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Thursday, September 1, 2022

Ohio State back as a betting powerhouse

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EI started to feel bad for Indiana in the second quarter. With five minutes left in the first half, Ohio State led 37-7 on the road against a team that has given it issues in the past. That was not the case on Saturday.

In fact, this was a glorious bit of football demolition.

Not long ago, this kind of performance felt improbable for the Buckeyes. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. The loss at home to Oregon in the second game of the season, coupled with some ugly wins sandwiched around it, felt significant.

Six weeks later, Ohio State might be the biggest threat to Georgia in all of college football. After a weekend that saw Cincinnati and Oklahoma struggle, Ohio State has more momentum than any team in college football.

I bet Ohio State to win the Big Ten before the season began. To be honest, I didn’t feel great about this. But given what we’ve seen recently from Iowa and Penn State, the Buckeyes feel like an overwhelming favorite to win the conference. They’re now 6/1 at BetMGM to win the national title, ranked behind only Georgia (+120) and Alabama (5/2). The gap has closed significantly.

Luke Ford
Luke Ford reaches for an incomplete pass in Illinois’ overtime win over Penn State.

Sometimes, a team’s early struggles are never repaired. Clemson, having lost its third game of the year, is certainly an example of that. But Ohio State looks momentarily fixed.

C.J. Stroud, who is now 5/1 to win the Heisman, has evolved at quarterback. The defense, which struggled mightily early on, has adjusted. And the talent at both running back and wide receiver is frankly absurd.

Time will tell just how good Ohio State is, but the Buckeyes appear to be back. That is terrible news for the rest of the Big Ten and perhaps beyond.

Tidbits & Observations

  •  College football’s new overtime rule stinks. Watching Illinois and Penn State trade failed two-point conversions up until the ninth overtime wasn’t entertaining. It was oddly paced and, well, really poorly played. I know college football implemented this new penalty kick-like model to avoid marathon games like the one we saw between LSU and Texas A&M in 2018, but this mutated version isn’t it. Move back to the 40-yard line, and let each team get cracks at scoring points. I like the general foundation of overtime in college football, but it can be better. Also, let’s never speak of this sequence of football again. Wow, was that bad.
  •  I have watched a lot of football, although I can honestly say I have never seen anything like what Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams did against Kansas. The Sooners slept through the first three quarters as 38.5-point favorites. And when the offense had appeared to stall on fourth down, Williams actually ripped the ball away from his own teammate to pick up a huge first down with only a few minutes remaining. Seriously, it was ridiculous, incredibly smart and (apparently?) legal. What a play for a true freshman.
  • Hot-seat watch: Virginia Tech. The Hokies lost 41-36 to Syracuse as 3.5-point favorites, allowing the Orange to score 21 fourth-quarter points. Va. Tech is now 3-4, and Justin Fuente could very well be out of a job soon. Simply put, Virginia Tech is nowhere close to the program it used to be. If this job does open, I am curious to see what kind of attention it would attract with other high-profile openings likely in the mix.


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