Week 14 Predictions – 2020
Last Week: Last week was miserable for every Buckeye fan so let’s just move on to this week. Two of our 5 games were cancelled and everyone that participated in picks for our staff went 3-0, so not a lot of movement in our standings. The playoff committee has not punished the Buckeyes yet for this but we will see if it is a different story if they don’t get to play in Indy.
This Week’s Games: Ohio State travels to Michigan State to take on the Spartans. They are down players but will it be enough players to give Sparty a chance to pull off the upset? …. Indiana is playing for a possible spot in the Big Ten Championship if Ohio State does not get enough games played. The Hoosiers take on Wisconsin in Madison, a team that has also had issues getting in all their games. Do Buckeye fans want Indiana to win to improve their strength of schedule, or do they want a Badger victory to give OSU a stronger position in the East? …. Iowa is 5 points away from an unbeaten season, with a very slim chance to get into the B1G championship game. Did Illinois come up with a winning game plan while they got an unscheduled open week? …. Texas A&M has convinced the playoff committee they are deserving of top four consideration, can they take care of business on the road against Auburn? …. Coastal Carolina continues to remain unbeaten and were scheduled to play 6-1 Liberty. But the Flames had to cancel due to COVID and the BYU Cougars agreed to the challenge. How will this game play out against these two unbeatens?
Buckeye Greats: As with the past, we will continue to include former Buckeye players in our prediction fun and we are thrilled to have Vaughn Broadnax back with us as a regular participant for the sixth straight year.
Here we go with our Week 14 Picks – Good Luck to All – Gregg
(4)Ohio State @ Michigan State
Andy: This Sparty team under first year head coach Mel Tucker has been difficult to read. They’ve struggled against teams that aren’t that good, and they’ve beaten teams that are well coached and much more talented than them. Spartan QB Rocky Lombardi is very inconsistent, but what has made the difference for the Spartan offense has been his ability to extend plays and ultimately drives with his feet. If a defense can force him into throwing the football a lot, he will make mistakes. I expect the Buckeye front seven to generate a lot of pressure against Michigan State’s offensive line to try and force as many bad plays as possible. Ohio State 45 – Michigan State 21
Coach Rick: Ohio State
Cory: As of the time of this writing (Wednesday morning) this game was still on. Let’s hope it stays that way. Assuming the COVID-19 outbreak within Ohio State has been contained and controlled, the Buckeyes have two games left before a potential Big Ten Championship game, and let’s be honest here – the Buckeyes need style points to remain in the playoff hunt. After upsetting Northwestern last week, Michigan State enters this game with some momentum so big win this week would help the Buckeyes, even if the Spartans’ overall record isn’t great. As for on the field, the Spartans struggle to move the ball on offense with any consistency. They scored 29 points against Northwestern, but that came on three field goals and a defensive touchdown. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi is not a good passer. He has as many interceptions as touchdowns, and if you’ve seen him play you know he really struggles throwing the ball. He completed just 11 of 27 passes last week. Assuming Ohio State is not missing too many players from COVID-19, this should be an easy Buckeyes win. Ohio State 42, Michigan State 13
Dave: Ohio State 42 Michigan State 28
Dr. Mark: Ohio State
Gregg: Ohio State needs a quality win against an inferior Michigan State squad to keep their national championship hopes alive. They ‘should’ take care of buisness but am I the only one thinking about 1998 and 2013 this week? In both cases, the first and the last year of the BCS, Ohio State was on track to play Florida State for the championship. Unexpected loses to the Spartans ruined the unbeaten seasons and a chance to play for all the marbles. Let’s hope that does not happen again. I am not sure who will be available to play but I think Ohio State wins in East Lansing but might be closer than we want it to be. Ohio State 44 Michigan State 24
John: A lot of Buckeye fans think that Ohio State can roll their third team out against Sparty and Roll. I hope their right. I think OSU wins, but not knowing how many regulars will be out due to Covid, I expect it to be close. Ohio State 28 Michigan State 24
Josh: Ohio State will need to be focused as they prepare to take on Michigan State, and will need to look good doing so, as they might not have a chance against TTUN the next week. If this game can be played, Ohio State needs to control the tempo of the game with a balanced running and passing game. Their last trip to East Lansing was a field position battle due to the limited running ability of Dwayne Haskins, but Justin Fields has that advantage. The goal will be to stay healthy, win and win big. The Buckeyes should have the advantage with their passing attack against the Spartan secondary, and will need to rely on that to help them convert first downs. Ohio State 45 – Michigan State 13
Steven: Just going on record saying that I don’t think this game gets played, but if it does, Sparty has an outside shot of making it a game. If the weather is crummy, it tends to imbue the Spartans with super powers, or at least it leads to vapor lock between the ears of OSU coaches. Even so, Spartan QB Rocky Lombardi has a 50/50 TD to INT ratio so there should be picks to be had, weather or not. If you look at Iowa as a ballpark (cough) comparable team, they took Sparty to the woodshed sacking Lombardi 3 times on their way to a 49-7 rout. I think the Buckeyes will put up similar numbers as long as we can get to the quarterback. That’s the order of the day, defensive line pressure. If we can contain Lombardi with the front 4 and dial up just a couple of sacks, maybe the inexperience on the back-end doesn’t get exploited so much. On offense, run Master, Trey and Steele early and often. Coach Larry Johnson, make it happen! OSU 42-14. If the weather sucks, cut OSU’s points in half.
