Ohio State will square off with Cincinnati this week in a game that should be played every year going forward, as there is actual excitement for once in playing an in-state team that has a pulse. This is also a big recruiting weekend for the Buckeyes, with two special visitors on campus.
In the spirit of real football, great weather, in-state excitement and an overall appreciation of college football in general, it's time for a few bold predictions. In no particular order:
Bearcat Week: Earlier this week, I predicted Ohio State would wax Cincinnati 48-20, and after having a few days to ponder that guess I'm more convinced I have this one right. I'm not sure the Bearcats aren't as talented as Virginia Tech, but this is not about comparing scores, but about matchups. When Ohio State played the Hokies a few weeks ago they still thought they were Ohio State, but during that game they found out they certainly were not the number-five ranked team in America. Two weeks removed, I'm positive Ohio State knows now they are going to be in a battle every week, and while talented, there's not nearly enough talent to just show up and win as they've done in the past. A week of hard practice will help a lot. This team is healthy, and I believe anxious to play against a fairly good team. I believe the message was received about how they have to play, and Cincinnati will be the beneficiary. 48-20.
Torrance Gibson: This is a big visit for Ohio State and very risky having it occur so early in the recruiting season. Maybe the cold of Michigan Week or Bowl Week wouldn't be ideal, but Gibson will have Buckeye memories over and done with before October 1. And the others have not yet begun to fight. The good news is that Ohio State is the clear leader today, and that will be strengthened by next Monday. Will he commit to Ohio State publicly after this visit? I believe he has already made his intentions known to Urban Meyer, and Gibson has told him he's a Buckeye. I DO expect a public commitment within 48 hours of the visit, and then it's prevent defense time, all from 1,000 miles away. With four more officials and a few "silent" unofficials to sweat out.
Alex Stump: This offer was the one he wanted from the beginning, but Stump had to wait until other receivers walked away before landing it. Will that make a difference, knowing you weren't in the top group? It can with recruits, and I believe that cost Ohio State L.J. Scott and Shaun Crawford. What about Stump? He's going to agonize over how to tell Kentucky, because he's a great kid, but in the end Alex Stump will de-commit from Kentucky and be a member of Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class. And probably SOON, very SOON.
Jerome Baker: This recruitment got off the rails for Ohio State in late spring, and I have no idea where this one got to the point of a Florida commitment. I do not see Baker signing with the Gators, and his visit on October 11 will be his last to the Florida campus. There is an unofficial this week that will be soft-pedaled as "just a chance to see a game." The OSU official will be either Michigan Week or Bowl Week, and that will be that. I could see a Florida de-commit soon after his visit there, with the announcement that he's considering "all options." He could throw in a few visits for fun, but I see Baker as a Buckeye on National Signing Day.
J.T. Barrett: Cincinnati will take chances defensively and come at Barrett with exotic blitzes and try to out-number Ohio State in pass protection. This will not be a repeat of Virginia Tech, when both Barrett and the Buckeye offensive staff were out-classed by Bud Foster. High risk can lead to high reward. I see Barrett as the player of the game this week, as he puts up eye-popping numbers both throwing and running. This will be the Big Ten's offensive player of the week. Runs for over 100 yards and throws for 300 yards. His national coming out party.