The Ohio State Buckeyes are losing players left and right to opt-outs. That’s not a good sign when the team makes the Rose Bowl.
Opt-outs stink regardless of the bowl game. But the Rose Bowl is one of the more iconic bowls in college football and to have players opt out of it for the NFL Draft is a real problem that the NCAA will need to address.
The Buckeyes went 10-2 on the season but didn’t even get the chance to play in the Big Ten Championship after losing to Michigan in the final regular-season game. Now, the shorthanded Buckeyes will take on the Utah Utes in what should still be an exciting game.
The Utes won the Pac-12 after defeating Oregon for the second time this season. A win against Ohio State to cap off the season would be spectacular for the program.
Here are our picks and predictions for the Utah Utes and the Ohio State Buckeyes for January 1st.
- Opening Line: Ohio State -8, O/U 65
- Current Line: Ohio State -4, O/U 64
- Last meeting: No Previous Matchups
The Ohio State Buckeyes opened as a -8 favorite. But now, after all of the opt-outs, Ohio State is currently just -4 against Utah for the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State’s top two wideouts will not play anymore, including Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Other players like Nicholas Petit-Frere and Haskell Garrett are also out of this game. Meanwhile, Utah’s eligible draftees are all expected to take the field in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State averaged 45.5 points per game on the season while allowing just 20.9 points per game. The offense averaged over 550 yards per game, while the defense only surrendered 366.6 yards per game. The Buckeyes were the real deal this season on both ends of the field. However, so many key players are out that none of these regular stats will help much for this game.
The offensive line was always the weakest link for the Buckeyes, especially in the passing game. C.J. Stroud, who doesn’t like to run the football, didn’t escape pressure all that well and can get hit with plenty of pressure here and there when he doesn’t see a route develop in time.
Meanwhile, the defense for Ohio State wasn’t elite. The secondary gave up 246.9 yards per game in the air, and the rushing defense allowed nearly 120 yards per game on the ground. Utah’s offense should have success on offense.
The Utes averaged over 425 yards per game and had more of a balanced attack offensively. The Utes struggled to protect Cameron Rising this season, but Rising still threw for 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions on the year. However, it was mainly the running game that went wild, with Tavion Thomas rushing for 1,041 yards on just 186 carries this season.
Thomas rushed for 20 touchdowns and had a season he’ll never forget. Against Ohio State, Utah’s going to want to get that run game going early, and if they’re able to do that, the entire offense could start to open up and put pressure on Ohio State.
- Utes are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
- Utes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Over is 6-0-1 in Buckeyes last 7 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
I hate that Ohio State lost so many players to opt-outs, but I still want to back Ohio State here. The public is likely overreacting a bit to these opt-outs, and getting Ohio State at -4 seems like a steal.
C.J. Stroud is still the quarterback, Treveyon Henderson is still the running back, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba is still the top wide receiver. The offense will be fine. They’ve averaged over 550 yards per game. No matter who is out there, Ohio State will find a way.
Plus, the defense has faced much harder competition than a Pac-12 opponent like Utah.
Pick: Ohio State -4 (-110)
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