Urban Meyer took a year off coaching football to reconnect with the world, including his family and established a contract with the Meyer clan not to be as obsessive about his job and be as normal as a big time college football coach can possibly be.
Evidently he learned his lessons and steered a team on probation to take pride in their efforts, give their best and then some. Once the Buckeyes started 7-0 and looking at the remaining schedule, Meyer had them believing in his teachings and sold the squad on finishing a perfect season with a team which was no better than 10-2 based on the two-deep charts.
What the oddsmakers and betting public think
Nearly every preseason magazine has the Buckeyes as Top 5 material, which is certainly justified with 13 returning starters plus experienced kickers to boot (Pun intended). Oddsmakers released Ohio State at 10.5 wins and the wagering action has sent the Scarlet and Grey all the way to U11 (the juice varies by sportsbook) victories for this season.
Football bettors have looked over the roster and studied the schedule to arrive at their decision, but are they correct?
Pass the Charmin
Last season’s schedule could hardly be called taxing, but this year’s, well, it’s softer than two-ply bathroom tissue. Those setting the lines have Ohio State favored in every game and Big Ten partners Michigan State and Nebraska, two contenders from the Legends Division, have been replaced by Iowa and Northwestern in 2013.
Over the years, the Buckeyes have not always enjoyed visits from Wisconsin and been upset on occasion, however, the past six years might have seen a few close games, yet Ohio State has prevailed five times.
When Purdue is on the schedule, the more talented team with the decorated grey helmets has not always come to play as evidenced by their 2-7 ATS record in the past nine meetings. Nevertheless, the Boilermakers are in transition with a new head coach and lack the offense to stay in a game like this much past halftime. The nonconference slate is a walkover.
This leaves “The Game”, Ohio State vs. Michigan. The Buckeyes could well be traveling to Ann Arbor 11-0, with the Wolverines looking to spoil their season.
It’s Miller Time
Let’s be honest, Braxton Miller was thrown into an impossible situation as a freshman after Terrelle Pryor was chased away from Columbus for misdeeds. Miller’s skills improved markedly as a sophomore and he singlehandedly won games a season ago with his abilities.
This year, the offensive line has four starters back and this group has spent a lot of time on drive blocking and sustaining blocks to give the running backs and Miller more time to pick and choose lanes.
Miller proved last year he can launch an accurate deep ball and the Ohio State receivers frequently beat single coverage. Look for opponents to use more safeties over the top, trying to force Miller to throw more into coverage.
At this time, Miller should be the league’s MVP and a legitimate Heisman Finalist.
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Defensive Questions and Depth Issues
Ohio State has only four returning starters, leaving defensive coordinator Luke Fickell to assemble the talent in the right places, while attempting to cover up inexperience early on. Linebacker Ryan Shazier is tacking machine and cornerback Bradley Roby is a Sporting News first team All-American. Fickell will have four games before the Big Ten opener with Wisconsin to work out the details.
Coach Meyer has expressed concerns about depth on both lines and at linebacker should injuries spike up.
For our future College Football Picks, the opening number of 10.5 was the wager on Ohio State playing the Over. While it is still possible Meyer’s men could post consecutive perfect regular seasons, it seems unlikely given the unknown of injuries.
College Football Free Picks: Overall, betting the Over on 11 seems like a safe wager, with a Push better than a loss.