2013 Season Predictions from the-Staff
By the-Ozone Staff
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It wouldn't be the start of the season without some season predictions that will come back to haunt us. This season is easily one of the most anticipated in recent memory, but we're going to go ahead and quash that anticipation by telling you what's going to happen in 2013. Sorry.
What Will Ohio State's Record Be at the End of the Season, and Where are the Likely Slip Up(s)?
Rob: 13-1. It's tough to single out any game on Ohio State's schedule as the one in which they will lose. The Buckeyes are clearly the class of the Big Ten, but how do they compare to the rest of the country? It should be a fun season to watch unfold.
Tony: The Buckeyes will be favored in every game this season, but lately I've been thinking the Wisconsin game may get slippery. We all know that people are pointing to Northwestern and Michigan, and those games could be losses as well. I'll go 11-1 in the regular season, with the loss coming to one of the three teams mentioned above. At 11-1, they will be an angry team for their final two games, which should lead to two more wins.
Brandon: 13-1. Two years ago, I predicted an 8-4 or 9-3 season and was promptly rewarded with the first losing venture in nearly two decades. Last season, I thought the Buckeyes would be a 10-2 football team and they very well might have been if not for the heroics of Devin Smith against Cal and Kenny Guiton against Purdue. They’re going to need a few big moments like that again this season, but this team has the right makeup – not to mention schedule – for an undefeated season. I do think they will slip up somewhere, maybe not until they get to Pasadena, but ultimately they’re at least going to play for the big one.
Patrick: 13-1 is what I'm thinking. This season is being thought by many as being "BCS Title game or bust". I believe they'll get there, but that's where they could potentially be over matched for the first time this season. I believe they run into an SEC team here and drop their first game of the season. No bust, as they make it to the title game.
Mr. Ed: 12-2: An undefeated regular season is tough. Two in a row is almost impossible, so a slip up is inevitable. I don't see them losing a home game, so a road loss to either Northwestern or Michigan are my bets. Until the defense proves itself, I'd say almost any bowl game is iffy too.
Offensive Player of the Year?
Rob: Braxton Miller. Is there really another option? He set the single-season school record for yards from scrimmage last year and all everyone can talk about this year is how much better he is now than he was then.
Tony: Braxton Miller. There's really no other answer (other than Dontre Wilson, of course.) If I'm picking somebody other than Miller, I'd go with Philly Brown.
Brandon: Braxton Miller. Any other choice here simply doesn’t make sense. He’s the retuning offensive player of the year in the Big Ten and he’s the best player on the field in every game he plays. My second choice here would have been Carlos Hyde before the suspension.
Patrick: Braxton Miller. His passing numbers should improve through the work he put in this offseason. Urban Meyer may not want Miller to run as frequently, but you should expect him to still put up solid rushing numbers. He leads this OSU offense and should be its top player again in 2013.
Mr. Ed:: Braxton Miller. There really is no other answer.
Defensive Player of the Year?
Rob: Ryan Shazier. He's the single most valuable player on the defense. He was the team's leading tackler a year ago, and the linebackers would probably be lost without him.
Tony: Ryan Shazier. He's the Braxton Miller of the defense. If not Shazier, I'd go with Christian Bryant. I think he's set up for a huge year.
Brandon: Ryan Shazier. Again, any other choice doesn’t really fit here. Bradley Roby might be the best player at his position on the defense and Noah Spence is an obvious sleeper choice for this spot, but Shazier is going to be in the middle of everything the Buckeyes do defensively this year.
Patrick: Adolphus Washington. When I saw Washington in no pads at Fright Night Lights, I was really impressed with how big he had become over the offseason. When I saw him at practice I was impressed with his ability to get into the backfield while battling against OSU's starting offensive line. Washington is set to have a big year and could steal this award from some of the older players.
Mr. Ed: Adolphus Washington. The game is won on the line of scrimmage, and Washington has the potential to dominate the line of scrimmage. That makes him the key guy for the defense.
Most Improved Player of the Year?
Rob: Evan Spencer. Urban Meyer has continually said that Spencer is one of the most improved guys on the team. Philly Brown said it too. If I'm wrong on this one, it's their fault.
Tony: Michael Bennett. With the defensive ends getting so much attention, Michael Bennett is going to get much less attention from opposing offensive lines. He's always been an explosive player when healthy, and he's healthy right now.
