The keynote speaker at this year’s National Association of Revered Sports Predictors Convention couldn’t get off work, so I volunteered to speak in his place. Instead of going ahead and having me speak, however, they decided to just scrap the speech and open up the bar.
I have given the speech before, so this was no big deal. It’s not like they hurt me. And no matter what ballads I wrote and recorded following the convention about how hurt and betrayed I was, trust me, that was just a commercial decision by my producers.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure that after this season’s game predictions they will be crawling back to me to give the speech in 2019.
Still, I’m not sure why my 92% prediction rate* wasn’t good enough for them last year.
But the 2018 convention has come and gone, and now we move on to the here and now…and the future.
Specifically, what is going to happen on Saturday. I have five things for you to expect, so don’t read if you want to be surprised.
1. A true freshman will score a touchdown.
Offensively, there are roughly five freshmen who could make this prediction come true — running backs Master Teague and Brian Snead, receiver Chris Olave, H-back Jaelen Gill, and tight end Jeremy Ruckert. Which means it will be safety Josh Proctor on a blocked punt. The betting favorite here would be Snead or Teague, but would any of us be surprised to see Dwayne Haskins find Ruckert in the back of the end zone in the second quarter?
2. Pete Werner will have a tackle for loss.
I can already hear you saying this isn’t much of a prediction, but I will remind you that getting a tackle for loss is no easy thing. To predict a linebacker to get a tackle for loss is pretty ballsy because only two Buckeye linebackers in the last decade have averaged a tackle for loss per game — Darron Lee and Ryan Shazier. So you can scoff at my prediction of a TFL for Pete Werner, but I will scoff at your lack of knowledge about the numbers. And just to clarify, yes, a half a tackle for loss still counts. No, I don’t know how many linebackers averaged 0.5 tackles for loss per game and I don’t think it’s all that relevant.
3. If it the rain allows, the Buckeye offense will have at least 275 yards rushing and 275 yards passing.
I was going to go with 300-300 here, but I’ve already gone out for enough on the TFL limb above. The Buckeyes will come out throwing in order to build some confidence for Dwayne Haskins, but then when Tate Martell comes in, they’re going to want to see him a bit as well. The running game should be okay as well because even if they’re not running a lot early, they should be running a lot late. And both J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber will have rushes of at least 30 yards, so that will help them pad their numbers in their limited opportunities.
4. Parris Campbell will have at least one play of 40 yards.
While everyone looks at Dwayne Haskins’ arm and thinks about what it can do for the Buckeyes down the field, don’t underestimate what it will do for the wide game as well. You know those long, sideline screen passes? Haskins can get the ball to the receiver quicker than J.T. Barrett could, and there will be times when that split second is all a guy like Parris Campbell will need in order to break a one-handed tackle. And while that’s the 40-yard play I see in my head when I think of Campbell, he is intent on showing people that he is also a deep threat this season. If he is, the Buckeyes’ passing game is going to be very, very dangerous.
5. Jordan Fuller will have an interception — or at least have it in his hands.
Look, I can’t guarantee that Jordan Fuller is going to catch the interception that I see being thrown to him in my mind. Yes, in my mind he catches it, but that’s just my brain putting together the most likely outcome with the information that I give it. I can predict a lot of things, but I cannot predict whether or not a defensive back is going to catch a pass that hits him in the hands. I am good — some would say ‘the best’ — but I’m not good enough to know Fuller’s hands nor his desire to make my predictions look bad.