Free College Football picks for the National Championship matchup between the Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes. We go over the spread, total and money-line to help you decide which NCAAF odds deserve a look.
|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)
# 2 Oregon vs. #4 Ohio State: (Oregon -6½, 74½, Pinnacle), Tuesday, January 13, 01:30 (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT):
Finally. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. A national champion on the highest level of College Football being determined on the playing field and not by chubby, middle-aged writers wearing Dockers. Long overdue. And #2 (CFP) Oregon (13-1 SU, 10-4 ATS) and #4 Ohio State (13-1 SU, 9-5 ATS) are the first participants in this little piece of amateur gridiron history at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Monday (Jan. 12) with the two toppling two pretty good teams in the semifinals in unbeaten Florida State and #1 Alabama, respectively, to get here. It don’t come easy.
The current college football odds show Oregon as 6½- (Pinnacle, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) to 7-point (bet365, Wynn, Mirage) favorites for this massive game with the Ducks priced as -250 favorites in the Money Line (Winner) marketplace and the Buckeyes nice +200 underdogs (Skybet). The lofty Total Points for this game is set at 75 (Bwin)—three more than the probable temperature in the building will be for this game—with the Oregon Team Total Points set at 41 and the Ohio State Team Total Points at 34 (Stan James).
An interesting prop wager for this tilt: Half Time/Full Time: Oregon/Oregon -165 (Betfair); Ohio State/Ohio State +320; Ohio State/Oregon +500; Oregon/Ohio State +700; Draw/Oregon +1400; Oregon/Draw +1600; Ohio State/Draw +1800; Draw/Ohio State +2500; Draw/Draw +5500 (55/1).
The Ohio State University Buckeyes
Big Ten representative Ohio State (Over 12-1 L13 Buckeyes games) heads in the obvious underdog here but this gritty, deep and young team has overcome every obstacle in its way in getting to this point so betting against the Buckeyes will come with some trepidation for those who choose to do so. This team is on its third quarterback and needed a two-OT win against Penn State to get to this point but the way QB Cardale Jones (40 completions, 618 yards, 6 TDs) looked against Florida State and in previous contests can only instill more confidence in his teammates as well as any potential Ohio State backers. However, the Big Weapon for the Buckeyes is one Ezekiel Elliott (237 rushes, 1,632 yards, 14 TDs, 6.9 ypc), a RB opponents can’t even hope to stop and a weapon head coach Urban Meyer (37-3 SU, 21-17-1 ATS) will surely use to his fullest to both provide valuable offense and to try to keep the offensive machine that is Oregon off the field as much as possible. Elliott should shine once again and would be a wise bet in the Anytime TD Scorer markets when they open up closer to game-day.
As far as receiving targets for Jones, WR Devin Smith (32 receptions, 886 yards, 12 TDs) has some nice numbers but it’s the senior’s 27.7 ypc line that really stands out. Sophomore Michael Thomas (50 receptions, 748 yards, 9 TDs, 14.9 ypc), TE Nick Vannett and RB Jalin Marshall (33 receptions, 437 yards, 6 TDs, 13.5 ypc) are among a number of often unheralded threats on this talented Ohio State team which should continue to be in these CFP Playoffs in coming years with this roster, coach Meyer and a proven ability to run roughshod over fellow members of the Big Ten Conference. And with Jim Harbaugh now leaving the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers for his alma mater Michigan, expect that fear to ultimately end being a good thing for the Buckeyes and their future.
Like Oregon, Ohio State can really put up the points (#5, 45.0 ppg), and, also like the Ducks, the Buckeyes are pretty good at not giving up the points (#22, 22.1 ppg)—something that’s always been a trademark of this storied program. So the big question here will be can either defense stop the other’s offense? And the answer is probably not. So although the Total seems astronomical when looking at it right now when it’s 0-0, and that the Buckeyes will probably run the heck out of Elliott, expect him to get his usual big chunks of yards and 2 or 3 TDs despite the Ducks improvements defensively and the points to flow like water.
