After what seemed like an eternity of an offseason, Ohio State is set to play a real life football game this Saturday, one that counts and everything. It will kick off one of the most interesting seasons of the Urban Meyer era, one where Ohio State is long on talent, short on experience, and exactly where expectations should be remains to be seen.
We got together as a staff, all 18 of us, to look into our crystal balls and tried to predict how this season will go, just like we have every other season. This is the first of a three part series, where we’ll publish what our staff thinks of various Ohio State related predictions, with the Big Ten, and college football at large, to come later. At the end of the season, as is tradition, we’ll also take a look back at these, so we can all laugh at how dumb we were, or crow about the one dang thing we completely nailed.
Who will lead Ohio State in rushing this season?
83.3%: Mike Weber
11.1% Curtis Samuel
The Buckeyes don’t quite have an obvious answer to who will replace Ezekiel Elliott, and while Mike Weber is projected to get the lion’s share of the caries, Curtis Samuel, true freshman Antonio Williams, and quarterback J.T. Barrett will undoubtedly also tote the rock. Looks our staff likes Weber to lead the team at the end of the year, which seems like a reasonably safe bet.
Who will lead Ohio State in receiving yardage this season?
66.7% Noah Brown
11.1% Austin Mack
11.1% Corey Smith
5.6% Dontre Wilson
This could be the most uncertain question for Ohio State’s offense, considering virtually nobody in the wideouts room has caught a pass in a college game before. Noah Brown, thought to be a signifiant contributor last season before he broke his leg, appears to be the closest thing to safe bet, but there was lots of uncertainty in these votes.
How many true freshman will not redshirt this season on offense?
More than five: 16.7%
Ohio State added 13 offensive players in the 2016 recruiting class, some with very elite recruiting profiles. Urban Meyer says he plans to play lots of freshman each year, but most of them have redshirted each season. But this year, there are plenty of spots on the two-deep actually up for grabs. How many actually play? At least one, Michael Jordan, is likely to start, and Austin Mack is highly likely to see time at wideout, but how many others see real playing time? Our staff thinks at least two more will, with the potential for more.
What true freshman do you think will have the biggest impact this season?
Michael Jordan: 10 votes
Nick Bosa: 3 votes
Austin Mack: 2 votes
Jonathon Cooper: 1 vote
Keandre Jones: 1 vote
If you’re protected to start on Ohio State’s offensive line as a true freshman, with as well as they’ve recruited, that’s a pretty strong endorsement. Of course, a certain Bosa on the defensive line, and a probable contributor at a position of need (wideout) may have something to say about that.
Which Buckeye that nobody is talking about will step up to make the biggest impact (non-freshman edition)?
Chris Worley: 3 votes
Dontre Wilson: 3 votes
Marshon Lattimore: 3 votes
Dante Booker: 2 votes
Other: 7 votes
It’s a bit of a subjective category, the defensive side of the ball picked up the most votes, with Ohio State’s unsung linebackers and defensive backs getting praise. But perhaps Wilson, the former highly regarded speedsteer who has been buried behind younger recruits, could have a huge year. It would be fitting, on a roster dominated by freshman, for a senior to finally break out.
Which game this season scares you the most?
Penn State: 11.1%
Michigan State: 5.6%
I FEAR NOTHING: 5.6%
I left the wording a little vague here on purpose. Personally, I’m not especially “scared” of the Oklahoma game, because Ohio State isn’t favored and I already think they’re going to lose, but the Penn State game, on the road, against a team that isn’t as talented, screams “upset possibility” to me. Others perhaps took this to mean the game that Ohio State is most likely to lose, which hey, Oklahoma on the road seems like a safe bet. Few, it appears, are afraid of Michigan, hype and all. But hey, this is an Ohio State blog.
What will Ohio State's regular season record be?
With a tough schedule and a young team, expectations are a little more measured this year. Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t also still sky high, but this is Ohio State we’re talking about here.
How will Ohio State's season end?
First round playoff exist: 10 votes
National title game appearance: 3 votes
Rose Bowl: 3 votes
Our staff is pretty bullish on Ohio State finding a way into the playoff, perhaps by sweeping their Big Ten schedule, and a few brave souls are still picking the Buckeyes to win the damn thing, because hey, if you can’t be a shameless homer during this thing, when can you be? Let the record state that I did not pick Ohio State to make the playoff, so y’all can either shame me in a few months, or allow me to gloat a little bit.
How many Ohio State coaches will leave for other jobs after the season?
Ohio State assistants are typically hot commodities, for the NFL, and for head jobs at the FBS and FCS level. Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner could be popular names for FBS teams looking for new coaches, and if the offense struggles again, maybe Tim Beck ends up elsewhere. But some kind of attrition seems likely.
We’ll be back with Big Ten and national predictions later this week.