The #10 Ohio State Buckeyes have had some time off to lick their wounds after an upset loss to the Purdue Boilermakers last time out. While that’s the school’s lone blemish on the season, a 7-1 record wasn’t enough to sway pollsters for the first iteration of College Football Playoff rankings.
The Buckeyes have some work to do before they can re-enter the conversation for a playoff spot, and they get started when they return to the field to take on the 2-6 Nebraska Cornhuskers, a program that has struggled mightily on the season.
That said, fortunes may be turning around, as Nebraska has been able to win two in a row after opening the season with a dismal six-game losing streak. The squad shouldn’t need too much motivation to bring its A-game on the road when they meet up with one of the top programs in the nation in the form of Ohio State.
For the Buckeyes, the motivation is crystal clear: any more losses, and they can kiss a playoff berth goodbye. As for Nebraska, the stench of the tough start to the season still looms large, and the program needs to show a lot of fight the rest of the way to at least indicate that it’s on the right path for 2019.
This one kicks off at Noon EST and will be broadcast to a national audience on Fox. It looks like it’ll be an entertaining one – at least for a little while. Let’s take a look at what both squads bring to the table for this intriguing tilt.
Nebraska @ Ohio State, 12:00 PM EST, FOX
- Nebraska +17.5 (-105)
- Ohio State -17.5 (-115)
- Nebraska +675
- Ohio State -900
- Over 72 (-115)
- Under 72 (-105)
Nebraska vs. Ohio State pick:
Nebraska’s start to the season was downright stunning. After falling to Colorado in the opener in what was a close and entertaining affair that came down to the final minute, the wheels completely fell off. The Cornhuskers fell to Troy in an upset the following week, and they got completely shellacked by Michigan the week after that.
Problems quickly snowballed, and the team lost another three in a row to Big Ten rivals. To see a proud program such as Nebraska with a mark of 0-6 certainly led to plenty of furrowed brows, but the team was finally able to stop the bleeding with a 53-28 victory over Minnesota. They made it two in a row by taking down Bethune-Cookman by a score of 45-9, and the club is currently tied for last place in the Big Ten West division.
On the season, the Cornhuskers are averaging 29.8 points per contest while allowing 33.4. The team is piling up the stats offensively, but opponents are doing the same to the defense. The unit has also been middle of the road when it comes to generating pressure with 20 sacks and 10 turnovers on the year.
Freshman QB Adrian Martinez has demonstrated his worth during the challenging campaign. Martinez has 15 total touchdowns versus six picks, as well as 1,656 passing yards and 408 yards on the ground. Senior Devine Ozigbo has emerged as the leading threat in the backfield – 96/710/8 – while sophomore JD Spielman and senior Stanley Morgan Jr. have been leading the way for the pass catchers.
Nebraska has a challenging road ahead for the rest of the season. Following this week’s game, the Cornhuskers have back-to-back home contests versus Illinois and Michigan State, and they close out the season on the road versus Iowa. The way the season has gone so far, a mark of 1-2 in the final three looks to be a reasonable expectation.
Ohio State rifled off seven straight wins to start the season, but some chinks in the armor emerged along the way. While the program was clearly one of the best in the nation, it was tested a few times, including by lesser squads. It looked like that was eventually going to catch up to them, and it did in big league fashion last time out as Purdue cruised to a 49-20 victory.
For the year, Ohio State is averaging a whopping 43 points per game while allowing 22.9. There’s a ton of balance on offense, as the Buckeyes can slice and dice opponents through the air or on the ground. The defense has definitely had some challenging moments, but the unit is generating solid pressure to the tune of 26 sacks, 13 turnovers, and a defensive touchdown on the year.
Sophomore QB Dwayne Haskins is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Through eight games, he has thrown for 30 TDs and just five picks. Sophomore J.K. Dobbins and junior Mike Weber have formed a devastating one-two punch in the backfield, while junior K.J. Hill and senior Parris Campbell lead the way for a talented group of pass catchers.
Following this week’s tilt, Ohio State has road dates with Michigan State and Maryland. The Buckeyes close out the regular season with what looks to be an epic showdown with Michigan. Assuming both programs still only have one loss at that point, the game is poised to have huge ramifications for this year’s College Football Playoff rankings.
These two schools have met in each of the last two years, and in four of the last seven in total. Over that span, Ohio State is 3-1 straight up and undefeated against the spread, while the Over has been the correct choice each time. Last year, the Buckeyes were victorious by a mark of 56-14 in a game in which they were favored by 24 points. The Buckeyes nearly covered the 57.5-point projected total by themselves.
The total has been jacked up to 72 for this year’s edition, and Ohio State is a 17.5-point favorite. There’s no question the Buckeyes are the more talented squad, and we expect them to come out and make a statement that they have every intention of being a big factor the rest of the way. While Nebraska has played better over the last two weeks, it’s tough to see how the struggling school can keep pace with one of the top teams in the nation.
We’ll take Ohio State minus the points as they win going away.