Five for Friday: Ohio State and Michigan Prop Bets
By Tony Gerdeman
For roughly as long as time has existed, Ohio State and Michigan fans have bantered back and forth about the fortunes and/or pending doom of each other's favored school.
No tout is left unargued, and no taunt is left to the imagination.
Since I am too sophisticated to get into these types of arguments anymore, I thought I would provide some fuel to your fire and propose some arguments for future usage.
Note: Even though I am calling these "prop bets", I do not condone gambling, especially as it involves my advice, analysis or agitation.
Photo by Dan Harker
1. Who will throw for more touchdowns, Devin Gardner or Braxton Miller?
Last season, Braxton Miller threw for just 15 touchdowns, though you would be foolish to think that he will be held that low again this season. Devin Gardner, meanwhile, threw 11 touchdowns in just five games. If those numbers hold true again for Gardner, or even improve, then we're looking at 30 or more touchdown passes. For Urban Meyer's quarterbacks in their second season of starting, they are averaging 26 touchdown passes, though both Tim Tebow and Alex Smith were able to hit the 30-touchdown mark. If Miller can throw 31, he'll have the Ohio State season record. But given the Buckeyes' weapons on the ground, most especially Miller himself, Gardner would seem to be the safer bet here.
2. Who will have more sacks, Frank Clark or Noah Spence?
This might be my favorite of the group. Each fanbase is equally bullish on their respective pass rushers. Even though Frank Clark had nine tackles for loss last season, he only had two sacks. Still, that was twice as many as Noah Spence's total last season. Spence got a sack in the season opener, and then never saw another. The offseason and practice reports for both have been off the charts, and they are each expected to be dominating pass rushers. If you would have asked me this in the spring I would have said Spence in a walk, but over the last two months I've started dealing with this quiet suspicion that Clark might just be a terror.
Photo by Jim Davidson
3. Who will have more catches, Jeremy Gallon or Philly Brown?
Jeremy Gallon led the Wolverines in receptions last season with 49. However, 31 of those catches came in the five games that Devin Gardner started at quarterback. Over the course of a season, we could see Gallon approach 60-80 catches pretty easily. Philly Brown caught 60 passes last year, and he is clearly Braxton Miller's #1 target again this year. The thing to watch here, however, is that the Buckeyes are going to be throwing the ball more. Although with Brown moving out of the slot that he played last year, it remains to be seen if that will help or hurt his overall numbers. Still, if Brown can catch 60 passes in last year's offense, I have to think he can outdo Gallon in this year's offense.
4. Who will have more yards from scrimmage, Derrick Green or Dontre Wilson?
A tale of two freshman running backs. Dontre Wilson will be involved in both the passing game and running game, and is a threat to break a long one regardless of how he gets the ball. However, he may not get the ball all that much. Derrick Green, meanwhile, could end up winning the starter's job at running back. It would be almost impossible for Wilson to match Green in that instance. But keep in mind that Michigan still has Fitzgerald Toussaint returning, as well as several others. Green's carries aren't guaranteed to be any more forthcoming than Wilson's. Wilson's ace in the hole, of course, is that he will also be catching passes. As of this moment, there is more good buzz surrounding Wilson and his potential opportunities on the field, though I'm guessing most won't be able to give up on the potential 600 or so yards rushing that they have expected from Green since the day he signed.
Photo by Jim Davidson
5. Who will have more tackles, any Michigan linebacker or Ryan Shazier?
Granted, I would probably have to provide some odds on this one. That being said, Ryan Shazier's 115 tackles from last season isn't an insurmountable goal for Desmond Morgan, who finished with 81 tackles last season. Don't overlook sophomore James Ross, either. He's quick and can get to places that a lot of other linebackers can't. He's not unlike Shazier in that way. Of course, those 115 tackles from last season might be 15 or 20 short of where Shazier will end up this year, given that he's a year better and the Buckeyes will be playing at least one extra game compared to last year.
Bonus: Who will have more touchdown catches, Devin Funchess or Devin Smith?
Everybody expects tight end Devin Funchess to be a redzone threat. If Devin Gardner can look away from Jeremy Gallon long enough to see Funchess beating a linebacker, he could be looking at 8-10 touchdown catches this year. Last season, Devin Smith caught 30 passes, and six of them went for touchdowns. He is the Buckeyes' deep threat, and they are planning on throwing downfield more this season. Smith should end up right in that 8-10 touchdown range as well.
Photo by Dan Harker
Bonus: Who will have more interceptions, Blake Countess or Bradley Roby?
Michigan fans love them some Blake Countess. They are expecting him to return from last season's injury and lock down his side of the field. Bradley Roby, meanwhile, is lingering in limbo right now as he waits to hear his fate following his run-in with a bouncer. Even though Roby is the better cornerback, you can't get any interceptions if nobody throws your way (or if you're suspended). Quarterbacks will likely leave Roby alone, which is something that they won't do to Countess for the first few games or so. Will that give Countess the leg up that he needs?
Bonus: Who will have more rushing yards, Fitzgerald Toussaint or Carlos Hyde?
Fitzgerald Toussaint says that he will be the starting running back this season. However, given his lack of production last season, there are some who doubt those words. Carlos Hyde, on the other hand, was all set to become the first running back to ever rush for 1,000 yards under Urban Meyer. His three-game suspension certainly puts that status in doubt, as does the stable of running backs that Meyer will turn to in Hyde's absence. I have no idea which way this will go, though if Hyde returns to the starting lineup in game four, I'll take #34 the rest of the way out and not look back.
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