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Ohio State

vs.

Rutgers

College Football

Free Pick

9/30/17

It’s exactly a year removed from the beat down Ohio State put on Rutgers last year in a 58-0 rout. Rutgers are at home for this one and while they won’t walk away with a win, it’s expected to be a much closer contest. And so, the Buckeyes were just -29 point road favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook early in the week.

This game and cover will come down to how much Ohio State actually tries. The score of last year’s game will definitely be in the mind of a lot of players so it wouldn't be surprising if the Bucks didn’t put a full effort into this one. That's partly what happened in the opener when Washington came to town and won just 30-14. In fact, the Scarlet Knights only have one win, but they’ve been competitive in all of their losses. The performance against Washington was impressive, but it’s a wonder how much the Huskies tried and while Rutgers came close against EMU and Nebraska, neither of those teams are considered good.

Rutgers still has a long ways to go and could have some trouble scoring yet again in this matchup. The Buckeyes haven’t shut anyone out yet and just allowed 21 points to UNLV, but Rutgers still have questions and 13 points against Eastern Michigan is one of them. Kyle Bolin may be an upgrade at quarterback, but he already has six interceptions and more are expected in this game. The question will be if he can replicate the 70.6% completion rate and two touchdowns he had against the Huskies. If not, it’s hard to see how Rutgers will score as the odds of them moving the ball on the ground against this defensive front are small. In last year’s game, the Knights averaged just 2.2 yards per carry, while they threw for 33 yards on 16 pass attempts between two quarterbacks. This offense is better this season, but that doesn't mean they’ll move the ball any better.

The other side of the field is what a lot of people will be looking at, especially the Rutgers backers. The Scarlet Knights have been decent defensively so far, having not allowed more than 30 points yet. OSU’s offense can be compared to Washington’s and the Huskies only managed 3.5 yards per carry in that first game, while Jake Browning didn’t get much done through the air.

That matchup with J.T. Barrett and company will decide which team covers this game. Barrett already has 10 passing touchdowns, but it’s the ground game that Ohio State bases its offense around with freshman J.K. Dobbins already at 520 rushing yards to go with Barrett’s 174 yards. The Bucks ran for 410 yards on 7.7 yards per carry in this matchup last year, but it doesn’t look like that will happen again.

While the Rutgers defense may be better, that still doesn't mean it will hold the Buckeyes to below 30 points and there’s no guarantee that the Knights even score. This will be a closer game than last year’s blowout, but it’ll still be extremely hard to bet against Ohio State in.

Our Pick - Rutgers +28.5

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