Brandon: Devin Smith. He looked like he was in for an All-American type season at the beginning of last year and I think he has that type of talent. He did lead the team in touchdown catches a year ago, but his numbers were pretty average for a guy with his ability. I see a big jump in his game this season.
Patrick: Michael Bennett. Meyer has praised two players for their improvement heading into the season. Evan Spencer and Michael Bennett. If I'm taking my pick, I'm going Bennett to be the more improved of the two as I know he will be on the field for the majority of the defensive plays. Also, with Washington and Noah Spence, he may find space open up for him.
Mr. Ed: Evan Spencer. This is tough because we haven't seen them play yet, but in listening to the coaches and players no one has come farther than Spencer.
Most Surprising Player This Season?
Rob: Michael Hill. The freshman hasn't gotten a whole lot of publicity, but performed well during camp. With the loss of Tommy Schutt on the defensive line, Hill might see more time on the field than many would have expected.
Tony: Curtis Grant. This has to eventually happen, right? Urban Meyer would probably say Jeff Heuerman.
Brandon: Jordan Hall. A lot of OSU fans are quick to write off Hall because of his injury history, but count me among those who think the fifth-year senior could be dynamic in the H-back role. If he stays in the backfield at tailback, I change my pick, but he should be playing H at least by the time Hyde returns from his suspension.
Patrick: Jalin Marshall is my most surprising player. Yes, he was highly recruited, but has been forgotten among the other freshmen. Injuries hurt him in fall camp, but once he gets adjusted to playing wide receiver in college, he could be a dangerous weapon for the this offense.
Mr. Ed: Marcus Hall. He was decent last year, but look for him to be a dominant blocker this year. It's another case of what's up front that counts, and he will make the OSU offensive front much better.
Rob: Philly Brown. As far as receptions, it has to be Brown. He was the team leader in receptions each of the past two seasons, and had twice as many receptions as anyone else on the team in 2012. Miller says his favorite target is Devin Smith, but the stat sheet tells us it's Brown.
Tony: Philly Brown. He's the #1 receiver, but the question is whether his numbers will go up as the passing goes up, or will they stay where they were last year because of a wider distribution of the football?
Brandon: Philly Brown/Devin Smith. Depends what we’re talking here. It’s hard not to like Philly Brown as the top pass-catcher on the team again this season. His 60 catches were twice as many as anyone else on the team, but I still think Devin Smith will lead the Buckeyes in yardage and touchdown catches.
Patrick: Devin Smith. He was the deep threat last year and that should not change this year. He has worked on becoming a more complete player in his junior season, which should increase his numbers. Smith will not be forgotten on the deep routes either and he has a knack for big plays.
Mr. Ed: Most yardage, Devin Smith. Most catches, Evan Spencer. It's tempting to pick Philly Brown, but I just don't see him getting the touches as a wide receiver that he got as a slot receiver. Smith is the real home run threat of the veteran receivers and Spencer is reputed to have the best hands on the team. I can see Spencer becoming that "move the chains" guy that has a lot catches, and Smith racking up lots of yards with fewer catches but bigger plays.
Rob: Braxton Miller. Gerd and I had this conversation on the podcast this week. With so many options in the backfield and the early-season suspension of Carlos Hyde, I don't see any single back getting enough carries to surpass Miller. Meyer said Wednesday that he would like his quarterback to rush for 50-60 yards per game. I'm guessing Miller goes for at least that.
Tony: Braxton Miller. As I mentioned on Rob and my's award-winning podcast, Braxton Miller is going to be the only guy who will carry the ball consistently in every game this season. He will win it by default with just 800 or so yards.
Brandon: Braxton Miller. He shouldn’t have to carry the load nearly as much as he did last year because there will be more weapons around him, but it’s hard to think Miller won’t put up big numbers on the ground again this season. Hyde would have been my pick without the suspension.
Patrick: Carlos Hyde. The suspensions to Hyde and Rod Smith open the door for several people to take this by the horns. Hall will be the starter to begin the season, but Meyer said everyone will get looks. I still think Hyde will be the top rusher once he returns as he has proven he can carry the load. That is if he can earn the starting spot back from Hall.
