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5 predictions for the 2019 Ohio State Football season from Eleven Warriors

Chris Lauderback

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In the upcoming September issue of (614) Magazine, Eleven Warriors provided us with Chris Lauderbacks five predictions for the upcoming season. While this article was lightly edited for length, the full version can be found here. This article was originally published on Aug. 15, 2019 on Eleven Warriors website.

Just a few days away from Ohio State’s season opener against Florida Atlantic, it’s prime time for everyone to make your predictions for how things will unfold – mostly so you can be shamed at the end of the year for your wrongness. 

I’ve certainly endured my fair sure of not-so-hot predictions over the last couple years, but I always come back for more because, man, does it feel good when you get that one or two right, especially if you go out on a bit of a limb. 

But let’s get to it. Drop your predictions in the comments after taking a look at my five prognostications for Ohio State’s 2019 football season. 

1.) J.K. DOBBINS WILL RUSH FOR AT LEAST 100 YARDS IN 10 OR MORE GAMES THIS FALL

I feel like this is a pretty risky one right off the bat. 

All the preseason logic says Dobbins is ready to bounce back in a big way after a subpar 2017 season in which he ran for 1,053 yards but did so on just 4.6 yards per carry. 

He should benefit from the return of a dual-threat quarterback and the accompanying read options, the general vibe that running the ball will be of greater focus this season and of course the reality Ryan Day doesn’t yet have a reliable second-string tailback to spell Dobbins. 

Dobbins will also be motivated to put on a show for NFL scouts in what could very likely be his last season in Columbus. 

So why is this prediction a stretch? 

Well, first of all, even in Dobbins’s freshman season in which he ran for 1,403 yards on 7.2 yards per carry, he still only ran for over 100 yards in six of 14 games. Last year, he ran for over 100 yards in only three of 14 outings.   

In fact, if Dobbins can eclipse the century mark in 10 games, that would tie him with Archie Griffin for the fifth-most in a single-season in school history. If you’re curious, Zeke (2015) and Eddie (1995) own the single-season school record with 12 each and Archie owns third-place with 11 in both 1973 and 1974. 

2.) JORDAN FULLER BECOMES SECOND SAFETY SINCE AT LEAST 1970 TO LEAD TEAM IN TACKLES IN BACK-TO-BACK SEASONS

Fuller tied outside linebacker Malik Harrison for the team lead in tackles last season with 81 total stops despite missing one game and getting ejected in another (Nebraska) after just 28 snaps played. 

Typically, it’s not great news to have a safety lead the team in tackles, but even with Ohio State’s defense expected to show some level of improvement from last year’s tire fire, I still think Fuller has a solid chance to again lead the squad in stops. 

One chief reason for this logic is the fact Day has made no secret about his desire to feel comfortable rotating linebackers similar to how Larry Johnson maximizes his depth across the defensive line. Of course, the threat to Fuller here is assuredly Harrison because even with a rotational strategy, it’s hard to envision him coming off the field too often. 

Another reason I like Fuller to repeat is because, like Dobbins, he’s looking for a bounce back season of his own before heading off the the NFL. Dude will be hungry and if Ohio State’s defensive alignment does feature more single-high safety looks than we’ve seen in the past, Fuller will be roaming center field looking to make things happen. 

So who is the safety to have already turned the trick of leading Ohio State in tackles in back-to-back seasons? Mike Doss accomplished the feat registering 94 stops in 2000 before backing that up with another 87 in 2001. 

Other safeties to lead the Buckeyes in tackles for at least one season include C.J. Barnett in 2011 and Damon Moore in both 1998 and 1996.

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3.) WHILE THE GROUP WILL BE MUCH IMPROVED, THE BUCKEYES WILL STILL FAIL TO BE A TOP-25 TOTAL DEFENSE

After setting dubious records for most points and yards per game allowed last season, the general consensus is that an infusion of new defensive coaches, an altered scheme, and the return of just about every defender from last year will help the 2019 edition of the Silver Bullets get back on track. 

I subscribe to that logic for a few reasons, most notably because if we’re being real, a group that gave up over 500 yards of offense three times and over 400 yards of offense nine times while surrendering an average of 403 yards per Saturday to rank No. 71 in total defense really can’t do anything but improve.

I don’t mean that sarcastically, just matter-of-factly. 

Looking at the last seven seasons, on average, for Ohio State to rank in the Top-25 for Total Defense it’ll have to give up no more than 340 yards. 

That’s certainly doable and I won’t be shocked if the defense does shave over 60 yards from it’s per game average, but I’ll roll with the over and happily hope the group proves me wrong come season’s end.