Pac-12 representative Oregon (33-17-1 ATS L4 years) is led by Heisman Trophy winner and superstar QB Marcus Mariota (280 completions, 4,121 yards, 40 TDs, 3 INTs, 184.3 QBR), an intelligent and versatile signal caller who can run (175 rushes, 731 yards, 15 TDs. 5.8 ypc) if he he has to—probably the most underappreciated thing any offensive player can do for his team and consistently pick up needed chunks of yardage with unsuspecting DBs deep downfield covering receivers. The Ducks are fairly balanced offensively with the 11th-ranked Passing (311.0 ypg) game in the nation and the 18th-ranked Rushing (241.5 ypg) attack both helping pile up all those points, often in lightning-quick drives. Nobody scores quicker than Oregon and nobody goes for 2 after a 6 easier than head coach Mark Helfrich’s (17-9 ATS) colorful green-and gold clad bunch. The Ducks leading RB is freshman Royce Freeman (242 rushes, 1,343 yards, 18 TDs, 5.6 ypc) with the aforementioned Mariota a very valuable second. Smart yards are the best yards.
Oregon’s speedy receiving corps includes Byron Marshall (66 receptions, 834 yards, 5 TDs, 12.6 ypc), Darren Carrington (37 receptions, 704 yards, 4 TDs), Devon Allen (41 receptions, 664 yards, 7 TDs) and TE Pharaoh Brown (25 receptions, 420 yards, 6 TDs), among others, but the Buckeyes secondary could provide the toughest test of the year for junior Mariotta and his receivers. The Ducks ability or inability to pass the ball may well determine who ends up being crowned the national champions here, but Oregon (#2, 47.2 ppg) always seems to find a way to score the points and with the school’s best-ever QB (Mariotta) playing in this last game for such high stakes, the Ducks should be able to near their season’s average (above) and narrowly top the posted Oregon Total Team Points (41, Stan James).
Best Betting Approaches and Trends
In the only previous meeting between these two powerhouses, Ohio State beat Oregon and covered the point spread as 4½-point favorites almost five years ago (Jan. 1, 2010), winning 26-17 in the Rose Bowl, so confidence shouldn’t be a problem for the Buckeyes and this proves that they once figured out how to stop this mighty Ducks scoring machine which scoots up the FieldTurf like fluorescent green water bugs gliding majestically across the surface of a pond. Oregon heads into this game with 9 straight ATS covers—winning by 39, 38, 28, 34, 24, 29, 18, 25 and 12—but none of those teams were close to being as tough as this Ohio State side and none had a coach like Urban Meyer. With the Buckeyes very well being able to pull off the upset here, it’s just too close of a call in terms of the point spread so looking at Ohio State to score at least 34 points (in the aforementioned prop bet) in what may end up looking like a basketball game seems the best approach in what should be a really thrilling and entertaining game in Arlington.
On the Totals front, with the Over 12-1 L13 Buckeyes games and Oregon known for its’ quick scoring drives, a small play on the Over seems warranted, so you should take it in cosideration when making your NCAA football picks. This first-ever CFP Championship game is for all the marbles, will probably take about 4 hours real time to play—with hundreds of commercials, giving both sides time to breathe and scheme—and with so much speed and two good QBs, points almost have to come in a probable shootout on a good playing surface in a climate-controlled environment. Both teams are loaded with track-type guys and whatever trick plays are left in playbook will be utilized here under the newfound winner-take-all spotlight. This game could actually live up to all the hype but in terms of providing a number of potentially profitable betting opportunities going in, I just don’t see it. This may be one of those games that’s just best left alone or attacked with in-game wagering knowing that the lead could frequently change hands.
Prediction: Oregon 44 Ohio State 37
Free NCAA Football Pick: Over 74½ at Pinnacle, Buckeyes Total Team Points Over 34 (Stan James), Ezekiel Elliott Anytime TD Scorer