Posted on November 25, 2019, by Travis Pulver
Ohio State entered the weekend ranked No. 2 by the College Football Playoffs committee and has looked like a virtual lock to make it in this year. But they needed a win over Penn State to really cement their status as one of the top two teams in the country.
While it wasn’t easy, they were able to escape with a 28-17 win over the Nittany Lions. The victory helped them gain ground on LSU in the other polls, but we’ll have to wait until Tuesday night to see if it impacts the CFP rankings at all.
But whether it does or doesn’t, Ohio State’s far from a lock to still be in college football’s final four after Championship Weekend. The loss knocks Penn State from the title hunt, and if you listen to the oddsmakers at PointsBet.com, the Buckeyes might as well be locked in (odds are -2000).
However, the Buckeyes have two games remaining against top-15 teams. But after a dominant win over Indiana, Michigan moved up two spots to No. 10 in the AP Poll. With a dominant win over Purdue, Wisconsin (who Ohio State will play in the Big Ten title game) moved up one to No. 13.
Now, Ohio State could very well dominate the Wolverines and Badgers and make it in as expected. They are favored to beat Michigan by 11. Last year, they dominated the Wolverines, 62-39. Ohio State has won the last seven against Michigan.
With how the Wolverines looked earlier in the season, it should be an easy win for the Buckeyes. But after a slow start to the season, head coach Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines playing their best football when they need it most. The offense has scored 38+ in five of the last six games. Defensively, they haven’t allowed more than two touchdowns in their last four games.
Of course, it will not be as easy to move the ball against Ohio State’s No. 1 ranked defense. Nor will it be easy to stop the Buckeye’s No. 6 ranked offense (total yards).
Assuming Ohio State does get past Michigan, they will still have to take on a tough Wisconsin team in the Big Ten title game. While the Buckeyes defense will likely have no trouble stopping Wisconsin’s lackluster passing game. But it is not going to be easy to limit a running back like Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.
Last weekend, Taylor recorded his fourth 200+ yard rushing day of the season and third in a row against Purdue with 222 yards on 28 carries. Taylor has only faced Ohio State once, back in the 2017 Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes limited him to just 41 yards on 15 carries in that game.
Taylor will not find it as easy to gain yards against Ohio State’s No. 5 ranked run defense, though.
So—how should you bet?
Ohio State is going to be favored in both games and will likely be challenged in both games. But it is hard to imagine the Buckeyes lose either game, maybe against the spread, but not straight up.
However, while they will more than likely win both and make it into the playoffs, at -2000 odds, the minimal reward is not worth the risk.