Over the weekend Matt was in Las Vegas. What do you do when you’re in Las Vegas? Aside from getting married by an Elvis impersonator and eating copious amounts of food at buffets, when in Vegas it is almost mandatory to gamble. Although now it is becoming easier to gamble in places other than Las Vegas. Ohio just legalized sports gambling on January 1, but we haven’t been able to game in-state yet on any Buckeye football games.
Since Matt was in Las Vegas, today feels like a good time to dive into what bet for the upcoming Ohio State football season is one you feel most confident in. It doesn’t have to be anything where a line is currently set. The bet you’re most confident in could pertain to the team as whole, an individual, or an event. It could be the Buckeyes going undefeated, a player rushing for 1,000 yards, or even something simple like Ohio State beating Michigan.
Today’s question: What bet for the upcoming Ohio State football season are you most confident in?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: J.T. Tuimoloau has at least 10 sacks this year
We have seen glimpses of how talented Tuimoloau is. Last year against Penn State, Tuimoloau had two sacks, a forced fumble, two interceptions, and is still probably starring in Sean Clifford’s nightmares. The defensive end only had 1.5 sacks the rest of the season, but there are reasons why I think Tuimoloau has a real breakout season in 2023.
With two years under his belt with the Buckeyes, Tuimoloau knows what is expected of him now. During his freshman year, Tuimoloau saw limited time on the field, and last year was his first year as a starter. Now is the time when Tuimoloau becomes more consistent with his dominance on the field and starts to make NFL teams really start keeping tabs on him.
On the other end of the defensive line, now Jack Sawyer is going to return to his more natural position after spending last year playing in the “jack” hybrid defensive end/linebacker position. With Sawyer wrecking havoc more consistently at a position he is more comfortable with, it could also help to open things up for Tuimoloau since opponents are going to have to decide which defensive end they are going to commit more resources to blocking.
Since Chase Young left Columbus for the NFL, the Buckeyes haven’t had a big force at defensive end. While Tuimoloau had his amazing performance against Penn State, over the last three years the highest sack total by an Ohio State defensive player has been 5.5 sacks, which Haskell Garrett recorded in 2021. That changes this year as the junior defensive end gets to quarterbacks early and often throughout the year.
Returns are already encouraging about Tuimoloau during spring camp, and I feel like his confidence grows even more heading into the season. Tuimoloau puts himself in position to make a tough decision following this season since it feels like he is going to be a monster through the year and his draft stock is going to skyrocket.
Matt’s answer: Ohio State will have a top-10 total defense in 2023
So, my brother is a strange one. Obviously, he is a diehard Ohio State fan, as all normal, sane human beings are, but he also has this strange allegiance to the Detroit Lions. Despite the fact that our family generally despises all things Michigan, the sheer talent of Barry Sanders converted my brother into a Lions fan at a young age, so much so that he had a Lions version of one of the original Starter winter coats back in the day.
So, while I am in Vegas this week, I will be placing the requisite bets on Ohio State to win the national title for various friends and family, but my brother wants me to find a sportsbook that will allow him to throw good money after bad on a parlay of Ohio State College Football Playoff National Championship (no arguments there) AND a Detroit Lions Super Bowl title.
While I enjoy playing poker a few times every month, I would not call myself a gambling man, especially when it comes to sports betting, so this level of risk — even at fairly modest levels of financial commitment — is anathema to my very being. So, I am not going to be going with anything quite as ludicrous as my little brother, but I do think that my bet will raise a few eyebrows.
I am predicting that Ohio State will be in the top 10 of college football when it comes to total defense this fall. Of course, the Buckeyes weren’t too far off last season as they finished 14th nationally, so it’s just a few spots to climb in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ second season. However, their schedule does get considerably more difficult, especially when looking at their Big Ten West crossover games.
In 2022, OSU squared off against the formidable offensive powerhouses of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern. Those teams ranked 91st, 130th, and 107th in total offense a season ago. This year, the Buckeyes have a return trip to Madison to take on the Badgers, but also have to take on Purdue and Minnesota. While neither will be confused with offensive juggernauts, they were considerably better than what the Buckeyes faced last season ranking 56th and 64th respectively in total offense.
Of course, both teams will have to replace their veteran quarterbacks — Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell — but just by virtue of having competent offensive coaching, they should be steps up in terms of offensive production, whoever is behind center.
Despite the presumed offensive improvement of the Buckeyes’ collective conference opponents, I’m still taking them to be much better on defense, primarily due to the talent in the secondary and the positive word we’ve heard about their development coming out of spring practice.
There is no question that the cornerbacks were the weak spot on the OSU team last season and the safeties were hit-or-miss at best. However, both Knowles and head coach Ryan Day have praised the play of the secondary during spring camp, which has me excited about what the defense can look like come fall. There is undoubtedly talent at the CB position. We saw how dynamic Denzel Burke can be during his freshman year, and now coming into his third year in the program, the expectations are back to being high for the former Freshman All-American.
There is a similar vibe around the program around Jordan Hancock who was one of the buzziest players on the team last fall before having to deal with a multitude of injuries. Based on media reports and the coaches’ comments, it sounds like he is back to being someone that everyone is incredibly hyped to see on the field. When you factor in the transfer addition of Davison Igbinosun and a number of young, promising players, the cornerback room is starting to feel like the old #BIA days. They aren’t there yet, but things certainly appear to be heading in the right direction.
Things are similar for the safeties as Lathan Ransom, Cam Martinez, Josh Proctor, Sonny Styles, and Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter have people really pumped for the potential in that room. When you throw in the already solid linebacker play of Steele Chambers, Tommy Eichenberg, Cody Simon, and C.J. Hicks along with the ascending defensive line with Tuimoloau, Sawyer, Mike Hall Jr., Ty Hamilton, Tyleik Williams, Kenyatta Jackson, Caden Curry, and others, it’s getting tough to spot obvious issues on the defense.
Will there be issues? Undoubtedly, but they aren’t nearly as glaring as they were a season ago. Then, when you throw in the fact that Ohio State’s new non-conference opponents for 2023 are Western Kentucky and FCS Youngstown State, things start to look pretty good for a top-10 defense bet.