Matchup: #5 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Navy Midshipmen (in Baltimore)
Date/Time: August 30, 12:00 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Spread: Ohio State -14.5
Ohio State has been in the news plenty in the past week, but it hasn’t been for reasons that Buckeyes fans can be happy about at all. In case you live under a rock, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was injured last week in practice and will miss the entire season. This totally changed the oddsmakers perspective of Ohio State. Navy is chomping at the bit hoping to take down a major program in their season opener. Here’s a closer look at both teams and the match ups.
Ohio State will start JT Barrett at quarterback in place of Miller. Barrett is a redshirt freshman who will have to learn on the job. Barrett was a highly recruited quarterback from the state of Texas. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman is the one who recruited Barrett, and that gives Buckeyes fans hope for the future. I imagine the Buckeyes playbook will be a bit more vanilla with Barrett in his first game under center. Carlos Hyde is gone as well, so the Buckeyes will turn to a combination of Ezekiel Elliot, Bri’onte Dunn, and Rod Smith in the backfield. Also keep an eye on Dontre Wilson to be used in a variety of ways by this offense.
If Ohio State is going to have a good season despite the loss of Miller, the defense needs to step up their game. The Buckeyes front seven was pretty good last year, but the secondary was absolutely brutal. Ohio State allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 62% of their passes. With stars like Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett, and Adolphus Washington the front four is in tremendous shape. Look for them to do a good job both stuffing the run and getting after the passer. The secondary is younger this year, but I expect Vonn Bell to become a household name at the safety position and shore up this line of defense.
Navy has had a very strong program in the past few years under Coach Ken Niumatalolo. In four of the past five years, they have won at least eight games. Navy returns eight starters on offense and seven starters on defense, and the coaching staff is very high on the potential of this year’s team. Navy went 10-4 in 2009. The Midshipmen opened that season by losing a very tight 31-27 game in Columbus against the Buckeyes. Navy was a 22 point underdog in that game. Keenan Reynolds is a master at running the triple option and he is the perfect quarterback for this Navy team. Reynolds ran for 1,346 yards and a whopping 31 touchdowns a year ago. He didn’t throw it often, but he did have eight touchdown passes versus only two interceptions.Navy’s depth at the running back position is impressive, and the offensive line is very good. They’ll likely dominate the line against many teams, but I’m not sure they can do that against a very good Ohio State front.
What about Navy on defense? The Midshipmen return seven starters here, but they did lose their top two tacklers from a year ago. The biggest losses are at the linebacker spot, where they could be a bit weaker than a year ago. The secondary is on its way up, and the defensive line appears strong as well. Navy is definitely plenty tough enough on this side of the ball, but their speed will be tested by the Buckeyes skill position players.
Free College Football Pick: Under 55.5
The Buckeyes defense might be susceptible against good passing teams, but they should be ready for this triple option attack after having a very long time to prepare. Navy’s defense is better than most people believe, and the Buckeyes offense will take time to get going under Barrett. I like the under.
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