Big Ten Gambling Preview: Picking Ohio State at Purdue ATS

Kurt Boyer

The OSU Buckeyes would like to prove that they can remain unbeaten all year and challenge the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff.

So far, so good. But they’re also proving that margin-of-victory is almost everything for heavy favorites in the modern college football landscape. As Oddsshark puts it this week, “It may sound odd to refer to an undefeated team as an underachiever, but that’s the way the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes seem to be perceived right now.”

The Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in 5 games, but it doesn’t seem to have affected online point spreads an enormous amount headed into Saturday’s scrap at Purdue.

Who: Ohio State Buckeyes at Purdue

When: Saturday, October 20th, 7:30 PM EST

Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN

Lines: OSU (-13.5) at Purdue (+13.5) / O/U Total: (66.5)

Ohio State at Purdue: Handicapping a 2-Score Spread

Urban Meyer’s team faces only its 2nd road-test of the year when it travels to Purdue this weekend. Meyer has plenty of work left to do in order to round this team into the form necessary to compete for another CFP title.

The Buckeye offense is led by 1st-year starter and Heisman contender Dwayne Haskins at QB. The unit has certainly held up its end of the bargain. The injury to All-American defensive end Nick Bosa has made it necessary to rev-up the point scoring machine. There’s no doubt that the defense misses its biggest star, but the Scarlet and Gray will remain undefeated so long as nobody can ever stop them.

Even against a team with a potentially explosive offense like Purdue.

Last weekend the Buckeyes only allowed 14 points in a solid win against an improving Minnesota team, but the box score tells a worrisome story. The Buckeyes were out-gained on the ground and through the air on a per-play basis. Not something that you would expect from the 2nd-ranked team in the country. Will the Buckeyes keep just scraping by against beatable opponents?

Purdue: Likely to Move the Football on Saturday

Here’s more on that exciting Purdue attack, and the Buckeyes’ concern over stopping it:

Fifth-year senior QB David Blough has taken control of the Boilermaker offense in the last four games, and has a 3-1 record to show for it. In a losing effort to Missouri back on Sept. 15, Blough threw for 572 yards and three touchdowns. That’s over 100 yards more than what Dwayne Haskins threw in a near-record setting performance against Indiana a couple of weeks ago. In last week’s blowout over Illinois, Blough had another passing clinic; he compiled 377 yards and a trio of TDs while throwing 25-of-36.

With OSU defensive end Nick Bosa no longer part of the team— he’s rehabbing from core-muscle surgery in order to get ready for the NFL Draft— the Boilermakers passing dominance may continue this weekend. Ohio State has survived without Bosa ever since he sustained the injury against TCU on Sept. 20, but holes are getting poked around the defensive units. Less pressure on the QB means more time to throw. More time to throw means more reception chances. And more reception chances means a greater chance that an opposing offense is going to pour some yards into the stat sheets. Wide receiver Rondale Moore has been a big reason for why Blough has had the numbers that he’s had. In that Missouri contest, the freshman hauled in 11 catches for 137 yards and a score. Last week, he had another 100-yard afternoon, but did it on just four catches (he ended with 101 yards and a TD). Is it beginner’s luck for Moore? Not really. Coming out of high school, Moore was a four-star prospect in the 2018 class— and at one point was committed to Texas before flipping to Purdue.

Purdue (3-3) had a tumultuous start to its season, losing 3 games by a total of 8 points. The Boilermakers have responded emphatically with 3 straight wins, 2 of which came on the road.

Blough has been on a tear, and the Purdue defense is starting to show signs of life. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt is doing a great job from week-to-week. We may, however, see a bump in the road this week as the unit could be significantly over-matched against an elite Buckeye offense.

My Pick on the Point Spread

Purdue’s chances of sticking around will depend on the offense’s ability to control the ball, namely by getting positive yards on 1st down and keeping Blough out of situations where an athletic edge-rush and secondary can steal the football from him.

The Boilermakers have been putting up some top-10 type numbers on offense and the ground game is no exception. D.J. Knox has over 6 yards per carry and 5 touchdowns on the season. Playing at home, there won’t be as much natural pressure and noise infecting the offense, so I expect Purdue can block OSU well enough to score 20+ points.

Take Purdue to cover (+13.5). If the line is found at (+14), increase units.

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