I am nothing if not a predictor. You know this. I know this.
I routinely get some of my weekly predictions correct during the season, which is something that only other people who make predictions can say. We are a very select group of people who sometimes guess things correctly. Does that make us special? Probably. Do I like to brag about it? Sure. Does it make me better than almost everyone else? That’s not for me to say.
Before we get to my weekly game predictions for the Buckeyes, I thought it would be a good idea of I stretch my predicting legs by making some proclamations about the coming season.
I hope this doesn’t ruin your expectations for what is going to happen.
If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read, but please scroll to the bottom so that all of our ads are shown.
1. JK Dobbins will set a career-high in rushing yardage.
For JK Dobbins to top his career-high of 1,403 yards rushing, he’ll likely need to average over six yards per carry. That’s nearly a yard-and-a-half better than his 4.6 yards per carry from last season. But it’s at least a yard lower than his 7.2 yards per carry as a true freshman. Dobbins carried the ball 36 more times last year, but rushed for 350 fewer yards. If Dobbins can get the same 230 carries he got last year, he would only need to average 6.1 yards per carry, which he absolutely should now with a running threat at quarterback to slow the defense down. The only question is whether or not Dobbins can enough carries. He’s going to lose some to Fields, but Fields won’t have the 165 rushes that JT Barrett had in 2017. Still, he only needs 16 or 17 carries per game, which seems very, very doable. And actually, he may not even need that many to reach 1,404 yards rushing.
2. Every offensive line starter will make some kind of All-Big Ten team.
Last year, each starting member of Ohio State’s offensive line earned at least Honorable Mention All-Big Ten mention, and even though there are four new starters this season, expect the Buckeyes to match that number. In fact, let’s go one step better and predict that all five starters will make one of the first three all-conference teams. Last season, Isaiah Prince, Michael Jordan, and Demetrius Knox were on one of the first three teams. All three of those guys are gone, but I think this offensive line is going to be outstanding and will allow the Buckeyes to get back to running the ball like they have in the past. They are another reason why I’m so confident about the first prediction.
3. Ohio State will finish with a top three rush defense in the Big Ten.
Let’s be honest, this should never have to be a prediction. It should only ever be a likelihood. Unfortunately for you, the Buckeyes have only finished in the top three rush defenses in the Big Ten three times since 2012. Two of those times came with Everett Withers and Luke Fickell as the defensive coordinators in 2012 and 2013. The 2017 defense also finished third. The last time Ohio State led the Big Ten in rush defense was 2010, which technically no longer exists. Why will this defense be different than most of the last decade? For one, they can’t be any worse than they were a year ago when they were sixth. For two, the increased emphasis on the defensive line getting upfield and the back seven playing more zone will allow for more eyes to stay on the football. Leaving more than one last line of defense will help as well.
4. The Buckeye defense will intercept at least 16 passes.
Ohio State intercepted 11 passes last season. Only Rutgers finished with fewer interceptions (9) in the Big Ten last season. Two years earlier with one of the best secondaries in school history, the Buckeyes intercepted 21 passes. I’m not going to go that high with this defense, but there are signs around the program that they will get closer to that number. So I went with a happy medium of 16 interceptions. Again, playing a bit more zone should help, as will a better pass rush. Add in a larger number of versatile athletes and multiple disguises, and quarterback mistakes might not be all that irregular.
5. Justin Fields will be a First-Team All-Big Ten quarterback.
Let’s see, you’ve got a quarterback with prototype size, runs a 4.4, is capable of being accurate, has a bunch of talented receivers, tight ends, and running backs to share the ball with, and is running an offense devised by Urban Meyer, Ryan Day, Kevin Wilson, and Mike Yurcich. There are going to be a lot of numbers, but even you can do this math. I’m thinking over 4,000 total yards and over 40 total touchdowns. Of course, now that I’ve done the research and found out only two other players in Big Ten history have done this (Dwayne Haskins, 2018; Drew Brees, 1998), I’m feeling a bit unsure. But once you type something out, there’s no way to take it back. Actually, the only real prediction here is that Justin Fields will be a First-Team All-Big Ten quarterback, which will happen even if he only manages 3,900 yards and 39 touchdowns.