Football

Five Bold Predictions: Michigan State vs. Ohio State

People ask me how much longer I’m going to stay in the predicting game and I tell them that once I start getting more wrong than I get right, I’ll know it’s time to stop.

That day, of course, has yet to ever happen and I don’t anticipate it happening now.

Bold predictions, however, do not apply. Bold predictions are experimental. Like jazz, but tolerable.

Being a bold predictor is a lot like being Thomas Edison and finding 10,000 different ways to build a lightbulb that doesn’t work.

I have not failed to correctly bold predict TreVeyon Henderson’s rushing total. I have simply found a way to point out a rushing total that won’t be his.

When it comes to Henderson this week, he should be fine, but will he be part of my bold predictions as it concerns the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes hosting the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans?

Sort of.

Let’s get started.

1. Kenneth Walker will have a play from scrimmage of at least 36 yards.

Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker has seven rushes of at least 30 yards this season, which is one fewer than TreVeyon Henderson. Of Walker’s seven 30-yard carries, only four have reached the 40-yard mark. I don’t want to get into the kind of math that I’m using here to justify my boldness, but rest assured this is something that Walker doesn’t do every week. Sure, he may do it half the weeks, but then we must factor in the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes have allowed just three rushes of 30 yards or more this season, but they have yet to face anybody like Kenneth Walker. I think Ohio State will do relatively well against him on Saturday, but won’t be shocked to see him break a good-sized run at some point.

2. Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Chris Olave will each have a play of over 30 yards.

The boldness of this one was kicked up a notch when during our usual Bold Predictions episode of the Buckeye Weekly Podcast, Tom Orr made me increase this to one catch of at least 32 yards, 35 yards, and 38 yards. Never mind the fact that Garrett Wilson only has four catches of 30 yards or more this season. He’s probably gonna have to be my 32-yard guy. Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba both have seven receptions of 30 yards this year, but I’m thinking it will be JSN for the 35-yarder and then Olave over the top for the 38-yard gain. Also, if I correctly predict which guys get which completions, that should count for more points. And if they each have a catch of 40 yards or more, that still counts as me correctly predicting which guy makes which catch.

3. The Buckeyes will rush for at least 210 yards (sack adjusted) and throw for 300 yards.

Ohio State leads the nation in total offense, averaging 550.0 yards per game. That’s 19 more than the next most prolific team (Pitt), so me predicting 500-odd yards of total offense may not see all that bold, especially when I’m caveating these with sack-adjusted rushing yards. That’s part of the reason why I originally went with 200 yards rushing but Tom negotiated me up to 210. Ohio State has thrown for 300 and rushed for 200 three times this season, including last week. Michigan State is allowing 430 yards passing over their last three games, so expect the Buckeyes to really let it loose through the air tomorrow. The Spartans have not allowed 200 yards rushing this season, but Nebraska did post over 200 rushing yards once sacks were taken out of the equation. That will happen again on Saturday.

4. A Buckeye will score his first points of the year.

We are now 10 games into the season and at this point if somebody hasn’t scored yet, they’re probably not going to. However, there are still some candidates worthy of such a bold prediction. For instance, at this point last year the Buckeyes already had three quarterbacks with at least one rushing touchdown. To this point they have none. CJ Stroud is due. When Dwayne Haskins started in 2018, he had one rushing touchdown through 10 games, but it was the 11th game against Maryland where he scored three times. There is a precedent here of sorts that could be in my favor. There are also still a number of defenders who have yet to score this season, even though the six defenders who have scored for the Buckeyes this season is already the most in well over a decade.

5. The Buckeye offense will average 1 yard more per play than the highest number MSU has allowed this year, minus the longest play that occurs in the first four minutes of the second quarter.

So over the past few weeks, the Bold Predictions show has gotten a bit — I don’t want to say “tedious” or “contentious,” but there have been some random things thrown in that have made regular bold predictions a bit more interesting. This is one of those. Ohio State is leading the nation in yards per play (8.0 ypp), which is coincidentally what they would need to hit in order for my bold prediction to be correct. When Purdue beat Michigan State, they averaged 6.99 yards per play. I am predicting Ohio State to better that number by one entire yard. Rather than accept that as significantly bold, Tom needed a chunk of time where the longest play would be negated. So if CJ Stroud hits Chris Olave for 94 yards at any point in the first four minutes of the second quarter, that play will not be added to the totals. Here’s hoping the Buckeyes are on defense at that point.

If you’d like to listen to our bickering and negotiating, as well as Tom’s bold predictions and a pair of extra bold predictions from each of us, you can listen to the podcast below or search “Buckeye Weekly” on any podcast platform.