Welcome to the last week of your eight-week Empire season preview for the 2012 football Buckeyes. Each of the previous columns are linked below, and I hope they’re all worth reviewing in advance of the Buckeyes’ season opener against Miami (OH) tomorrow.
This week, I’ve compiled predictions from several of our editors and writers . And, of course, I’ve included your predictions as well. The response to our preseason survey was fantastic. The top choices for each answer from our poll are listed, along with the best comments.
1) At the end of the season, what will the Buckeyes’ record be?
Ryan: Optimistically I’d love to say 12-0. I am, however, a realist. I think the most likely losses come at Wisconsin and at Michigan State. So I’ll go with a cautious 10-2.
Chris: This team has the potential, the coaching, and the schedule to go 12-0. Do we really want to go down that route though? We’d be Auburn, circa 2004. I’d be more realistic and say that the team has a very legitimate shot at going 10-2 or 11-1. Either way, it’ll be a far cry from 6-7.
Grant: 11-1. I’m not even sure there’s a “slip-up” in this team for 2012 after seeing and hearing of the dedication and work they’re putting in. That one loss will likely come to a better team or in difficult circumstances – like at East Lansing or at Madison. Otherwise, if you look at the schedule, there’s a serious shot at 12-0, but I’ll let someone else lay claim to that.
Andrew: 11-1. I agree with everyone that we’re most likely to lose games against Wisconsin and Michigan State. But I just can’t see us losing both.
Joe: I think the Buckeyes have a good shot to be in every single ballgame of the season, but it’s extremely hard to believe they will win all of them, despite the savior of college football touching down on the soil of Columbus, Ohio. I figure in the “growing pains” to a national championship the Buckeyes lose one to two ballgames.
The Fans: 10-2 (36%); 11-1 (33%); 12-0 (17%)
2) If you didn’t pick the Buckeyes to go undefeated, who will they lose to?
Ryan: Wisconsin and MSU.
Chris: We go into Happy Valley this year with both teams having nothing to lose. I think that BoB gets his team amped up for probably their biggest game of the season in their house and eke out a close one, 24-21.
Grant: I have to say Michigan State here. I can’t see Meyer not having the crew ready for Bret Bielema and his Badgers, all things considered. He has that one circled on his calendar, along with Michigan of course, and I think he very well could have already circled the next five meetings with Wisconsin (for obvious reasons). Do you really think he didn’t, very early on, acquire the same distaste that we have for Bielema and his mouth?
Andrew: I’ll guess Michigan State. They won’t win every game, and there are major question marks that need to be addressed about their offense, but the first road game could be a shock to this still-young Buckeye team. They better enjoy the victory, though. Those days are over. Soon.
Joe: Michigan State scares me from a physical standpoint, but this team will be more prepared for smashmouth football. Traveling in this conference is always a scary thing. Thankfully all the tough games besides MSU and Wisconsin though are at home. Before the UCF fiasco this off-season, I would thought they could of really made or broke this season for the Buckeyes.
Alexis: Wisconsin. Only because it’s IN Wisconsin, this could change if they get into trouble for jumping a guy earlier this summer.
The Fans: First place – Wisconsin; Second place – Michigan State; Third place – Michigan and Nebraska
Best Fan Comment: ”I see us losing to Cal, MSU and Wisky. Cal will be the first test of the season plus its an unknown opponent. Michigan State has been building a nice program under Dantonio and it’s in E.L. Dantonio would be more then happy to welcome Urban to the Big Ten with a loss. Wisky has revenge on their mind in Madison always tough to play plus The Game is looming the next week. This is all subject to change based on the play on the field.” – Anonymous from Baltimore, Md.
Ryan: Will grab some national attention, possibly some votes, but won’t end up a finalist until next year when his passing is completely refined.
Chris: 2013 Contender, 6th-7th place in Heisman voting. Matt Barkley has all but been anointed as the second coming of Carson Leinart and unless the Trojans stumble along the way (come on…..CAL!), he’ll walk home easily with the trophy.
Grant: I believe he’s a darkhorse to be in attendance for the announcement, but not in the running to bring home the hardware. He’ll be right in the thick of it his junior year and I think he’ll like playing for Meyer enough that he’ll stick around for a fourth and will be the frontrunner as a senior. But as a sophomore, in a new system (as explosive as it could be)? He might get invited to New York this winter.
Andrew: I think he’ll get votes, but won’t be invited to the ceremony. He’s still raw, especially so in the new offense. But this year will be an excellent setup for a 2013 run.
