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Revisiting LGHL staff’s preseason football predictions

Like Ohio State’s season, our predictions were pretty hit or miss.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Anderson Independent Mail-USA TODAY Sports

We are now two and a half weeks clear of the College Football Playoff National Championship game that ended Ohio State’s football season one win shy of the title. With that distance, it is now time to look back at how accurate the Land-Grant Holy Land staff’s pre-season predictions were for the Buckeye, Big Ten, and college football seasons.

Keep in mind that these answers were supplied the day before Ohio State opened their 2020 season, not before the very first college football game of the season (as is standard), because at that time, we didn’t think that OSU would even have a season.

But, if you want to check our work, you can visit the original predictions article HERE.


Who will lead Ohio State in rushing yardage this season?

This one certainly changed over the last handful of regular season games, but the 77.8% of us that predicted Trey Sermon to lead the team in rushing yards were correct.

Sermon finished the year with 870 rushing yards (and I maintain that he would have been well over 1,000 had he not gotten injured on the first play of the title game), Master Teague was second with 514, and Justin Fields had 383. No one else on the team had more than 65 yards on the season.


Who will lead Ohio State in rushing TDs this season?

Despite the three-way tie in the voting, the actual race for this specific crown wasn’t that close, as Teague’s eight rushing TDs was just one less than the combined total of Sermon (4) and Fields (5).


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

As I wrote in the original article, “Nearly all of the responses had whomever the leading rusher was in the 35-45% range, with the second-leading rusher from 30%-40%.” This ended up being mostly true — albeit aided by injuries to both primary backs. When counting just the rushes by running backs (factoring out those from QBs and wide receivers), there were 250 carries, and the percentages broke down thusly:

Sermon: 46.4%
Teague: 41.6%
The rest of the running backs: 12%


Will the coaching staff #FreeDemario this season?

Meredith, I appreciate and applaud your positivity and naiveté, but no, the coaching staff did not #FreeDemario this season. The fifth-year season accounted for two touches and 39 yards from scrimmage, and one poorly thought out Instagram Live. Although, there’s always next year.


Who will lead Ohio State in receiving yardage this season?

Yes, 77.8% of us did correctly predict that Chris Olave would lead the team in receiving, but whoa nelly was it close. After all the games were played, Olave just edged out Garrett Wilson for the yardage lead, 729 to 723. However, Wilson got his on seven fewer catches.


Who will lead Ohio State in receiving TDs this season?

Similar story here as well, 2/3s of us picked Olave to lead the team in receiving TDs, and he did, but only by a single catch. He finished the season with seven, Wilson had six, and tight end Jeremy Ruckert had five. Not a terrible thing to have all three of those guys back next year.


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

Our men’s basketball expert Connor Lemons showed why he isn’t our college football expert (sorry Connor) as he predicted 60 combined receptions from the TEs, and that was obviously very, very wrong. However, both Brett Ludwiczak and Tia Johnston were closest as they predicted 20 receptions from the group on the season, and the actual total was 19.

Now, technically if we were playing “Price is Right” rules, they would be wrong as well, but we’ll give it to them.

However, if Ohio State hadn’t had three regular season games canceled, and the TEs had maintained their average in those games, they would have had 26, which would have been one more than Gene Ross’ guess of 25.


Justin Fields passing stats

Passing Yards

For the first time in our predictions, we have someone who got a raw number total prediction EXACTLY RIGHT!

But, before I tell you who that is, it’s important to keep in mind that these predictions of raw totals, rather than averages, are especially difficult, because going into the season, we didn’t know how many games the Buckeyes would end up playing, but I suppose that that had to be part of the calculus in picking your answers.

Our staff average for Fields’ total passing yards was 2,344 and the median was 2,800. If those totals had been divided over a full season finishing in the national title game (11 games), they would have been 213.1 and 254.6 yards per game respectively.

