College Football Pick
Ohio State may have improbably lost last weekend at Penn State, but the Buckeyes are far from out of the College Football Playoff race. As it stands, if they can win out and take the Big Ten title Game, there’s actually a decent possibility they make it. Of course, it won’t be easy. Coming off the loss, the Bucks face a Northwestern team that has seemed to figure it out as of late. The Buckeyes were big -25.5 point favorites early in the week at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Even with the loss, the Bucks are still getting respect. Probably because they should’ve won that Game if it wasn’t for some unlucky breaks in special teams. Although ahead of that Game, despite the spread, it wasn’t going to be that surprising if the Nittany Lions put up a fight like in similar matchups.
But coming off a loss, most are expecting Ohio State to be back at normal and put their anger into this Game. However, it won’t be as easy as it looks. Similar to the 38-17 win over Indiana earlier in the year, this may not be the blowout everyone thinks.
For one, Northwestern’s offense has figured things out. The Wildcats dropped 38 points at Iowa three weeks ago and then 54 at Michigan State after that. This past weekend, it was the defense that showed up in a 24-14 win over Indiana.
Sure, maybe J.T. Barrett and company will get their points, but Northwestern may be able to keep up on the scoreboard. At the least, they could stay within three touchdowns.
Quarterback Clayton Thorson has slowly improved as the season has moved on and he has thrown for three touchdowns in each of the last three Games. Everyone knows he’s passing to Austin Carr, but that hasn’t mattered. Carr has reached 100 yards in Four of the last five Games and has nine touchdowns on the season. To go along with that, Justin Jackson remains a solid running back as he aims for a third 1,000-yard campaign. He’s gone for 453 yards and three touchdowns in the last three Games.
Ohio State has a good defense, but they aren’t invisible. The Bucks gave up 17 points to Indiana, 23 to Wisconsin and 24 to Penn State. There’s no reason the Wildcats can’t reach the 20-point mark. And if that’s the case, the Bucks will need to come close to 50 points for the cover.
While that may be possible, this Northwestern defense isn’t as bad as Rutgers when OSU dropped 58 points on them. Sure, the Wildcats gave up loads of points to Iowa and Michigan State, but they’ve played well against Nebraska and Indiana.
Of course, Barrett is going to be a handful, but his offensive line was exposed a bit against the Nittany Lions and it wouldn’t be surprising if Northwestern blitzed a ton. Barrett only has three passing TDs in the last three Games, although he’s done most of his work on the ground. Along with Barrett, Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel will see plenty of work.
Urban Meyer’s teams play well off losses and that was seen in the 42-13 beat down at Michigan last year. But this isn’t a rivalry Game. Will the Buckeyes come into this Game with that same kind of firepower?
The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six Big Ten Games and 5-1 ATS in their last six road Games. The Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last five home Games and 25-9-1 ATS in their last 35 following a straight-up loss. Of course, not many of those have come under Meyer, though.
Our Pick – This line has climbed to -27. If it reaches 28, we’ll have to bite on Northwestern. While Ohio State gets the “W”, it’s just too many points to pass up with a Northwestern team that’s really not all the bad. Northwestern +27 (more interested at +28 or better)