DraftKings Sportsbook odds: Betting Line: Ohio State -45.5 | Over/Under: 68.5
Coming off the heels of a hard-fought 21-10 win over Notre Dame in the season opener, Vegas expects Ohio State fans to be able to breathe a bit easier next weekend. With Arkansas State coming to town in Week 2, the Buckeyes open up as a whopping 45.5-point favorite against the Red Wolves in Columbus.
Ohio State’s offense was held mostly in check against the Fighting Irish, hampered by the absence of projected starter Julian Fleming and the early loss of top receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. It took some time for C.J. Stroud to get into a rhythm with all the new faces in his wide receiver core, but luckily the Buckeyes’ ground game was excellent with its two-headed monster of TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams at running back. Jim Knowles’ debut at defensive coordinator went about as well as possible, holding Notre Dame to 10 points and allowing just 72 yards total in the second half.
Arkansas State is coming off a 58-3 drubbing of Grambling. Quarterback James Blackman, a transfer from Florida State, had a solid first half, completing 15-of-20 attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns while adding a third score on the ground. Seniors Johnnie Lang and Champ Flemings were the real stars of the show. Lang ran for 124 yards on 13 carries with a TD, while Flemings caught seven balls for 122 yards and a score. The Red Wolves held their FCS opponent to just 102 total yards, allowing only nine first downs and holding the Tigers to 2-of-13 on third down.
Butch Jones is in his second season at Arkansas State, coming off a 2-10 campaign in 2021. Despite the nice start to the year against Grambling, it has not gone well for Jones when facing FBS opponents, winning just one game against a non-FCS team during his short Red Wolves tenure — a 27-24 win over a 4-8 Louisiana-Monroe last season. The defensive side of the ball is where his team really struggled last year, finishing 124th out of 130 teams allowing 38.6 points per game.
Ohio State will have to contend with a solid passing attack led by Blackman and company, but Arkansas State’s shortcomings along the offensive line and on the defensive side of the ball will make it tough for the road team to keep this one close. Ryan Day said he hopes to have both Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming back for this one, which would be very bad news for the Red Wolves’ secondary. That 45.5 points is a hefty line, but if Ohio State can get back on track offensively, it shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that the Buckeyes cover the spread.
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