4.) OHIO STATE’S OFFENSE WILL FEATURE FIVE RECEIVERS WITH OVER 450 YARDS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY

Now this one really feels like a gamble. 

I should probably just go with 400 yards here instead of 450 since that’s never been done by an Ohio State offense either, but go big or go home, right? 

Scanning the history books, only twice has Ohio State featured even four receivers in a single season with over 400 yards, doing so in both 2017 and 2018. And last year, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin became the only for receivers in school annals to all log at least 450 receiving yards in a single season. 

This year, I’m making a case that for the first time ever, Ohio State will feature five receivers with at least 450 yards. 

Since this feels like such a stretch, I’ll even tell you the ranked order I expect for receiving yards, again with all going for at least 450: K.J. Hill, Chris Olave, Austin Mack, Garrett Wilson, and Binjimen Victor. 

(If Justin Fields gets hurt and misses more than one game, never mind.)

5.) OHIO STATE WILL WIN THE BIG TEN AND MAKE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF, FINISHING 12-2 ON THE SEASON

If Ohio State did all of this in Ryan Day’s first full season with a first-year starter at quarterback and a defense that gave up 25.5 points per game a season ago, I’d consider that a rousing success. 

Then again, I know everyone has different expectations for their favorite team. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Day was able to do even better than 12-2 with a CFP berth. I would, however, be surprised if the Buckeyes did lose more than two games. 

So where are those two losses? Like the last few years, it feels impossible to predict, but I do think at Northwestern on a Friday night could be problematic. I’m not really on the Nebraska train, but I will say it’s not optimal to play the first roadie of the season in Lincoln in what could potentially be an 11:00 AM local start time. 

Either way, my gut says the Buckeyes drop a regular season conference game against a team not named Michigan and then pick up another in the CFP semifinal.

For more Buckeye coverage, check out Eleven Warriors at elevenwarriors.com.

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Another professional Columbus sports team might see action this year

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While the Columbus Crew were sent down to Orlando to compete in a tournament to restart the season, the NHL is close to following in similar fashion, according to a report from ESPN.

According to ESPN, the NHL and NHLPA have finalized protocols that would allow for the season to start Aug. 1, with training camps resuming July 13. Play will occur in two hub locations, including Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, as told to ESPN.

That means Columbus could see its beloved Blue Jackets back in action in a few short weeks. 

There’s more at stake in teams returning to NHL play than there are for the MLS teams competing down in Florida. If an agreement is reached, the NHL will skate right into a 24-team playoff.

That’s not before starting training camp, which has a target date of July 13. If all goes well, the Blue Jackets will travel to Toronto on July 25 or 26 to compete in exhibition games.

The playoffs would begin the following week with a qualifying round in which the Blue Jackets would face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a best-of-five series. 

Players have the opportunity to opt-out of playing without being penalized. 

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No fans on the course, but The Bogey party will carry on for Memorial Tournament watch parties

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It’s a little more than a month later than expected, but Jack Nicklaus will once again host the world's finest golfers—minus their fans— at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin next week.

The 45th Annual Memorial Tournament will be held July 13-19. While originally it would have been the first PGA Tour event with fans, due to surging COVID cases, the Tour announced this week they will no longer allow fans on the course. "The safety of our public and our employees is our highest priority,” said city of Dublin Director of Communications and Public Relations Sue Burness. 

Outside of the course, with bars and restaurants still navigating operations under health guidelines from Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health and local health agencies, Memorial Tournament-week festivities are limited.

No large events are planned at Dublin's Bridge Park, which has hosted Fore!Fest concurrently with the Memorial each of the last two years, according to Burness.

But one long-standing tradition will remain intact in 2020—The Bogey in Shawnee Hills will host a watch party throughout the week.

Photo By Julian Foglietti | Shown here is The Bogey's General Manager Mark Dombek

"The Memorial Tournament and The Bogey is a special tradition," General Manager Mark Dombek told 614. "People are going to be ready to enjoy live sports, and The Bogey has always been a place people come for the tournament."

The Bogey will have two giant video walls and stream as much of the tournament as is allowed by the tournament's broadcast partner, Dombek said. 

Health guidelines are ever-changing, Dombek said, but at press time his plan was to have more than 145 new tables added outside the venue (in addition to the 46 new outdoor tables The Bogey added when it re-opened in May), including in the parking lot, which will be barricaded to accommodate the additional tables. A tent will also be set up, so some tables will be covered.

"We're going to fully utilize all of our available space," Dombek said.

Current guidelines still prohibit standing in common areas in bars and restaurants, Dombek said, so patrons will be asked to rent the tables, available for groups of 4-10.

