Football The Rivalry

Five Predictions: Michigan at Ohio State

What more needs to be said?

We are smack dab in the middle of the best time of the year and the glory of Saturday afternoon is just a day away.

I almost feel bad spoiling what is going to happen, but if you didn’t want to know you wouldn’t have clicked.

You have been warned.

1. Jabrill Peppers will have at least seven touches.

Michigan is going to need every ounce of offense they can find in this game, and Jabrill Peppers could provide them with a few squeezes. Why did I go with seven touches? Because his high this season is six touches, which I could see him having in the first half.

The key for the Buckeyes will be to stay disciplined when he does have the ball. He can cut back very well, or Michigan could simply be running some different actions off of it. Perhaps a throw back or some such thing. Jim Harbaugh is gonna throw a bunch of crap against the wall. Ohio State has to keep it from sticking.

Also don’t be surprised if one of those touches comes on defense. That’s what Buckeye fans get for constantly talking about how Peppers has never had an interception. You just better hope it happens early enough in the game for Ohio State to overcome it.

2. Ohio State’s interior players will have at least 3.5 tackles for loss.

I’m not sure if the Buckeyes’ interior defenders have had 3.5 tackles for loss in a game yet. The defensive tackles haven’t, that is definite, but there have been games where Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa would put that number over the edge with their TFLs, but I don’t know if those came at defensive end or defensive tackle, and I’m not going to go back and look at the video because it’s Friday, man, and I still have a whole bunch of stuff that I need to get done. I haven’t even started the Tip Sheet.

Why do I see the defensive tackles having a good day? Because I like the matchup against Michigan’s offensive line. Plus, running back De’Veon Smith is a guy who gets tackled around the line of scrimmage a lot. Quick tackles like Dre’Mont Jones and Rob Landers and Davon Hamilton will give the Wolverines trouble, and a stout run stopper like Michael Hill at the nose will be no picnic.

The Rushmen package should also bring problems for guards Kyle Kalis and Ben Bredeson. Nick Bosa has gone four games without a sack. I would not be surprised to see that streak end tomorrow. Jalyn Holmes has gone five games without a sack. There are some pass rushers here who are due.

3. Ohio State will at least double Michigan’s average rushing yardage allowed.

While the Buckeyes have destroyed the Wolverines on the ground over the last four years, the real destruction has actually been taking place in Ann Arbor, where Ohio State rushed for 369 yards last year and 393 yards in 2013. Those games were boosted by 200-yard rushing days by Ezekiel Elliott and Carlos Hyde.

In Columbus, however, the numbers come back to earth a bit. In 2014, the Buckeyes rushed for 233 yards and in 2012 they rushed for 207 yards. That’s an average of 220 yards rushing in Columbus, which is still a good number, it just seems relatively small compared to the miles the Buckeyes put on their odometer in Ann Arbor.

That 220 yards on Saturday would more than double Michigan’s 108.6 yards allowed rushing per game this season, which is the 10th-best mark in the nation. To be clear, however, I only need 217 yards rushing here to get this one right. I round down.

I am expecting Mike Weber to have a pretty good game and break 100 yards for the second week in a row.

4. At least three players will take snaps for Michigan.

This feels a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but I’d like to keep my numbers well above 40%. Not for my benefit, but for the benefit of the kids who look up to me and want to one day be a predictor like their hero(es). Hey, at least I tell you when I’m barrel fishing.

I still don’t know what to expect with Wilton Speight, though if he does play, then you can go ahead and kick this prediction up to four if you want. We know Jabrill Peppers will get snaps at quarterback, so that’s two. Shane Morris has also gotten snaps a bit this season, and that may have simply been so that Ohio State would have to work on the plays that he’s in on. Now when Morris comes in, they’ll probably give the Buckeyes an entirely different look. He’s only been a toss sweep guy this season, but will now probably sprint out with the run-pass option.

It should be noted that if there is a wayward snap that goes over the quarterback’s head and somebody from Michigan recovers it, that counts as “taking a snap”. Also, if there is a fake punt that counts as well. I just want us all to be clear on these things so there’s no bad feelings when I celebrate myself. For the kids, you know.

5. Curtis Samuel will catch a touchdown pass.

If Curtis Samuel is such a matchup nightmare, then he also needs to be a matchup dream for the Buckeyes. His touchdown reception(s) could come in any variety of ways, with the most likely being a simple rollout inside the 10-yard line to Samuel running an out from the slot. Just don’t let Jourdan Lewis or Jabrill Peppers jump it if you know what’s good for you.

There is also the very real possibility of the Buckeyes hitting a wheel route with Samuel, or the deep post we’ve already seen, or even something quick over an empty middle. Yeah, I can understand the nightmare part of this whole thing.

Honestly, I see Samuel being just as valuable as a decoy, but he’s too good not to take some shots with. I would be a bit surprised if Samuel only hits the end zone once in this game.

I’m not the kind of predictor who rests on his laurels. I’m better than that. I’m always striving to be better, rather than showing off my 40% rate of being correct. I’m not a braggart.

I don’t put these results out for all to see so you can marvel at my abilities. I do it for the sake of transparency, and if that in turn leaves you marveling at me, then so be it, but that is not my intent.

Let’s see how I did last week.

Prediction 1: Ohio State will rush for more yards than they pass for.

Outcome: Nailed it. J.T. Barrett alone rushed for more yards than he threw for. The Buckeyes ended up passing for 86 yards and rushing for 224 yards.

Prediction 2: Nick Bosa will have a sack.

Outcome: Failed it. No sack, but he did get a hurry. It’s just too bad when the freshman wall has to affect me too.

Prediction 3: Malik Hooker will have an interception.

Outcome: Nailed it. While it doesn’t count in the box score, Malik Hooker and Chris Worley teamed up for an interception on Michigan State’s two-point conversion attempt. Yes, I’m counting this. There is no official statistic giving either player credit, or taking it away.

Prediction 4: Mike Weber, J.T. Barrett, and Curtis Samuel will combine for at least 45 rushes.

Outcome: Nailed it. J.T. Barrett took a knee on the final three plays of the game, and while those go down as a “Team Rush”, it was Barrett with the ball in his hand, and those three kneel downs became rushes 43, 44, and 45 for Ohio State’s three-headed rushing attack. Yeah, I’m counting this.

Prediction 5: L.J. Scott will be held under 71 yards rushing.

Outcome: Failed it. L.J. Scott rushed for 111 yards, but one of those carries was a 52-yarder where he was hit at the line of scrimmage. Had he been tackled there, he maybe rushes for 59 yards on the day and I look like even more of a genius than I already did.

Weekly Record: 3-for-5

Season Record: 20-for-48; Stupid Tony: 0-for-7; Combined Tonys: 20-for-55