The No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners and the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes take to the field Saturday night in the week’s only matchup between Top 5 teams. Oklahoma is looking for revenge for a contest that did not go well for them a year ago. I, however, will not be looking for revenge as I assume my predictions last year went perfectly.
Speaking of perfect predictions, let’s take a quick look at what happened with last week’s predictions for the Indiana game.
1. J.K. Dobbins will rush for at least 100 yards against Indiana.
Outcome: Yep. Dobbins went for 181 yards. I was 19 yards away from giving myself credit for two correct predictions here.
2. Erick Smith or Jordan Fuller will have an interception.
Outcome: Yep. Fuller had an interception at the goal line.
3. J.T. Barrett will be responsible for at least four touchdowns.
Outcome: Yep. Barrett threw three touchdown passes and rushed for a fourth.
4. Chris Worley will have an interception.
Outcome: Nope. Not my fault, though. I blame Indiana’s focus on attacking the corners.
5. Three Buckeyes will have plays of at least 35 yards.
Outcome: Yep. J.K. Dobbins had a 35-yard run, Johnnie Dixon had a 59-yard reception, and Parris Campbell had a 74-yard reception.
Do I expect to go 4-for-5 every week? No, because I expect the players to fail to live up to the expectations here and there. I can’t hold them to the same standards I hold myself. It’s not fair to them.
As far as this week goes, even though I’m not sure what I’m going to predict yet, I already feel pretty good about what’s coming.
Let’s get started.
1. Ohio State’s running backs will combine for at least 225 yards rushing.
Everybody keeps saying that Mike Weber is good to go and practiced this week and looks fine, but I’m still a little concerned about him. If I felt more sure about him, I probably would have had him and J.K. Dobbins both hitting 100 yards on the ground. Going with the entire running back room, however, gives me a little more leeway, especially considering how good Antonio Williams looked last week. The Sooners only gave up 225 yards rushing in a game twice last year. The first time was against Ohio State, and the second time was West Virginia. UTEP managed just 73 yards rushing against the Sooners last week, so it’s not like Oklahoma’s run defense is trash. Quite the opposite, in fact. You should have great respect both for OU’s defense and this prediction.
2. J.T. Barrett will complete a pass that travels at least 30 yards in the air down the field.
I’m trying not to let Ohio State’s outstanding wide receiver corps bail me out with a catch-and-run, so we’re going with 30 yards through the air — from the line of scrimmage. I am guaranteeing at least one deep shot will connect against Oklahoma, and possibly three or four. The Sooners’ secondary could very well be the weak link of their defense, and weak links get exposed by Kevin Wilson. Parris Cambpell isn’t going to drop this one, and neither is Terry McLaurin. Yes, a wheel route to J.K. Dobbins will count just fine, thank you.
3. A cornerback will be involved in a turnover.
I like this one because it gives me some breathing room. It can be an interception, a punt block, a stop on fourth down, a fumble recovery, or a fumble forced. Heck, I would even give myself credit for another tipped pass by Kendall Sheffield that ends up in Jordan Fuller’s hands like last week. I kind of like Sheffield’s chances for an interception here. Or maybe Damon Arnette if he’s ever matched up with tight end Mark Andrews.
4. Parris Campbell will score a touchdown.
You know how we didn’t see any jet sweeps with Parris Campbell last week? We should probably see at least one this week, as well as some fakes. I could see one of those sweeps coming inside the 10-yard line. Even if that doesn’t happen, Campbell will be catching another touchdown pass, this time a more traditional big gainer. Oklahoma is thin in the secondary, and while their safeties are experienced, they can’t stay with Campbell if there is any kind of attention placed elsewhere — like a play-action or eye fake.
5. Ohio State will hold Oklahoma to under 100 yards rushing.*
The Sooners rushed for 180 yards on 38 carries (4.7 ypc) last week against UTEP, which isn’t that great. They have to replace Joe Mixon and Samaje Perrine, but they are still trying to find the necessary productivity. The Buckeyes didn’t get tested in the run game last week, but Oklahoma will have to try to run the ball this week in order to slow down OSU’s pass rush. Ohio State will come into this game concerned about the passing game and quarterback Baker Mayfield, but their No. 1 priority will be to shut down the running game and make Oklahoma one dimensional. They will succeed at that.
*Any rushing statistics amassed by backup quarterback Kyler Murray will not be included in this total because that’s beside the point.
Bonus: A freshman or sophomore will have a sack.
The key candidates here are defensive ends Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young, but I might get a cheap one correct with Dre’Mont Jones. Outside linebacker Malik Harrison is also a possibility. The sneaky pick here could be a cornerback, namely Kendall Sheffield or Damon Arnette.
Bonus: Terry McLaurin will have a big play.
I can keep this one ambiguous because it’s just a bonus, so get off of my back! I think I mentioned this on my podcast this week, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see different receivers step up each week with big plays. If that is the case, then Terry McLaurin is due either this week or the next.
Bonus: J.T. Barrett will throw an interception.
If he’s going to be more aggressive throwing the ball down field, something bad is bound to happen. But that doesn’t matter because fans just want to see him take some shots, so they’ll totally be okay with an interception or two.