Playoff Predictions – 2020
Last Week: Buckeyes got their redemption against Clemson with a 49-28 win in the 2021 Sugar Bowl. The game really was not even as close as the score as Ohio State dominated in every category. Time will tell if this will be the beginning of a change in the series as the Tigers had won the first four meetings by these two teams. As for the Buckeye50 predictions, we all picked Ohio State, we look smart. All the ESPN staff and even ‘the BEAR’ picked Clemson. They look stupid, sheep following the herd, enough said.
This Week’s Game: In one of the strangest season’s in college football history, we have finally come to the championship game. In my opinion the two best teams in the country have reached the mountain top and if Alabama and Ohio State play to their best level, it should be a great game. Let’s hope for that!
Here we go with our Championship Picks – Gregg
(1)Alabama vs. (3)Ohio State
Andy: This is definitely the toughest matchup for Ohio State all year. That says a lot considering they just played the number 2 team in the country. I think this matchup has a lot more X Factors to consider for Ohio State to overcome. In order to win Ohio State must get consistent pressure on quarterback Mac Jones, but they also need to find a way to contain the most explosive player in the country, wide receiver Devonta Smith. Smith has over 1,600 yards receiving this year and 20 touchdowns, he does a great job of getting past defensive backs and getting one on one matchups with safeties which never are a challenge for him. Kerry Combs must find a way to limit how many big plays Smith has. If this was not enough, Alabama also has the best running back in college football this year in Najee Harris who has 24 rushing touchdowns this season. Ohio State’s defense needs to come up even bigger against Alabama because frankly they have much better skill players than Clemson did this season. I know Ryan Day’s staff has an attacking philosophy and they’re going to need to attack on both sides of the ball or this game could get lopsided fast. I feel like Justin Fields dawn his superman cape one last time and carry an Ohio State offense to a slim win. Ohio State 42 – Alabama 34
Cory: When thinking of upsetting Alabama to win the National Championship, many Buckeye fans are going to recall the 2014 semifinal. ‘We’ve done it before, it can’t be THAT hard,’ some will say. The difference between that Alabama team and this one is stark. The Crimson Tide in 2014 still ran a pretty standard offense and got by on talent and execution thanks to excellent coaching. Since then, however, their offense has shifted to be in alignment with what other top programs around the country are doing. They’re utilizing more receivers, and they’ve got three great ones in Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie. Waddle is returning from injury and right now it’s unclear how much he will play, but if he’s on the field he’s a difference maker. In a truncated season because of COVID-19, the Crimson Tide have thrown for over 4,000 passing yards and have 37 receiving touchdowns. It is not that they are going to test the Ohio State secondary, it’s that they will get big plays and first downs, with the main question being: Can the Buckeye defense bend but not break? Alabama will also do a better job of controlling the lines of scrimmage than Clemson did, and that’s going to make things difficult for Ohio State.
Gregg: Too many times I have heard this year is feeling so much like 2014 for Buckeye fans. I did not buy into it before the Sugar Bowl but I see it now. Ohio State is so underrated, disrespected, and crucified in the media. No one picked them to beat Clemson and very few are converting to OSU for the championship.
At least Coach Saban is being a professional and giving Ohio State respect. I applaud him for that. But the game will be decided on the field. Like most, I think this will be high scoring affair, if you are betting, take the over. The Tide defense and especially their secondary, is a weakness and the Buckeyes will run and pass on Alabama at record levels. However Mac Jones and company is one of the best offensive groups in the past twenty years. They will get their points, with our without Waddle. So sit back and enjoy this one sports fans, but in the end, I think Ryan Day delivers one more time and the Bucks take the title. Ohio State 45 Alabama 41
Josh: With everything on the line, these two teams have a lot of similarities on both sides of the ball, and it will really come down to the trenches, and can the Buckeyes stop the Alabama offense on 4 or 5 possessions. With the speculation of what Ohio State might not have at defensive line, and Alabama might get Waddle back, it is easy to look at Alabama having an advantage against the numbers. But if there is anything we have seen with Ryan Day so far as an OC and a head coach, he will have a game plan. This game will be a high scoring game, and with the narrative of Ohio State’s season facing several parallels to the 2014 team, I feel that Justin Fields is the better quarterback even though Mac Jones has put up fantastic numbers this season, but I think the Buckeye defensive line will be able to get pressure on Jones, who has not had so much this year. Ohio State 42 – Alabama 35
Vaughn (Ohio State 1980-83): I predict OSU beats Alabama 42-31. Taking a look at defenses Alabama has played against, it’s not surprising to see their offensive production this year. It’s also hard not to notice how their defense has allowed a lot of yards throughout the season. If Ryan Day unleashes the hounds and we can keep Justin free from harm, we may be able to score at will. The key will be Justin making smart choices. That will keep Alabama’s defense on their heels.
ESPN GameDay: xxxx
Final Score: Ohio State xx Alabama xx
Last Week: OSU won a big game against the Northwestern Wildcats which won them the right and playoff committee approval to be in the 2020 season playoffs. The victory gave the Buckeyes their 4th straight outright Big Ten title.
