Ohio State is finally entrenched as a likely #1 or #2 seed in the 2019-20 College Football Playoff, should the Buckeyes continue to win every game through early December.
It’s about time if you ask me.
People can debate which Power-5 conference is the best in college football. There’s an argument to be made for the SEC (some folks will simply never give up the argument that top SEC teams are prohibitively better than everybody else, bowl outcomes and CFP scores be damned) and for the ACC (with a 2-times-in-3-years playoff champion under its banner) and maybe not so much for the Big Ten, at least not at present.
What’s not up for debate is that (almost) everyone in the top 5 has had episodes in 2019. Alabama just lost to LSU by 6 in a game that probably shouldn’t have been that close. Clemson nearly lost to North Carolina. LSU is the new #1 but hasn’t always played defense like the best program in the FBS. They’ve all had ups and downs – except Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have looked like that local prep team full of recruited ringers that basically wins games by stepping onto the field. And it’s not as if Ohio State’s schedule has been easy – the squad is simply making it look easy. OSU has beaten Cincinnati by 42 points, Nebraska and Indiana by 41 apiece, Wisconsin by 31. Lesser foes have given up 70+ points to Justin Fields and company. Not once has the Scarlet & Gray been seriously threatened.
With 2-7 Rutgers hosting Ohio State this Saturday, the question isn’t whether the contest will be a blow-out. It would be an all-time shocker if the margin-of-victory is less than 21 points.
However, a marked disparity of size and talent on the field does not automatically lead to a cover-ATS or an “Over” result…especially when the betting lines are astronomical.
Who: Ohio State Buckeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
When: Saturday, November 16th, 3:30 PM EST
Where: SHI Stadium, New Brunswick, NJ
Lines: OSU (-53.5) at Rutgers (+53.5) / O/U Total: (62)
Our usual tactic is to go over the recent performances of each team and then try to predict how the pair will fare vs each other. However, in this case – with a point spread pushing above +/- 50 points – it might be wise to jump right into some potential in-game scenarios and factors that could affect scoring during garbage-time in the 2nd half.
I was given an awful lesson in garbage-time outcomes this Wednesday night after taking the Over (50) for a contest between Miami-OH and Bowling Green. The favored RedHawks jumped all over the Falcons, running-up a 37-3 lead at halftime. Like a lot of people holding an Over-slip, I figured I had a winner. But both coaching staffs chose to play things so conservatively in the 2nd half that it was as if each considered potential TDs a nuisance. Even BGSU didn’t really try to score.
Has Ohio State taken its foot off the pedal in blow-out games, i.e. all of them? Yes and no. 1st-year skipper Ryan Day has been putting his 2nd string, 3rd string, and walk-on reserves on the gridiron as any coach would when leading by 5+ touchdowns, but the Buckeyes are encouraged to play aggressively in all situations. 3 total quarterbacks threw passes in last weekend’s 73-14 victory over Maryland, and OSU scored 21 points in the 4th quarter.
Has Rutgers produced points vs 2nd and 3rd-string defenses in garbage-time? Not many. Running back Kay’Ron Adams scored late in a blow-out loss to Minnesota, but QB Johnny Langan couldn’t get above 50% on the outing and threw 3 picks even with the Golden Gophers rotating-in freshmen. Alternate QB Artur Sitkowski played well in stretches in a 14-point loss to Boston College early in the season, but looked so bad in games-to-follow that coaches asked him to “Sit-kowski” in favor of Langen.
As for the Scarlet Knights’ defense, the unit gave up 14 1st-quarter points to Liberty last week, though Langen was effective as a dual-threat in leading Rutgers back to win:
Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan had a career day, completing 15 of 21 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, and adding 21 rushes for 118 yards and a touchdown to lead Rutgers past Liberty 44-34 on Saturday. Isaih Pacheco ran for 107 yards and a score for the Scarlet Knights (2-6). It was the fourth time in his career he topped 100 yards. Langan had a 51-yard pitch-and-catch to Isaiah Washington for Washington’s first career touchdown and Rutgers’ first lead of the game at 28-21 with 12 minutes left in the third quarter. It was also Rutgers’ first lead since they were leading Boston College 10-7 in an eventual 30-16 loss five games ago.
Oh, and Rutgers is wisely changing-out its coaching staff – but the interim skipper is named “Nunzio” which just makes me think D’Nunzio and Caddyshack. I doubt Lou would take Saturday’s hosts to cover along with the Mets and 3.
Last but not least, it will be an icy afternoon in New Jersey, and Ohio State’s injury list – while not affecting the 1st string too badly – is getting extensive. With the season getting close to crunch time, I think Coach Day will want to keep the clock running once the Buckeyes are comfortably ahead.
That doesn’t mean Ohio State won’t score 55 points and cover, but it does mean that with the Buckeyes running for 1st downs and either scoring or punting, Rutgers won’t have much of a shot to score any points. I’m thinking this will be a 55-3 or 51-0 type of final score and a sleepy final 10 minutes.
Take the Under (62) for the best chance to win cash.