There’s one more week of Ohio State football and that means it’s time for the final edition of “Brave and Bold”, where 247Sports provides five predictions for the Buckeyes’ upcoming game.
The last edition of Brave and Bold featured predictions for the Big Ten Championship that OSU would hold Isaiah Bowser under 100 yards and 4.0 yards per attempt, Tate Martell would throw a pass in the game, Terry McLaurin would have two touchdowns, the Buckeyes would have two interceptions, and that Ohio State would score 50+ and hold Northwestern to 20 or less.
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Brave and Bold got two-and-a-half of those predictions right, as Bowser had 60 yards at 4.6 yards per attempt, McLaurin had 2 touchdowns, and the OSU defense notched 2 interceptions. Martell did not throw a pass, though, and the Bucks scored 45, while the Wildcats scored 24.
This week, Ohio State heads to Pasadena, trying to finish their season on a strong note, in The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, against Washington. The game will be broadcasted by ABC and will air at 5:00 PM EST.
Here are five predictions for that game:
MURPHY IS A PROBLEM
By now you’ve heard plenty about Washington’s defense, especially their secondary, which is considered among the best in America. The top player in that unit is redshirt sophomore cornerback Byron Murphy, who had 56 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 13 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and 4 interceptions, 1 of which was returned for the only score in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
While we do think Dwayne Haskins and the Ohio State offense will get things rolling and have success against the Huskies’ defense (see below), we also think that there will be a bit of an adjustment/get-the-rust-off period at the start of the game, and at points throughout the contest. One reason for that will be Murphy, who we predict will be all over the field making plays, in what could be his final game as a collegiate athlete.
For fun, let’s say Murphy finishes this one with 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 passes defended. He will be a problem for Haskins and the OSU receivers all day, and it’s likely they’ll look to target other defensive backs on UW’s roster.
HASKINS HITS FIVE THOUSAND
Entering this game, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has 4,580 passing yards on the season, meaning that if he is able to collect 420 yards against Washington, that he will hit the 5,000 passing yard mark on the season. While that seems like a hefty total to rack up against the Huskies, note that Haskins hit 420 yards or more in 3 games this year, and hit 400-419 yards a couple other times in 2018 as well.
In what will likely be Haskins’ final college game, and knowing that Ryan Day will want to put on an offensive show to give himself some momentum when he becomes the program’s head coach on Wednesday, we think the Buckeyes will find success through the air, and Haskins will get just over 420 yards to hit the 5K mark on the season, further extending his school and conference single-season passing records.
TIGHT END TOUCHDOWN
Ohio State plays three tight ends consistently in Luke Farrell, Rashod Berry, and Jeremy Ruckert. Despite the OSU passing offense reaching new heights this year, the position hasn’t been involved much when it comes to volume in the stat book, as the trio has combined for a total of 28 receptions for 286 yards (10.2 ypc) with 2 touchdowns in 13 games so far this season.
Given that OSU tight ends are averaging a touchdown just every 6.5 games this year, it’s highly unlikely that any of Farrell, Berry, or Ruckert find the endzone in The Rose Bowl, but we’re going a little bold here and saying one of the three finds pay dirt in this one.
While we don’t expect Ohio State to confirm anything until the team takes the field on Tuesday, it sure looks like left tackle Thayer Munford will miss The Rose Bowl, with what we’re being told is some sort of a back injury.
If that holds true, it means that back-up left tackle Joshua Alabi will be making his first college start. Alabi has come a long way in his career, starting his time in Columbus as a defensive tackle, before moving over to the two-deep at left tackle last season. In spot duty, Alabi was up-and-down in 2017, but showed out much better in 2018, including playing very solid significant minutes against Maryland for most of that game, after Munford left with a leg injury. He’s been getting most of the first team reps in bowl practice over the last month, with the staff knowing Munford was questionable for this one.
Our prediction is that Alabi not only plays and starts, but performs incredibly well. In fact, we don’t think he’ll allow a sack or commit a penalty, and does a good job both in run blocking and pass protection.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY CHANGES THE GAME
All of the talk around this game centers on Ohio State’s electric offense and Washington’s shutdown defense. While that match-up will be key, as will the match-up of the OSU defense against the UW offense, it may be the plays on special teams that make the difference in The Rose Bowl.
In fact, our final prediction for this last edition of “Brave and Bold”, is that a special teams play changes the course of the game for one of the two teams. A blocked punt, a return for a score, a blocked field goal, a muffed punt—we’re not sure which one of these things ends up happening, but we think one will, and it will lead whatever team gets it to victory.