People will tell you that the biggest games are the hardest ones to predict, but those people are idiots. It’s not about the size of the game in the prediction, but rather the size of the prediction in the game.
For a professional, every prediction is big. There are no small predictions, just small predictors.
Yes, Oregon vs. Ohio State is the biggest game of the year to this point, but I operate as if every week is Oregon Week. My reputation is built on getting my predictions correct every time sometimes. I do not take my responsibilities lightly, which is also why it is so difficult for me to be humble about getting four of my five predictions correct last week.
But as a predictor, you never really remember the ones you got right, you only remember the ones where the players failed to make a prediction come true. That’s what hurts the most. The betrayal.
That being said, I don’t expect any betrayal in this week’s batch of predictions, but I’ve been told before that I am too trusting.
(If you would like to hear me and Tom Orr discuss our predictions for Saturday’s game, you can check out that particular episode of the Buckeye Weekly Podcast.)
1. A safety will get an interception
Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown hasn’t thrown an interception in almost two years. His last pick came against Wake Forest on September 28, 2019 when he was still at Boston College. Even though that game was over 100 weeks ago, Brown has only played in four games since that one. I would feel much better about this prediction if I knew Josh Proctor was 100%, but I do have confidence in Bryson Shaw and Lathan Ransom to make a play. And as I mentioned on Buckeye Weekly, I’m including the Bullets in this prediction. They practice with the safeties, after all.
2. A true freshman will score
It’s not every week that a true freshman scores for the Buckeyes, even though if it happens this week, that will technically be every week this year that a true freshman has scored for the Buckeyes. But it’s actually more rare than you might think. For instance, it only happened six times in eight games last year, and half of those were from kicker Jake Seibert. The Buckeyes no longer have a freshman kicker for me to rely upon, so this means TreVeyon Henderson does something again, or maybe Marvin Harrison or Emeka Egbuka make a play, or Kyle McCord runs one in from 37 yards out. Or maybe Jack Sawyer sacks Anthony Brown for a safety or Denzel Burke snags a pick six. One way or another, a rookie is going to hit paydirt.
3. Oregon will be held under 3.74 yards per carry
I originally had this prediction as under 4 yards per carry, but Tom got all complainy because he views this whole thing as a competition, whereas I just view it as a learning lesson for Tom. So I reduced my prediction to 3.73 yards per carry or lower, which is pretty bold considering the Buckeyes gave up over 200 yards rushing last week to Minnesota. This is going to be a different type of offense and a different type of defense. Can the Ohio State defense tackle in space? Can they handle quarterback Anthony Brown when he keeps the ball? And can they sack him and reduce that yard-per-carry average? I’m saying yes.
4. Jaxon Smith-Njigba Will Score
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is currently experiencing the longest-scoring drought of his career. After scoring a touchdown in his first career game, he has now gone seven games without a score. That dry spell will come to an end on Saturday and those seven games will also end up being the longest scoreless streak he’ll ever experience as a Buckeye. Yes, I will also accept a two-point conversion score. After a big week from both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson last week, it’s time for some other Buckeyes to break out, and Smith-Njigba is going to be one of them.
5. The Buckeye linebackers will combine for at least 2.5 tackles for loss
I feel like if I say the Bullets are included here, some people may get upset and say that I already qualified that position as a safety. To which I would say “You may have won this round.” But that’s okay, I have faith in Cody Simon and Teradja Mitchell to make things happen. There is going to be an opportunities to bring the ball carrier down in the backfield and I like both of those guys to be sure tacklers when those opportunities arise. Though I do think I should at least be allowed to claim Craig Young as a linebacker since he’s played there before. Let’s go ahead and table that and see if we need to bring it up with the rules committee. (I am the chair of the rules committee. I will also be the treasurer if we ever make any money.) This is a bold prediction because it’s pretty unlikely to happen. The last time Ohio State linebackers combined for at least 2.5 tackles for loss was … well, it was the Alabama game. But before that it was … well, the Northwestern game. But trust me, it hasn’t happened yet this season, so this is a pretty bold prediction. Also, this is the one that Tom accepted as bolder than my original fifth prediction, which I removed and will throw in below in the bonus predictions.
Bonus: A running back will have a play of at least 38 yards
This is the one that I changed out because Tom was upset that I was predicting something that happened twice against Minnesota. I get it, but I also want to get stuff right.. Anyway, I moved this down to a bonus prediction so that you don’t have to pay for it like you do the others.
Bonus: Garrett Wilson will outscore Chris Olave
I don’t feel comfortable about this one because Chris Olave may score twice every single game this year, meaning I’m gonna need three touchdowns out of Garrett Wilson.
Bonus: Cody Simon will total at least seven tackles
As I keep saying, this is going to be a different offensive attack for the Buckeyes. The linebackers may be a bit cleaner, which should allow them to make plays without being harassed by 700 pounds of Minnesota land mammals. I think everybody liked what they saw from Cody Simon in the middle last week, and that should continue this week as well.