Syracuse vs. Ohio College Football Odds, Picks: Can the Orange Start Hot? (Saturday, Sept. 4)

Syracuse vs. Ohio College Football Odds, Picks: Can the Orange Start Hot? (Saturday, Sept. 4) article feature image

Justin Berl/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Tucker.

  • Syracuse begins its season on the road, making the trip to play Ohio.
  • The Orange live in the difficult ACC, but a game against the Bobcats will still be a challenge.
  • Check out Terrell Furman's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.

Syracuse vs. Ohio Odds

Saturday, Sept. 4
7 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network

Syracuse Odds

+100o / -120u

Ohio Odds

+100o / -120u
Odds via DraftKings. Check out the latest NCAAF odds here.

An ACC team against a MAC team to kick off the college football season? It should be a very easy pick, right?

Well, maybe not.

The Syracuse Orange travels on the road to Athens to face the Ohio Bobcats. Handicappers are all over the place with lines, although it appears to have settled as of Thursday night with the Orange being anywhere from one- or two-point favorites.

But who really is going to win this matchup that books cannot seem to agree on?

Syracuse Orange

Head coach Dino Barbers is going to need to turn this team around this season if he expects to continue having a job. The offensive side of the ball has been a roller coaster in his five years, but it has not been his downfall. The defensive output that he receives year in and year out has been subpar.

Barbers attempted to correct that by going into a new scheme in 2020, but then COVID-19 limited practices to zoom sessions.

Will he be able to turn it around in 2021?

Syracuse Offense

The offseason was one of uncertainty for the Orange’s offense. They had a quarterback battle between incumbent Tommy DeVito and Mississippi State graduate transfer Garrett Shrader.

DeVito was thought to be the next great Syracuse quarterback after he flashed in 2018 with wins over North Carolina and Florida State. Then, he regressed, as the entire team did, during an injury-ridden 2019 that saw the Orange finish 5-7.

Last year, DeVito started the season, but ultimately went down with a season-ending ankle injury. Now, he is fully healthy and is the starter.

Shrader is a dual-threat quarterback who gives Dino Barbers the running threat at quarterback that he wants. Barbers prefers a two-quarterback system, so Shrader could get some burn in this game.

Luckily for both quarterbacks, the offensive line should see an enormous amount of positive regression. The fact that they started FB/DT Chris Elmore at left guard for nine games tells you everything you need to know. This unit is returning five starters and will muster up a better season than 2020.

This is also good news for running back Sean Tucker. He is a quick back with 4.3 speed who put up three 100-yard outings in 2020 — one against a top ranked Notre Dame defense. Tucker is emerging as a star running back in the ACC and will be somebody to watch running behind a stable offensive line.

Syracuse Defense

The defensive outlook for the Orange has more promise than previous years, but it will finally need to materialize into production.

Barbers’ defenses have given up 460 yards per game in his tenure as coach. In 2020, they gave up over 32 points per game.

The secondary was a ray of sunshine in this barren wasteland. They forced the third most interceptions in the ACC. Unfortunately, all of their top players from that secondary are now gone. The anticipation is that the young backups that played behind them got some good experience to shoulder the load in 2021.

This will be the second season that Syracuse is implementing the 3-3-5 into their defense. The three upfront are all “super seniors” and third team All-ACC linebacker Mikel Jones is returning to this unit. The experience level in this defense rivals that of any team in the ACC, but will the overall talent match it?

Ohio Bobcats

Tim Albin did not think that he would be taking over as head coach in 2021. After longtime head coach Frank Solich had to return due to health issues, Albin was the easy answer to the job. The longtime coordinator has the backing of the team and gets to continue to run his offense.

It has been 100 years since these teams last meetings and they Bobcats are 0-2 without scoring a single point. How will they be able to keep history from repeating itself?

Bobcats Offense

The Bobcats came into the season with quarterback questions of their own. Redshirt freshmen Kurtis Rourke was the presumptive starter because of his ability to push the ball downfield.

However, he struggled with getting a full understanding of the RPO offense in 2020. UNLV transfer quarterback Armani Rogers came in as a dual threat and quickly became the team’s second leading rusher.

Ohio tried to play both quarterbacks only to see teams stack the box vs Rogers and play back for Rourke (for obvious reasons).

The offense is not going to change under new head coach Tim Albin since he was the offensive coordinator for the past 16 years. Expect to see Rourke take another step forward in the RPO offense with a full offseason under his belt and become more versatile.

Luckily for them, they will have more continuity on the offensive line. They return five players who started in 2020 and bring in the Virginia Tech transfer T.J. Jackson. They will be the catalyst to getting that rushing game going against a veteran defensive front against Syracuse.

Bobcats Defense

Although they only appeared in three games, this defense began to look like the Bobcats defense that plagued the MAC for years. However, take that with a grain of salt as two of their three games were against the likes of Akron and Bowling Green.

The defensive line returns three starters and adds Michigan State transfer Chris Mayfield. The depth of this unit has more experience than last year even with the loss of Austin Conrad—second team All-MAC defensive end.

The secondary lost both starting corners last year and will be breaking in true freshman Shakari Denson. Denson was the highest rated recruit for Ohio in history.

The Bobcats should still feel the losses of their top players across the defense, but they should progress better over time.

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Syracuse vs. Ohio Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Syracuse and Ohio match up statistically:

Syracuse Offense vs. Ohio Defense




Rushing Success11963
Passing Success12547
Line Yards122109
Sack Rate119118
Finishing Drives1248

Ohio Offense vs. Syracuse Defense




Rushing Success5072
Passing Success8988
Line Yards492
Sack Rate12483
Finishing Drives6640

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling37120
Rush Rate48.8% (103)68.4% (5)
Seconds per Play35121

Data via College Football Data (CFBD) and FootballOutsiders; SP+ projection per ESPN.

Anticipate both of these teams to start sluggish on the defensive end. Both teams have the ability to implement a two-quarterback system to manufacture offense.

Adjustments will need to be made to solidify the defense stop that will win this game. Ohio’s Rourke has the ability to use the RPO offense and do damage on the ground. DeVito has the trust of his coach, but is he really the quarterback we saw against North Carolina and Florida State in 2018.

Ohio has the ability to stop the run and force DeVito to make the plays to beat them. And DeVito has shown a track record of not being able to get that done.

Syracuse vs. Ohio Betting Pick

I got Ohio at a PK on FanDuel for -110, but I would shop around and see where you can get it as a slight underdog.

Pick: Ohio ML

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