Ohio State vs. Nebraska Betting Odds & Pick: Buckeyes on Path to College Football Playoff (Saturday, Oct. 24)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Jahsen Wint (23).
Ohio State vs. Nebraska Betting Odds
|Ohio State Odds||-27 [BET NOW]|
|Nebraska Odds||+27 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-5000/+1100 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||68 [BET NOW]|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
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Ohio State Buckeyes
Running back J.K. Dobbins has moved on to the NFL, but quarterback Justin Fields still has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Master Teague III averaged six yards per carry in 2019 and will be joined in the backfield by Oklahoma graduate transfer Trey Sermon.
The offensive line may be down two starters, but there were plenty of plays for the reserves last season. Nicholas Petit-Frere, Harry Miller and Gavin Cupp each recorded at least 170 snaps. There are weapons missing among the wide receiver corps, but Chris Olave’s 76 targets were one shy of K.J. Hill. We may see an increase in the usage of 12 personnel this season with the return of tight ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert, who combined for six touchdowns in 2019.
The defensive front garnered most of the headlines this offseason with the loss of Chase Young to the NFL. There are a number of players returning to the Buckeyes defense, but none held a statistical torch to Young. The defensive end finished the season with 16.5 sacks and 43 quarterback hurries.
Ohio State’s top returning starting pass-rusher is defensive end Tyreke Smith, who recorded just eight hurries in 2019. New defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs will be looking for players to generate chaos from the first snap.
The Scott Frost era in Lincoln could be described as self-impeded. Nebraska had a chance to qualify for a bowl at 5-6 heading into the season finale against Iowa. Before the end of the first half, the Hawkeyes ran a kickoff back for a score and intercepted quarterback Adrian Martinez to bury those hopes. A 14-3 lead on Indiana evaporated after a fumble and missed field goal. An early-season overtime loss to Colorado was a result of fourth-quarter drives that ended with a fumble, fumble and interception.
Nebraska finished 123rd in Havoc allowed, including an FBS low of 27 fumbles lost. If anyone believes that is one-year variance that will bounce back, consider that the Cornhuskers had 28 fumbles lost in 2018. Frost is now 9-14-1 against the number during his coaching tenure.
The defense has also had a rough go under Erik Chinander’s 3-4 concept that loves to blitz. Nebraska finished 85th in Line Yards and 125th in Power Success Rate last season, allowing any rushing attack with a pulse to move the ball.
For the amount of heat that Chinander likes to bring — blitzing at a 30% rate — there should be more than two players with double-digit quarterback hurries. Khalil Davis and Carlos Davis accumulated 12 sacks in 2019. Both of those players are in the NFL, leaving behind a remaining roster that combined for only 14 sacks last season.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
Nebraska rushed for 184 yards at 4.7 per carry and still lost to the Buckeyes by 41 last season. The game had all the ingredients a gambler would come to expect with Nebraska — a 56-yard run from Martinez along with three interceptions. Throwing out drives that ended the half, Ohio State scored on 8-of-9 possessions.
The handicap in this game is about whether or not the new faces on the Buckeye defense can generate takeaways against a team that historically gives the ball away. With an Action Network projection of Ohio State -19, the current market is inflated for Ohio State backers. Anyone playing on the Cornhuskers will need the points with the assumption that Martinez is incapable of a clean box score.
The safest investment in this head-to-head is a slow-paced first half, as Fields has new faces on the outside and Frost opts to run the ball. Although Nebraska ran 54% pass out of 11 personnel last season, the Cornhuskers had 39 rushing attempts versus 17 passing plays against Ohio State. Bank on the team that takes care of the ball in the first half.
Pick: Ohio State First Half -14.5