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LGHL’s 2020 College Football season predictions

Our staff predicted every thing for the Buckeyes, the Big Ten Conference, and college football as a whole.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the Ohio State football team prepares to embark on the oddest of college football seasons, so does the staff of your favorite Ohio State SB Nation blog, no, not that one... not that one either... the other one. No, I’m talking about Land-Grant Holy Land. To get ready for the season, our panel of experts refuses to be silenced by the inevitable shaming at the hands of Freezing Cold Takes, and is putting their collective knowledge where their typing fingers are.

Nine LGHL writers and editors have made predictions about the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Big Ten Conference, and college football as a whole. Let us know who you are — and aren’t — agreeing with in the comments below. And don’t worry, we will be revisiting these come season’s end.


Who will lead Ohio State in rushing yardage this season?


Who will lead Ohio State in rushing TDs this season?


What will be the percentage breakdown of carries for Sermon, Teague, and the rest of the RBs?

Nearly all of the responses had whomever the leading rusher was in the 35-45% range, with the second-leading rusher from 30%-40%. Caleb Houser actually had Trey Sermon and Master Teague both averaging 45% of the carries with the rest of the backs picking up the 10% slack that was remaining.

Meredith Hein jumped on the #FreeDemario train and said that while Sermon (35%) and Teague (25%) would be the two leading ball-carriers, Demario McCall would be hot on their heels with 20% of the Buckeyes’ rushes. From your mouth to Woody’s ears, Meredith!


Will the coaching staff #FreeDemario this season?

Despite Meredith’s optimism, she was literally the only one on the LGHL staff that had faith that the coaches would make a concerted effort to get McCall the ball. I want to believe, but I just don’t know that I can stand to have my heartbroken yet again.


Who will lead Ohio State in receiving yardage this season?


Who will lead Ohio State in receiving TDs this season?


How many combined catches will Ohio State’s tight ends have this season?

Last season, OSU tight ends Jeremy Ruckert (14), Luke Farrell (7), Rashod Berry (2), and Jake Hausmann (2) combined for 25 total receptions, yet — just as the tulips return every spring — as with every new Ohio State football season, there is renewed optimism in the TEs being a larger part of the offense this year.

We had a wide range of opinions on this, from Brett Ludwiczak and Tia Johnston going under last year’s total and picking 20 to Connor Lemons going with a whopping 60. If that does happen (even if we assume that the Buckeyes make the national championship game) that means it would be a rise from 1.79 receptions per game in 2019 to 5.46 in 2020.

The rest of the picks averaged in the 25-35 range, which seems plausible.


Justin Fields passing stats

Passing Yards

In his first season as OSU’s QB, Fields threw for 3,273 yards or 233.79 per game. On average, our staff came in at 2,344 yards for this campaign. If the Buckeyes end the season in the same spot as last year, that would come out to a nearly identical 234.4 ypg in a 10 game season. The median prediction, however, came in at 2,800, which would give Fields a total of 280 yards per contest without making the national championship game. Obviously if they did play for the title, the per game average would be lowered when spread out over 11 games.

Passing TDs

Last fall, Fields threw for 41 touchdowns in 14 games, and yet, despite playing at least three fewer games, three LGHL staffers said that he would throw more in 2020; Gene Ross (48), Dan Hessler (44), and me (42).

On the converse, Tia Johnston and Brett Ludwiczak both said that he would throw for just 25 scores this season, a lower per game average than last year.

INTS

As a reminder, Fields through a whopping three picks in 2019, way fewer than our collective prediction of nine. And yet, our average prediction in 2020 is still higher than he had last year at 3.33, with the median right at 3. But the range of predictions goes from 0 to 5, which would still be an impressive total.


Who will lead Ohio State in sacks this season?


Who will lead Ohio State in interceptions this season?


Which true freshman will end up having the biggest impact this season and why?

Unfortunately, our team started working on this survey before the news came out about Kourt Williams tearing his ACL, so that eliminates one of the options that had already been picked, but the majority of selections centered on the defensive backfield and the highly rated class of freshmen wide receivers.