Unfortunately, about an hour before the Big Ten Championship game, our Buckeye50 family lost a member. Pat “PJSBuck” Steger lost his battle with COVID-19. Along with Brent Baver, Pat was a founding member of the web site which ironically went online 20 years ago to the day, December 19th, 2000. Over the years Pat’s opinions, spirit and passion for Ohio State football has been appreciated by our site followers. Our prayers go out to the Steger family, PJSBuck will be missed.
This Week’s Games: The teams are very familiar to college football fans as Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame are four of the five teams that have competed in multiple years (Oklahoma being the other one). This round we have the Buckeye50 picks brought to you by Andy and Cory Steger, Pat’s sons. Can the Buckeyes and Irish pull off upsets to advance to the championship?
Here we go with our Picks – Gregg
(3)Ohio State vs. (2)Clemson
Andy: I think this game will be close like it was last year. Mostly the same coaching staff for both universities, although obviously some player turnover for both teams. I think Ohio State lost a lot more talent from it’s squad last season than Clemson. I see this being a tough matchup for Ohio State if they can’t do things in this game… stop Trevor Lawrence from running the ball on RPOs like he did last year against Ohio State. Number 2 being when Ohio State gets into the red zone, they can’t afford to settle for so many field goals like they did last year. I realize 3 points over no points is ideal, but last year where Clemson really shined was their red zone defense. If Ohio State can do a good job of limiting those explosive plays that killed the defense last year and can keep the football in front of them, I think they have a very good chance in this one. And this goes without saying, but Ohio State needs to win both line of scrimmage battles. Last year it was a tale of two halves, Ohio State won in the 1st half, Clemson won that battle in the 2nd half. Ohio State 35 – Clemson 31
Cory: Normally I try to write these predictions as objectively as possible. I try to look at matchups, stats, etc, and make an informed prediction. Well, that is not happening in this one. Clemson has had our number and as if that wasn’t bad enough, head coach Dabo Swinney has continually made comments disrespecting the Buckeyes and I would love for nothing more than to see them throw it right back into his smug face. It’s true, Ohio State has not played up to its potential thus far but that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes are a bad team, rather, one that still has its best game left to play and I think they’re going to bust it out this week. Clemson is very talented but the Buckeyes will still have an advantage in the trenches and if I’m Ryan Day I start the game with a heavy dose of Trey Sermon and Master Teague. The offensive line has done a terrific job in run blocking, and a successful run game will open up options in the air. Expect Clemson to hit the Buckeyes with a lot of RPO. The Tigers used it more this year after having success with it against Ohio State last year, and they used it with success against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship game as well. Ohio State doesn’t need to stop Clemson but they do need to slow them down and tackling will be vital. The Buckeyes cannot let Clemson get extra yards because their playmakers are dangerous in space.
Trevor Lawrence is the definitive No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft and while Justin Fields is good he is not as good as Lawrence. Travis Etienne is a playmaking machine, and the Buckeyes defense has been suspect. Clemson players went home for Christmas. They got a break. The Buckeyes stayed in Columbus and practiced. The Buckeyes have had the score of last year’s game posted all around the Woody Hayes facility as a reminder of the failure last year. They are hungry and motivated, and being the underdog will help, as well. Everything in my head is telling me to pick Clemson – that the Tigers are going to win against us, yet again. However, I can’t make this pick with just my head. I am making this pick with my heart, and my heart is scarlet and gray. Go Bucks! Ohio State 31 Clemson 28
ESPN GameDay: The entire crew pick Clemson as being the team that will be motived for this game and will win. The ‘Bear’ thinks the Tigers win and cover.
Final Score: Ohio State 49 Clemson 28
(1)Alabama vs. (4)Notre Dame
Andy: Even though this Brian Kelly’s best team at Notre Dame, they have a tall task in front of them. They play the most explosive offense in all of college football… with Alabama it’s pick your poison. Mac Jones and Devonta Smith through the air, or Najee Harris, Brian Robinson and Jase McClellan on the ground. And to make matters worse the Tide defense has only improved as time has gone on this season. They’re the most complete team in college football this season, very balanced and a defense to match it’s offense. I think for Notre Dame to win this game they’re going to have to dominate in time of possession and unlike the prediction I gave for Clemson vs Ohio State, I think Notre Dame needs to milk as much time off the clock as possible and get any and all points it can. Easier said than done, but the best way to combat the Alabama offense is to simply keep it off the field. Even though I like this Notre Dame team, I don’t think they’ll be able to overcome this Alabama team. Alabama 38 – Notre Dame 17
Cory: Notre Dame is a good team but not an elite one, and historically they choke in every big game in which they’ve played under head coach Brian Kelly. I would love to see the upset here but it’s not going to happen. Alabama’s offense is so incredibly balanced, and they’re got three future NFL players starting at receiver – Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie. Oh yeah, you’ve probably heard of Mac Jones, too, but in case you haven’t he’s Alabama’s quarterback and he’s got a 76.4 completion percentage, 32 touchdowns with just four interceptions, and a rating over 200. Even if Notre Dame plays a perfect game it’s hard to see the Irish pulling the upset. Alabama 35, Notre Dame 13
ESPN GameDay: All pick Alabama to take care of business and once again defeated the Irish in postseason.
Final Score: Alabama 31 Notre Dame 14