Even in the midst of another stellar season by the Thad 5 in basketball, it is never too early to start thinking about football. With a new head coach and a lot of new players it is exciting to think of the possibilities. Here are five bold predictions for the 2012 season to add some warmth to your mid-winter chill:
1. Braxton Miller will double his passing total from 2011. I know - this one seems obvious, since he only threw for 1159 yards this past year. However, keep in mind that he will have to post his numbers in twelve games, as OSU is banned from any postseason activity. Also remember that the Buckeyes will still run the ball a good deal, featuring Braxton, himself, along with a bevy of fine backs. But with all that in consideration I still think Miller will more than double 2011's passing stats. As a bonus prediction, I'll throw in that fans in the fifth row will feel safe this next year, with Joe Bausmerman having used up his college eligibility.
2. A true freshman will lead the team in sacks. Ohio State brings back some fine veteran defensive linemen, so this sounds like a more risky prognostication. However, my thought is that offenses will be tailored to stop John Simon, Nathan Williams, and Johnathan Hankins, opening up the opportunity for someone else to get to the opposing quarterback. There are three nationally ranked ends making their way to Columbus, and any one of them could become a pass rush specialist. The most acclaimed is Noah Spence, bur for some reason I have a feeling that Adolphus Washington makes the most noise next season. It would not shock me if one of these guys tallies a bunch of sacks, which would be great news for Luke Fickell and the defensive coaches.
4. A true frosh will eventually start on the offensive line. Before you dismiss me as crazy consider this: OSU has a real dearth of depth on the line, and one of the experienced guys, Marcus Hall, is rumored to be struggling academically and in jeopardy of being ineligible. Most people expect the starters to be Norwell, Mewhort, Bobek, Linsley and Fragel. Outside of Hall the only other guy with any experience is Underwood. Factor in possible attrition and injuries, and I have a sneaking suspicion that at some point deep into the B1G conference schedule, a newcomer will be needed to start a game or two. My best guess would be Taylor Decker, although Joey O'Connor is another possibility.
5. Ohio State will win the Leaders Division. Obviously Wisconsin is a legitimate threat, and most experts will probably pick them in light of the sanctions. But look for the revamped Buckeyes to win the division and then have no place to go, which will cause the B1G to scramble a little and wind up with some egg on their face. Truth is, I think OSU could very well be the best team in the conference this year, and may wind up with the best overall record. Michigan will benefit from the return of Denard Robinson and should win the Legends, but I don't see them winning in Columbus. In fact I think OSU will start another impressive winning streak against the ugly helmets in 2012. You might mark that down as bold prediction number six!
So there you have it - 5 bold predictions for 2012. Feel free to share your thoughts and your forecast for the coming season.