Trout: Although Sparty just beat the West leading Wildcats of Northwestern, they have no shot at beating Ohio State. The Buckeyes are a vastly better team in every way. They may get a few scores, because there are defensive issues with the Bucks, but it won’t be enough to do any real damage. Not to mention, with a limited schedule, Ohio State will want to do everything to show the committee that they deserve to be one of the 4 teams in the playoff. I see Justin Fields and the Buckeye offense marching down the field at will with little resistance from Sparty. Ohio State wins in a blow out. (Ohio State, 56-10)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): If this game happens I expect the Buckeyes to perform as expected. If we have a surprise absence from the team it could get interesting. Otherwise, the Buckeyes beat the Spartans 49-17
Final Score: Ohio State 52 Michigan State 12
(12)Indiana @ (16)Wisconsin
Andy: Wisconsin has been one of the best teams in the big ten this season when they play well. Sophomore Grahme Mertz has played well in most of his games this season and the Badgers offense has found ways to run the football despite not having a typical bell cow running back. Indiana’s offense struggled last week against Maryland, similar to how they did against Michigan State. If Indiana struggled against defenses that are just decent, what are they going to do against a Badger defense that has only allowed 4 touchdowns in 3 games? Truth be told this game is difficult to predict, because which Wisconsin will show up? The one that destroyed Illinois and was able to do whatever they wanted? Or the team that lost in Evanston to a team way less talented than them? I don’t know, but usually Wisconsin learns after a loss, I’m expecting Paul Chryst and his staff to make several adjustments before the game. Wisconsin 35 – Indiana 28
Coach Rick: Wisconsin
Cory: It’s been a terrific season for Indiana and the Hoosier aren’t done yet, however, they have a lot to prove now that star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is out for the season with an ACL injury. Sophomore Jack Tuttle – a Utah transfer – is the next man up at quarterback. He finished the Hoosiers’ win over Maryland going 5-for-5 but Indiana already had a comfortable lead at that point. Playing on the road against Wisconsin is a different beast altogether. Tuttle was a big time recruit – he received offers from Alabama and LSU, among others – so the potential is there. For Wisconsin, we still don’t really know what kind of team they are as the Badgers have had three games canceled due to COVID-19. Defensively, they are stout as the most points they’ve given up in a game was 17 in their lost to Northwestern. Indiana is tougher than many think and the Hoosier have a legitimately great defense. The concern is, will he offense be able to rally around Tuttle enough to pull out a road win at Wisconsin? As an IU grad my heart says yes, but my brain says no. Wisconsin 31, Indiana 28
Dave: Indiana 32 Wisconsin 28
Dr. Mark: Indiana
Gregg: Indiana is a really good team, you need to take off the name on the jersey and realize that. Even without their starting QB, they have a solid offense and opportunistic defense. Ohio State found out how good the defense was as Justin Fields had his worst game of the season, maybe even his career. The win should elevate both Indiana and Ohio State. Coach Allen is doing the right things in Bloomington, they may be the team to beat for a while. He might even be a candidate for next season’s coaching opportunities. I expect it to be lower scoring without Penix but the Hoosiers score enough to win. Indiana 20 Wisconsin 17
John: With Penix out, I think IU lacks enough of a passing offense for their run game to keep the Badgers off balance. Wisconsin by two scores. Wisconsin 31, Indiana 24
Josh: Indiana, who has been the story of the year, lost Michael Penix to a lower leg injury last week against Maryland, and will be out the rest of the year. Replacing him will be a 4 star pocket quarterback, Jack Tuttle, who started at Utah, but transferred to IU last season. Indiana’s defense has still been able to shut down teams and force multiple turnovers. They were not able to score points against Ohio State which ended up costing them, and they will need to turn those turnovers into points if they get the opportunity. You have to think about the mental status too with Wisconsin, who lost to Northwestern, had a game cancelled, and now are eliminated from competing in the Big Ten Championship. I am sure they will want to try and salvage their season, but I think even with the quarterback change, the Hoosiers find a way to win on the road. Indiana 24 – Wisconsin 21
