Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 2
Date/Time: September 12/3:30pm ET
Where: Ohio Stadium
by Evergreen, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: HAWAII +40/OSU -40
Over/Under Total: 63.5
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One minor downside to the early portion of the NCAA Football schedule is wildly lopsided matchups. One such contest takes place in Columbus this week as Ohio State invites Hawaii to The Shoe. On paper, this is about as one-sided as you can get for a pair of D1 schools as the Buckeyes are eyeing a return to the College Football Playoff and the Warriors are simply looking to build toward a .500 record, something they havent achieved in quite a while. The straight-up outcome of this game might not be in question but as we all know, the point spread gods often look down on games like these and rule in favor of the little guy.
You are not likely to find a wider spread in any NCAA contest this week as Ohio State is currently a 40 point favorite at most online betting sites, up from an opening -38 line. That kind of spread leads to a rather comical listing of Hawaii at +30,000 on the money line and the over/under for the game is hovering in the 60-63.5 range, depending on the book.
Hawaii pulled an upset to kick off their season, dropping Colorado by a 28-20 score in the home opener. Former USC QB Max Wittek led the Rainbow Warriors to the win by throwing for three touchdowns in a game where Colorado was 15-point favorite. The game is one of the few bright spots on Head Coach Norm Chows record as Hawaii is just 9-29 under Chow but the transfer of Wittek gives the offense a bit of credibility that they have not seen since the June Jones glory days. Even in the win, the Warriors gained just 302 total yards on offense and will now face what promises to be their toughest defensive test on the year.
Ohio State kicked off their season by avenging their 2014 opening loss to Virginia Tech and knocked off the Hokies in Blacksburg, 42-24. They were able to cover as 13.5 favorites and all the talk of how the Buckeyes were going to navigate a muddy QB situation were quickly answered. Cardale Jones threw for 186 yards and rushed for 99 more while accounting for three scores. Braxton Miller lined up all over the place, rushing for 62 yards and grabbing two receptions for 78 and score. Even J.T. Barrett was effective after coming in late, hitting for a TD on his lone passing attempt and breaking off a 40-yard run. I doubt anyone knows what OSU will do with these playmakers week to week but I bet opposing defensive coordinators are not looking forward to it and we havent even talked about Heisman hopeful Ezekial Elliott. It is an embarrassment of skill position riches in Columbus and they proved they are rightful championship favorites after last week.
If the Buckeyes needed any more good news, they get it in the form of four players returning from suspension, one of which is talented DL Joey Bosa. He is a force on a defense that held VaTech to 320 total yards and forced the QB from the game without him. Both teams are pretty clean on the injury front with Hawaii notably reporting RB Steve Lakalaka as doubtful. Lakalaka is the primary backup to starting running back Paul Harris.
There are plenty of people that are happy to take any team at +40, simply on the premise that any scoring done by the underdog puts the favorite in a position where they will have to run-up the score late to cover that massive spread. Some coaches are uncomfortable doing so, especially to a team like Hawaii that is travelling so far. If Hawaii finds its way into 14 points, that puts the Bucks on the hook for 55 and while they can certainly do that and more, they are also likely to cruise it in once they get to 45 or so. One pick-six or fumble return for a score puts Hawaii in good shape, so you start to see that betting this game is less about the talent on the field and more about what the coaches will do and a couple of key plays throughout the course of the game. For what it is worth, Hawaii is 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 non-conference games.
Given that OSU is already in the catbird seat for the playoff, I dont see a reason why Urban Meyer would be interested in hanging half a hundred on a respected coach like Norm Chow. Max Wittek gives Hawaii a throwers chance at some points straight up and a reasonable defensive effort by the Warriors should keep things from getting bizarre and turning this into a 63-3 kind of game. Its a tough call but I think the correct one is taking Hawaii and the points as OSU looks to be a 48-14 winner.
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Hawaii
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