It’s business as usual for Ohio State, even with a new coach and new quarterback. The post-Urban Meyer era could not be off to a better start.
With Ryan Day calling the shots and Justin Fields executing nearly flawlessly, the Buckeyes have blasted four far inferior opponents — Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, Indiana and Miami (Ohio) — by a combined score of 214-36. Fields, a Georgia transfer, has passed for 880 yards and rushed for 150 while accounting for 19 total touchdowns. He has lived up to his five-star hype while completing 69.5 percent of his passes without an interception.
Michigan and Nebraska attracted most of the preseason hype in the Big Ten, but Jim Harbaugh remains a big-game flop and it does not appear the Cornhuskers are quite ready for prime time, which is when they kick off against Ohio State tonight in Lincoln.
Nebraska, 3-1 straight up and 1-3 against the spread, took a humbling loss at Colorado on Sept. 7 and barely escaped Illinois, 42-38, on the road a week ago. The Cornhuskers dominated the Illini in total yards (673 to 299) but were hurt by four lost fumbles, so there are positive signs for coach Scott Frost’s team if the turnovers can be eliminated.
Over the summer, the Westgate SuperBook opened the Buckeyes as 6-point favorites at Nebraska. The line adjustment seems to be another early-season overreaction. The Cornhuskers’ Adrian Martinez, a dual-threat quarterback similar to Fields, can keep it competitive. Ohio State should face adversity in a hostile environment for the first time this season, so I’ll take the 17-point home ‘dog.
Five more plays for Saturday (Home team in CAPS):
130-BAYLOR (plus-3) over Iowa State:
Charlie Brewer, who has 71.6 percent completions and seven TDs with no interceptions, is one of the Big 12’s top quarterbacks, and the Bears can run the ball to balance their offense. It’s not easy to make this play against the Cyclones and Matt Campbell, a rising star coach, but the undefeated home ‘dog is catching a field goal in what probably should be a pick’em game.
132-TOLEDO (plus-2½) over Brigham Young:
The early kickoff time makes this a tougher trip for the Cougars, who had an empty gas tank in their blowout loss to Washington a week ago. That was predictable after BYU had faced Utah, Tennessee and USC to start a grueling schedule. With senior quarterback Mitchell Guadagni and running back Bryant Koback, the Rockets have the firepower to score the minor upset.
138-PURDUE (plus-2) over Minnesota:
Keep an eye on the status of quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who’s questionable for the Boilermakers. In a victory over Vanderbilt on Sept. 7, Sindelar suffered what coach Jeff Brohm called a “slight” concussion. That was three weeks ago, so he should be ready to go, but the line indicates his playing time might be limited and Purdue would have a tough time winning without him. The Gophers, fortunate to be 3-0 after three fourth-quarter comebacks, are 1-10 straight up in their past 11 on the Big Ten road.
150-NEVADA (-2½) over Hawaii:
In their past five trips to Reno, the Warriors are 0-5 straight up and 0-4-1 ATS with losses by 14, 10, 22, 14 and 10 points. Hawaii is 3-0 in Honolulu this season, with victories over a pair of Pac-12 opponents, yet does this team have what it takes to win on the road? The Warriors’ last trip to the mainland resulted in a lopsided 52-20 loss at Washington. Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong is returning after missing a 37-21 win at Texas-El Paso last week. Hawaii's Cole McDonald, who has thrown nine interceptions on the season, is not going to like the game-time weather forecast that calls for a chance of rain, wind and temperatures in the low 40s.
173-Virginia (plus-11) over NOTRE DAME:
The Irish just won some national respect in a hard-fought 23-17 loss at Georgia. It was a game that had to take an emotional and physical toll on Notre Dame, leaving coach Brian Kelly facing a potential letdown this week. Do not be surprised if Kelly’s heroes start slowly, so I split this unit and made a first-half bet at plus-7. A well-coached Cavaliers defense and dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins will test the Irish’s ability to run the ball and stop the run. Virginia survived an upset bid and beat Old Dominion 28-17 as a 27-point favorite last week, but that was a lookahead spot.
Last week: 2-4-1 against the spread