While capacity is impacted by health guidelines, Dombek said he expects to be able to welcome about 1,000 customers at a given time, including the current capacity of 178 inside The Bogey.

Dombek said his staff will enforce social distancing as much as possible, and will place hand sanitizer stations in the temporary outdoor area as well.

The Bogey will host live bands in the evenings, Dombek said, in an effort to make this week "as close to what we'd normally do."

"We've had a ton of people reaching out, asking what we were going to do. This has always been a big week for us. We're listening to our customers and letting them know we're here for as much as we can be," he said.

Visit bogeyinn.com or call 614-766-1900 for information.

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The Basketball Tournament 2020: Aaron Craft’s goodbye and lifelong bonds

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Editors' Note: The original publication of this article referred to the Columbus TBT team as the Carmen Crew. The correct name for the team is Carmen's Crew.

Carmen's Crew, the all-Ohio State basketball alumni team, will be taking to Nationwide Arena this Wednesday to defend its title as champions of The Basketball Tournament.

The Tournament is an annual 5-on-5 single-elimination competition consisting of players who lit it up in college and even the NBA. This year, 24 teams were selected to compete for a $1 million prize. You can read more about the tournament on (614) here.

Some of the teams will be structured with players who participated in the same basketball program or even played together. Carmen's Crew is one of those teams, consisting of Ohio State basketball alumni, from coaches to players. 

On Monday, six members of Carmen's Crew held a virtual press conference from a Columbus hotel room two days before they take the court for the 2020 TBT. Leading things off was former Carmen's Crew player and current GM and coach Jared Sullinger. Evan Turner will be joining Sullinger on the sideline as a coach as well.

Sullinger, who has taken time off from professional basketball to focus on raising a family that includes two twins, knows that his team has a big target on its back this year.

“We became the hunters to the prey,” Sullinger said. “Now everyone wants a piece of Carmen’s Crew just because we won it.”

Even though Sullinger isn’t playing professionally in any capacity, he still has an ultimate goal of making it back to the NBA. We won’t see him taking the floor for the tournament at Nationwide, though.

However, we will still be seeing a court full of familiar faces. On the player side, Carmen's Crew roster consists of point guard Aaron Craft, shooting guard William Buford, shooting guard David Lighty, power forward Deshaun Thomas, shooting guard Jon Diebler, power forward Jeff Gibbs, power forward Pape Malik Dime, small forward Lenzelle Smith, power forward Dallas Lauderdale, and point guard Demetri McCamey.

Thomas was a last-second addition to the roster.

Buford, the MVP of last year’s tournament, sees no reason as to why Carmen's Crew shouldn’t walk away with back-to-back ‘ships.

“We got better this year as a team and I think we’ll do just fine if we stick together and play how we play,” Buford said.

A handful of the questions centered around the bittersweet reality that Craft would most likely be suiting up for his final few days as a basketball player, also citing family as one of the reasons why it seemed like a “perfect storm” to walk away from basketball. 

“This is one of the toughest things for me because I’ve been playing with him since we were 15-years old,” Sullinger said. “It’s going to be real tough knowing that this is going to be his last go-around.”

Sullinger mentioned that Craft’s ability, effort, and mindset is very contagious and will be incredibly missed on the court.

Craft isn’t trying to focus on himself for the upcoming tournament, however. Even without fans cheering him on in Columbus for his final minutes on the court, the cherished Buckeye point guard is looking forward to hearing his teammates on the court without having it being drowned out by those raucous Buckeye crowds.

“As we continue to get older we continue to appreciate it a little more,” Craft said.

Being in Columbus and not having a crowd does carry some positives, though. Players like Lighty mentioned that having the tournament in Columbus in the midst of a global pandemic made the decision to play a little easier.

Craft has an even more unique perspective, as he was quarantined in Italy in the middle of international basketball play. Being in Italy, one of the first major hot spots of COVID-19 has shown him that only pockets of our country have been taking the virus seriously while things were different.

“I think the biggest difference I’ve seen...is the seriousness with how all the public took the virus, whether it was on their own or by (government regulations),” Craft said.

But most of all, Carmen's Crew is looking forward to being together once again. That’s why we see players like Turner, who are still taking a stab at an NBA career, come back year after year to suit up with their old college teammates once again.

“One thing for sure is that these are my best friends, these are my brothers,” Turner said when asked why he continues to be a member of Carmen's Crew.

Carmen's Crew will put their cohesiveness and togetherness to the test on Wednesday with its first match of 2020 TBT. It will be suiting up against House of Paign, a team made up of Illinois basketball alum. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

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