Before each Ohio State game this year, LGHL is going to bring you some “bold predictions”. This will include somewhere a few hot takes for the game, whether it be passing yards, points scored, sacks, or some 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 scores more than 40 points against Wisconsin in Columbus for the first time since 1989
Usually, the battle between the Buckeyes and Badgers is a hard-fought battle where points are at a premium. The last time Ohio State scored more than 40 points in a game against Wisconsin at Ohio Stadium came all the way back in 1989 when the Buckeyes beat the Badgers 42-22. There has been only one game in the series since when the Buckeyes scored at least 40 points against Wisconsin in a game, and that came in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game when Ohio State shut out the Badgers 59-0.
The Buckeyes have been inching closer to that mark over the last three games in Columbus in the series. Back in 2011, Braxton Miller led Ohio State to a 33-29 upset over Russell Wilson and the Badgers. Two years later the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin 31-24, and in 2019 Ohio State almost hit the 40-point mark, routing the Badgers 38-7.
Ohio State will more than double the highest scoring output Wisconsin has allowed this year
So far this year the Wisconsin defense has been pretty stingy, allowing just 24 points through three games. Most of that total came in the 17-14 loss to Washington State. In their other two games, the Badgers shut out Illinois State, and most recently gave up just seven points to New Mexico State.
In predicting the Buckeyes will score more than 40 points in tonight’s game, it would also mean that Ohio State at least doubles the most points Wisconsin has given up this season. Even though Washington State has a nice offense with Cam Ward at quarterback and Nakia Watson at running back, the Buckeyes will be the most dynamic offense Wisconsin has faced this season, by a wide margin.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba will record his first 100-yard receiving game of the season
With outstanding performances from Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka this year, it’s easy to forget that Jaxon Smith-Njigba is still the best wide receiver on the Ohio State roster. Smith-Njigba suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener against Notre Dame, and Ryan Day has been cautious with Smith-Njigba’s return to the field. After not playing against Arkansas State, Smith-Njigba played last week against Toledo, but he was used as more of a decoy, essentially running some routes to knock some of the rust off.
What better way to make the college football world remember he is one of the best wide receivers in the country than by putting up a big performance under the lights in a conference game? Not only does it help Smith-Njigba here that Harrison and Egbuka have played so well in the first three games of the year, but Julian Fleming and Cade Stover are also giving opposing defenses even more to account for in the passing game. After the rapport that they built last season, expect Stroud to look Smith-Njigba’s way a lot tonight.
Ohio State wins the turnover battle
Wisconsin currently sits at the top of the Big Ten with a +4 turnover margin this year, while Ohio State is seventh in the conference at +1. The Buckeyes got off to a bit of a slow start this year in creating turnovers, with their first turnover coming in the third game of the season when Ronnie Hickman picked off a DeQuan Finn pass. Ohio State added a fumble recovery later in the game.
The Buckeyes will win the turnover battle because of the differences in ball security between the two quarterbacks. C.J. Stroud has yet to throw an interception this year and has thrown just six interceptions in his college career. On the flip side, Graham Mertz has 18 career interceptions in 25 games, including 11 interceptions last season. If Ohio State is able to build a sizable lead, it will force Mertz into throwing the football more, which will give the Buckeyes more chances to for the veteran quarterback into making mistakes.
Creating turnovers hasn’t been much of a problem for Wisconsin lately, as they have intercepted at least one pass in eight straight games. This streak comes to an end tonight since Stroud very rarely throws it to the other team. Despite throwing the football so much, Stroud has done a great job at putting those passes in places where only Buckeyes are able to catch it. Stroud keeps a zero in the interception column for the 2022 season by the time the game ends tonight.
Braelon Allen fails to reach 100 yards rushing for a third straight game
There’s no question that Braelon Allen is one of the best running backs in the Big Ten. After starting his career with just 49 yards through his first two games, Allen started to see more carries in early October last year, recording his first career 100-yard rushing game against Illinois. That performance against the Fighting Illini would be the first of seven straight 100-yard games for Allen, with the freshman finishing the year with eight games where he reached triple digits on the ground.
After rushing for 148 yards to open the season against Illinois State, Allen rushed for 98 yards against Washington State and 86 yards last week against New Mexico State. One thing Ohio State has done a good job of over the years against the Badgers has been slowing down some of their great running backs. Allen becomes the latest Wisconsin running back to have some trouble finding some daylight against the Buckeyes.
What is going to hurt Allen in this game is if Ohio State can jump out of the gates early with a couple touchdowns. If the Buckeyes are able to build a lead against Wisconsin, it will force the Badgers to throw the football, which will take the ball out of the hands of their best player.
Around the Big Ten: Michigan State beats Minnesota
After three games, it is looking like Minnesota is the team to beat out in the Big Ten West. The Golden Gophers will play their first conference game on Saturday when they travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. A win over the Spartans could go a long way to helping P.J. Fleck’s team secure their first trip to Indianapolis, especially with Wisconsin and Iowa also hitting the road in their first conference games of the season.
Unfortunately for the Golden Gophers, they’ll be taking on a pissed-off Michigan State team. Last week the Spartans were destroyed by Washington out in Seattle. Despite losing Kenneth Walker III and some other key pieces from last year’s team, Mel Tucker was able to bring in Jalen Berger, Jarek Broussard, and a number of other players in the transfer portal during the offseason.
Minnesota has one of the best running backs in the country in Mohamed Ibrahim. The issue is, Michigan State is pretty good at handling the run. The problem for the Spartans has been pass defense. Michigan State might not have as much trouble stopping the Golden Gophers through the air though, since Minnesota lost leading receiver Chris Autman-Bell for the rest of the season due to an injury. Sparty gets back on the winning track by grinding out a win against Goldy Gopher.