Ohio State Football: 6 Bold Predictions for the Games Tressel and Co. Will Miss
The most intriguing story in college football has to revolve around the suspensions of Jim Tressel, Terrelle Pryor, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas.
All six of them will miss the first five games of the Ohio State season, a year which back in November before Tattoo-gate seemed like it could be a championship run for the Bucks.
Their chance will rest solely on what they do in the first five games and if Tressel is still around, but that's a story for another day.
With what we know now, here are six big predictions for the Buckeyes going forward, one for each person suspended for the five games in 2011.
1. Ohio State Will Cruise in Weeks 1 and 2
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Even without Pryor and company, anyone who thinks that Ohio State will lose to Akron and Toledo—two teams that have combined to play in three bowl games since 2005—is kidding themselves.
Ohio State still has more than enough depth at the RB position to negate the inexperience at the QB and WR position, and the defense will be just fine.
Tressel will still likely be involved in the game-planning, except he will not be allowed to watch games anywhere but in his home or office.
But despite the circumstances circling the suspensions, Ohio State will win both games, most likely by huge margins.
2. No Buckeye QB Will Throw More Than 25 Times Per Game
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If history has taught us anything, it's that Jim Tressel, whether he is on the field or not, will shut down the offense to a crawl if he has an inexperienced QB who he doesn't necessarily trust.
Whether it be Joe Bauserman or Braxton Miller, among others, it would be strange to expect OSU to become a passing powerhouse with Pryor off the field.
Expect the backs to occupy about 65-70 percent of the touches and a conservative approach with the offense with the option to take a deep shot a handful of times in the passing attack.
Which brings us to...
3. Braxton Miller Will Be the Starting Quarterback
Despite the lack of experience at the collegiate level on the part of Braxton Miller, the fact that he is practicing with the team for the spring helps his chances to start.
Add in the fact that Pryor will sit out spring rehabilitating his foot injury suffered in the Sugar Bowl, and the youngster from Huber Heights, OH might have a good chance to start come September.
Tressel's mantra for a QB in the last few years is not necessarily about experience, as we learned in 2008 with Pryor being picked over Todd Boeckman. Rather, it's about the player who gives their team the best chance to win.
The running ability of Miller gives him a dimension that none of his counterparts, not even Kenny Guiton, can match as a QB.
If he can prove he can throw almost as well as he can run and if he can add some muscle mass to his frame, No. 5 might be the guy to lead the Buckeyes until Pryor comes back.
4. Ohio State's Defense Will Score at Least Three Touchdowns
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Ohio State's defense has thrived on turning turnovers into big plays, including an astounding seven defensive touchdowns in 2010.
The players thrive on the turnover, using it as a catalyst every time and breaking big plays more times than not.
For those reasons, don't expect anything less from them in 2011, especially in the beginning of the year where they will be counted upon to make big plays.
They only return four starters, but a sharp majority of the open spots can be filled with guys who have had plenty of playing experience.
With the lack of quality offenses they play in the first four games, expect the Silver Bullet defense to feast off turnovers and score at least three TDs by themselves.
5. Buckeye Backs Will Carry the Offense Regardless of Who Starts
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Even without Boom Herron for the first five games of 2011, Ohio State should have no problem running the ball, considering who is available.
Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry had plenty of carries last season, along with combining to produce the No. 3 kick return average combination in the country.
And don't forget about power backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith, the latter having drawn large praise and looked spectacular in bowl practices.
But regardless of who wins the chance to start for the Buckeyes, they will have earned the job and will be determined to keep it by playing well on the field.
Buckeye fans should not worry about who is starting at RB because odds are they will be very good for their tenure as the go-to guy.
6. Ohio State Will Lose Once, but Stay in the Top 10 After Five Games
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Even without the Suspended Five and their head coach, whether Tressel will be gone for the first five games or for good, Ohio State can easily go 4-1 with the potential for 5-0.
However, the game they might be more likely to lose will be against Michigan State, not Miami.
The Hurricanes still have to replace Allen Bailey, Brandon Harris and DeMarcus Van Dyke among others as well as adjusting to new coach Al Golden's system.
Michigan State, however, is coming off a banner year and will return the majority of their offensive skill players.
Their defense may be a question mark, but they have some young guys who could be big-time players.
If Ohio State can't slow down Sparty, then they might drop that game. But regardless of what game they drop, they will be in the top 10 before they are whole against Nebraska on Oct. 8.