Ohio State at Rutgers
Time: 6:30 PM (CT), Saturday
Spread: OSU -28.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Ohio State Buckeyes are 3-1 in 2017 and in Week 5 it will travel to face Rutgers as heavy 28.5-point favorites at 6:30 PM (CT) on the Big Ten Network. The game has an over/under of 53 points, and considering OSU’s point total of 75 last week, the ‘over’ should be pretty enticing, whether Rutgers (1-3) is able to generate much offense itself, or not.
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According to ESPN’s Power Index, OSU is 96.6 percent likely to win this game, and the Scarlet Knights are hoping they can generate yardage against OSU’s defense. Last week, Rutgers fell 27-17 to Nebraska, but it lost Weeks 1 and 2 while averaging just 13.5 points per game against Washington and Eastern Michigan. The outlier, a 65-0 Week 3 win over Morgan State, can hardly be interpreted as meaningful. Kyle Bolin has thrown for 642 yards, but his completion percentage is just 57.3 percent and he averages a paltry 5.49 yards per catch. Moreover, Bolin has chucked six picks to just three touchdown passes.
The Scarlet Knights backfield has been moderately successful, and Gus Edwards has already carried 62 times on the season for 259 yards and two TDs. No. 2 back Robert Martin has rushed for 172 yards on 37 attempts with a TD, and Jonathan Lewis has 13 carries for 58 yards, but leads the Scarlet Knights with four TD rushes.
A trio of WRs have had success, as Jerome Washington, Damon Mitchell and Janarion Grant all have 100-plus yards on the season. But to see Rutgers really experience a lot of success with the Buckeyes would be a little surprising. Ohio State is allowing 20 points per game this season, though, which is not as stingy as Urban Meyer teams typically are. Perhaps this is the week it really sinks its teeth into a mediocre conference opponent, though.
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Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett already has almost 1,000 passing yards on the season. He has thrown 10 TDs and one interception, yet Ohio State fans are still expecting more. Barrett has 174 rushing yards on 43 carries and two rushing TDs, and running back J.K. Dobbins has been successful with 520 yards on 69 carries, with three TDs.
But Ohio State’s 31-16 loss to Oklahoma really has hurt its status. In that game, Barrett threw just 19 of 35 for 183 yards and Dobbins rushed for only 72 yards, as the Oklahoma Sooners got a 386 passing yard game from Baker Mayfield, who threw three TDs on the Ohio State defense.
That lingers as a concern for Meyer, that his Buckeyes were so badly outclassed by a team ranked No. 5 overall. Ohio State, of course, has slid from having been ranked No. 2 entering that game all the way to No. 11. But its season still holds out two really tough games with Penn State on Oct 28 and a season finale in typical fashion at No. 8 Michigan.
Ohio State should prevail by a large margin, but the real x-factor in betting the over/under is dependent upon how much faith the bettor puts in Rutgers’ few offensive weapons against a traditionally tough–but potentially weaker this season–OSU defense.