Joe: One of the top players on the Radar to win it in 2013.
Alexis: I dont think he will be Heisman caliber just yet, I give him one more year with Urban Meyer then on the list next year for sure.
The Fans: Maybe in 2013 (43%); Vote-getter (41%)
Best Fan Comment: “Being a sophomore, he will get votes. But being ineligible for a bowl game and league championship will prevent him from getting many.” - Stuart Webb from Frankfort, Kentucky (formerly of Tiffin, Ohio)
4) Will any other Buckeyes receive postseason distinctions?
Ryan: John Simon will win a life sentence after multiple on the field murders. Along with legitimate defensive awards that he will display in his jail cell.
Chris: I have a bit of insight into this, as I’ve been doing our Watch List articles. I think that John Simon has a really good shot at not only one, but multiple awards that include, but are not limited to, the Lott IMPACT Award, the Bednarik, and the Lombardi. As for others, I can see Curtis Grant getting some attention from the Butkus committee and if Bradley Roby isn’t taking home the Thorpe award after the LohanBadger incident, then my worldview will have been shattered.
Grant: Bradley Roby actually has a shot despite being snubbed in the preseason watch lists, as does John Simon. The hometown bias in me would love to name more, but I truly believe they both have the best chance of earning postseason honors.
Andrew: If anyone, it’s John Simon. He’s arguably the best player the Buckeyes have. He may also be the best at his position in the country. Roby will get there one day, but it’s not his time yet.
Joe: If John Simon doesn’t, consider it highway robbery.
Alexis: If anyone will get post-season distinction, my bet is Simon or Sabino.
The Fans: John Simon (Lombardi, Nagurski, IMPACT awards); Stoneburner (Mackey)
Best Fan Comment: “Ryan (DAMM) Shazier is the best LB in college football and he will prove it this year. Mark my words…” - Damon from Avondale, AZ
5) Who will be the Buckeyes’ leading rusher?
Ryan: Braxton. His ability to scramble and Jordan Hall’s uncertainty at the beginning of the year will put him at the top.
Chris: Many will say the Unstoppable Force of Carlos Hyde, but I am going to go with Braxton Miller. When Jordan Hall returns, the playbook then becomes wide open and tailored to Urban’s strength. Brax will run the football almost as much as last year, but will have more yards per carry.
Grant: Carlos Hyde, simply because Hall, when he returns, will be used more as a pass catcher than what Hyde will. Carlos is a hell of an athlete, and Urban obviously recognizes this considering he’s claimed they’ll run more of a “power spread” with the current personnel. We’ll certainly see Jordan Hall plenty out of the backfield, but I think Hyde will get more touches on the ground than what Hall will over the length of the season, especially if Hall sits out for more than a game or two to start with.
Andrew: Braxton Miller. Hyde will see plenty of snaps, but Urban’s history indicates that there won’t be a single running back that the Buckeyes build their offense around. Which means that Brionte Dunn and Jordan Hall (when he returns) will eat into Hyde’s carries. Meanwhile, Brax will have an option to run most of the time he drops back to pass. And plenty of called runs of his own.
Joe: Big, Bad Carlos Hyde. A bruising back on a mission. Perfect runner in Urban’s offense. Braxton Miller might just eclipse him though.
Alexis: Carlos Hyde
The Fans: Carlos Hyde (43%); Braxton Miller (36%)
Best Fan Comment: “Hoping for contributions from all of them, but think Carlos is the clear guy right now. The Nebraska game last year showed a glimpse of who he’s capable of – hope we see more of that. Also think Rod Smith may surprise some people, Eddie had fumble problems his freshman year too … just saying.” - D. Wright from Hilliard, OH
6) Who will be the Buckeyes’ leading receiver?
Ryan: Brown, is the obvious choice, but with Stoney having a wide range of positions on the field, I could see Brax dumping it off to him in a “Wes Welker” type role. But obviously a real human sized Wes Welker.
Chris: If this doesn’t end up a statistical tie between Jake Stoneburner and Corey (The Artist Formerly Known As Philly) Brown, then my predictions are way off. Before Stoney moved to WR, I would have said Brown in a landslide. But now, everything is different. Up is down, white is black, and our pass catching Tight End is now a Wide Receiver.
Grant: Philly Brown is the easy pick since Urban has named him his number-one at this point, but I think you’ll see Devin Smith come out on top of this one. Braxton, with as little as he threw last year, seemed to have one eye on Smith at all times. That’ll continue.
