, so I could act like I’m not (excited), but it’s going to be great to go home. But all that matters is a win.”

Meyer is returning home in uncharted waters. He lost a season opener for the first time in his head coaching career and is 0-3 for the first time since serving as Colorado State’s receivers coach in 1992.

He’s trying to change everything about a franchise that has lost 18 in row, lacks talent and is one of the youngest in the league. He drafted quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick, but he’s without fellow first-rounder Travis Etienne (foot) and is getting little, if anything, out of second-rounder Walker Little, third-rounder Jay Tufele, third-rounder Andre Cisco, fourth-rounder Jordan Smith or fifth-rounder Luke Farrell.

Jacksonville also spent frugally in free agency despite having more salary-cap space than anyone in the league. It’s clearly far from the kind of overnight rebuild that raised Meyer’s profile dramatically during stops at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-10) and then Ohio State.

“I don’t ever want to fall into that trap of saying this is a four-year plan, a three-year plan,” Meyer said. “That’s not fair to players. This is a one-game plan and then we’ll worry about the next game.”

Next up is Cincinnati, the franchise Meyer once cheered for and whose orange and black stripes he proudly wore.

The Cincinnati Bengals, led by quarterback Joe Burrow, face the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, in Week 4 of the NFL regular season on Thursday, September 30, 2021 (9/30/21) at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Joe Burrow didn’t play much in three years under Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

But there is still much mutual respect and admiration, so much so that Meyer, as a rookie NFL coach, went to Burrow for advice last spring about how to handle his new quarterback, top overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence.

“I just wanted to talk to a guy who was in that position in recent history,” the Jacksonville Jaguars coach said Monday. “We talked several times throughout the spring, just about what I could do — what we could do — to help our rookie quarterback.”

Burrow is the unflappable second-year quarterback who is having a franchise built around him in Cincinnati. Meyer, returning to Ohio for the first time as a NFL head coach with the 0-3 Jaguars, will be on the opposite sideline at Paul Brown Stadium for a Thursday night game.

Burrow came to Columbus as an unheralded recruit in the 2015 class and languished on the depth chart until transferring to LSU and eventually winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship.

Burrow never really got a chance to be the guy at Ohio State, but he credits Meyer with having an important hand in his early development, even if the treatment was at times unpleasant.

“He was really hard on me, and it made me a better player and better person,” Burrow said.

“What he does is, when he gets a new player, he tries to put them in a very intense situation to see how they respond, to see if he can trust that player,” Burrow said. “He really did that to me early in my career. I really wasn’t sure why it was happening. But then as I got older and more mature, I really understood why he was doing it, and it did make me better.”

Burrow in his senior year in high school was voted by writers as the best football player in Ohio. But it was seeing his relentlessness on the basketball court that made an impression on Meyer.

“He arguably has one of the best mindsets I’ve ever seen in an athlete,” Meyer said. “Even when he struggled early in his career, one thing you could count on is, that guy is tough as nails, a competitor. Refused to lose at anything.”

Burrow’s dad, Jimmy, was the defensive coordinator for Ohio University under Frank Solich at the time. Joe was a two-sport star at Athens High in southeastern Ohio.

“He’ll tell you he was highly recruited — he wasn’t,” Meyer said with a smirk.

Burrow had a frustrating three years at Ohio State. When it looked as if he would be in line to back up four-year starter J.T. Barrett in 2017, he broke his hand in the preseason. Dwayne Haskins passed him, won the Michigan game in relief of the injured Barrett and was the favorite to start in 2018.

“They knew the work I put in every day, and I knew the work I put in every day,” Burrow said. “You know, they gave me an opportunity out of high school, and that’s all you can ask for. It didn’t work out, but the skills and everything I learned there helped me to get to where I’m at right now.”
With his Ohio State diploma in hand and two years of eligibility remaining, Burrow transferred to LSU that summer. He made college football history with his stats in 2019 and became the top overall draft pick by the Bengals in 2020.

His Heisman speech, during which he talked about poverty in his rural hometown, inspired $650,000 in donations to the Athens food bank. His high school named the football stadium after him.

The 57-year-old Meyer, who grew up in Ashtabula in southeastern Ohio and played collegiately at the University of Cincinnati, coached Florida to a pair of national championships and won another at Ohio State.

Citing health reasons, he retired in 2018 after seven seasons leading the Buckeyes. He worked as a Fox TV analyst for two years before taking the NFL job.

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