Focus On Total With Michigan A Rare Road Chalk At Ohio State

ohio state

Jay Pryce

Monday, November 19, 2018 2:26 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 2:26 PM UTC

No. 4 Michigan is a rare road favorite at No. 10 Ohio State in The Game. It has been nearly 20 years since the Wolverines won in Columbus, and it might be best to avoid betting the spread. The edge is in wagering the total.

No. 4 Michigan (-4) at No. 10 Ohio StateSaturday, noon ET (FOX)Free NCAAF Pick: ‘Under’Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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The betting line has adjusted nearly two touchdowns from preseason offerings as oddsmakers relisted Michigan (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS) a 4-point favorite in The Game. Ohio State (10-1 SU, 4-7 ATS), which has not kicked off a home underdog in the series since 2004, was listed as 9-point chalk in Games of the Year lines in May.

The Wolverines, for what it’s worth, haven’t won a game in Columbus since 2000. Oh, and the Buckeyes are 6-0 SU and ATS all-time under head coach Urban Meyer as betting underdogs, covering a 4.3 average line by an astonishing 22.3 points per game.

The best betting value, however, will likely be found picking the total. In three matchups between head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Meyer, the number has gone off 47, 46 and 51 in that order. There has been a pair of "overs" and a push, but the 2016 meeting witnessed 23 points in a wild double-overtime 30-27 Buckeyes victory. Expect another offering near 50 for Saturday. Here’s what you need to know betting the over-under market:

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Our defense was back at it yesterday 👀#GoBlue pic.twitter.com/QZeY3m17r1

— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 18, 2018
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Big Blue’s Dominating Defense

Michigan’s defense is a force to be reckoned with. It tops the country with 234.8 total yards per game and ranks second with 3.8 yards per play. It has held all but one opponent, SMU in Week 3, to more than a touchdown under their season scoring average in each contest.

Ohio State, in fact, is one of three Big Ten opponents (Maryland, Wisconsin, and Penn State) the Wolverines have faced in 2018 putting up more than 30-plus per game with 41.6 per tilt. They held the prior trio to 13.7 points and 229.7 yards per game, winning each by three touchdowns or more.

Baffling Buckeyes

The Ohio State defense is a mess, backed up by the fact it has allowed 30 points or more in three of its last four games. The Buckeyes’ 34.2 opponent point average in this span is the most ever behind Meyer through four contests. Losing star edge rusher Nick Bosa early in the year to injury hurt the unit, but he mattered little to slowing the run. Foes gash Ohio State on the ground for 4.6 yards per carry, 82nd among FBS programs. This is the big problem.

The offense is as explosive as ever, but inconsistent and a bit one-dimensional. QB Dwayne Haskins, tossing for 3,685 yards, 36 TDs, and 7 INTs on 294-of-424 throws, is the best passer Meyer has ever fielded. But his inability to create much on his feet has taken away the always-troubling dual-threat abilities of recent Buckeye teams. It has proven disadvantageous at times.

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Rivalry Week kicks off with @Shoddieslime_13 back in his ele❌ent

Thank you @TBDBITL for everything you do!#GoBucks #WinThe❌o❌ent pic.twitter.com/oitX0yfQ3e

— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) November 18, 2018
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Win the Trenches

Every side or total bet in this contest comes down to the battle in the trenches. It all hinges on whether the Ohio State O-line can buy Haskins time to throw. He can dice up a secondary if comfortable. On paper, it’s a stalemate. The Buckeyes rank 11th in opponent QB sack percentage (3.42), while the Wolverines come in with the sixth-best mark on defense (10.1 percent).

Final Thoughts

Meyer has blasted the market with his back to the wall in the past, while Michigan is just 1-17 SU and 5-13 ATS in its last 18 games on the road against ranked competition. Ignore the trends. This year is different. This game stays close, competitive, and low scoring throughout.

The fact the Wolverines kicked six field goals in their 31-20 victory over Indiana last weekend is troublesome. Finishing drives is necessary headed into a steep rivalry game on the road. Ohio State’s defense is subpar, but should hold its own against a misfiring unit. Michigan’s defense, meanwhile, is as consistent as any team in recent memory. Harbaugh will attempt to control the clock and keep Haskins and company off the field. Expect a Big Ten, leather-helmet throwback affair. Pick "under" the total.

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