When Ohio State and Oklahoma kick off in Columbus on Saturday at 7:30 pm ET, two traditional powers will go toe-to-toe under the lights at “The Shoe” in front of 100,000-plus screaming Buckeye fans and a nationwide television audience on ABC.
It’s the Buckeyes versus the Sooners, the Big Ten versus the Big 12, scarlet and gray versus crimson and cream. And, for sports bettors it’s an opportunity to get some action on one of the premier non-conference matchups this season.
Ohio State, fresh off a somewhat convincing win against Indiana in Week One, enters Saturday’s crucial matchup as a 7.5-point favorite, per most online and Las Vegas sportsbooks (as of Friday press time). Both teams have no problem moving the football and putting points on the board. Thus, the Over/Under sits at 64.5 points.
There is plenty at stake when these elite programs square off. Both teams have high expectations for this season and anything but a trip to the College Football Playoff in January would be a failure. One team will be headed the right direction Saturday. The other will need to win out to have any shot at accomplishing its goal.
Big Game Chops
The 2nd-ranked Buckeyes are a heavy favorite against the 6th-ranked Sooners, but that doesn’t mean Oklahoma can’t win this game. It just means handicappers believe certain factors, such as homefield advantage and talent, favor Ohio State.
But one player in this game could carry the Sooners on his back to victory: quarterback Baker Mayfield. The 2015 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist, has thrown for 10,309 yards in his NCAA career (7,994 at Oklahoma) and has come up huge in many big games.
Ohio State won its season opener against Indiana handily, 49-21, but gave up an unsettling 410 passing yards in the process. If Mayfield can have the same short to intermediate passing success as Indiana’s Richard Lagow did last week, the Sooners could control the tempo and keep the Buckeye offense off the field.
But on the other side of the ball, Ohio State features a balanced offense led by senior quarterback JT Barrett, a starter throughout most of his five-year career that feels like has been a decade.
Barrett threw for 304 yards last week, and freshman running back JK Dobbins chipped in 181 on the ground. It appears the Buckeyes have found yet another star rusher, possibly one day joining the likes of former Ohio State All-Americans Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Beanie Wells, and Ezekiel Elliott.
New Boss, Same as Old Boss?
Oklahoma is looking for revenge after last season’s 45-24 loss in Norman, Oklahoma, to the Urban Meyer-coached Buckeyes. The Sooners’ new coach Lincoln Riley, in his first season after replacing retired coaching legend Bob Stoops, has an opportunity to get the first big win of his career. And he has a few things going for him.
Trends Favoring Underdog Oklahoma
- Sooners are 5-0 against the spread (ATS) in last five games.
- Sooners have a five-game overall winning streak.
- Sooners have a five-game road winning streak.
Oklahoma and Ohio State are two of the nation’s most elite programs. This game, due to its national significance, will attract heavy betting action.