Despite their unbeaten record, the Ohio State Buckeyes have little room for error in their pursuit of the College Football Playoff. Maintaining perfection may be a necessity.
Next up on Saturday (4 p.m. ET) is a meeting with the Minnesota Golden Gophers at home. A majority of the betting public is understandably on the third-ranked Buckeyes as 27.5-point favorites (-110). Minnesota is +27.5 (-110) on the spread while the projected total is 50 (-110 Over, -110 Under), up a tick from 49.
What do bettors need to know about this NCAAF matchup? Read on as we break down the odds in our Minnesota vs Ohio State game preview.
Location: Ohio Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are 3-7 against the spread, including 1-3 away from home. The total has gone Over in five of the Golden Gophers’ last seven games. Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes are 5-3-2 ATS, including 4-1 at home. The total has gone Under in eight of Ohio State’s 10 games this college football season, tied with six other schools for the highest rate in FBS. Remember that when assessing the odds in our Minnesota vs Ohio State game preview.
The Ohio State Buckeyes maintained their case for a spot in the College Football Playoff last week, coasting past Michigan State 38-3. The Buckeyes, No. 2 in the Sagarin ratings and No. 3 in the AP poll, rolled to a 35-3 halftime lead and covered the 32.5-point spread with room to spare. They’re also now second in the CFP rankings after being leapfrogged by Georgia.
Marvin Harrison Jr. — the son of NFL Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison — finished with 149 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He continues to have the best Heisman Trophy odds of any non-quarterback at +500.
Now 10-0 (7-0 Big Ten), Ohio State is on the brink of surpassing its projected win total of 10.5. But that’s only the start of what the Buckeyes hope to accomplish. A Big Ten Conference championship is within reach. So, too, is a College Football Playoff berth and possibly even a national title. The Buckeyes are currently +180 to win the conference, trailing only No. 2 Michigan (-200), and +800 to win it all.
The Buckeyes’ defense stood tall against Michigan State, holding the Spartans to 2 of 14 on third down and 182 total yards. Ranked fourth overall defensively, the Buckeyes have yet to give up more than 17 points. Their 99 points allowed are second-fewest in FBS behind only Michigan. Keep that in mind when analyzing our Minnesota vs Ohio State game preview.
Down and (Possibly) Out
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are coming off a 49-30 loss last week to Purdue, a 2-point underdog. At 3-4 in the Big Ten standings and 5-5 overall, the Golden Gophers remain one victory from clinching college bowl eligibility for the third straight season.
Defense let Minnesota down once again, allowing 604 total yards. The Golden Gophers have now given up 76 points over their two-game losing streak, which has left their postseason hopes in peril. With Ohio State and Wisconsin still remaining on the Golden Gophers’ schedule, reaching the six-win threshold won’t be easy.
Sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis has thrown six touchdowns compared to no interceptions over the past two games. However, he’s completed just 45.3% of his attempts during that stretch. That inefficiency is worrisome, especially with the mighty Buckeyes on tap. His completion rate is even worse against Top 25 opponents (37.7).
For the Golden Gophers, injuries to freshman Darius Taylor continue to loom large. Taylor, the team’s leading rusher with 591 yards on 103 carries (5.7 yards per carry), hasn’t played since hurting his leg in a 12-10 victory over Iowa on Oct. 21. Without him, the Golden Gophers leaned on Jordan Nubin and Zach Evans to carry the rushing load against Purdue.
Handicapping the Game
This is a huge mismatch. The odds say as much. Still, the spread may be a bit too large for some bettors to stomach. If it indeed is, consider rolling with the Under. Take into account these recent trends: six of the Buckeyes’ last seven games have finished Under the projected total. That includes four of their last five Big Ten contests. Minnesota, meanwhile, has gone Under the total in exactly half of its 10 games.
Aside from that, Ohio State should roll. The Buckeyes have won the last six games in this conference rivalry.