Finally. The start of the greatest stretch of four months in the year is upon us. The days of talk about who will emerge and become the 3rd wide receiver, new linebacker or new fullback are finally coming to an end.
In five days, we'll know if it looks like Boeckman has taken the 2nd-year starter leap. We'll get a feel for what Pryor can do at this level and whether this defense will be as good as it's billed. Some of the other talented freshman will get their first chance to make an impact and prove that they deserve snaps this year.
The long spring and summer of speculation and information swapping is finally coming to a close. As we head into this first game week, here are five fearless predictions for the 2008 season:
1. Pryor will see the field in the first half against Youngstown State and his workload will increase from there.
Bauserman is the solid two right now and he'll follow Boeckman in terms of getting complete series the first game of the season, but Pryor will enter the game to take snaps in certain early situations. The Penguins will be the first of many opponents where Pryor will find himself as the best athlete on the field and that will start to show. I'm still not sold on Tress giving him complete series to run early on, but he'll have a progressively bigger impact on the offense as the season goes down.
2. DeVier Posey will post at least 400 yards receiving on the year.
I know, I know. Way to go out on a limb, right? 400 yards? That's insane! Well... it is when you consider that he's a true frosh on a deep and talented receiver corps and he'll be getting those yards with the Brians competing for passes. And he'll earn about 80% of that total the last 6 weeks of the year when he's emerged similar to the way David Boston did in 1996 (33 for 450). He's good for at least two or three bombs during Big Ten play, alone.
3. Beanie Wells will not win the Heisman Trophy.
He will get his numbers and once again make defenders look like approaching toddlers, but I just don't see enough close games requiring his extended service. He'll also lose touches because of all of the other playmakers on the team. And if that's not enough, if he's not splitting votes with Laurinaitis, he'll be faced with a national mood of "oh know, the Buckeyes in the BCS again" and that will tip some voters in other directions, especially if Tebow puts up his expected Nintendo stats again.
4. The defense will be truly sick.
It won't just be against Big Ten also-rans, this defense will attack and showcase the athletes in the USC and bowl game as well. They've been highly rated quite a few times recently, but they've been exposed as a paper tiger. All of the talent and experience will propel this group to some record-approaching numbers. The take-away margin will be in the healthy plus territory, they will block kicks and punts, the ends will take some pressure off of the tackles and the linebackers and secondaries will go down as all-time Buckeye greats for units. There will be shutouts and a few of them.
5. The Buckeyes will beat USC and go on to play in a third-straight MNC game.
I've swung from nervous as hell about USC earlier this summer to feeling stupidly confident, as of late. Both defenses will bring it on September 13, but Beanie, the line, Pryor and the overall experience of the Buckeye offense will be enough to overcome the home field advantage of the Trojans. From there, I think this team is experienced enough to remain focused throughout the rest of the schedule. Just like other championship teams, they'll need some luck and will have to overcome some crazy adversity in at least one conference game (looking your way, Madison) but they'll pull through.
What's in your five?