In selecting Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gene Ross said, “I think he will likely share the field with Julian Fleming as sort of the second-team wide receivers, and I think opposing defenses will key in on Fleming more and allow Smith-Njigba to make some big plays. Plus, he’s got a great name.”

On the other side of the ball, George Eisner said, “[Ryan] Watts already has the athleticism to play nickel and the size at 6-foot-3 to help defend inside. He may not make an impact early on in the year, but as the season rolls on, it’ll be interesting to see how much confidence Kerry Coombs and Ryan Day place in the biggest corner Ohio State has on their roster.”

In total, three people selected Smith-Njigba and a pair went with Fleming. I went with Darrion Henry-Young at defensive tackle, even though OSU projects him to play end. And, Lejond Cavazos, Lathan Ransom, and Watts all had one selection.


Which Buckeye that nobody is talking about will step up to make the biggest impact (non-freshman edition)?

Our nine staff members who participated in this survey came up with eight different picks, and none of them were on offense. Other than Tia Johnston — who picked long-snapper Bradley Johnson — we had a nice assortment of defensive players. Both Gene Ross and I went with Teradja Mitchell. Gene said (and I agree), “I think we will see him splitting snaps at middle linebacker with Tuf Borland much like we saw last season with Borland and Baron Browning.”

George Eisner went with Tommy Togiai, writing, “I‘ll never forget watching him run sideline-to-sideline when I attended the OSU/NU game last season, I thought he was a defensive end at first. Considering the unfortunate circumstances with Haskell Garrett, Togiai could see a lot of early playing time for Ohio State’s interior defense. I expect him to become one of the greatest football players the state of Idaho has ever produced.”

We also had votes for Antwuan Jackson, Jonathon Cooper, Tyler Friday, Josh Proctor, and K’Vaughan Pope.


If no games are canceled, what will Ohio State’s B1G record be (including Champions Week)?

We all went 9-0. Don’t worry, this is just the beginning of us being out-and-out homers.


Please list your predicted order of finish in the Big Ten East (Top to Bottom)

Big Ten East Predictions

Contributor Prediction
Contributor Prediction
Brett Ludwiczak Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers
Caleb Houser Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers
Connor Lemons Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers
Dan Hessler Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana
Gene Ross Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers
George Eisner Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers
Matt Tamanini Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers
Meredith Hein Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers
Tia Johnston Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Indiana, Rutgers

Please list your predicted order of finish in the Big Ten West (Top to Bottom)

Big Ten West Predictions

Contributor Prediction
Contributor Prediction
Brett Ludwiczak Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois
Caleb Houser Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois
Connor Lemons Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern, Nebraska, Illinois
Dan Hessler Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois
Gene Ross Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska, Illinois
George Eisner Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue
Matt Tamanini Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Illinois
Meredith Hein Minnesota, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Illinois
Tia Johnston Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Northwestern

Who is your Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year?

Literally we all picked Justin Fields. The homerism continues.


Who is your Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year?

Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Predictions

Contributor Prediction
Contributor Prediction
Brett Ludwiczak George Karlaftis, Purdue Defensive End
Caleb Houser Eric Burrell, Wisconsin Safety
Connor Lemons Kwity Paye, Michigan Defensive End
Dan Hessler Shaun Wade, Ohio State Cornerback
Gene Ross Shaun Wade, Ohio State Cornerback
George Eisner Shaun Wade, Ohio State Cornerback
Matt Tamanini Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin Linebacker
Meredith Hein George Karlaftis, Purdue Defensive End
Tia Johnston Shaun Wade, Ohio State Cornerback

Who is your Big Ten Coach of the Year?


What is your boldest, most out-of-left-field prediction for Ohio State this season?

