As the 2014 college football season comes to an end with tonight's battle between No. 4 Ohio State & No. 2 Oregon square off, the Ducks are 6-point favorites on NCAA football odds with a total of 74 points.
If recent history is any indication, bettors should take the points for their College Football pick tonight. This line was as high as 8 points at some sportsbooks when it opened. Some of the late drop can perhaps be attributed to the fact that Oregon starting receiver Darren Carrington was ruled ineligible for the game due to a reported failed drug test. The freshman from San Diego caught 37 passes for 704 yards and four scores. Carrington had more than 100 receiving yards in each of the Ducks' past two games. He had seven catches for 126 yards with a touchdown in the blowout of Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game and then seven catches for 165 yards with two touchdowns in a 59-20 win over No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl.
Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology reported a ton of action on the Ducks on Sunday night. William Hill sportsbook has taken twice as much money on Oregon than Ohio State through Sunday, according to ESPN. This matchup is on pace to be the most heavily bet NCAA game ever at sportsbooks. Both College Football Playoff semifinals on New Year's Day surpassed last season's championship game between Auburn and Florida State
Ohio State is 5-0 straight up all time under Coach Urban Meyer as an underdog. Here's a look at each of those games:
Jan. 1, 2015 vs. Alabama
The Buckeyes were 7.5-point underdogs for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans against the top-ranked Tide and won 42-35. The Buckeyes had 537 yards of offense against one of the nation's best defenses and forced three Alabama turnovers. Running back Ezekiel Elliott was the game's MVP with 20 carries for 230 yards and two touchdowns, including the clinching 85-yard score. He is given an 'over/under' of 144.5 yards in this game. Elliott is -34.5 rushing yards (-140) against Oregon's Royce Freeman (even money) on Monday. Elliott is +500 on Bovada's NCAA football odds to score this game's first touchdown.
Dec. 6, 2014 vs. Wisconsin
Ohio State likely would have been a touchdown or so favorite against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis but instead was a 4-point dog after starting quarterback J.T. Barrett was lost in the regular-season finale the week before to a season-ending injury. Cardale Jones was terrific in his first career start, completing 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the 59-0 whitewashing that got OSU into the national semifinals. On throws of 10 or more yards, Jones completed five of seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. He was that game's MVP.
Nov. 8, 2014 at Michigan State
The Buckeyes were ranked 14th and the Spartans No. 8 when Ohio State visited East Lansing in the Big Ten's most important game of the season. OSU was a 3.5-point dog but won 49-37. Sparty took its last lead, 21-14, on a Jeremy Langford 1-yard TD run with 4:37 left in the first half. However, then Barrett hit Michael Thomas on a 79-yard touchdown pass with 3:19 left and then Devin Smith on a 44-yard score with 56 seconds remaining. Barrett accounted for five touchdowns in that game.
Nov. 17, 2012 at Wisconsin
Ohio State was unbeaten and ranked No. 6 in the nation and the Badgers just 6-4 and unranked yet Wisconsin was a 1-point home favorite. The Buckeyes won 21-14 in overtime, scoring on Carlos Hyde's 2-yard TD run in the extra period. Buckeyes safety Christian Bryant batted down Curt Phillips' pass on fourth down to preserve the win. OSU was ineligible for the postseason that year, which was Meyer's first in Columbus.
Sept. 29, 2012 at Michigan State
OSU was ranked 14th and Michigan State No. 20 for the game in East Lansing and MSU was a 2-point favorite at sportsbooks. Ohio State won 17-16. Buckeyes QB Braxton Miller had three turnovers, all in Michigan State territory, but he hit Smith on a 63-yard touchdown with 3:05 left in the third quarter to give OSU a 17-13 lead. Miller threw for 179 yards and rushed for 136. Will Miller be a Buckeye next season? Meyer says he will but there's talk Miller might transfer (Duke? Oregon? Florida State? LSU?) because OSU is stacked at QB with Barrett and Jones. Perhaps Miller shifts to running back if he stays as he's not projected as an NFL quarterback.
College Football Free Pick: Take OSU but at the 7.5-point alternate line at -155.