PASADENA, Calif. — It’s not often that a journalist says a college football coach made any part of his job easier, but Urban Meyer certainly made writing an Ohio State prediction column easier.
Just pick Ohio State to win. Every week, every game, every Michigan game, every bowl game.
OK, not quite every game. I bought into the Michigan hype this year and picked against Ohio State. And I think I picked Alabama over OSU in their College Football Playoff semifinal in 2014.
There might have been a few other games, but not many, where I picked the Buckeyes’ opponent in Meyer’s seven seasons at Ohio State.
Doing that brought out the occasional accusations of being a homer for OSU. On the contrary, it was simply a case of applying mathematics.
If something happens 13 times out of 14 times, or 85 times out of 94, it only makes sense to think it will happen a 14th time or an 86th time.
Ohio State has won 85 of the 94 games it has played during Meyer’s tenure. Technically, he gets credit for only 82 of those wins because of this season’s three-game suspension, but it was still his program and his foundation.
The two most notable times this Urban above all theory has failed me both happened in the last two seasons. You can probably guess which games they were.
Last year, I predicted Ohio State to win by 17 over Iowa and it lost by 31. This year I said Ohio State by 14 over Purdue and it lost by 29.
The prediction I was absolutely the most sure of in Meyer’s seven seasons was Ohio State over Michigan State in 2014, which was an opinion not shared by many people, but which was proved right by a 49-37 OSU win.
The Meyer Era at Ohio State ends Tuesday when the No. 6 Buckeyes (12-1) play No. 9 Washington (10-3) in the Rose Bowl.
Meyer has been unwavering that the No. 1 goal is winning the game for the players, not him.
“I don’t want to devalue the experience, but we’re here to win a football game. It’s not about the coaches, it’s about the players,” he said at a Rose Bowl press conference on Monday.
The players might have some other thoughts, though.
“We can’t really just take that lightly. We understand what’s on our shoulders as a team. I mean, this is Urban Meyer’s last game, and he’s a man with a great legacy,” defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones said on Sunday.
The game could come down to big plays. Can Ohio State make enough of them offensively, which it has been very good at? Can it not allow too many of them, which it has not been so good at?
Can Washington, which has scored more than 28 points only once in its last seven games, make big plays? Can its defense, which has allowed only nine plays of 30 yards or more, slow down OSU’s offense?
Ohio State’s record-setting quarterback Dwayne Haskins (4,580 yards, 47 touchdown passes) against a Washington pass defense that has allowed only nine touchdowns in the air could be the match-up of the day.
Haskins, probably is also in his final game at Ohio State. The NFL beckons. But first he will lead Ohio State to a win in Meyer’s final game.
The prediction: Ohio State 38, Washington 21.