Ohio State opened last week’s victory over Miami (Ohio) with an atypically sluggish start, surrendering the game’s first five points against the Redhawks at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes then erupted for six touchdowns in the second quarter, two on scrambles from quarterback Justin Fields, on their way to a dominating 76-5 win. On Saturday night in Lincoln, the electrifying sophomore quarterback will be ready to attack Nebraska’s Black Shirt defense from the outset.
“We’re ready for the test,” Fields said. “We expect to go out there and do business. It’s just another business trip for us.”
As 17-point favorites over the Cornhuskers, the No. 6 Buckeyes must eschew the early turnovers that plagued them against Miami if they hope to cover in the primetime showdown. The matchup pits two of the most storied programs in college football history, two schools which have combined for nine Heisman Trophy winners and 13 national titles.
No stopping imposing pass rusher Young
Nebraska may have difficulty containing Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, the prohibitive favorite to capture the Bronco Nagurski Trophy an award given annually to the nation’s top defensive player. Young has recorded 17.5 sacks dating back to the start of the 2018 season, the most of any player in the country.
Young, an explosive 6”5, 265 pound defensive lineman, notched two sacks versus the Redhawks to increase his nation-leading total to seven on the season. If Nebraska attempts in vain to neutralize Young with persistent double-teams, the gameplan could enable defensive end Jonathon Cooper to roam free on the opposite side. The Buckeyes lead FBS with five sacks per game, while Nebraska ranks 92nd in sacks allowed per contest.
Young has also emerged as the Soprano of the defense during the team’s post-game rendition of Carmen Ohio, a school tradition.
Chase Young singing Carmen Ohio might be my new favorite thing! pic.twitter.com/wrXYk5Qerp
— Katie Logan (@KatieLLogan) September 21, 2019
At PointsBet USA, Ohio State opened as 14-point favorites, a number that gradually increased to 17 early in the week. The line briefly moved to 17.5 which prompted a buyback on the Huskers. As of 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 26, the Buckeyes fell back to 17-point favorites.
“Overall, there is next to no market respect for the Huskers as huge home ‘dogs, with over 80% of the tickets and money laying the points with Ohio State,” said Matt Chaprales, PointsBet USA’s head of content.
Nebraska needed a late rally with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to outlast Illinois last week 42-38. The Vegas consensus total is 66.5, up three points from the opening line on Sept. 22. Although Ohio State has allowed only 9.0 points per game, Nebraska has given up at least 34 in two of its last three.
Other top matchups this weekend
Never seen anyone in Red I didn't want to tackle!!! #GoBears #Cal pic.twitter.com/C7UcAnYeH1
— Evan Weaver™ (@Weavin_it) September 25, 2019
Through four weeks, Cal is the only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12 by virtue of losses by Utah and Washington State last week. The No. 15 Golden Bears can move to 5-0 with a win on Friday night over Arizona State.
The Sun Devils upset Michigan State two weeks ago in Lansing, but fell out of the Top 25 with a 34-31 loss to Colorado. Cal has held steady as 4.5 point favorites for the majority of the week after the spread reached as high as five on Sept. 24. The total is 42.
Both teams are stout on defense. Cal edged Mississippi 28-20 thanks to a game-saving tackle by linebacker Evan Weaver on the goal line. Weaver tied the school record last week with 22 tackles against the Rebels. Although the Bears have escaped with tight victories in each of their three contests, Cal has yet to allow 21 points this season. Before the crushing loss to the Buffaloes, Arizona State allowed only 21 points combined over its first three games.
In other action Friday, Penn State and Maryland will renew their border rivalry. Earlier this month, the Terps looked virtually unstoppable on offense after scoring 142 points through their first two games. The Maryland offense, however, fizzled in the red zone two weeks ago against Temple in a deflating 20-17 defeat.
Penn State recorded dominating wins over Idaho and Buffalo in its first two games before moving to 3-0 on Sept. 14 with a narrow 17-10 win over Pitt. The betting public has overwhelmingly backed Penn State this week. PointsBet bumped the line up a half-point after booking a considerable amount of action on Penn State at -6. The additional half-point has not deterred Nittany Lions’ supporters.
Bettors selected the Nittany Lions with the spread on more than 80% of tickets and 88% of the handle at PointsBet.
On Saturday, Notre Dame will face Virginia for the first time since a dramatic 34-27 win in 2015. The Irish are coming off a 23-17 defeat to No. 3 Georgia last week.
Notre Dame is a 12.5 point favorite over Virginia at FanDuel Sportsbook. As of 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 26, bettors supported Virginia on 55% of spread tickets, even though the Irish represented 67% of the total spread handle. Bettors took the over of 48.5 on 67% of all tickets, representing 95% of the handle.
Following an impressive performance last week against Michigan, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor’s Heisman futures odds have plunged at FanDuel. Taylor owns the largest positive move of the week, dropping to 8/1 on the Heisman Trophy futures market from 16/1 a week earlier.
Taylor rushed for 203 yards and 2 TDs in the Badgers’ 35-14 win over the Wolverines. Taylor is bidding to become the first Wisconsin player to win the Heisman since Ron Dayne in 1999.
Bettors have soured on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the early favorite. The odds on Lawrence shot up all the way from +300 to +2500. Lawrence has a 62.3% completion percentage this season, along with a 7:5 TD/INT ratio.
Heisman Trophy odds movement (via @FDSportsbook):
📉Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence opened +300, now +2500
📈Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor opened +1600, now +800
Tua Tagovailoa +300 is the field favorite, followed by LSU's Joe Burrow +450 and OU's Jalen Hurts +450
— RotoGrinders Sports Betting (@RGSportsBetting) September 26, 2019