No. 12 Oregon visits No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday in a top-10 showdown that will impact the 2021 College Football Playoff race. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
The game will be televised on FOX.
Will Oregon’s star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux play? That’s the biggest question for the Ducks after Thibodeaux suffered an ankle injury in the opener against Fresno State. Thibodeaux was listed as day-to-day during the week. The Ducks were underwhelming in a 31-24 victory against the Bulldogs. This is a chance for Oregon coach Mario Cristobal to earn a next-step victory in a hostile environment for the Pac-12.
The Buckeyes opened the season with a 45-31 victory against Minnesota in quarterback C.J. Stroud’s first game as a starter. Ohio State flashed a big-play offense with All-American candidates Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson at receiver, but the defense still allowed 203 rushing yards to the Gophers. Third-year coach Ryan Day is a former Oregon assistant, so that adds to the intrigue.
Here’s everything to know about betting on the Big Noon Kickoff game between the Buckeyes and Ducks:
Ohio State vs. Oregon odds
Three trends to know
— Oregon is 0-9 all-time against the Buckeyes, and that includes the 42-20 loss in the first CFP championship game in 2014.
— The Ducks are 3-7 ATS in non-conference games under Cristobal, and that includes a 1-2 ATS mark as an away underdog.
— The Buckeyes are 20-0 S/U as a favorite under Day since 2019. Ohio State is 6-4 ATS at home under Day since 2019, and that includes a 3-3 record in non-conference games.
Three things to watch
— Who steps up if Thibodeaux can’t go? The line has bumped up three points for a reason. Thibodeaux is a force for Oregon, and Cristobal said the defensive end is “day to day” on Monday. The Ducks do have some other defensive stars, including sophomore linebacker Justin Flowe, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.
Flowe had 14 tackles in the victory against Fresno State. Linebacker Noah Sewell and cornerback Mykael Wright added interceptions, and even if Thibodeaux was on a limited snap count this defense can still be disruptive against C.J. Stroud, who is making his second career start.
— Anthony Brown in The Shoe. The Ducks could steal a page from Minnesota’s playbook and try to control the clock with its rushing attack that includes C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye. That tandem, along with Brown, had 49 rushing attempts against Fresno State in the opener. The problem is that netted just 3.8 yards per carry. Brown is going to be asked to do more in the passing game, and he must avoid third-and-longs against an Ohio State front four that includes Zach Harrison and Haskell Garrett. Those two combined for the game-changing play with a strip-sack and fumble return for a TD against Minnesota.
— Ohio State’s receivers. Wright and redshirt freshman Trikweze Bridges have the task of defending the Ohio State tandem of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. They combined for nine catches for 197 yards — an average of 21.9 yards per catch — with three TDs. Stroud had success hitting those receivers with deep crossing routes. Will Oregon be able to generate enough pressure to counter that?
Stat that matters
Ohio State’s five offensive TDs against Oregon covered an average of 59.2 yards. Running backs Mayan Williams and TreVeyon Henderon both hit long TD runs, and Oregon cannot let the Buckeyes feed off those big plays early.
Conversely, that’s part of the Thibodeaux effect. The Ducks jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Fresno State before he left with an injury. How will Oregon settle in if their superstar cannot play?
Oregon vs. Ohio State prediction
Ohio State has won 24 straight home games. The last loss was on Sept. 9, 2017, when Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield planted the flag at The Shoe afterward in a 31-16 upset. That’s our way of saying Brown has to play his best game for the Ducks to have a chance.
Oregon’s first few drives are critical, and they should have some success on the ground. Ohio State’s quick-strike offense will prove too much in the second half, and Stroud will be more efficient at home. He throws for another 300 yards with three or four TDs, and Ohio State keeps that streak at The Shoe alive.
Final score: Ohio State 42, Oregon 27
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