This College Football handicapper shares his expert betting odds analysis for tonight's National Championship Game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Oregon Ducks.
|Oregon scores first -145 (best line bet365)
OhioSt scores first +145 (best line BOL)
|Team to score first wins game -180 (best line Bovada)
Team to score first loses game +160 (best line SIA)
|Longest TD scored o 62½ +105 (best line Heritage)
Longest TD scored u 62½ -115 (best line 5Dimes)
|Game total odd -125 (best line bet365)
Game total even +110 (best line 5Dimes)
National Championship Game (ATT Stadium, Arlington, TX)
Ohio St. vs. Oregon (-6-/75-) 8:30 ET ESPN
Haven’t heard anybody complaining about this matchup! Each team deserves to be here based on their respective hot streaks. Ohio St. enters on a 12-game winning streak, while Oregon has won and covered 9 straight games. QB edge clearly goes to the Ducks with Heisman winner Mariota vs. 3rd game starter, Jones. But, there is an even more definitive edge with veteran Ohio St. mentor, Meyer, over 2nd year HC Helfrich.
Since now Eagles HC Kelly took over the Oregon program in 2009, the Ducks' offensen has won the hearts of America. The numerous Nike inspired uniforms, combined with the up-tempo pace, makes it exciting to watch. On October 2nd, Oregon was upset on their home field, 31-24 by Arizona (as 23 point favorite). It was a week in which Oregon was struggling with numerous injuries to their offensive line. With the gradual return to health of that unit, Oregon has reeled off 9 consecutive wins and covers, all by 12 or more points. In the process, they have scored 42 or more points in each game, averaging 49 PPG. Running an up-tempo offense in which many teams may have been prone to TOs, the Ducks led the nation with only 10 giveaways in 14 games, leading to a +20 net TO margin (again 1st in the nation). In their previous game against Florida St., the Seminoles rallied to pull within a 25-20 score. It appeared as if Florida St. had the momentum and was poised for another comeback victory. In the end, Oregon used 5 Florida St. TOs to score 34 consecutive points for a 59-20 victory. For the game, the Ducks had a 639-528 yardage advantage. As has been the case the entire season, QB Mariota, with a 39/3 ratio for the year, was the stabilizing force. Now, they must face an equally hot team in Ohio St.
Much like Oregon, Ohio St. was upended early in the season. On September 6th, Ohio St. hosted VA Tech as 11 point home favorite. The Hokies pulled a shocking 35-21 upset over Ohio St., sending shock waves through Buckeye nation. In that contest, the teams each committed 3 TOs, while Ohio St. had a narrow 327-324 yardage edge. It would be the nadir of discontent for Ohio St. this season. Going through 2 QB changes from Braxton Miller to J.T. Barrett to Cardale Jones (just 2 games ago), Ohio St. has ripped off 12 consecutive victories. Last week, Ohio St. trailed Alabama (21-6). In a shocking turn of events, the Buckeyes reeled off 28 consecutive points and emerged with a 42-35 victory. For that game, Ohio St. held dominant edges of 537-407 and overland edges of 281-170. Forcing 3 TOs sealed the deal! The offense has been led by the late-season surge of QB Jones and RB Elliott. In the 59-0 Big 10 Championship Game wipeout of Wisconsin and that victory over Arizona, QB Jones has gone 30/52 for 500 yards with a 4/1 ratio. RB Elliott has balanced the offense with 450 running yards. Yet, none of that is as impressive as the coaching resume of HC Meyer. Since taking over the reins in Columbus, Meyer is 37-3 SU. When given opportunity to prepare his team with 8 or more days rest, Meyer is 34-9 ATS. This includes 4-0 ATS this season and 8-2 SU ATS in Bowls. Yet, most impressive on his coaching resume has been Meyers’ record when challenged in the role of underdog in College Football odds. Dating back to his years at Utah, Meyer is 13-1 ATS as underdog, including 5-0 SU ATS while coaching the Buckeyes in the underdog role.
No doubt that QB Mariota has a major experience edge over his counterpart QB Jones. For Oregon, HC Helfrich has done an admirable job in leading the Ducks. This includes 24-3 SU L2Y. But, it is clear that just as Mariota holds an edge at the signal caller spot, so does Meyer hold the advantage on the sidelines. The final deciding factor comes with the Ohio St. defense. While each team allows an average of 22 PPG, Oregon allows 422 YPG to rank in the bottom half of NCAA standings. Meanwhile, Ohio St. is allowing just 334 YPG, good for a Top 15 ranking. The combination of our coaching and defensive advantage, along with the generous TD line, makes Ohio St. the preferred side in this.
This OVER/UNDER line opened at 69 points. It has quickly been bet up to 75 points. That is a reflection that the public has responded to the Buckeyes’ recent 12-1 OVER mark and the fact that Oregon averages 47 PPG, while Ohio St. averages 45 PPG. I see the 75 points currently available as an over exagerration and favor Meyer to slow the game, along with the realization that each of these teams allows just 22 PPG. As a result, at this writing, I would lean to the UNDER in the game.
Free College Football Picks: Take Ohio St. +6 (-105) at YouWager