Pick Ohio State to Cover vs. Maryland College Football

Darin Zank

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 4:24 PM GMT

Maryland, off to a 4-1 start, is nonetheless a home dog on the NCAAF betting line for its first-ever meeting with new Big Ten rival Ohio State Saturday afternoon in College Park.

The Betting Odds
Because of the Maryland quarterback situation – more on that later – most college football odds were holding off on lining this game. The few shops that were offering a line on this game as of Wednesday morning were chalking Ohio State at -8 over the Terps.

 

The Match-Up
Ohio State took a hit before this season even started, losing starting QB Braxton Miller to a a shoulder injury. The Buckeyes then began play with a 34-17 victory over Navy, covering as a 14-point favorite, although they needed to score the last two touchdowns of the game to cash in. OSU then got upset at home by Virginia Tech 35-21, going down as 10-point favorites. But Ohio State then dispatched of Kent State 66-0, covering as a 31-point favorite, then defeated Cincinnati last week 50-28, covering at -17.

The Buckeyes spotted the Bearcats the first touchdown of the game, then scored the next 30 points. OSU later allowed UC to get within 33-28, but scored the last 17 points of the game to secure the victory and the cover.

Ohio State dominated Cincy on the field and the stat sheet, outgaining the Bearcats 710-422, outrushing them 380-70 and winning time-of-possession by a 42-18 margin. No wonder they covered the spread.

Playing in place of Braxton, red-shirt freshman quarterback JT Barrett has completed 64 percent of his throws this year, with a 13/5 TD/INT ratio.

This will be OSU's first true road game this season.

Maryland, meanwhile, opened this season with a 52-7 victory over James Madison, covering at -24. The Terps then won at South Florida 24-17, but couldn't cover as an 11-point road favorite. They then fell way behind West Virginia, rallied all the way back to tie the score at 37-37 in the fourth quarter, but ran out of gas and lost at home 40-37.

Since then Maryland won at Syracuse 34-20 as a two-point road dog, and last week, in its first-ever Big Ten game, won at Indiana 37-15 as a three-point dog on the road.

Maryland got outgained by the Mountaineers 694-447 and by the Orange 589-369, but outgained the Hoosiers 484-332. The Terps also got outrushed in each of those three contests, by an average of 130 yards per game. And that's not usually a good sign, when you're trying to win games and cover spreads.

 

Buckeyes-Terps Betting Trends
Ohio State is only 3-3 ATS as a favorite on the road under Coach Meyer.

Maryland is 3-5 ATS as a home dog under Coach Edsall.

 

Injury Update
Maryland quarterback CJ Brown, who is off to a fine start to this season, with seven TD passes and five TD rushes, hurt his non-throwing wrist last Saturday, and his status for this Saturday is uncertain. Backup Caleb Rowe relieved Brown last week and hit on 12 of 18 throws for 198 yards and two scores. But of course, that came against Indiana. For his career Rowe has thrown 207 passes, with an 11/7 TD/INT ratio, so he's not exactly a virgin.

 

Buckeyes-Terps Free College Football Pick
Maryland may be 4-1, but the stats tell a story, too. The Terps have benefited from a bunch of big plays, on offense and with a couple of returns for scores, but they've also given up some big yardage. In a slug-fest with Ohio State they're likely to be at a disadvantage. So our free college football pick in this spot goes with the Buckeyes, minus the points at 5Dimes.