Five for Friday: 2017 Ohio State Predictions Based on Spring Performances

Predictions are always fun because if you make them far enough in advance, nobody will remember when you turn out to be wrong. Personally, I like long-range predictions best. My preference is at least three years out because who is going to even care two years from now about what I thought two years ago?

The positives of such an arrangement are obvious, but included in those perks is the fact that if I happened to be right about something, I can pull it out of storage and be like, “Look. See? I told you all this was going to happen. No, don’t read anything past the paragraph I have highlighted in yellow. No, don’t read the part about Sirjo Welch being the next Mike Doss. I was just playing.”

Unfortunately for me, today’s round of predictions is based on what I saw this spring and the projections fall outside of my three-year sweet spot, and I’m not sure anything that I saw this spring would help me in 2020 anyway, so my hands are kind of tied here.

Regardless, I hope you know that sometimes such hasty predictions like these don’t always turn out to be 100 percent accurate. My predictions need to sit in the fridge for a bit and thicken, like chili. These predictions today are nice, but imagine what they’d be like a little thicker, y’know?

1. Ohio State will have three quarterbacks throw at least three touchdowns in one season for the first time ever.

In order to make this prediction, I first had to go back through the archives and see if it had actually happened before. Information gets a little dicey in the 1940s, and any earlier than that and you can pretty much forget it. So when I say “ever”, it might not be 100% true, but it’s true enough. At least until I get an email from somebody confronting me about Ohio State’s 1937 “Air Raid” team that was lost to history.

Anyway, what I found is that Ohio State has had three guys throw touchdown passes in a season many times — at least 21 times since 1942, but never once have they had three guys throw at least three touchdowns in a season. In fact, from what I saw, only twice did they have three guys with at least two touchdown passes.

So why am I predicting this now? Because Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow are too good not to be allowed to throw the ball when they get in the game. I asked Kevin Wilson after the spring game if there would be room for a series here or there throughout a game for another quarterback and he wasn’t sure if that was going to happen. He and Urban Meyer hadn’t talked about it, but he told me that he thinks that can disrupt the rhythm of the starter and the offense.

Wilson is big on offensive rhythm, and if the Buckeye offense is as good as it is expected to be, Haskins and Burrow will both have plenty of fourth quarters to throw a few touchdown passes. And maybe even a few third quarters.

2. Parris Campbell will have at least 50 receptions this year.

On one hand, this may seem like a bold prediction based on Parris Campbell’s 13 career receptions, yet on the other hand, this is almost a shoo-in. After an impressive spring as Ohio State’s No. 1 H-back, he is on pace to be the Buckeyes’ focal point in the passing game, like Curtis Samuel was last season. As such, he can expect plenty of passes his way.

Under Urban Meyer, OSU’s starting H-back has averaged 52 receptions per season, though those numbers have been boosted by Curtis Samuel’s 74 last year, and Philly Brown’s 123 receptions in 2012 and 2013. K.J. Hill will cut into Campbell’s catches, so I don’t see him getting too far beyond 50 catches, but he shouldn’t have too much trouble getting there, especially with a more ramped-up offense moving the ball this year.

In terms of this being a bold prediction, I’ll just add in the fact that Campbell currently has as many career tackles (13) as receptions, so there isn’t a track record here yet. Based on what the coaches and players — and Campbell himself — have said, however, I’m expecting a very nice season for the redshirt junior.

3. At least four Buckeyes will rush for 100 yards in a game this year.

I should have labeled this Five for Friday as “bold predictions” because this is gonna be a tough one to get correct. We know that Mike Weber and J.T. Barrett will both have 100-yard rushing days because that’s just how this offense works, even with Kevin Wilson at the helm. Granted, I am somewhat nervous about Barrett getting 100 yards because the passing game is going to be totally fixed this year for sure totally.

I also think it’s a pretty safe bet that Demario McCall is going to rush for 100 yards in a game at some point. He also won’t have to wait until the fourth quarter to get his yards in — and he’ll even be allowed to run outside the tackles. What kind of wonders await, I wonder.

The wildcards here are Parris Campbell and J.K. Dobbins. Curtis Samuel never had a 100-yard rushing game last season, and Campbell isn’t going to be the inside runner that Samuel was last year. Instead, Campbell will have to get his rushing yards on end arounds, which they will run plenty of this season. For me to hit this mark, however, he’s going to have to get those 100 yards on probably three carries at most. It can be done, but don’t get your hopes up.

Instead, I would put my money on Dobbins to be the fourth guy with 100 yards rushing in a game. Like McCall last year, most of his carries may end up happening in the fourth quarter. Unlike McCall last year, however, Dobbins has the strength to run between the tackles and perhaps break free here and there for big chunks of yards.

I was going to go with a much safer bet here and let you know that J.T. Barrett is going to break Joe Germaine’s Ohio State record (3,330) for most passing yards in a season, but instead I am dumb.

4. No Buckeye will finish with more than 8.5 sacks.

Ohio State has four NFL defensive ends getting major snaps on defense, and yet none of them will hit nine sacks this year? What gives, you say? Tyquan Lewis has actually led the Buckeyes the last two seasons in sacks, notching 8.0 each year. I can see him getting a half sack more than that in 2017, but there is going to be so much rotating that there aren’t enough snaps to expect more than what we have already seen. And Larry Johnson also has to find snaps for guys like Jonathon Cooper, Rashod Berry, and Chase Young, provided they are worthy.

Nick Bosa and Sam Hubbard combined for 8.5 sacks last year, so I should probably stop giving you numbers like this because it is making my prediction look like an attempt to guarantee myself a win. Did you know that John Simon and Joey Bosa are the only Buckeyes since at least 2009 to finish with more than 8.5 sacks. Why is this even a prediction worth writing about?

You know what, ignore this prediction and pretend that I put my J.T. Barrett prediction for at least 3,331 yards passing here. Now imagine the two paragraphs above as being informative and even a little entertaining. Then after reading this paragraph, perch your eyes up a bit in thought, and nod your head as if you were impressed by such a solid foundation for a single prediction.

5. At least three freshmen will have interceptions this season.

I almost like my chances here because of the sheer number of talented defensive freshmen for the Buckeyes this season, especially in the secondary. Interestingly, however, it wasn’t the secondary players that put me over the top with this prediction, it was linebacker Baron Browning.

Since 2012, four true freshmen have had interceptions for the Buckeyes — Rodjay Burns, Erick Smith, Raekwon McMillan, and Vonn Bell. This year, guys like Shaun Wade, Jeffrey Okudah, Marcus Williamson, Browning, and even Isaiah Pryor or Amir Riep could get involved as well.

I expect that when the freshman cornerbacks are playing, quarterbacks will try to test them because, well, they’re freshmen. I expect that to work out in Ohio State’s favor at times. This is a group that is only going to get better, and they’re already pretty good.

At safety, I’m not sure if Wayne Davis and Jahsen Wint are going to be able to keep Pryor out of the two-deep, which will see him playing this season as well. But as I said above, it was Browning and his range that made me pull this trigger. Unfortunately, he’s in a tough spot because of how well Justin Hilliard played in the middle behind Chris Worley. Still, he’s going to have to see the field at some point.

I don’t really like that I said I liked my chances above, because now that I’ve spelled it out for myself, this one is going to be tough to get right. Ultimately, however, it will be the players who failed, not me.