Yes, we do bet on the favorites here at the home office – sometimes. Last week’s matchup between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Pittsburgh Panthers was one of those (prime) times; Penn State slipped as low as –7 when the college football odds closed, but the projections had them as nearly 13-point road faves, so we took them. Final score: PSU 31, Pitt 6.
This Saturday’s prime-time tilt features the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes visiting the No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs, and it might turn into another feast for the chalkeaters. The Buckeyes (2-0 SU and ATS) have torched back-to-back opponents as massive favorites; TCU (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) have done the same, but they didn’t quite cover their season opener as 49.5-point home faves against the Southern Jaguars of the FCS. Let’s riggidy-roll.
First, our lovely assistant will roll out the projections (using ESPN’s Football Power Index) and their odds equivalencies (using the SBR Odds Converter and the college football stats at Wizard of Odds):
FPI: Ohio State 86.6 percent
SBR: Ohio State –646
WIZ: Ohio State –16
Did we mention the Buckeyes are 12.5-point road favorites at press time? They opened at –13.5, and our consensus reports show 60.72 percent of bettors on OSU, so our first inclination is that the sharps have poured out some big money on Texas Christian. And despite the FPI projections, they may be correct to put the Frogs in their NCAAF picks.
You Can’t Spell “URBAN” Without “BAN”
What the FPI doesn’t tell you is that Urban Meyer won’t be coaching the Buckeyes this Saturday. Not directly, at least; Meyer has one more game to serve in his three-game suspension related to his handling of the Zach Smith situation. Offensive co-ordinator Ryan Day will be running the show this week. This wasn’t much of an issue during the first two home games against the woefully overmatched Oregon State Beavers (+40) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+34.5), but this time, OSU is on the road facing a team that won 11 games last year.
It also bears mentioning that TCU head coach Gary Patterson is 21-12 ATS when his team is the underdog. And they’ve had salty feelings about the Buckeyes ever since the 2015 College Football Playoff, where Ohio State got the No. 4 seed ahead of the Frogs. But to be fair, that’s what you get for playing in the Big 12. The Buckeyes face much stiffer competition in the Big Ten, the toughest conference in the FBS last year (and so far this year) according to Sports Reference. So we’ll stick with the projections and pick Ohio State – for a very small bet size, given everything else we’ve discussed here. No need to plunk down all your horse chestnuts on this one.