Andrew: It’s a close call between Philly Brown, Devin Smith, and Jake Stoneburner. The responses to this question were all over the place, which is probably a reflection of the fact that nobody knows quite what to expect out of the Buckeyes’ air attack. When forced to choose, I’m going with Stoney.
Joe: We will find out early who is going to step up at this position and I really love that Zach Smith is doing as the position coach. For me, It’s hard to say who is going to lead the charge, but you know this group is hungry. I’ll guess that it will be Evan Spencer.
Alexis: Stoneburner. They wouldnt have moved him to wide receiver unless they planned on using him a lot. Close second would be Corey Brown, I think he’ll do big things this season.
The Fans: Devin Smith (48%); Philly Brown, Michael Thomas, and Jake Stoneburner split the remainder of the vote.
Best Fan Comment: “In number of catches: Michael Thomas. In total yardage: Devin Smith. In yards per catch: Corey Brown.” – Anonymous from Hillsborough, NC.
7) The Buckeyes are disqualified from postseason play this season. In their absence, who will win the Big Ten championship?
Ryan: Don’t care to acknowledge any B1G title holder this year without having to possibly go through 2 teams in the Championship game that have won* 9 B1G titles in the last 10 seasons.
Chris: Can I vote for a meteor to hit Lucas Oil Field instead? I’m going to go with Michigan State, as I cannot bring myself to think that TTUN might have it within them to get the B1G bid to the Rose Bowl.
Grant: Damn you. Michigan – unless their loss to Ohio State on November 24th keeps them out of the B1G Championship Game. If they have their invite locked up before their trip to Columbus, Wisconsin isn’t beating them in the B1G CG.
Andrew: Have to say Michigan, as much as it pains me. They’ll move the ball better than Michigan State, which will give them the edge to reach the conference championship game. And I just get the feeling that they won’t be able to beat Wisconsin.
Joe: ABMW – Anybody but MEECHIGAN and Wisconsin – I think Michigan State has a really good chance if they get production on offense of any sort when throwing the football.
Alexis: Michigan State
The Fans: Wisconsin (36%); Michigan State (33%); Michigan (29%); Indiana (one vote)
Best Fan Comment: “D wins titles. Here’s to hoping that the Spartans fare better for the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl than Wisconsin has recently.” – D. Wright from Hilliard, OH.
8) What are you most looking forward to about the football season?
Ryan: Watching Brady Hoke waddle off that field knowing he’s in for a long next couple of years losing to Urban Meyer.
Chris: This is a bit of a personal answer for me. Most will say that they are excited to see Urban on our sidelines, or can’t wait to see how Stoney does as a true wideout. But for me, the most exciting part of this season, the thing that I am looking forward to the most, is to finally get to see The Shoe with my own eyes, to tailgate with 100,000 of my closest friends, and to finally see my Buckeyes play football in the greatest stadium in the country.
Grant: It’s a tie between two specific sights: First, seeing Urban Meyer roaming the sidelines for our side, and the display of emotions that come with him now coaching at “home.” I loved Tress (still do, always will) but he was so emotionless in the spotlight for the most part. I’m ready to see those emotions under the headset again, and the fact that it’ll be Urban Meyer in that position still hasn’t sunk in. I’m ready to see it with my own two eyes in a game that counts. And secondly, I want to see how Meyer treats the Wolverines. I believe he’ll try to set a tone in the series, and if the opportunity to drop 60 on Michigan presents itself, I want to see if he does it. Not one ounce of me thinks he’ll sit on the ball until the final possession.
Andrew: Going to games. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the sports world. Looking forward to seeing you all there.
Joe: Urban Renewal.
Alexis: Seeing Urban Meyer wear Scarlet and Grey; showing everyone that if we would have been eligible for the post-season, we would have made it there!
“Seeing an aggressive, up-temp offense.” – Anonymous
“Urban showing a sample of 2013 season and what he has already accomplished with the 2012 Buckeyes! Exhibited by kicking their asses and serving notice the Buckeyes plan to return to their rightful throne atop the Big Ten.” – Steve Edgell from Houston, TX
“Screaming O-H! …its the simple things for me.” - Chad Rastetter from Akron, OH
“ The new look offense and all the young talent that has been brought in. Really excited about this freshman class….especially David “Boom” Perkins.” - Roger Scott from Warrensburg, MO
“Not seeing Jim Bollman.” - Big John from Cortland, Ohio