Prior to each Ohio State game this year, LGHL is going to bring you some “bold predictions”. This will include somewhere around five predictions for the game, whether it be passing yards, points scored, sacks, or a number of other things that we could see happening during the game.
We’d love to hear your bold predictions. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your bold predictions in the comments.
Ohio State will have it’s best passing game of the season, and set a new single-game record
While some of this prediction is based on CJ Stroud and Company’s performance, it’s mainly due to Michigan State’s utter lack of a passing defense. The Spartans are dead last in the FBS in passing yards allowed, giving up 329 per game.
(Before we get too smug as Ohio State fans, the Buckeyes are allowing 261.5 yards per game, which is good for 108th in the FBS).
Thus far this season, CJ Stroud’s highest passing total came against Oregon, with 484 yards. That performance was good for second all-time in program history for single game passing yards behind Dwayne Haskins’ 499-yard performance in 2018 against Northwestern. As an aside, Stroud and Haskins make up nine of the top-10 single-game performances in Ohio State history.
Stroud is currently sixth in program history in single season passing yards, and needs just 264 yards to move into the No. 2 spot behind Haskins’ 2018 performance.
No rushing touchdowns for Ohio State
This prediction is not an indictment on TreVeyon Henderson or the offensive line, and more of a consideration that, when the Buckeyes are facing a truly abhorrent pass defense, why run?
Realistically, Henderson will have his fair share of carries, because the run will always balance the pass to a degree. And it’s probable that he’ll see the ball in certain red zone situations. There have been just two games this season where Henderson has not scored a rushing touchdown (Minnesota and Nebraska), so it seems likely he’ll have an opportunity at some point, but those times would seem to be more limited given the Spartan defense.
2021’s largest over/under
Similar to passing yardage, the Buckeyes and Spartans could set a season high for their point total today. Ohio State’s matchup with Purdue is currently in the lead, with 90 total points scored in the matchup.
The over/under is currently set for 69.5, which feels low for the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the Big Ten in scoring offense. Ohio State is putting up 46.3 points per game while Michigan State is averaging 34.6.
Neither defense is elite, and, despite the traditions of this matchup, things could quickly devolve into a shootout. It’s a far cry from the defensive struggles we’ve seen from these two teams of yore.
Special teams touchdown... this week?
It might just happen. While we are hoping for a score from freshman receiver Emeka Egbuka (who leads the conference in kick return average with 32.1 yards per attempt), Michigan State’s Jayden Reed has already found the endzone twice this season on punt returns. Reed is averaging a conference-best 21.3 yards per return on punts. Reed also is just behind Egbuka in kickoff return yardage, averaging 25.3 yards per attempt.
Things will be made more challenging for Ohio State when it comes to punt returns, as Michigan State’s punter, Bryce Baringer, leads the conference and is third in the FBS in punting with 49l4 yards per punt.
Someone will get kicked out for targeting
This game tends to get chippy. Ohio State and Michigan State have both seen players ejected in recent weeks due to targeting calls, and we can expect emotions to be high in a game for the determination of the Big Ten East championship.
Of course, the further implication — in Ohio State’s case — is what comes next week: Should an ejection come in the second half, that will have a major impact against Michigan in the regular season finale.