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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Utah Utes: Rose Bowl Game Odds & Pick (2021)

by December 29, 2021
CJ Stroud

Remember when Utah was 1-2? Neither do I. But despite dropping two of their first three games and each of their first two games against FBS opponents, the Utes finished the season with six straight victories and nine wins in their final 10 games. The Pac-12 champions also beat Oregon twice in the final three weeks of the season, including a 38-10 triumph over the Ducks to capture the conference title. Utah finished the season ranked #10 with a 10-3 record.

Ohio State also started slow, needing a huge comeback to beat Minnesota in Week 1 before falling to Oregon in Week 2. Unlike Utah, however, the Buckeyes season didn’t end as they had hoped. Not only did the Buckeyes fail to qualify for the College Football Playoff, they didn’t even qualify for the Big Ten title game nor did they beat arch-rival Michigan. Ohio State ended the year as the #7 team in the country with a 10-2 record.

Now, these two teams will face off in The Granddaddy of Them All – The Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California on New Year’s Day. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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  • Opening Line: Ohio State -8
  • Current Line: Ohio State -4.5
  • Opening Total: 65
  • Current Total: 64.5

Action Report

According to, Ohio State is drawing the majority of the bets (60%) and the money (52%), but the line has moved in the opposite direction from Buckeyes -8 to Buckeyes -4.5.

The over is receiving 52% of the cash and 56% of the tickets, yet the total has dropped a half-point since opening.


Ohio State finished the year 6-5-1 against the spread (ATS), and under Ryan Day, the Buckeyes are just 1-2 in bowl games – most recently falling in last year’s National Championship game 52-24 to Alabama. Ohio State has played in the Rose Bowl Game more often than any other bowl, and has an 8-7 record all-time.

Utah surprisingly finished the season 6-7 ATS despite beating Oregon by 31 and 28 points in two separate meetings. Under Kyle Whittingham, the Utes are 11-3 in bowl games, but haven’t won a bowl since the 2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl. This program hasn’t played in a bowl game since the 2019 Alamo Bowl, and this will be their first appearance in the Rose Bowl.

Ohio State and Utah have met just once in the long history of their programs – a 64-6 domination by Ohio State back in 1986.


This is a really tough one to handicap because of the reverse line movement. We’re seeing money come in on the Buckeyes, but the line is moving in Utah’s favor, making them a smaller underdog. This often indicates that the “right” side is Utah, but if the right side is Utah, we’ve already lost three-and-a-half points of value. I’m not taking Ohio State and I’ll outline why below, and I think these reasons point to the under.

We can dive into stats and numbers, but the overarching theme here is: the air is out of the Ohio State balloon. The goal every year is to beat Michigan – they lost. They not only failed to win their conference, they didn’t even play in the Big Ten title game. And while the Rose Bowl is a prestigious game, it’s not the playoffs. I find it hard to believe that Ohio State is going to be as up and motivated for this game as a Utah team who is riding high as conference champions and playing in a monumental bowl game for the program – one they probably never expected to be playing in. And without motivation, look for their offense to be less explosive than it has been.

On that same token, Ohio State is loaded with NFL talent, and a lot of that NFL talent is going to declare for the draft. We’ve already seen their top two wide outs, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave opt out, as well as their top offensive lineman. Fewer weapons for C.J. Stroud means more running plays. More running plays means a ticking clock, and a ticking clock means the under is the right side.

And finally, Utah’s M-O is running the football and controlling the clock. Ohio State just got absolutely run over by a Michigan team who plays the same style. They allowed nearly 300 yards on the ground, and with their defense unable to get off the field, the offense was never able to establish a rhythm. Also, keep in mind that Oregon beat the Buckeyes in Columbus back in September, the same Oregon team that Utah destroyed – twice. Because of that, I don’t think Utah is going to be overmatched or intimidated. I actually believe the Utes will be the team to control the flow of the game – long, methodical drives with the clock ticking from running the football with the goal to keep the Buckeyes offense off the field.

PICK: Under 64.5

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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.


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