Mr. Ed: Carlos Hyde. With teams spread out and not being able to load the box, Hyde will have more room to run and will also surprise everyone with his ability to make a man miss in order to make bigger plays this year.
Rob: Ryan Shazier. Since 1970, only six times has a linebacker not led the Buckeyes in tackles. Shazier's the best of the bunch.
Tony: Ryan Shazier. This is the only answer. If we're looking for #2, I'm going with #2, Christian Bryant.
Brandon: Shazier. This is another no-brainer. He led the team with 115 tackles last season and should only be better this year. The Will linebacker spot is always going to be a high-volume position, and Shazier is the best linebacker on the team by a wide margin.
Patrick: Ryan Shazier and I don't think it will be close. He is someone who will be considered for the top defender, as he will find his way to the ball often. He led the team last year because he is able to roam more as the weakside linebacker and there's no reason to think that will change this season.
Mr. Ed: Ryan Shazier. Big, fast, smart, experienced, healthy, a playmaker whose confidence will be sky high from start to finish this season, and that all adds up to production.
Top return man (kick and punt)?
Rob: Dontre Wilson. It's time for Wilson to show what he's got. His first opportunity to do so will likely come in the return game.
Tony: On kickoffs, it will be Dontre Wilson, and I'm expecting a crowd thick with anticipation every time he settles under a kick. The Buckeyes haven't had a threat to go the distance like Wilson since Ted Ginn. On punts, it will still be Philly Brown, and it absolutely should be. You don't bench a guy who scored twice on returns last year.
Brandon: Dontre Wilson. Yes, I realize Jordan Hall is back and Philly Brown has become a reliable punt returner, but I think the return game is where Wilson will make his mark as an impact player this fall. By the end of the year, he will be the team’s primary kick and punt returner and one of the more widely-feared returners in the Big Ten.
Patrick: Dontre Wilson. Urban Meyer was excited about the prospects of Wilson returning the opening kick of the season. I think this is a sign that he will get to spend a lot of time returning kicks this year. Actually, he may not spend much "time" doing it with the speed he possess, but he will likely make this his bread and butter his freshman season.
Mr. Ed: On punts, Philly Brown. On kickoffs, Dontre Wilson. Brown proved his worth as a punt returner last year and should be even better this year. It's hard to pick anybody you haven't seen play, but Wilson's hype can't all be smoke and mirrors, can it?
Game of the year?
Rob: Ohio State vs. Michigan... In Indianapolis. You heard it here first.
Tony: The Game. I am expecting an epic battle between Ohio State and Michigan this year. It will be everything it should be, and more. Buckeye fans just may not like the outcome.
Brandon: Northwestern. I don’t why, I don’t know how but this game continues to stick in my mind as the biggest hurdle for Ohio State in 2013. A lot of people will say it’s only Northwestern, but that’s precisely why I think this game will be a shootout. The Buckeyes are going to come ready to play against Wisconsin and Michigan. They may not view Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats on the same level.
Patrick: On the schedule? It has to be Michigan. This is the game of the year pretty much every year and it should be the Buckeyes' stiffest test. Of course, a national championship game would rank pretty high up there as well.
Mr. Ed: Michigan. This was a trick question, right? Really, can there be another answer?
Will Braxton Miller win the Heisman?
Rob: Yes...but only if the Buckeyes are 13-0 when the trophy is awarded.
Tony: Yes. Braxton Miller was in the mix throughout all of last season despite tailing off over the second half of the year. I wouldn't expect much tailing off this season, and he'll have a number of "Heisman Moment" plays. My major concern is that it's rare for a the Heisman frontrunner to win the award, and that's where Miller is right now.
Brandon: Yes. I think as of right now Braxton Miller is the single most logical choice for the Heisman of anyone in college football -- including, and especially, Johnny Football. Marcus Mariota and Aaron Murray are both in the mix, but Miller should have all the tools and the right schedule to put up monster numbers for a team that could be playing for the crystal football.
Patrick: No. It has been a while since a preseason favorite won the bronze statue, so I will say no. Miller's numbers will be good this season, but he will not take home the award. He will be in New York for the presentation and this will be part of his motivation to return for his senior year.
Mr. Ed: No. The stated goal of the OSU offense is to take the pressure off Miller by involving other guys. That means fewer highlight plays for Miller, fewer stat-suffing games, and less overall hype.