Rose Bowl Picks: Utah vs. Ohio State Odds & Picks

by | Dec 20, 2021 | cfb

Utah Utes (10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)

When: Saturday, January 1, 5 p.m.

Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

TV: ESPN

Point Spread: UTAH +6.5/OHST -6.5 (Bovada - The BEST live betting platform on the web!)

Total: O/U 66.5

Outlook

The Rose Bowl returns to its traditional home of Pasadena after being played outside of California for just the second time in its history. Last year, the Rose Bowl moved to Texas because of the pandemic making the game untenable in its traditional home, making this a welcome return to normalcy for the Rose.

It’s also a return to the usual meeting of Big Ten vs. Pac-12, although hardly a traditional matchup in a couple of ways. Utah makes its first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl after routing Oregon to claim its first Pac-12 championship since joining the league in 2011. On the Big Ten side of the ledger, Ohio State got into the Rose not by winning the Big Ten but by relying on the help of their biggest rival. The Buckeyes lost the Big Ten East to Michigan, then watched the Wolverines win the conference and take their spot in the playoff, leaving Ohio State to be selected for the Rose as the Big Ten’s second-best team. This is the Buckeyes’ 16th trip overall to the Rose Bowl, second among Big Ten schools to only Michigan, but Ohio State has been rather mortal in this game, going just 8-7 overall.

The big question for this game will be how motivated the Buckeyes are to play in the Rose Bowl after watching Michigan win the Big Ten title that they were supposed to claim. We’ve seen this many times before when a team has to settle for a big bowl as a consolation prize: they often neglect to show up and find themselves on the wrong end of an upset on game day. If the Buckeyes aren’t motivated, it can happen again here.

 

How the Public is Betting the Utah/Ohio State Game

The sharps think Utah is more motivated, dropping the spread from -7 to -6.5, despite 63 percent of tickets on the Buckeyes. The total has ticked down from 67 to 66.5.

Injury Concerns

Utah:
Offensive lineman Jaren Kump (leg), long snapper Keegan Markgraf (undisclosed), defensive tackle Viane Moala (undisclosed), cornerback JaTravis Broughton (undisclosed), and safety R.J. Hubert (Achilles) are out.

Ohio State:
Cornerback Sevyn Banks (undisclosed) and running back Master Teague (undisclosed) are questionable. Defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie (undisclosed), running back Marcus Crowley (undisclosed), offensive lineman Harry Miller (leg), defensive end Noah Potter (undisclosed), kicker Jake Seibert (undisclosed), linebacker Mitchell Melton (undisclosed), wide receiver Kamryn Babb (undisclosed), cornerback Jakailin Johnson (undisclosed), safety Jantzen Dunn (undisclosed), safety Josh Proctor (leg), defensive end Tyler Friday (knee) and safety Jaylen Johnson (knee) are out.

When Utah Has the Ball

Can Utah do what Michigan did to Ohio State? The Buckeyes’ defensive strength has been against the run all year, but that’s in part because desperate teams don’t run the football. When a team has actually been able to hit the Buckeyes in the mouth on the ground, they have a much better shot to both stay with and beat Ohio State.
Utah will try to do it with its dominant running game, as Tavion Thomas has scored 20 touchdowns on the season and rushed for over 1,000 yards, giving the Utes the same kind of threat that the Wolverines used to beat the Buckeyes. But Michigan State had an impressive ground game too, and the Spartans got run over by Ohio State because they were in too deep of a hole to get out. To stay in the game, Utah needs to get the ball first and score on its opening drive. Failing that, the Utes must pass enough to keep the chains moving and keep the Ohio State offense off the field. They did get a considerable boost when ace returner Britain Covey announced that despite passing on his senior year of college, he will compete in the Rose Bowl.

When Ohio State Has the Ball

Ohio State’s offense can be frightening when it’s moving the chains, as C.J. Stroud is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Against Michigan, Stroud was again excellent, throwing for 394 yards and two scores to keep the Buckeyes in the game throughout. But when Ohio State doesn’t score quickly, the defense really isn’t good enough to keep a strong attack from getting in gear, as happened to the Buckeyes in the Michigan loss. The Buckeyes punted their first two drives in the second half against the Wolverines, which proved to be costly.
TreVeyon Henderson has mostly been a good complement to the Stroud-led aerial assault, but he didn’t do much against Michigan. He might again find tough sledding against Utah’s solid defense. The Utes are equally effective against the run or the pass, so this might be a matter of Ohio State figuring out what works and going from there. Starting slow could be devastating, given that Utah will likely try to control the clock.

More Picks: Get the ZMan’s Outback Bowl Point Spread Winner >>>

Betting Trends

The thing that gives me pause on Utah is that the Utes are 0-6 ATS in their past six non-conference games, but that also comes with an asterisk because their three non-league games were played with Charlie Brewer at quarterback, and he’s since departed. The Utes have done very well against the Big Ten, covering in six of eight against the conference. On the other side of the coin, Ohio State has covered in six of its past eight bowl games.
Points might not be part of the equation here, as Utah is 5-2 to the under in its past seven neutral site games, and Ohio State is 4-1-1 to the under in its past six bowls.

Weather Report

With 66 degree temperatures and barely any wind in the forecast (two miles per hour), this should be a perfect day for football in California.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

I just don’t trust Ohio State’s mindset right now. The Buckeyes have been great all season, but Michigan exposed some flaws that Utah can capitalize on in this one. There’s also the fact that Utah has had their minds on the Pac-12 title and the Rose Bowl for months now, while Ohio State has had its mind on the playoff. With that disappointment likely to linger, I don’t want to back the Buckeyes. Give me Utah. Bet your college bowl games for FREE by taking advantage of a 100% REAL CASH bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets Sportsbook!

BIG AL's NCAA BOWL TOTAL OF THE YEAR (76-52)

Al McMordie Professional Handicapper

Al McMordie's 76-52-1 his last 129 NCAA Football, including his 5* Game of the Year on Oklahoma St over Notre Dame, and his Bowl Total of the Week last Monday on Kansas State/LSU OVER the total. If you enjoyed those huge winners, then don't miss Big Al's #1 Over/Under this season. It's Big Al's NCAA Bowl Total of the Year! Go get it!