Given how the early season has gone for everyone but Clemson and Alabama, Ohio State may be the only one who can break up another Championship meeting between those teams.
The Buckeyes open as a top-five team and are only expected to be challenged in two games this year, against Penn State and Michigan. They 26.5 point home favorites against Nebraska with an over/under of 67.5 at BetAnySports and GTBets.
No one will want to bet the Cornhuskers after what happened in last year’s meeting, a 48-7 OSU win. The Bucks did whatever they wanted, rushing for 368 yards on 6.9 yards per carry en route to a 38-point halftime lead.
Cornhusker Offense Intact
As for Nebraska, it was a little different, as quarterback Adrian Martinez threw for 47 yards and three interceptions on 17 attempts. They ran for 184 yards on 4.7 yards per carry, but that’s not going to do anything when the defense can’t make a stop.
Martinez is back for another season after a mostly disappointing sophomore campaign in which he looked worse, completing less than 60% of his passes for 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
His best trait is running the ball, but if you can’t complete passes against OSU, that’s not going to be enough. With a new set of receivers, Nebraska will probably lean on the ground game behind an offensive line that returns every piece. Martinez will likely run when possible and running back Dedrick Mills will get the rest of the work.
Even with a lot of new faces on OSU’s defense, it’s rarely a good idea to bet against them, given the talent they recruit. That said, it’s the first game following a weird offseason and none of them got the extra non-conference games to get up to speed. The best chance for Nebraska is if that rushing attack works and it consistently moves the ball.
Husker “D” Needs Work
Of course, Nebraska’s defense wasn’t good last year and even with a decent set of defensive backs, most of the starters will be new. That’s not going to help against Justin Fields in what he hopes to be a Heisman-winning campaign.
Fields couldn’t be stopped last season, averaging 9.2 yards per attempt for a ridiculous 41 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Throw in 484 rushing yards and 10 more touchdowns and not many had a better season than him.
Chris Olave should be the top receiver again after going for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Master Teague and Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon are expected to fight for touches out of the backfield. With three starters back on the line, OSU should again be one of the best offenses in the country.
Strange to be handicapping a “game 1” for two big 10 teams in late October. But such is the reality of COVID football.
3 of the last 4 in this series have been Ohio State blowouts. No question we have a big talent gap here, though Nebraska did come within 5 in 2018.
One approach that has worked well in early season play, especially this year, is to give a big dog a look in the 1st quarter and 1st half. The Nebraska offense is intact from a year ago and could be dangerous early on before the talent gap kicks in.
So, we’ll divide our 1 unit wager into 3 equal, smaller bets.
Nebraska +7.5 1st quarter
Nebraska +14.5 1st half
Nebraska +26.5 full game