The thing about being a professional predicter is that everybody thinks they can do it, but only 84% of those people are actually correct. This is a very exclusive profession that doesn’t just let anybody in.
But because everybody thinks they can do it, when a week doesn’t go great for me — like last week’s 2-for-5 — people send me letters and leave messages on my machine telling me how stupid I am or how terrible my predictions are. It never fails. But what does fail is every single one of those people neglecting to mention the predictions that I got correct!
Are we so bitter as a society and upset with our own lives that people have to attack others — specifically me — when I don’t get one of my predictions correct? Am I really the one to blame when it’s actually the players who are screwing up? Of course not. The people who throw blame at me for getting something wrong need to get lives and realize that it’s everybody else’s fault!
But I digress.
This week, the Buckeyes look to bounce back from their Oregon loss and I look to bounce back from such harsh and undeserved criticism.
1. Quarterback CJ Stroud will throw for at least five touchdowns.
Just watching Ryan Day this week get asked about CJ Stroud’s “struggles” and the suggestions of other quarterbacks playing instead, I could see the Buckeye head coach bristle and get a bit angry at such notions. As such, I think he’s going to dial up some big hits for Stroud, but also some cheapies near the goal line as well. Tulsa’s defense is disruptive, which means Stroud will have to be ready for it. They’ve only allowed three touchdown passes this season. I fear I have fallen victim to Tom Orr’s barbs on our weekly predictions podcast where he keeps calling me out for my lack of boldness, when in reality, these predictions were never supposed to be bold. They were simply supposed to be correct. So me calling for five touchdown passes for Stroud is going to require Stroud to be at his best. If he only throws four touchdown passes, you can bet I’ll be part of the contingent of people asking Day if it’s time for a change.
2. Tulsa will be held under 100 yards rushing.
Tulsa has a two-headed rushing attack with running backs Shamari Brooks and Deneric Prince. Brooks could end up as the school’s all-time leading rusher this year. The Golden Hurricane is averaging 185 yards rushing per game this season. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are allowing 236 yards rushing per game. Again, Tom has pushed me to this and I don’t like it, but I felt I needed to respond. The Ohio State defense is going to be angry and focused on fundamentals. It’s like when I get instructions on how to put furniture together. The instructions make very little sense unless I focus on the fundamentals of, “You know what, I’m just gonna get a hammer and a crapload of nails instead. I don’t have time for this.” The Buckeye linebackers have a ton of pressure on them and they don’t have time for this.
3. Denzel Burke will have an interception.
Eventually, teams will stop testing Denzel Burke, but it probably won’t be this week. Tulsa quarterback Davis Brin is playing in about his fifth-ever game, so he don’t even know any better at this point. Brin threw a pair of interceptions in the opener, but he didn’t throw any last week at Oklahoma State. (That just means he’s due.) Burke has been very impressive for a freshman cornerback, and it won’t be too much longer before he graduates to just “very impressive” for any cornerback. Burke has done a great job of being near the ball so far. He’s fourth in the Big Ten in passes defended. It is now time for him to have his first career interception.
4. Tyreke Smith will record a sack.
In terms of getting into the backfield, senior defensive end Tyreke Smith has been quiet so far for the Buckeyes. He’s had three tackles in each game, but no sacks and tackles for loss. If this Ohio State defense is going to be great, they need Smith to be the disruptor he showed he could be late in the season last year. And if this OSU defense is only going to be good, they still need Smith to harass the opposing quarterbacks. For most of the Oregon game last week I had an NFL scout sending me messages about “Number 11 not doing much.” He could have said that for a number of guys on the Buckeye defense. But this is a new week and even though I’m batting about .113 all-time on any predictions involving a sack, I’m feeling pretty good about this one.
5. Somebody will catch a first career touchdown pass.
The thing about ambiguity is that it can fill a lot of holes that you weren’t necessarily expecting. You read this prediction and think I’m just saying Marvin Harrison or Emeka Egbuka or Cade Stover is going to catch his first touchdown pass. However, it can also be read as me saying that somebody — anybody — is catching Kyle McCord or Jack Miller’s first career touchdown pass. Or, yes, perhaps Quinn Ewers’ first career touchdown pass. Actually, I just realized I forgot that Julian Fleming has yet to catch a touchdown pass. It’s time he remedied that. Or maybe classmate Gee Scott, Jr. There’s a bunch of guys who are still looking for their first trip into the end zone and at least one of them will get there on Saturday. And who knows, maybe it’s Quinn Ewers to Kyle McCord. (This is not a prediction. Unless it happens.)