The Ohio State Buckeyes opened as -17 point favorites over Cincinnati this week at 5 dimes sportsbook but early money has moved the line to -16. The current total is 56.5.
It took almost nothing for Ohio State to get to a 28-0 lead against Florida Atlantic last week, but the Buckeyes took their foot off the pedal and ended up not covering in a 45-21 win.
The spread is surprisingly small and there’s a chance some are putting too much into Cincy’s opening win. In addition to UCLA not being that good, it had to travel across the country to take on the Bearcats.
Even in the win, they weren’t overly efficient as quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for 242 yards and the rushing game managed 3.6 yards per carry. Now on the road, Ridder will have a bullseye on his back because it’s likely running backs Michael Warren and Gerrid Doaks will have a harder time finding room to run.
Can Ridder Shine?
If that’s the case, it’ll be up to Ridder to do the heavy lifting and he’s rarely been able to do that in his two years as starter. It doesn’t help that OSU’s defense is on a different level than UCLA’s. The Bucks held FAU to 22 rushing yards on 33 carries (sacks included) and that could be an immediate problem for Warren and Doaks.
The main reason Cincy isn’t a bigger underdog is because of its defense, which allowed just 16.1 points per game last year and thwarted a Chip Kelly offense in the opener.
Cincy beat up on the weaker AAC last year, inflating those numbers just a bit. Against the best competition, UCF dropped 38 points on the Bearcats and that’s something OSU easily could do.
Fields Looked the Part
New quarterback Justin Fields looked the part in his OSU debut, tossing four touchdowns while running for 61 yards and another touchdown. Throw in 91 rushing yards for J.K. Dobbins and this offense didn’t lose a step with a new quarterback and head coach.
Bettors still saw some flaws in the offense, mostly in that it didn’t score more than 60 points. Reaching 45 is nice, but previous OSU teams would’ve dropped at least 50 in that game. That may be part of the reason Cincy is getting some money with a slight opening in OSU’s armor now that Urban Meyer is gone.
It’s not like Cincy’s opening win was overly impressive. It did the same last year against UCLA and then struggled in every other road contest. That included going to overtime against Temple and SMU, as well as losing by 25 points to UCF.
Can Bearcats Hang Around?
Backing that stat, the Bearcats haven’t covered in their last four road games, while the Buckeyes have covered in their last four against a team with a winning record.
The Bearcats should put up a bigger challenge than FAU, but with a spread of 16 points, that still feels small given the potency of the Ohio State offense.
Instead of looking at the full game here, we’re going to look to back the Bearcats in the fist half and first quarter. While we think ultimately, the Buckeyes take over this game, Cinci has the talent to hang around for awhile.
Our Pick – Cincinnati +6.5 1st quarter and Cincinnati +9.5 1st half