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.
C.J. Stroud will have a rushing touchdown (that stays on the board)
Absent two favorite targets at receiver in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, the Ohio State offense will be looking for ways to keep the Utah defense on its toes. Might that mean we see a run from a quarterback who’s seemed almost antagonistic toward such plays?
Despite having a single rush for 48 yards and a touchdown in his singular play against Michigan State in 2020, Stroud finished the 2021 regular season with 31 rushes for -30 yards — not exactly prolific. He had that one rushing touchdown against Michigan that was called back for a penalty, but has proven to be as pure of a true passer than we’ve seen at Ohio State in years. It might just be the perfect time to see what his legs can do.
One last pick-six for the defense for the season
The Buckeyes had been on a run earlier this season when it came to defensive touchdowns, but recorded just a single interception against Michigan, with none in their previous two games versus Michigan State or Purdue. The Buckeyes’ defensive secondary, which has often gotten flack for its performance this season, recorded four pick-sixes in the regular season, and may have a shot at one more this afternoon.
Cameron Rising has put together an extremely respectable season as Utah’s starting quarterback, throwing for 18 touchdowns and five picks on the season. However, in the Utes’ Pac-12 Championship win over Oregon, Rising struggled by comparison, throwing for just one touchdown to two interceptions.
Might the Ohio State secondary come up with one last explosive play on defense to round out the season?
Special teams touchdown
Related, we’ve been hankering for it all season long. Freshman receiver Emeka Egbuka, who will likely see his name called a lot more on the offensive side of things, has been electrifying, and is sixth in the nation in kickoff returns with a 32.1 yard average per attempt.
Lowest yardage total of the season
Utah has the nation’s 11th best total defense, allowing just 315.4 yards per game to opposing offenses. It’s also an incredibly balanced defense, which gives up just 195.3 yards through the air and 120.1 on the ground. That unyielding defense has meant that opponents are scoring under 21 points per game on average against the Utes this season.
Ohio State enters the game as the nation’s top scoring offense, averaging 45.5 points per game. The Buckeyes’ 551 yards per game on offense is also tops in the nation, and will be Utah’s biggest challenge yet to stop.
The Buckeyes are coming off their lowest total offensive output of the season, which saw 458 yards against Michigan. While this performance was by no means anemic from a yardage perspective, they’ll be up against a team that has held opponents to much less, and Ohio State will be without two of the weapons who contributed to their incredible total for the year.
A very, very short game
Utah runs the ball a lot. So does Ohio State. In fact, the Buckeyes run the ball 33.4 times per game, while Utah attempts closer to 39 rush plays per outing. Again, Ohio State will likely be leaning more on TreVeyon Henderson and the rushing attack without Olave and Wilson on the field, though establishing the run will still be critical in setting up the pass.
High total rushes mean a shorter run time. Dare we say we’ll be wrapped in under three hours?