Bowl season has gone well for me this season. On our YouTube shows, we picked every single bowl game’s spread and total, and I went 28-20 (58%). In this situation, I get to focus specifically on one game, discussing only what side to take on the moneyline, so let’s see where it takes us.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Monday, January 11, 2021 – 8 PM ET at Hard Rock Stadium
Alabama and Ohio State are about as close to the same as any two teams we’ve seen at this level in a long time. Per the 247Sports total composite rankings over the last 4 years, Alabama ranks #2 (average player ranking 93.25) and Ohio St #3 (avg player ranking 92.89) in total team talent.
Does Alabama look like the better team? Of course. We’ve seen them play 12 games with an average margin of victory of 29.2, while Ohio St has only played 7 games with an average MOV of 21.4 against a weaker schedule. However, the Buckeyes’ performance in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson has to make us second guess what we watched throughout the season.
Neither defense is very good. Ohio St can dominate in the trenches against the run, but the secondary is weak. This means Alabama, behind QB Mac Jones and WR DeVonta Smith, will be able to put up points. However, Alabama fields the #51 expected points added per rush defense, and Ohio State has been absolutely assaulting opponents with their ground game led by RB Trey Sermon. Both teams gather explosive offensive plays like Sonic the Hedgehog grabbing those golden rings (for those that remember Sega Genesis), and neither defense is great at stopping those things from happening, so the best play on the board is likely the over 75.
Justin Fields may have suffered an injury against Clemson, but even after the injury, he still played the game of his life. Can he replicate it? Who knows. But we do know he’s capable of that kind of performance. If Ohio St is patient, they can use their TEs and WRs to run routes that attack Bama’s weakness on defense, which is coverage in the middle of the field.
Is it more likely that Alabama wins this game? Absolutely. But there is an incredible value with Ohio St getting better than +200 NCAAF odds. This could be a coin flip game that could really come down to a bad bounce of the football and a turnover. Alabama -280 has little to no value, so the play here has to be Ohio State +235.