The Ohio State Buckeyes need some help if they’re going to beat the Oregon Ducks and the NCAAF odds this Saturday.
Oregon Ducks vs. Ohio State
at Ohio Stadium
This is the Year of the New Quarterback in college football. With so many talented pivots making their way to the NFL in 2021, there were plenty of job openings among the top contenders on the NCAAF odds board. Some teams have done better than others at filling those positions; the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide, for example, ruined my Week 1 college football picks when Bryce Young threw four touchdowns passes in a 44-13 romp over the Miami Hurricanes (+19.5).
He’ll be a fine replacement for Mac Jones. The Ohio State Buckeyes, on the other hand, have to be concerned about last week’s 45-31 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers (+14 at home). C.J. Stroud looked a bit nervous in his first start for the Bucks after backing up Justin Fields (now with the Chicago Bears) last year. Stroud eventually found his footing and threw four TD passes of his own, but he’ll have to do better this Saturday versus the No. 12 Oregon Ducks if Ohio State want to cover that massive 14.5-point spread at Caesars Sportsbook.
Same as the Old Boss
Then again, the Ducks are trying to beat Ohio State for the first time in team history. They’ve met nine times before, but only twice since 1987; the Buckeyes won both those games SU and ATS, including the 2015 National Championship Game, which they took 42-20 as 6-point underdogs. The head coaches will be different for the rematch, although OSU have barely missed a step with Ryan Day taking over for Urban Meyer. Mario Cristobal has done much the same in Eugene after replacing Willie Taggart, who only lasted one year following the departure of Mark Helfrich.
It’s not purely a coincidence that Day and Cristobal were co-offensive co-ordinators for their respective clubs in 2017 before landing the top job. They’re carrying on the traditions that were built before they arrived; Ohio State entered the new season ranked second in offense on the F+ Ratings at Football Outsiders, while Oregon checked in at No. 17. The big difference is that Cristobal has a proven commodity to work with in QB Anthony Brown, while Day and Stroud still have some bugs to iron out.
Duck And Cover Granted, this is Brown’s first crack at the starting gig with Oregon, after two years backing up Justin Herbert (now with the Los Angeles Chargers) and Tyler Shough (now with the Texas Tech Red Raiders). Brown transferred from Boston College when they fired head coach Steve Addazio in 2019; he’s already established himself as an upgrade over Shough, having subbed in for him during the 2021 Fiesta Bowl. Brown looked pretty good in Oregon’s Week 1 matchup with the Fresno State Bulldogs, too, although the Ducks had to rally to win 31-24 as 17.5-point home faves.
I’d certainly expect Ohio State to win Saturday’s game, but that extra half-point over the magic number 14 might be all Oregon need to get the cover in Week 2.
NFL Pick: Oregon +14.5 (–110) at Caesars