Ohio State Schedule Prediction: Part II

With the College Football season opener about a month away, teams are finalizing their lineups and putting the finishing touches on their game plans. Urban Meyer will be looking to add on to his impressive resume with another Playoff Appearance. This will be a tough challenge with only six returning starters on offense and defense combined. While Ohio State will certainly be a Top 25 team for the next several years, this year will give fans a hint at just how good with several new faces. Here is the LWOS Ohio State Buckeyes schedule prediction.

If you haven’t already; Check out Part I.

Ohio State Schedule Prediction: Part II

Week 8: at Penn State

While Beaver Stadium may be known at one of the tougher places to play in College Football, Ohio State has not had a problem recently. The Buckeye’s last loss at Penn State came in 2005 when the 18th ranked Nittany Lions upset the #6 Buckeyes. This year may be a little tougher for Ohio State however as they are coming off a three week stretch of conference games while Penn State is coming off of a bye.

X-Factor: Penn State’s Passing Game

Even with the loss of Christian Hackenberg, Penn State’s passing attack still looks fairly competitive. Trace McSorley has been the consensus starter since his impressive game against Georgia last season. McSorley almost completed a 21-point comeback in the 4th quarter against the #1 rated passing defense of Georgia. While he fell short of this feat, he still managed to throw for two touchdowns and no interceptions. The receiving core looks relatively similar to last season with Chris Godwin looking to add another 1,000 yard season to his resume. The Nittany Lions will also have five of their seven targets with over 100 receiving yards returning. The two exceptions are Oklahoma-transfer, Geno Lewis; and Kyle Carter of the Minnesota Vikings.

By this point in the season, McSorley will have proven what Penn State fans can expect from him. He will already have six games under his belt and if he can have a solid performance, Penn State may be able to put up some points. However, the Ohio State offense will likely still be too much to handle in a 38-17 win for the Buckeyes.

Week 9: Northwestern

While Northwestern and Ohio State have been in the same conference, they have not faced each other very often recently. In only two games in the past eight years, Ohio State has won both. Northwestern will likely be a tougher game for the Buckeyes with All-Americans on both sides of the ball.

X-Factor: Justin Jackson

While Ohio State plays great offenses such as Oklahoma and Michigan, Justin Jackson may be the only elite running back they face all season. Jackson is coming off of an impressive 1,400+ yard rushing season with a fairly similar offensive line. Three players are returning starters while two were backups last season. With a strong offensive line, Northwestern will likely rely on the run again this year if Clayton Thorson has another lackluster year. The only issue in Jackson’s game is that he cannot find the endzone. This issue is mainly due to a poor offense around him and his below average stature. If Jackson can get past his issue of finding the endzone, he could be an issue for Ohio State.

It is possible that Justin Jackson has a very good game against Ohio State but he cannot do it all. Without a passing game to help aid him, Ohio State should be able to finish this game in a 35-17 victory.

Week 10: Nebraska

Nebraska is another conference opponent that Ohio State rarely faces. The two have only faced-off twice since Nebraska’s arrival to the Big Ten in 2011. The last game, in 2012, was a 63-38 win for the Buckeyes. The game plan for both teams involved rushing with a combined 10 rushing touchdowns in the game. Four players had over 10 carries with three going over 100+ rushing yards. This year may be the opposite with neither team having an established rusher.

X-Factor: Passing

This X-Factors in this game are quarterbacks Tommy Armstrong Jr. and J.T. Barrett. Both rush defenses were stout last year and look to remain among the best this season. Nebraska had the 8th best rush defense while Ohio State played with the 22nd best. However, both pass defenses have not improved. Nebraska had the 122nd ranked passing offense last year while Ohio State has to play with an unproven secondary. All six receiving targets from 2015 with over 20 receptions will be returning for Nebraska as well. Whichever team decided to step up in the passing game, will win this game.

In any poll if the two choices are J.T. Barrett and Tommy Armstrong Jr., it is clear who teams would rather have at quarterback. While Armstrong may be able to come through with a few touchdowns, he will not be able to keep up with Barrett’s fast-paced offense and Ohio State will win 49-21.

Week 11: at Maryland

Even with Purdue on the bubble of leaving College Football, it could be argued that Maryland is the worst team in the conference. The only real threat they pose to Ohio State is through the run game with Perry Hills and potentially Wes Brown. In the two match-ups that Maryland and Ohio State have played, Ohio State won and put up over 45 points. This year is not looking to be any different.

X-Factor: Maryland Quarterbacks

The only chance that the Terrapins have of even keeping this a close game would be for Perry Hills or Caleb Rowe to step up. Last year they under performed to be one of the worst QB “Dual-Threats” in College Football history. Combined they averaged for less than a 50% completion percentage with 14 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Perry Hills also had three rushing touchdowns to add to this but only had a few solid long rushes. While it seems unfair to put all the pressure on them, their defense is just as much of a mess. They ranked among the worst in terms of rushing, passing, and points allowed for a defense. If Maryland wants to keep this game competitive, Hills and Rowe will have to have career games in a high scoring shootout.

While it seems unlikely that Rowe and Hills will have worse years than last year, the effort they bring in 2016 will likely not be enough to drastically change the team. Ohio State will still run Maryland out of the stadium with a 52-3 win.

Week 12: at Michigan State

When reporters talk about who could upset Ohio State, Michigan State is brought up first. They play a tough, physical style and have a very stout defense. With six returning defensive starters, Michigan State could upset Ohio State for the second year in a row.

X-Factor: Michigan State Running Backs

Michigan State was known to have a great tailback group last year. A stout defense and 200 yards on the ground won the Spartans the game last year and very easily could this year as well. L.J. Scott and Gerald Holmes led the assault last time on Ohio State with over 140 combined yards and will be among the committee again this year. Madre London will also get snaps from the backfield. All three had at least 110 carries for 500+ yards. With Scott losing weight as well, he seems to be much faster in his lateral movement which will help him improve even more.

While Michigan State will certainly be putting up a fight, Ohio State has a chip on their shoulder. Last seasons loss ended any hopes of a Playoff Appearance for them and they will want revenge. It will be a close game but Ohio State will win 34-24.

Week 13: Michigan

It doesn’t get much bigger than this. The two top teams in the Big Ten meeting in the last week of the year for a Big Ten Championship bid. In a rivalry that dates back to 1897, the stakes have rarely been this high. They have met 15 times where both teams were ranked in the Top 10 of the country and this will likely be 16.

X-Factor: Mike Weber

The score was one of the few factors that was not close last year. Both teams had roughly equal, time of possession, first downs, third-down efficiency, penalties, and turnovers. The main difference was that Michigan threw the ball, and Ohio State ran. Ohio State ran more efficiently too. Ezekiel Elliott put on a show after a poor performance against Michigan State. With most of Michigan’s offense returning and John O’Korn having a full season to learn the offense, they have no reason to not throw for over 300 yards. Mike Weber on the other hand, will need to live up to the expectations. Ohio State will need a solid rushing attack if they want to extend the streak to five against That Team Up North.

Overall, this is one of the hardest games to call in 2016. Both teams will be fighting for a Big Ten Championship bid and realistically a Playoff bid. Whoever wants it more will ultimately win but with Urban Meyer on the sideline, Ohio State has no reason to lose this game in a 28-21 win.

Main Photo

ANN ARBOR, MI – NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs the ball during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State defeated Michigan 42-13. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)