When NOT to Back Ohio State with College Football Picks ATS

Matthew Jordan

Friday, July 10, 2015 7:33 PM GMT

I've been given a tough assignment here: What games in the 2015 college football season should you not back Ohio State with sports picks Against the Spread? Let's look at some potential ATS trap games.

Talent Overload For Meyer
The SEC might win the "recruiting national title" very year, but there's little argument that Ohio State has the most ready-to-play talent in the country this coming season. Coach Urban Meyer's squad has 15 All-Big Ten picks, eight preseason All-Americans and at least two Heisman contenders. Actually, five offensive guys have legitimate Heisman odds: running back Ezekiel Elliot (+700 second-favorite at Bovada), quarterback Braxton Miller (+1000), quarterback Cardale Jones (+2000) and QB J.T. Barrett (+2500). I'm a bit surprised that Miller has moved ahead of Jones as I still believe Jones wins that amazing three-man QB battle this fall and that Miller moves to receiver or an H-back Percy Harvin type because Miller isn't a quarterback prospect in the NFL. But that's a story for another day (and I've addressed before here at SBR). If you include 5Dimes odds, the Buckeyes have another Heisman betting option on defensive end Joey Bosa at +9000. He's not going to win it, but Bosa might be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. He's Mel Kiper Jr.'s top-guy on his '16 Big Board right now. Any Buckeyes player winning the Heisman is +560 and the field at -820.

Ohio State is going to be favored in every regular-season game. It is +370 to repeat as national champion. The Buckeyes are -230 to make the four-team playoff and +170 not to. No other team has shorter than +140 odds to make the playoff. The Buckeyes are a whopping -600 to play in a New Year's Six Bowl (two playoff games, which are Orange and Cotton this year, as well as Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Peach) and +400 not to. OSU is -240 to win the Big Ten title game with the field at +180. And finally, it has the highest win total in the nation at 11, and the 'over' is still a -195 favorite. So oddsmakers don't expect a regular-season loss.

 

All College Football Odds Favor OSU
The only two ways Ohio State might lose a game are to a more experienced club or on the road, in my opinion. Highly-respected NCAA football writer Phil Steele came up with a formula to rank each team in the country by experience using these categories: career starts on the offensive line, percentage of lettermen returning, percentage of yards returning, percentage of tackles returning and two-deep class breakdown. Michigan State tops the Big Ten at 27th overall, but OSU is right behind at 30. Ohio State leads the conference in yards and tackles back. It is seventh in career starts on the offensive line with 76 and 11th in percentage of lettermen returning at 66.7. Take that for what it's worth. And I will say that Jones doesn't have much experience if he does win the job. Barrett has started only 12 games and Elliott wasn't even OSU's No. 1 tailback to begin last season.

 

OSU's Schedule
If Jones makes the start Week 1 at Virginia Tech, I'd probably take the Hokies +17.5. After all, Jones has yet to start a true road game. Of course the Hokies won in Columbus in Week 2 last season when Barrett had his worst game in only his second start. And Virginia Tech brings back 16 starters, among the most in the ACC.

Don't sleep on Western Michigan when the Broncos visit Columbus on Sept. 26. I'll take the 31.5 points there. WMU is going to be the most talented team in the Mid-American Conference and brings back 17 starters.  The Broncos also won't be too overwhelmed by the competition because they open the season at home against Michigan State. OSU might be caught looking ahead to the start of Big Ten play as  well.

I think Maryland could be a good value College Football pick in Columbus on Oct. 10 as the Terps will be getting plenty of points (no early line yet) and OSU hosts a good Penn State team the following week. Another great trap possibility is when OSU visits Illinois on Nov. 14. The Illini aren't any good, but OSU's two biggest games follow: vs. Michigan State and at Michigan.