Steven: As we all know, 2020 just kinda sucks. Unique calamities have befallen most of the Big Ten teams, Covid being just one. Just when you thought Bucky Badger actually had a team, the virus comes in and upsets the apple cart by decimating the quarterback room derailing multiple games. As for the Hoosiers, you have a breakout star emerging in Michael Penix Jr. and the poor guy tears his ACL. This season is a race to the finish of walking, crawling and coughing wounded. We have yet to see a full game out of Hoosier backup QB Jack Tuttle, but last week in mop up duty he was 5 for 5. Since the Hoosiers are on to their backup quarterback, the Badgers are favored by 2 touchdowns. Penix or not, the Indiana defense is still formidable. Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz probably won’t throw 3 interceptions again like he did in the inexplicable loss to Northwestern, but we would have never thought Justin Fields would do that very same thing against the Hoosiers. If Indiana plays a bit conservative and the coaches don’t expect Tuttle to win the game for them, they can put the ball in RB Stevie Scott’s hands and ride the run game to victory. IU 28-20
Trout: If Michael Penix Jr was playing in this game, I would have given the victory to the Hoosiers. But unfortunately, I don’t think they can beat the badgers without him. Obvious Wisconsin isn’t a juggernaut in college football, but they are a really good and well coached team. In a normal year, they would be the favorite for the Big Ten West. I think it will be close. Although less talented, Indiana is going to play their hearts out. They will make Graham Mertz and the Badger Offense work for every yard. I just think that difference in talent, will allow the Badgers to do just a little more, and squeak by with the victory. Wisconsin wins in a hard fought, low scoring game. (Wisconsin, 17-13)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): With Michael Penix out I have the Badgers beating the Hoosier 34-27.
Final Score: Indiana 14 Wisconsin 6
(19)Iowa @ Illinois
Andy: Like my previous write up of the Badgers, which version of the Hawkeyes show up? Iowa lost their first two games of the season against Purdue and Northwestern and then turned around and obliterated Michigan State, Penn State and Minnesota in three consecutive weeks. Iowa’s biggest problem the past few seasons is having enough offensive firepower and whether or not they get off to a good start in games. If Iowa does not start strong, I expect Illinois to push them well into the fourth quarter as we’ve seen this Illini team under coach Lovie Smith can upset teams much better than them, like Wisconsin last year or trouncing Nebraska like they did last week. Iowa 35 – Illinois 24
Coach Rick: Iowa
Cory: Since starting 0-2, Iowa has reeled off four consecutive wins and find themselves in the top 25. Similarly, Illinois started off the season 0-3 but is currently riding a two-game win streak. The Illini were scheduled to play Ohio State last week but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 within the Buckeye program. Those two Illinois wins came over Rutgers and Nebraska, and Iowa’s wins aren’t much better. Illinois can’t pass the ball and while Iowa isn’t much better in that aspect, the Hawkeyes have somewhat of a balance to their offense. Illinois relies heavily on the running game, and I’m not sure that is enough to help them upset Iowa this weekend. Iowa 28, Illinois 13
Dave: Iowa 38 Illinois 24
Dr. Mark: Iowa
Gregg: Iowa had a tough start in 2020. In week 2, they lost a 21-20 game to Northwestern which is probably going to keep them out of Indianapolis in two weeks. But the real killer was in the opening week for the Big Ten teams when they lost 24-20 to Purdue, a team that is 1-3 other than that game. After starting out scoring 20 points in each of the first two weeks, the Hawkeyes since then is averaging 38 points a game and may actually be the best team in the Big Ten West. I don’t expect them to have any problem with Illinois, even though the Illini got an extra week to get ready since they did not play last week. A victory for Iowa this Saturday but they will come up short in the drama ‘How the West Was Won’. Iowa 42 Illinois
John: Iowa’s 1980’s retro offense is tailor made for outdoor Midwest football in December. Iowa 24 Illinois 17
Josh: Iowa might be one of the few teams who are able to get through their schedule without hitting any COVID issues, and they may have a chance to be the Big Ten West representative with Northwestern’s game against Minnesota being canceled due to COVID. Iowa has looked strong since their loss against Northwestern, and will have Illinois this week, and Wisconsin next week left to play. They just need Northwestern to lose once more or have another game cancelled to get into consideration. I think Iowa wins this game, as Illinois had to do a turnaround this week due to the late cancellation and prepare for Iowa. Iowa 31 – Illinois 10
Steven: Boy I wanna see Illinois get pummelled. This is not a jab at coach Lovie Smith, the Illini players or Lovie’s dearly departed beard. Illinois just needs to lose, and lose handily to cement in the committee’s mind that last week’s canceled game would have easily gone the Buckeyes’ way and the cancelled game becomes a phantom win. And that should be about what happens. It is a complete anomaly to see a team in this era of college football that has more rushing yards than passing, unless you’re Georgia Tech or a service academy. I’m pretty sure Illinois’ 58% run percentage is not a matter of scheme or choice, but of personnel. Iowa is 17th in total and 10th in scoring defense. Against an already challenged offense such as Illinois this gets ugly quick. Herky in a rout, 48-12.
