NCAAF · Sat (9/11) @ 12:00pm ET
|Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH|
Our Pick: OREG Oregon at 14.5 (-110). Claim Your $1000 Deposit Match Bonus At DraftKings Now!
Anyone that watched the Oregon and Ohio State games in Week One of the 2021 college football season will tell you that neither team looked like they brought their “A” game. If the Ducks want to beat the Buckeyes at the Horseshoe Saturday afternoon, they cannot bring anything less than their best.
At the same time, Ohio State will need to bring their A-game if they want to start the season 2-0.
It is not that either played poorly in their season openers last week. But neither looked like the dominant team they were expected to be. However, the odds make it clear who sportsbooks think will win. That does not mean they will, of course.
The Oregon offense did not look great against the Fresno State defense last week. Now, you can take that to mean the Ducks might not be as good as expected on offense this year. Or you can take it for what it is—they needed time to work out some of the kinks.
Offensively, they had their moments early in the game and late (when they needed them most). The defense did a great job of creating opportunities, but both sides of the ball went flat about midway through and let Fresno State back into the game.
They got things together when it mattered and pulled out the win. But Ohio State will not give them the opportunity to do so against them.
The Ducks appear to be committed to the run; they ran it 49 times against the Bulldogs relative to only 24 pass attempts. But they only averaged 3.8 yards a carry. They may still try to run a lot against the Buckeyes after watching Minnesota go for 200+.
But Oregon has some fantastic receivers. It would be foolish not to make the most of the strongest position group on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, the Ducks have a solid unit overall. But they may be without their best player this weekend. Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux went down with a leg injury against the Bulldogs and had to leave the game. The official word on him this week is he has an ankle sprain and is “day-to-day.”
Ohio State Buckeyes
On the surface, the Week One win over Minnesota looks like it was just another banner day for the Buckeyes. New quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns (with one interception). The ground game went for over 200 yards on just 26 carries (7.7 yards/carry).
Who can argue with that kind of production?
While things did look good overall, it is fair to wonder if the Buckeyes can drive the ball. Can they gain the tough yards when they need them? Their shortest touchdown play against Minnesota was a 32-yard fumble return. Four touchdowns were scored on plays of 50+ yards, and the other was a 38-yard play.
Defensively, the Buckeyes made plays when they mattered most. But the unit had seven new starters, and it showed. Minnesota had little trouble running the ball (50 carries for 203 yards). Although, production slowed down quite a bit once Mohamed Ibrahim left the game.
As for the secondary, Minnesota only had 205 yards. But that was more because they were too busy running the ball and not because of the Ohio State secondary. Not that the Buckeyes secondary lanks talent. However, after Week One, the Buckeyes defense ranks 88th in pass efficiency defense.
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Ohio State won off big plays last week but will likely not get nearly as many against the Oregon defense. Instead, they will need to lean on their stellar offensive line to control the line of scrimmage so the offense can go on a few drives. They will get some points on the board but will probably not get 45 this time.
However, it is hard to say whether the defense will be able to slow the Oregon offense down enough. Ducks QB Anthony Brown is a sixth-year senior whose experience could make life difficult for Ohio State’s young, inexperienced defense.
The Ducks could pull off the upset if the Oregon offense can figure out why it went flat midway through the game against Fresno State. But then again, the Buckeyes are an incredibly talented team and tough to beat at home.
It is one thing to escape with a win against Fresno State and another to beat a team like Ohio State.
So—how should you bet? If you want to play it safe, take Ohio State to win via the moneyline. But if you are up for taking a chance, take Oregon to win via the moneyline. Not feeling that crazy? Take Oregon and the points.