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The BigTen season gets underway on Thursday night as the Buckeyes travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers. Neil Monnery likes Ohio State to win the game but doesn't sense it being a high scorer...
The Ohio State Buckeyes are heavily favored not only in this game but also to emerge victorious from the BigTen and stride into the College Football Playoff.
What we have to remember however is they are breaking in a brand new QB this season. CJ Stroud was one of the late risers in the 2020 class who has won the starting job over three other highly touted recruits. Replacing a first-round talent in Justin Fields is not going to be easy and until he shows us that he’s ready, that has to be a small question mark.
What isn’t in question however is just how many star receivers he’ll be able to look up and throw the ball to. Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave must be the best 1-2 tandem in all of college.
On the other side of the ledger, Minnesota have Redshirt Senior Tanner Morgan under Center. His 2020 season was a big step back after a phenomenal 2019 campaign under former Offensive Coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. If Morgan can recapture that form then the Golden Gophers have the opportunity to be competitive in the west and they could hang with the Buckeyes - for a while at least.
This will also be the first time many college players have played in front of a crowd for the best part of two years. In the 2020 season, home advantage wasn’t much of a thing but I expect fans to be pretty fiery - certainly in the opening few games of the season.
The line has been set at Ohio State-14 and if this game was in the middle of the season, I suspect I’d feel pretty comfortable backing the Buckeyes even with a 14 point handicap. With CJ Stroud on debut though and with both teams likely to be a bit rusty then I’m going to take the Golden Gophers with a 14-point head start.
I’m not going to bet against Ohio State but at -700 it isn’t a value play.
Over/Under Points Totals:
Sticking to the theme of opening game rust - I think defenses may well be ahead of offenses so going to go under the 64.5pt mark.