Team Brutus quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass during the Ohio State Buckeyes football spring game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

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No. 4 Ohio State heavily backed to blow out Minnesota

Ohio State is the only top-10 team in action Thursday night and the fourth-ranked Buckeyes are a popular bet to blow out Minnesota in the season opener for both teams.

The Buckeyes are a 14-point favorite on the road, with the public backing Ohio State’s spread line with 95 percent of the money and 90 percent of the bets at DraftKings. The game itself isn’t expected to be in question, with the Buckeyes’ -650 moneyline backed by 99 percent of the handle and 97 percent of the bets.

PointsBet is seeing similar lopsided action, with Ohio State supported by 90 percent of the handle and 85 percent of the bets as a 13.5-point favorite as of Thursday afternoon.

That’s despite Ohio State debuting a new quarterback in freshman C.J. Stroud, who steps in to replace Chicago Bears first-round pick Justin Fields. The Buckeyes are also reloading at several other key positions.

“They’ve lost some guys, but they’re a team that reloads,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “They don’t rebuild as they have very talented guys that are coming in and playing. So, at every position they have depth and experience and they’ve got guys that are really, really talented.”

The Buckeyes are favored to win a fifth straight Big Ten title and appear in a third straight College Football Playoff.

Stroud won the competition over fellow 2020 four-star recruit Jack Miller, 2021 five-star prospect Kyle McCord and Quinn Ewers. Ewers was the top overall recruit in the class of 2022 in the 247Sports composite rankings but opted to graduate early from high school and enrolled at Ohio State in mid-August.

None of the quarterbacks on the Ohio State roster has thrown a pass in a college game. That might be a problem, except Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave lead a receiving corps that Fleck said is the best he’s ever seen.

“I can go through every single one of them, and I mean, I stand behind my statement,” Fleck said. “That’s not something to butter people up. That’s a compliment.”

The 62.5 Over/Under at DraftKings has seen nearly split betting, with 51 percent of the handle and 54 percent of the bets backing the Over. The same market has seen significant movement at PointsBet, with the Over/Under opening at 65.5 and moving to 62 hours before game time, with the Under backed by 72 percent of the handle.

Minnesota (+460), which finished 3-4 last season, has fourth-year quarterback Tanner Morgan to exploit an inexperienced secondary that was 122nd out of 127 Division I teams in pass defense last season.

His favorite target will be Chris Autman-Bell, who made 22 catches last season and is Minnesota’s top returning wideout. However, Autman-Bell is dealing with a leg injury, and his status for Thursday is unclear.

The Golden Gophers also rely on Mohamed Ibrahim, the 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year, who rushed for 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games.

Minnesota has a veteran team that views last season’s record during the COVID-19 pandemic as an anomaly to an 11-2 mark in 2019.

“They’re a very connected team and they’re very together,” Fleck said. “They’re grateful for their opportunities every single day.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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