Trout: The Hawkeyes will win this game, but I think it’ll be closer than people think. Iowa is clearly the better team, but after dealing with all their Covid issues at the beginning of the season, the Illinois team seems to be improving slightly. That’s not saying much, but they at least looked better the last couple weeks. But, talent usually wins out, and Iowa Hawkeyes are just more talented. I see this game being relatively low scoring with the game being decided with a field goal. The Iowa Hawkeyes win it close game, and can potentially share a piece of the Big Ten West title. (Iowa, 21-17)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Iowa beats Illinois 35-21
Final Score: Iowa 35 Illinois 21
(5)Texas A&M @ Auburn
Andy: If you watched either the LSU vs A&M game this past weekend or the Iron Bowl between ‘Bama and Auburn you’ll know that both of these teams have problems on offense. They both cannot establish consistent running games and neither team has a good quarterback. Both teams either seem to be boom or bust in their ability to get yards and score points. I really like the overall talent of A&M this year and usually in his third or fourth year head coach Jimbo Fisher has done special things in his past job, but honestly right now Kellen Mond is playing like trash, and I don’t think Bo Nix for Auburn is playing much better. I expect this to be an ugly game all the way around. Texas A&M 28 – Auburn 24
Coach Rick: Texas A&M
Cory: With multiple cancellations on Ohio State’s schedule so far the Buckeyes still hold the fourth playoff spot for now but are in danger of losing it even if they win out. One of the teams that would benefit from a Buckeye fall is Texas A&M. So far the Aggies’ only loss was to Alabama, and a road victory over a solid Auburn team this week would boost an already strong resume. They will need a strong game from quarterback Kellen Mond. With 16 touchdowns against just two interceptions, Mond has been terrific so far but in last week’s win over LSU he completed just 32.4 percent of his passes for 105 yards. Auburn’s defense is not as good as some hype it to be – the Tigers gave up 28 points at home to Arkansas and 30 points in a loss to lowly South Carolina. Auburn tends to keep their games close – except for Alabama – so don’t expect a blowout loss here. Texas A&M 30, Auburn 24
Dave: Texas A&M 38 Auburn 32
Dr. Mark: Texas A&M
Gregg: Auburn may be 5-3 but they had two games already they should have lost due to questionable officiating, particularly the Arkansas game. The Aggies are playing for a playoff spot and will play for style points. Texas A&M will win but will not be impressive enough to move up in the rankings. Texas A&M 27 Auburn 17
John: It will be interesting to see how Auburn responds to the thumping that ‘Bama laid on them last week. A&M aren’t the Tide, but should be good enough to get the job done. Texas A&M 31 Auburn 17
Josh: Auburn got destroyed by Alabama, but that seems to be the par for course this season for Alabama opponents except for Ole Miss. Texas A&M shut out LSU last weekend, but did not have a strong passing game. Auburn and Bo Nix could keep this one close, and statistically, they are close to Texas A&M’s offense split. With it being a 7 point spread, this could really go wither way, and I think Auburn sends a shock to the Aggies and beats them at home in a close one. Auburn 28 – Texas A&M 24
Steven: Root for Auburn HARD. It won’t happen, but a second Aggie loss will serve to eliminate them from playoff contention. Despite Texas A&M’s win against Florida, if you played that game over 10 times I’m not sure that the Gators wouldn’t win at least 8 of them. That being said, the Aggies are heads and shoulders above Auburn. Their defense is better and QB Kellen Mond is having an under the radar season, passing for 1573 yards with 16 touchdowns to just 2 INTs. On the other side, Tiger QB Bo Nix has a little less of a run game to lean on, so while he’s passing more, he’s also thrown into coverage a lot more. Last week at Alabama, Nix was sacked 4 times and intercepted twice. I doubt the Aggies will match those stats, but I could easily see them tallying half. Two sacks and an interception seems about right… and the Aggies continue to muddy the playoff water. TA&M 34-24.
