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Picking against the spread for Ohio State’s biggest 2021 football games

Unsurprisingly, the Buckeyes are double-digit favorites in each of the games that BetOnline released point spreads for.

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

We are still a couple months away from the start of the 2021 college football season, but game lines have started to trickle out. While there hasn’t been a point spread set for Ohio State’s season opener at Minnesota on September 2nd, released lines for four other Ohio State football games yesterday. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the Buckeyes are double-digit favorites in each of those games.

Even though Money, Cash, & Joes is still two months away for making its season debut, it feels right to make a guest summer appearance to give you some nuggets to think about since these early lines are out. There can be a lot of value to be found in these early lines, since a lot could change between now and when these games kickoff. It might not be fun to have your money sitting for a game months down the road, but finding the right lines could really boost your bankroll.

September 11th: Oregon v. Ohio State (-10)

Even though Oregon could very well be Ohio State’s toughest opponent of the season, this line feels a little low for the Buckeyes. The biggest reason that I favor Ohio State by more than 10 points here is because of the start time. This game is going to kickoff at 9:00 AM PST. Now I’m sure that college football players could play in the middle of the night and be fine, but if the Ducks come out of the gates sluggish, the Buckeyes could put them in an early hole that they won’t be able to dig themselves out of.

Both Ohio State and Oregon will come into this game with new starting quarterbacks this year. It sounds like C.J. Stroud will start for the Buckeyes, while Boston College transfer Anthony Brown will likely get the nod for Oregon. The Ducks do have a lot of pieces on offense, but they’ll be going against a Buckeye defense that feels disrespected after some shaky performances last season.

The Ohio State defense could get an even bigger boost if linebacker Palaie Gaoteote transfers to Columbus from USC. The Trojans played Oregon twice during Gaoteote’s time at USC, and while the Ducks won both meetings, the junior definitely has an idea of what Oregon will try and throw at Ohio State. If Gaoteote does wind up at Ohio State, it will add even more athleticism to a linebacker group that is hungry to make some noise.

Oregon may very well be a contender in the PAC-12, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot these days. The Ducks haven’t defeated Ohio State in nine previous meetings, and I just don’t see them staying within 10 points of the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium.

Ohio State 42, Oregon 27

October 23rd: Ohio State (-11) v. Indiana

Who would’ve ever thought that we’d be living in a world where Indiana is the biggest threat to Ohio State in the Big Ten in football? The Buckeyes have dominated the series with Indiana, winning 25 straight games against the Hoosiers. If there was ever a year for Indiana to snap their losing streak, this would be the year.

Plenty could change between now and late October, but this feels like one of those slugfest games in Bloomington that we have seen a few times over the last decade. In 2012, the Buckeyes held off Indiana 52-49, and two years later Ezekiel Elliott powered Ohio State to a 34-27 victory with a huge second half.

Michael Penix Jr. and the Hoosiers put Ohio State on notice with a game effort in Columbus in 2020, with Penix throwing for 491 yards and five touchdowns in the 42-35 loss. Indiana showed they could hang with the Buckeyes, and have plenty of starters returning on both sides of the football. This is going to be another one of those back-and-forth games, with Ohio State again denying an upset attempt by Indiana.

Ohio State 38, Indiana 31

October 30th: Penn State v. Ohio State (-10.5)

The only thing I could see hurting the Buckeyes here is possibly having to expend a ton of energy the previous week in a huge road tilt against Indiana. Other than that, Penn State doesn’t scare me at all. While Penn State does have Sean Clifford back for his 47th year at quarterback, there is a lot of youth with this Penn State team. Maybe the team grows up by late October, but I’m counting on a full capacity Ohio Stadium rattling the Nittany Lions.

Penn State has played Ohio State really tough over the past half-decade. I do think we are going to see the talent gap grow a little bit, though. The honeymoon period with James Franklin at Penn State feels like it is over, and I think we are going to see Ohio State put some distance on their neighbors to the east. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Buckeyes win by at least two touchdowns in Columbus on Halloween weekend.

Ohio State 37, Penn State 21

November 27th: Ohio State (-11.5) v. Michigan

What exactly has Michigan done to make you think they’ll have success against Ohio State this year? The Wolverines are coming off a 2-4 season in 2020, and the Wolverines have lost their last two meetings with Ohio State by at least 20 points. Maybe Michigan is hoping the Buckeyes get lost on their way to Ann Arbor this year.

The biggest reason that I’m picking Ohio State to win this game handily is because Jim Harbaugh is still Michigan’s coach. Harbaugh hasn’t had any clue on how to stop the Buckeyes since taking over in Ann Arbor, and his teams are actually regressing. Not a good sign when Ryan Day is putting together phenomenal recruiting classes and doing some work in the transfer portal.

In years past I would have been worried about Ohio State going on the road against their rivals as a double-digit favorite. Not anymore. Last time the Buckeyes were in Ann Arbor, they hung 56 on Michigan. I will say that the Wolverines do have a lot of experience coming back on defense, so maybe Ohio State doesn’t hang 50+ on Michigan, but they do win this game handily.

Ohio State 42, Michigan 20