“We would make both Ohio State and Alabama small favorites over Clemson if they were to play today. Clemson has the shortest odds strictly because of their schedule.”
- Caesars Sportsbook director of trading Jeff Davis, via ESPN
There have been a lot of talks lately about whether or not football will be happening this fall in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here at LGHL, we like to keep things on the positive side, and so since it is only the beginning of April, I’m going to move forward with life assuming that there will be college football this season. With that being said, let’s take a look at where Ohio State stands heading into 2020, according to Vegas oddsmakers.
We all know how the Buckeyes’ season ended this past year. Arguably the better team in the game, had a few key moments hadn’t broken Ohio State’s way, we very well could have been looking at an OSU vs. LSU national title game that many had predicted. Instead, the Bucks came up short against the Clemson Tigers, and an incredibly talented team clad in Scarlet and Gray was sent home all too soon.
Heading into this upcoming season, the Ohio State players and staff will look to use that game as motivation. Remember how you felt after that loss, and don't let it happen again. Unfortunately, they will be missing a ton of key pieces from that loaded roster. Their top two defenders in Chase Young and Jeff Okudah are off to the NFL, as well as almost the entire defensive secondary. Their 2,000-yard rusher in J.K. Dobbins is gone. Their trusty slot receiver in K.J. Hill? Also gone.
How could a team that is losing that much talent even think about competing the following year? Well, because not many other programs in the country can reload like Ohio State does.
Ryan Day was able to haul in the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class in 2020, and with it comes a treasure trove of elite wide receiver talent as well as key additions along the offensive line and the secondary. On top of that, they were able to snag former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon via the transfer portal to add depth to the RB room. Even more importantly, one of — if not the — best quarterbacks in the country in Justin Fields is returning for year two, joined by an incredibly strong group of offensive linemen and one of the college football’s top returning corners in Shaun Wade.
Even when it comes to the coaching staff, Ohio State was able to remain on top. Losing secondary coach Jeff Hafley was a massive blow, especially with all of the newcomers the Buckeyes would have this season, but replacing him with Kerry Coombs was an absolute no-brainer. Mike Yurcich was a more quiet loss as the QB coach, but with Ryan Day spearheading that operation for the most part anyway, and with a guy he trusts in Corey Dennis at his aid, the staff remains as strong as ever.
So how does all this moving and shaking add up for Ohio State’s Vegas odds for the 2020 season? Well, for starters, they are still the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten Conference — and it isn’t particularly close. As things currently stand, the Buckeyes are around -225 (depending on the book) to win the B1G. In fact, they are one of only two teams in the Power 5 to be an odds-on favorite to win their conference, with Clemson the other at -600 in the ACC. Behind OSU sits Penn State (+450) and Wisconsin (+550).
When it comes to the National Championship, it is Clemson with a slim lead for the favorite spot at +250, followed by both Ohio State and Alabama at +300.
While the Tigers are the betting favorite to win the title, director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook Jeff Davis explains that while that may be the case, both the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide would likely be small favorites over them in a head-to-head matchup. The reasoning is because of Clemson’s easy path to the title game, playing in the weakest of the Power 5 conferences with only one semi-tough game out of conference against Notre Dame.
In terms of win total, Ohio State’s line has been set at 11, with the over being the favorite at -135. The Buckeyes have one of the highest win total lines of any Power 5 team, behind only Clemson’s line set at 11.5. Other notable Power 5 win totals include SEC favorite Alabama (+125) at 10.5, Big 12 favorite Oklahoma (+150) at 10, and Pac-12 favorite Oregon (+200) at 9.5.