The Ohio State Buckeyes continue their quest in convincing skeptics they’re still contenders in Saturday’s clash with the visiting Akron Zips. After a stunning upset loss at home to the Oregon Ducks, the Buckeyes stumbled back on track with a 41-20 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Now, they’ll try to live up to being 49.5-point favorites over a Zips team that just won their first game of the season over Bryant.
Can the Zips avoid a massive blowout?I often wonder what it must feel like to walk onto the field and know that oddsmakers have you pegged as 50-points dogs, basically. People don’t just think the Buckeyes are going to beat the Zips on Saturday, but they whole-heartedly believe they’re going to embarrass them.
Akron got their first win of the season over Bryant last week. If anything, maybe a little success combined with the fact that this Ohio State team looks nothing like the one that challenged Alabama in the national championship last season will play out in their favor.
One thing is certain: DJ Irons will be at the center of it all.
The Zips’ quarterback should change his name to DJ Ironman because he is doing it all with both his arm and legs. He’s the leading passer and rusher for a team that was finally able to get something going offensively. Granted, no one is expecting them to put up much of a fight against the Buckeyes after seeing what Auburn did to them in the opener, but at this point, we’re not even sure if Ohio State is as good as Auburn.
Yes, I said it.
The defense certainly isn’t the same with teams averaging 28.7 points per game against them this season.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t still talented, and they should crush the Zips at every turn. But don’t be surprised if Irons and company buy enough time to keep the Buckeyes from covering.
Akron doesn’t offer much in the way of playmakers on either side of the ball, which means they’ll have to play keep-away. The Zips are allowing an average 39.7 points per game this season with a defense that has been terrible against both the run and pass. Teams are averaging 5.38 yards per carry against them, and they have yet to snag an interception on defense.
Will the Buckeyes drop the hammer?Buckeyes fans would be able to sleep easier if Ohio State completely crushed the Zips on Saturday and covered the spread. If they can’t dominate Akron at home, it would be a really troublesome sign for the team this season.
The defense has already looked troublesome.
Even after losing by three touchdowns, Tulsa still mustered 20 points against the Buckeyes in Ohio. Only Illinois has a worst ranked scoring defense right now in the Big Ten than Ohio State. So no, this isn’t the Ohio State team you remember from last season.
Getting pressure on Irons would have been a breeze for last year’s Ohio State defense, but things have obviously changed with the current unit averaging 1.33 sacks per game. The Buckeyes can’t get pressure, and they’ve been pitiful stopping the run. Akron might surprise some people by actually getting some offense in against the Buckeyes on Saturday.
On the other side of the ball, freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud has been solid for the Buckeyes through his first three games. He has thrown at least one interception in every game, but that’s something I’m expecting him to clean up moving forward. There’s also the fact that he’ll be facing a Zips defense that hasn’t been very opportunistic regardless.
But the team has elite playmakers with TreVeyon Henderson at running back, along with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave at receiver. The offense is rumbling towards success. If and when the defense follows, it’ll be problems for every team standing across from them.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Zips are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Zips are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game.
- Buckeyes are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
- Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
- Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Ohio State had their chance to explode back onto the scene with a vengeful blowout performance against Tulsa. That game came on the heels of the team’s shocking loss at home to Oregon, and they were looking to prove that they’re still legitimate contenders on the national stage.
But as hard as they tried, they still didn’t look like it against the Golden Hurricane.
It was another one of those head-scratching performances that raised more questions than answers. I’m not expecting them to be any more excited in Saturday’s game against Akron. They certainly won’t be excited enough to win by 50 points.
C.J. Stroud is also coming into this game with a shoulder injury. So I could see him getting pulled when this game gets out of hand early. There’s no sense in keeping him on the field merely for the sake of reps and running up the score. Get the win and get your players off the field to live and fight another day. That’ll be the approach for coach Ryan Day in this game.
The biggest concern for the Buckeyes is on the defensive side of the ball. While the Zips aren’t good enough to push them to an actual challenge, they’ll be able to make some plays and take advantage at times of a defense allowing an average 471.3 total yards per game. Irons and company will make enough plays to spoil the massive spread.
I’m taking the points in this one.
Full-Game Total Pick
Everyone seems to be waiting, waiting—and waiting—for this Ohio State team to catch fire, and it’s been nothing but fumes since the start of the season. Although C.J. Stroud has looked good for a freshman, the offense has clearly taken a step back without Justin Fields, and the defense looks like a shell of its former self. They’ll dominate the Zips at home, but it won’t be enough to cover the 49.5-point spread or push over the 67.5-point total for a Buckeyes team averaging 38 points per game. The struggles from the team that showed up against Tulsa last week were very telling. Give me the under in this one.