Fields finished the season with exactly 2,100 yards over the eight-game season. That means that Brett Ludwiczak is the first one to get a bullseye on one of these questions, which is so freaking lucky that I can’t even begin to calculate what those odds are.

Now, to spin this one forward a little, if you take Fields’ average of 262.5 ypg from the 2020 season and extrapolate that to what would have been that full, 11-game season, that would come out to 2,888 yards, and Johnston predicted that the QB would throw for 2,800; so partial credit on that one.

Passing TDs

Fields finished the season with 22 total passing touchdowns, which means that two of us — Ross (48) and Dan Hessler (44) — predicted that he would have twice as many TDs through the air as he actually did... full disclosure though, I wasn’t too far from that with 42.

However, our leading prognosticators Ludwiczak and Johnston both predicted that he would finish the season with 25 scores, which isn’t too far off.

INTS

The OSU quarterback ended up throwing more interceptions in 2020 than any of us predicted that he would. He totaled six INTs, but three of us (Lemons, Hessler, and me) predicted that he would throw five, so we not only were closest, but we won on “Price is Right” rules as well!


Who will lead Ohio State in sacks this season?

This was an interesting year when it came to Ohio State sacks. The team as a whole only managed to accumulate 21 sacks on the season, and super-senior Jonathon Cooper lead the team with just 3.5. That means that two of us got that one right, and the perfect prognosticators in this category are Hessler and Johnston.


Who will lead Ohio State in interceptions this season?

Another wildly underwhelming defensive stat here, as the Buckeye defense only picked up seven INTs on the season, and only one person had more than one. That person was Shaun Wade. So, 55.6% of us were correct... technically.


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

Now, this one was obviously pretty subjective, but predictions included Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Julian Fleming, Darrion Henry-Young, Lejond Cavazos, Lathan Ransom, and Ryan Watts. If I’m being honest, I think I’m going to call this question a push, because no true freshman really had a substantive impact on the team in 2020. Sure, there were guys who contributed or had exciting moments, but no one specifically shined. So, I’m calling this one as no one got it right.


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

The determination of whether or not a player is someone that “nobody is talking about” will obviously vary, but in terms of the players that our staff actually picked, I’d have to say that George Eisner takes this one, thanks to his prediction of Tommy Togiai. If anyone had gone with Haskell Garrett, they clearly would have won this category running away, but there was little reason to expect Garrett to even play all that much, let alone at an All-American level.


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

Clearly, games were cancelled, but we all predicted the Bucks to go 9-0, so I guess we were more or less correct.


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

The correct order of finish was: Ohio State, Indiana, Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers, Michigan, and Michigan State. Needless to say, no one got that exactly right. I will take some credit (along with Ludwiczak and Eisner) for putting Indiana at third above Michigan, but beyond that — and everyone picking OSU to be first — we were all pretty messy here.


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

The actual order of finish in the West was: Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Illinois. We all wiffed on this one too, but I will give it to Ross, Hessler, and Lemons who had the B1G West champion Wildcats higher than the rest of us did. They all picked NU to finish fifth out of seven, while the rest of us had them at sixth or seventh.


Who is your Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year?

We all picked Justin Fields. We were all right.


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

Iowa tackle Daviyon Nixon won this award; none of us picked him. But, shout out to the four LGHLers who went with Shaun Wade!


Who is your Big Ten Coach of the Year?

A third of us got this one right going with Indiana’s Tom Allen. The three that got this one correct were Eisner, Ludwiczak, and Ross. Congrats, gents.


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 LGHLers picked Justin Fields, three picked Trevor Lawrence. No one picked Devonta Smith.


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

The actual CFP rankings were No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State, and No. 4 Notre Dame. Eisner was the only one to get Alabama as No. 1 correct; in fact, he had the top three correct. However, no one had ND in the playoff at all. In addition to Eisner; Ross and I had OSU at third, but just with Clemson and Alabama flipped.


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

Lemons was the only one to get this one right... bastard.


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

Lemons is still a bastard.