NCAA Football Betting Favorite: Ohio State -3
Mark Dantonio used to be the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, and his name continues to come up as a rumored candidate for the Buckeyes job in the future. Luke Fickell is trying to right the ship for the Buckeyes and prove that he is the right man for the job. This will be the Big Ten opener for both teams, and it should be a good one!
The Spartans are led by senior quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins is in his third year as the full-time starter for Michigan State, and he continues to progress as a quarterback. He isn’t a guy that does anything in spectacular fashion, but he is solid in all aspects of the game, and he takes care of the football. The big concern for Michigan State’s offense right now is the health of their offensive line. The team has multiple key players on their front line that will miss this game. Edwin Baker, Le’Veon Bell, and Larry Caper form a solid trio of runners, but they’ll need the line to help them against a good defensive front this week.
Michigan State’s defense is first in the conference in total defense by a wide margin right now over Ohio State. In fact, the Spartans are first in the nation in total defense. They are surrendering just 172 total yards of offense per game in 2011. It should be noted that Michigan State feasted on teams like Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, and Central Michigan to get these gaudy statistics. Many questioned how this defense would hold up after it lost Greg Jones, but they look impressive thus far.
Columbus was not a happy place after the Buckeyes embarrassing loss at Miami a couple weeks ago. Fickell and the entire team caught a lot of heat from the fan base after that game. The 37-17 win over Colorado quieted the critics a bit for now, but if Ohio State starts to struggle in the Big Ten, expect more of the same. The Buckeyes fans are accustomed to winning, and Fickell is going to be held to a high standard.
Braxton Miller still has a lot of room to improve as a quarterback, but it appears clear that he is the Buckeyes best option under center. Miller is a very talented runner who can make things happen with his feet. He will need to become more consistent in the passing game, but he also has a bit of a disadvantage because this group of receivers is very subpar for a team like Ohio State. Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde form an impressive tailback tandem for Ohio State, and I expect the Buckeyes to try to run early and often in this game.
Ohio State’s defense may not be quite as dominant as they have been in the past, but they are still very good. Andrew Sweat has emerged as a play maker at the linebacker spot, and the defensive line has impressive depth.
The Buckeyes may not be the same team they once were, but they have beaten the Spartans seven straight times. Ohio State is 17-4 ATS in their last 21 home games.
Free College Football Pick: Ohio State -3
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