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Behind the Line: Rutgers opens as a 33-point road underdog against Ohio State

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Rutgers v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Hey guys this is T.J. Jurkiewicz and for the past two seasons I’ve been doing weekly conference handicapping articles here at OnTheBanks and this year I am taking on a slightly different role. Each week, I will talk about my rapid reaction to the next week’s matchup and point spread on the day it is released which usually falls on Sunday. Sports gambling being legalized along the east coast, specifically in New Jersey is a major step forward and if you’re thinking about putting some coin down on Rutgers games, I want to make sure you’re well informed. This is the first edition for the 2018 season.

Rutgers at Ohio State

Opening point spread (according to BetOnline.ag): Ohio State -33

Gut reaction:

I honestly expected this line to open about 4 points higher. Since the Scarlet Knights and Buckeyes first met in 2014, the Buckeyes have had an average margin of victory of 46.25 points, including holding Rutgers to exactly 0 points over the last two contests. Looking further at the numbers, the average score of the games in Columbus between Rutgers and OSU is 57-8.5, a 48.5 point average margin of victory.

The public will likely be overreacting to a few things here which are important to look at when analyzing a game you are looking to wager on:

  • The absence of Urban Meyer is likely weighing heavily on the oddsmakers view of the public opinion here. I personally don’t feel that Meyer will make much of a difference here in the outcome but I can see how a lot of casual bettors would think Meyer is worth 6+ points to a line.
  • Oregon State was able to find a lot of success on offense in Columbus this past Saturday, more specifically the Beavers were able to have 7 plays of 20+ yards which is concerning for the Buckeyes defense. I think they will have knocked the rust off a bit and we know OSU Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano will be extra fired up for this game.
  • Rutgers looked impressive on paper when you just glance at the score from Saturday to the casual fan. “Wow Rutgers covered real easy!” We as Rutgers fans know Art Sitkowski, although looking impressive at times, looked very much like a true freshman at other times. One thing I noticed about Sitkowski which will pose a big problem this upcoming Saturday in Columbus is that he lacks the skills at this point to look off his receivers, often locking onto his primary target and telegraphing his throws. If he doesn’t fix this quickly in the coming practice week, it is going to get real ugly real quick in the Horseshoe.

If I Were a Betting Man:

I would definitely go ahead and take Ohio State -33 right now. I expect this line to creep up closer to 38 as the week goes on and we get closer to kick off. I know the Scarlet Knights looked impressive in the opener, but this is an entirely different beast they will be going against in Columbus.