After a few years making bold predictions ahead of each football season, I'm getting pretty good at owning a laundry list that didn't pan out.
In my defense, I don't come at you with "Chris Olave will be good" or "I bet Thayer Munford makes an All-Big Ten team." I search for things that would be more of a reach but that I still think will happen if things break right.
I've never been great at this, to be sure, but my predictions for the 2020 season turned out to be even more off the mark than season's past. A couple were close but this is do or die prediction stuff and close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
ZACH HARRISON WILL AVERAGE MORE SACKS PER GAME THAN CHASE YOUNG DID IN HIS SECOND SEASON
Lol. So, uh, I swear that I do put some thought into my predictions but honestly, hindsight here says this was probably more hope than expectation.
I thought this one had a chance considering Harrison's first year (5.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks) stacked up similarly to Chase Young's freshman year (5.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks). Young then tallied 10.5 sacks in 14 games as a sophomore, or 0.75 per outing while averaging 56 snaps.
So for Harrison to cash my bet, he needed average 0.75 sacks per game. Ohio State played eight games this past season but Harrison missed one so to average 0.75 sacks for his 2020 season, he needed to rack up 5.25 sacks.
Unfortunately, Zach didn't even reach half that. He had 2.0 sacks in seven games, or 0.29 per game though it should be noted he only averaged 30 snaps whereas Young averaged 56.
Playing the third-most snaps among the defensive ends (J. Cooper 361, T. Smith 258), Harrison's 2.0 sacks were third on the team. He had 1.5 sacks over the first two games then had just 0.5 over the last five games combined. He was also credited with zero quarterback hurries. In short, averaging 0.75 per game was certainly a stretch to begin with but his 2020 production was probably short of just about everyone's expectations.
JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA WILL LEAD OSU TRUE FRESHMAN RECEIVERS IN RECEPTIONS AND YARDS
Well, I was at least half-right here. Smith-Njigba did lead the true freshmen with 10 receptions, good for fifth on the team.
Amazingly, those 10 catches went for just 49 total yards. I still have to double-check that every time because it seems unfathomable an Ohio State receiver would average less than five yards a catch even with the low catch total.
Fellow freshman Julian Fleming led the newcomers in receiving yards with 74 so it's not like he blew JSN's total out of the water but I still only get 50% credit on this one.
Prediction aside, I figured both Smith-Njigba (163 snaps) and Fleming (128) might see more snaps considering how Brian Hartline has typically rolled with a fairly deep rotation but Chris Olave (471 snaps), Garrett Wilson (441) and Jameson Williams (308) handled the bulk of the game duty.
Freshman Gee Scott Jr. only logged 14 snaps and fellow newcomer Mookie Cooper didn't play at all before announcing a transfer to Missouri.
OHIO STATE WILL RANK IN THE TOP-15 IN SCORING DEFENSE FOR THE FIFTH TIME IN THE LAST SIX YEARS
If you're emailing Jason suggesting he order up a drug test after this one, I can't blame you. But back on October 1, I felt like the defensive ends were going to generate a better pass rush (no fault to the interior obviously) and I think we all knew the secondary had question marks but I didn't foresee the tire fire that unfolded.
With the pass defense allowing 304 yards per game, good for No. 122 in the country, Ohio State's defense gave up 25.8 points per game, slotting it 43rd in the nation. To rank in the top-15, the defense would've had to give up no more than 19.9 points but that wasn't in the cards as five of eight opponents scored at least 25 points.
Alabama (52), Indiana (35), Clemson (28) and Rutgers (27) scored at least 27.
The three teams Ohio State held to less than 19.9 had incredibly shitty offenses. Nebraska's 101st-ranked offense scored 17 points, Michigan State's 116th-ranked juggernaut put up 12 and Northwestern's No. 92 ranked offense scored 10.
I think I'll probably avoid any predictions on the 2021 Ohio State defense's ability to shut down opponents.
JUSTIN FIELDS WILL AVERAGE THE SECOND-MOST PASS YARDS PER GAME IN A SINGLE-SEASON IN SCHOOL HISTORY
In order for Fields to average Ohio State's second-most passing yards per game in a single-season, he needed to post at least 277.6 yards per game. Dwayne Haskins' 2018 mark of 345.1 was clearly untouchable but I thought Fields could make a run at Joe Germaine's second-place mark set back in 1998.
As it turned out, Fields did average an impressive 262.5 passing yards per game which was good enough for the third-best single-season average in school history but he fell a hair over 15 yards per game short of what I needed.
Fields threw for less than 200 yards against three opponents, going for 199 against Michigan State, 114 versus Northwestern and finally 194 versus Alabama.
Against Ohio State's other five opponents, he averaged 318.6 passing yards per contest highlighted by 385 in the win over Clemson, 318 against Penn State, 314 versus Rutgers and an even 300 in the Buckeyes' victory over Indiana. Fields posted 276 passing yards in the season-opener against Nebraska.
JOSH MYERS WILL WIN THE RIMINGTON AWARD AS THE NATION'S BEST CENTER
This last one obviously didn't pan out either but at least Myers was a finalist for the award.
Ultimately, Alabama's Landon Dickerson took home the hardware after a fair amount of the preseason hype centered on Oklahoma's Creed Humphrey and Kentucky's Drake Johnson.
Myers appeared to start the season a bit slow, as Ohio State's entire rushing attack took a minute to gain traction. He also missed a game due to coronavirus but toward the back half of the slate Myers was back to mauling dudes, helping Ohio State rank No. 3 in the country with 5.96 yards per carry and No. 8 in rushing yards per game (256.9).
No doubt, COVID-19 interruptions to Ohio State's season hurt Myers' chances at the Riminigton but chalk this up as another missed prediction nonetheless.
Now it's your turn. Be honest. What bold predictions did you peg and which ones do you wish you could take back now that the book on the 2020 Ohio State football season is written?