Trout: I am picking the Aggies in this game, but I am not convinced either team is that good. A&M have got to 6-1 because they have beaten a bunch of bad SEC teams. When they came across a good team in Alabama, they got destroyed. Auburn has also been bad this year. Granted 2 of their losses have come from Alabama and Georgia, who are usually the top 2 teams in the SEC, but Losing to South Carolina is a huge red flag. The game will be very close with several lead changes throughout the game. It will be somewhat of a shoot out. I feel like that due to the Aggies having a better offense, they are able to score enough to pull off the victory. Texas A&M wins, and somehow remains in the playoff talks. (Texas A&M, 42-35)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Texas A&M gets by Auburn 21-17
Final Score: Texas A&M 31 Auburn 20
(13)BYU @ (18)Coastal Carolina
Andy: I’m taking BYU over Coastal Carolina 45 -28.
Coach Rick: Even with the change in opponent, still going with Coastal Carolina.
Cory: I have praised Coastal Carolina’s offense before, and it is good. However, it’s nothing compared to what BYU has. The Cougars feature a terrific running game with backs that have combined for over 1,800 yards and 29 touchdowns, but that’s not even the best part of the offense. Quarterback Zach Wilson is a legitimate Heisman candidate and projected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. All he’s done is complete 74.3 percent of his passes for 2,724 yards with 26 touchdowns against two interceptions. The Cougars are blowing out their opponents this year. Only one team – UTSA – has kept BYU within single-digit deficit this season. Scores like 66-14 and 51-17 are more of the norm. I like the Chanticleers a lot, but I just don’t think they enough to stop BYU in this one. BYU 45, Coastal Carolina 35
Dave: BYU 40 Coastal Carolina 28
Dr. Mark: BYU
Gregg: I realize that not a lot of folks out there, unless they are from Utah or Horry County, will know a lot about these teams. But they are both very good and very deserving of their spots in they current playoff rankings, both with spotless records. There will be a lot of excitement along the Grand Strand as GameDay will broadcast from CCU Campus. This will likely be the biggest game for two Group of 5 opponents, and the game was not even scheduled. How is it they can change gears so quickly and help this happen and the Big Ten almost looks like they are stepping in the way of an flexibility for the Big Ten teams when two schools have an opening. But that is debate for another platform. For this game, the Cougars are likely too deep on offense and will come out on top but expect a lot of offense in this one. BYU 38 CCU 31
John: BYU has played nothing but cupcakes so far. CCU isn’t Ohio State, but they aren’t Eastern Michigan either. Regardless, I think an unbeaten BYU ends up on the outside of the CFP in any scenario short of Armageddon. BYU 35 CCU 31
Josh: This game seems like peak 2020, with Liberty having to cancel due to COVID concerns, and BYU, who now knows that they need to boost their resume, set up this game as a back up. Well, now we can see how Zach Wilson does against the Chanticleers, who are still having a dream season. The game against Liberty will most likely end up being the Sun Belt Championship game in a few weeks, so nothing was really lost other than a repeat matchup. I think BYU is stronger than what the experts and committee thinks, and I think they will beat Coastal Carolina at home. Can the winner play Cincinnati as a Group of 5 mini playoff? BYU 42 – Coastal Carolina 34
Steven: I like BYU to win a close one. Sorry Joe.
Trout: I don’t know much about either team, but having to pick between the 2 teams, I will have to go with the BYU Cougars. They seem to have a more high powered offense than the Chanticleers. BYU has also faced and beaten more ranked teams than Coastal Carolina. I don’t think it’ll be a blow out. But I do think the Cougars win by 2 scores. It’ll be a close game for a while, but the BYU Cougars will pull away toward the end and give the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers their first loss. (BYU, 35-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): I am going to take BYU over Coastal Carolina 34-24