Boldest Ohio State-Related Predictions

Contributor Prediction Correct?
Contributor Prediction Correct?
Brett Ludwiczak Heading into the playoff, Ohio State wins all their games by at least 2 touchdowns No
Caleb Houser Will beat every opponent by double digits. No
Connor Lemons Week 2 vs Penn State will be the only game decided by less than 20 points. No
Dan Hessler Ohio State has a tight end finish in the top two in TD receptions on the team No
Gene Ross Ohio State produces six first-round NFL Draft picks this season. (Justin Fields, Wyatt Davis, Shaun Wade, Chris Olave, Sevyn Banks, Josh Myers) Draft hasn't happened, but No
George Eisner Jeremy Ruckert finishes as a top five receiver on the team YES! 3rd in TDs, 4th in yards
Matt Tamanini This team will end up with the best per-game offensive numbers in program history. No
Meredith Hein Um, isn't it weird enough that Ohio State could make the CFP with a max of only nine games (and no non-conference matchups) under its belt? OSU made the playoff with six games under their belt.
Tia Johnston Zero positive COVID tests Hahahahahaha

What is your boldest, most out-of-left-field prediction for college football this season (non-Ohio State version)?

Boldest Non-OSU Predictions

Contributor Prediction Correct?
Contributor Prediction Correct?
Brett Ludwiczak LSU finishes under .500 this year Technically, No (they were 5-5).
Caleb Houser SEC will be so competitive every team in league has a loss by season's end. No
Connor Lemons There will be no bowl games other than the 3 CFP games due to COVD-19. No
Dan Hessler If anything out-of-left-field was going to happen, the 2020 season will be it. With how Covid has effected the season already and how it could effect it in the future, there is a chance no team finishes undefeated. No
Gene Ross The Big Ten gets two teams into the College Football Playoff. No
George Eisner Uh, the whole SEC sucks? Is anything a bold prediction in the wildest year of our lives? No
Matt Tamanini There will be a non-Power 5 team in the College Football Playoff for the first time this year. No
Meredith Hein The Big Ten will be the only conference to not have games delayed or cancelled due to COVID-19. lolz
Tia Johnston Big Ten having 2 or less games postponed lolz to the max

Who wins the Heisman Trophy?

Six contributors picked Justin Fields, three picked Trevor Lawrence.


What are your playoff seeding predictions?

Playoff Seeding Predictions

Contributor No. 1 Seed No. 2 Seed No. 3 Seed No. 4 Seed
Contributor No. 1 Seed No. 2 Seed No. 3 Seed No. 4 Seed
Brett Ludwiczak Ohio State Clemson Alabama Oregon
Caleb Houser Clemson Ohio State Alabama Georgia
Connor Lemons Ohio State Clemson Alabama Oregon
Dan Hessler Clemson Ohio State Alabama Georgia
Gene Ross Clemson Alabama Ohio State Georgia
George Eisner Alabama Clemson Ohio State Cincinnati
Matt Tamanini Clemson Alabama Ohio State Cincinnati
Meredith Hein Clemson Ohio State Alabama Georgia
Tia Johnston Clemson Ohio State Alabama Georgia

How will Ohio State’s season end?

Ohio State’s Final Result

Contributor Prediction
Contributor Prediction
Brett Ludwiczak National Championship Game win over Clemson
Caleb Houser National Championship Game win over Clemson
Connor Lemons National Championship Game loss to Alabama
Dan Hessler National Championship Game win
Gene Ross National Championship Game win over Clemson
George Eisner National Championship Game win
Matt Tamanini National Championship Game win over Clemson
Meredith Hein National Championship Game win
Tia Johnston National Championship Game win over Clemson

Who is your National Champion?

National Champion Prediction

Contributor Prediction
Contributor Prediction
Brett Ludwiczak Ohio State
Caleb Houser Ohio State
Connor Lemons Alabama
Dan Hessler Ohio State
Gene Ross Ohio State
George Eisner Ohio State
Matt Tamanini Ohio State
Meredith Hein Ohio State
Tia Johnston Ohio State

Check out how we did in our 2018 predictions to see which LGHL contributor you should believe in this season:

LGHL’s 2019 College Football season predictions


After some unexpected start and stops, I am back to posting a column every single day from preseason camp until whenever Ohio State’s football season ends. Some days they will be longer and in depth, some days they will be short and sweet. Let me know what you think of this one, and what you’d like to see me discuss in the comments or on Twitter. Go Bucks!