Young Ohio State Buckeyes In Rose Bowl Spotlight In Wake Of Opt Outs; Betting Line Moves Toward Utah

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C.J. Stroud will be targeting young Ohio State teammates in the Rose Bowl as NFL-bound WRs have opted out (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire)

Star collegiate players opting out of their bowl games has become the norm in recent seasons. Even prestigious end-of-season showcases like the Rose Bowl lack the pull to entice NFL-bound talents to play one more game. Ohio State wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave demonstrated that sentiment by opting out of the upcoming New Year’s Day staple against Utah.

The Buckeyes opened as 7-point favorites on oddsboards. However, following Monday’s news of Wilson and Olave, that spread was squeezed down across the sports betting industry. FanDuel Sportsbook moved the line to -4.5, while DraftKings Sportsbook adjusted t0 -4. Similarly, moneyline odds shrank at both books to reflect the significance of those personnel losses.

The absences of Wilson and Olave may hurt the Buckeyes’ odds of taking home the Rose Bowl crown, but the line remains above the key number 3. This is thanks largely to Ohio State’s enviable depth of premium talent. There are a number of young offensive weapons itching to serve as “next man up” on Saturday.

Next Men Up For Buckeyes

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Sophomore

While Wilson and Olave commanded much of the attention this season, Smith-Njigba leads Ohio State in both receptions (80) and receiving yards (1,259). The sophomore is a former five-star recruit who could be the one opting out of next season’s bowl game.

Freshman Running Back Duo

TreVeyon Henderson (true freshman) and Miyan Williams (redshirt freshman) combined for 268 touches, 2,021 total yards, and 22 touchdowns. Both have chewed up yardage on the ground while contributing production as receivers out of the backfield.

See You On Sundays

Senior tight end Jeremy Ruckert may lack the star power of former and current Buckeye greats, but he’s considered one of the draftable tight ends in this year’s class. He finished the regular season with career bests in receptions (23), receiving yards (284), and has an outside shot at matching his career best five touchdowns.

Baby Buckeyes

Five Buckeyes caught double-digit passes this season. Two have opted out, and the other three have also been mentioned above. But the football factory in Columbus, doesn’t stop producing stud talents, especially at the wide receiver position. Brian Hartline is considered one of college football’s best wide receiver coaches. That claim has been strengthened by the line of receivers he’s developed from recruit to NFL draftee.

The wide receiver trio of Julian Fleming, Emeka Egbuka, and Marvin Harrison Jr. will be at the vanguard of Ohio State’s next wave of NFL hopefuls. Fleming, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound sophomore, was the No. 1 wide receiver in the class of 2020. Egbuka, a 6-foot-1, 203-pound freshman, was the No. 2 wide receiver in the class of 2021. Harrison Jr., also a freshman, is the 6-foot-3, 205-pound son of Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison.

The three young receivers combined for only 18 receptions, 264 yards, and a touchdown. Even highly regarded recruits often have to wait their turn at powerhouse programs such as Ohio State. And this is especially true when a program is adept at producing pro-level talent at a position, as the Buckeyes have demonstrated at wide receiver. The Rose Bowl could serve as the launch party for the next line of OSU blue-chippers.

More bowl coverage: Georgia-Michigan player props | Arkansas favored in wake of Penn State opt outs

About the Author
Craig Williams

Craig Williams

Craig Williams is a Charlotte-based writer for Gaming Today, who has worked professionally in the gaming, fantasy sports, and sports business industries. He’s an avid fantasy football player, managing over 100 leagues across multiple formats. When he’s not pouring over Vegas odds and statistics, he’s indulging in soccer and enjoys anything from LigaMX to Champions League.

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