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Ohio State Buckeyes Home Underdogs to USC By a Touchdown

9/12/09

The USC Trojans head east this week to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in an intriguing college football matchup that seems to have all the elements and angles we look at when handicapping a game. There's everything from revenge to letdowns to coaching and everything in between. It's without a doubt, the marquee game of the week on the college football board this week. The Current betting line favors USC by 6.5 points, making the Buckeyes a home underdog. The over/under total on the game is 47. Shop for the Best Odds at several Sportsbooks!

As hard as it might be for Big 10 and Buckeye fans to admit, Ohio State, in this era, will never be as good as USC. Nor will any Big 10 team. It's simply a different class of athlete across the board at USC than at most other schools with very few exceptions (Florida). USC has NFL caliber talent 2 and 3 deep at some positions. Ohio State does not. There's no better example of the Big 10's talent level than the two back to back BCS Title games that Ohio State lost, in 2006 and 2007. We're not here to bash Ohio State or the Big 10. We love Big 10 football. But as the saying goes, "it is what it is".

Having said that, that doesn't mean Ohio State is necessarily a bad bet, in certain situations, against the likes of the Trojans. The better team doesn't always win in college football. College Football is unique as far as the situations that present themselves. Situations that can lift a good team over a better team. This may be one such spot for the Buckeyes this week. Let's take a look.

Let's start with the "look ahead". It's a classic handicapping angle. A team is so excited about a game that's a week or two away that they overlook a current opponent and look mediocre. In that situation, we always get a little extra value in the line. The betting public assumes the team that looked mediocre last week, is just that, mediocre. When the team they are playing this week, looked like world beaters the previous week, that also adds to the public perception of the game.

Make no mistake about it. Ohio State was looking ahead to USC last week when they took the field against Navy. You can be sure that Ohio State has been preparing for USC since spring practice. Heck, you can be sure that many coaches and players were looking ahead to USC since early last season when USC whipped Ohio State 35-3. That's where our next angle comes in, revenge.

Revenge can be powerful in college football providing you have the right circumstances. If USC beats San Jose, and they play next year, well, there is likely not much San Jose can do about it. However, when two elite programs meet like Ohio State and USC, we have a different story. Athletes at any level want another crack at an opponent that defeated them, especially when the defeat was humiliating.

If revenge isn't enough, how about a little added motivation. They don't play too many night games in Columbus. But in the games they do play at night, the Buckeyes have a 6-2 record, (although they have lost the last two). With the night game comes a National TV audience. The fans and the players are amped twice as much as they usually are. A chance for revenge against #3 ranked USC and a chance for the Buckeyes to take a leap up in the rankings. The adrenalin alone can keep things close.

Ohio State is 39-4 at home since 2003. Tressel has been knocked for choking in big games, and rightly so, but he is also 24-1 against non conference opponents at home. The Buckeyes get to go against a Freshman Quarterback in Matt Barkley. Between the 105,000 rabid fans and that veteran Ohio State offensive line, expect the kid to at least struggle a bit. Also expect USC to try and pound the ball after having watched Navy run through the Buckeyes like Swiss Cheese last week.

With all of the above in mind we can make several recommendations from a betting perspective on this game. As of this writing no sportsbooks have 1st half and 1st quarter lines posted, however, we'd recommend playing Ohio State in the 1st quarter and the 1st half. We'd also recommend playing the game to go under the total in the first half  and we'll cap it off with a play on Ohio State +7 for the game.  We see quite a few +6.5's on the board with a few 7's, even +7 -115 will do, but you definitely want to get the 7.

 

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