Last year’s matchup between these teams was a memorable one. Nebraska came in as a legit contender having just one loss coming in a close Game against Wisconsin the previous week. But as a 17-point underdog, the Cornhuskers were run out of the stadium in a 62-3 loss. With some of that result likely taken into account here, Ohio State was a -24 point road favorite early in the week at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
It’s a bit of a different situation this time around as Nebraska already has three losses with one of them to Northern Illinois and the other a recent 21-point loss to Wisconsin. In fact, Nebraska’s only two Big Ten wins came against lowly Rutgers and Illinois. As for the Buckeyes, nothing has changed for them in Conference play, at least in recent huge wins over Rutgers and Maryland. But we saw those same performances last season, yet this team struggled in random Games like in wins over Northwestern and Michigan State.
Ohio State is supposed to have one of the best defenses in the country, but so far the numbers don’t point to that even with only 15.7 points per Game allowed. Part of that has to do with playing Oklahoma, but this group still has another level it can reach. This could be the perfect spot for them to really turn the corner as Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee has been extremely turnover prone already with 10 interceptions. Lee has put up some decent yardage totals, but is still only completing 54 percent of his passes. But the big thing with this offense is that the running Game continues to find room with Devine Ozigbo having reached 100 yards in all three of his starts. The Buckeyes are allowing 120 rushing yards per Game so there is a path for Nebraska to at least move the ball.
As for Nebraska’s defense, that’s another question. The last time the Cornhuskers played an offense at this level was the Oregon Game in which they lost 42-35. And after letting Wisconsin run for 353 yards on 7.2 yards per carry, it’s extremely possible that Ohio State can do the same.
J.T. Barrett remains in the Heisman conversation, cruising along with 19 total touchdowns and only one interception. This should be yet another defense he carves up with ease. Barrett’s improvement as a passer has been noticeable this season as seen in a much higher 8.7 yards per attempt, up two full yards from the last two years. Throw that in with top running back J.K. Dobbins gaining 7.6 yards per carry and this offense will continue to feast on weaker opponents. Having scored at least 54 points in the last three Games, nothing about the Nebraska defense suggests it can stop Barrett and company.
If the Bucks get out to an early lead, that means Lee will be forced to pass and so far, that has only meant interceptions. The line is large, but also reasonable. The Buckeyes are 5-2 ATS in their last seven Big Ten Games, but 2-5 ATS in their last seven following a straight-up win. The Huskers haven’t covered in their last Four home Games and are 2-6 ATS in their last eight overall.
Our Pick – Weak call, but too easy to back the Buckeyes. Nebraska +24.5