Just because Ohio State isn't playing this weekend doesn't mean there is nothing to talk about. The Buckeyes enter their open week a perfect 8-0, but many questions still face the team. We'll be tackling a different topic each day this week, some serious and some light-hearted, but all with eye towards the Buckeyes four remaining regular season games against Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan.
Ohio State Over/Unders:
Ezekeiel Elliott Over/Under 1,927 rushing yards (Buckeyes single-season record)
Ryan Ginn: With 1,130 yards through eight games, this is a close one for me. I don’t think Elliott will do it in 13 games like Eddie George had, but if they Buckeyes make the Big Ten title game he’ll have at least 14 games and that would be enough for me to say yes, I think. It’s too early to tell the long-term impact on his production that the switch to Barrett will have, but I do think it’s safe to assume that the offensive line will continue to progress. As long as he doesn’t get hurt or lay an egg, I think there’s a good chance he gets there so I’ll say over.
James Grega: Junior running back Ezekiel Elliott will surpass 1,927 rushing yards for a couple of reasons. The first being that he is without a doubt Ohio State’s best player on offense and is the work horse for the Buckeye offense.
Already sitting at 1,130 on the season and with four more games to go, I feel as though Elliott is bound for at least one more 200-yard game in 2015 and likely will get at least 100 yards in each game leading into the heavy weight bout with Michigan Nov. 28.
Tim Moody: Junior running back Ezekiel Elliott evoked comparisons to Eddie George by sporting midriff last season, and he lived up that hype against Wisconsin and into the playoffs.
This year, Elliott is included with George in conversations once again, but those conversations revolve around program records rather than fashion decisions. If Elliott does hit the over on 1,927 yards, he’ll break George’s program record set 20 years ago during his Heisman Trophy campaign, and I think that’s exactly what he’ll do.
With the likely added benefit of playing in at least 14 games, Elliott will become the Buckeyes’ first ever 2,000-yard rusher this season.
Blake Williams: Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 141 yards per game and if that average holds for five more games, the absolute minimum that Ohio State will play, he would not get Eddie's record, falling short at 1,835 yards. Not only do I think that the Buckeyes will play six more games, like James I think Elliott has at least another 200-yard performance in him to raise the average. By season's end I think Ohio State will have a new single-season rushing king as Elliott hits the over. Incidentally, that would push him over 4,000 for his career and move him into second-place all time in career rushing yards at Ohio State.
Joey Bosa Over/Under 8 total sacks
Ryan Ginn: Bosa is probably the best defensive end in the country, but that’s one of the reasons his numbers this season aren’t where many expected. Drawing double teams isn’t something that’s going to go away, and despite the success of guys like Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard, I don’t think teams are going to stop keying in on Bosa. In spite of all that, I still think he goes over on this total.
James Grega: For Joey Bosa to hit eight sacks, he will have to play some of the best football of his career down the stretch of the 2015 season.
With Minnesota and Illinois next up on the docket, Bosa has a good chance to get multiple sacks in both of those games. Even against Michigan State, Bosa has a good shot at getting at least one with the Spartan front five decimated with injury. I am going to hesitantly take the over on this one, with the assumption Ohio State will play in multiple post season games.
Tim Moody: With at least five games to play, junior defensive lineman Joey Bosa would need to average a sack a game to reach eight for the season, and I’d be hard pressed to bet against him doing just that.
Teams put a lot of focus on blocking Bosa, but sometimes that’s an impossible task. With Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard both coming along nicely, Bosa should have more opportunities to make plays, and could well reach double digit sacks once again.
Blake Williams: I'm going to take the under. While I still think Joey Bosa is the best defender in the country, I believe that the added attention he is getting combined with the fact that all four of Ohio State's remaining opponents are in the top 35 nationally in fewest sacks allowed will result in only three or maybe four more sacks for the junior. That leaves us with the under or a push. Bosa could make me look foolish and rattle off three or so in one game, but I'm playing this one conservative.
Braxton Miller Over/Under 8 total touchdowns
Ryan Ginn: There’s a chance I end up looking like a fool on this one because it’s generally not smart to bet against one of the best athletes in the country but I’m going to bet that he ends up with eight or fewer total touchdowns this season. Despite the losses the receivers have suffered, there are still plenty of options on offense. J.T. Barrett’s legs will eat up some touchdowns, and I bet the Buckeyes ride Elliott more as the season goes on.
James Grega: Braxton Miller dazzled us all with multiple touchdowns per game when he was Ohio State’s signal caller, but so far in 2015, the Buckeye star has just four scores.
For him to get four more, he will need to touch the ball at least 10 times in each of Ohio State’s last four regular season games. We know what Miller can do with the ball in his hands, but to hit the eight total touchdown mark, he is going to need more touches than he is getting.
Tim Moody: Senior Braxton Miller has been stellar as a wide receiver, but his numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping. That’s not his fault, but the offense just isn’t set up for players other than Elliott and J.T. Barrett to score many touchdowns, which is why I’ll take the under on eight for Miller.
He has four so far, and he’ll find his way to the end zone a few more times, but unless he does suddenly become a Devin Smith-esque deep threat I’m not sure there are enough balls to go around for him to reach eight scores.
Blake Williams: I'm taking the under with Braxton Miller also. He's certainly capable of hitting this number, but because of the weapons around him I don't think he gets enough chances. He'll finish with a great first year as a receiver, but not hit eight TDs.
Jack Willoughby Over/Under 0.5 40-yard field goals
Ryan Ginn: I’d be hard-pressed to answer this if it were moved back to 45 yards and if it were 50 it would be a pretty quick no for me, but for 40 I’ll say he gets at least one. He hit a 39-yarder in the 38-10 win against Penn State so I think it’s pretty fair to say he eventually breaks through and hits one from 40.
James Grega: Since taking over the kicking duties for Sean Nuernberger, Jack Willoughby can largely underwhelmed. He has yet to get a kick further than 40 yards this season, and I don’t believe that he will hit one this season with just four games left.
At this point, I think the Buckeyes are better off simply going for it on fourth down, especially if the game isn’t on the line than relying on Willoughby. We have even seen Cameron Johnston come in on what would normally be field goal tries to just pin the opponent back rather than try for points.
Tim Moody: If Willoughby had made a 40 yarder in a game ever in his life my answer might be different, but he hasn’t. He hadn’t made any field goals before joining the Buckeyes — he was a kick off specialist at Duke — and he’s been less than stellar on 3-pointers this year.
At this point I think Willoughby probably has the ability to make a kick from 40-plus, but I’m not so sure the coaching staff trusts him enough to try it.
Blake Williams: With the offense moving the way it has been the last two weeks I don't see many chances for Jack Willoughby to attempts a field goal of over 40 yards, let alone make one. Under.