Buckeye vs. Bulls Spread record setter

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Last updated: 05/20/2013 3:47 AM
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Buckeyes Heavily-Favored to Win Season Opener, Fans Expected to Lose
By Tony Gerdeman

BetOnline.Com has released their first-week college football betting lines and named the Buckeyes a 33-point favorite over the University of Buffalo.

When Ohio State scheduled the Bulls for the 2013 season opener, nobody expected it to be a close affair. That is, of course, the main reason why it was scheduled, but it is doubtful that even Ohio State knew that they were scheduling the most lopsided season-opening FBS game in school history.

Ohio State has had similar lines against FBS opponents over the last few years – in 2011 they were 31.5-point favorites over Akron, and in 2010 they were 28-point favorites over Marshall – but depending on how the lines move, this could end up being the largest.

The game will still be a near sell out, though it's very unlikely that everyone who buys a ticket will stay for the entire game. Not in the August 31st heat and humidity, and especially not if the game is as non-competitive as expected.

In fact, the 33 points that the Buckeyes are currently favored by is reaching into Youngstown State territory, which is FCS-level football. In 2008, Ohio State was a 36-point favorite over the Penguins. The year before when the two teams met, there wasn't even a line for the game.

Readily-available betting lines for the Buckeyes only go back to the 1990s, and even John Cooper's best teams couldn't top the 33-point Buffalo line. In 1997, the Buckeyes were favored by 30 points over Wyoming. Ohio State did not cover in that game, as Wyoming head coach Dana Dimel's sole desire was not to win, but simply to stay close. He succeeded with a 24-10 loss.

Even the 70-7 game against Rice in 1996 saw the Buckeyes as "just" a 28-point favorite. Ohio State covered in the first half, by the way. The 28 points in the second half were merely for insurance purposes.

Richard Billingsley – whose computer rankings are part of the BCS formula – has also projected college football "lines" for every Ohio State game ever played. To find a line comparable to the ones already mentioned, we would have to go all the way back to the historic 1942 matchup against Fort Knox, which Billingsley has the Buckeyes as 35-point favorites. Ohio State locked up Fort Knox tightly with a 59-0 stomping.

There was also the 1936 game against NYU. Ohio State was listed as a 33-point favorite and came away with a 60-0 victory. Even Mount Union was only a 29-point underdog in 1930, as was Cincinnati the following year.

It is not until we get to Wittenberg in 1929 do we see our largest line, with the Buckeyes as a 37-point favorite. Amazingly, Ohio State only won that game 19-0 after shutting them out 41-0 the year before (as 33-point favorites.) Wittenberg was also a 37-point underdog in 1927. The Buckeyes failed to cover again, winning 31-0.

Still, even though the Tigers were 0-3 against the Buckeyes, and outscored 91-0 in those three games, they were 2-1 against Richard Billingsley's computer projections. That's got to count for something, right? They probably talk about it every year at the reunion.

Before there was the annual opening-day slaughter of Wittenberg, there was Ohio Wesleyan. From 1918 to 1923, Wesleyan was similarly-underdogged, and scored their lone points in the 1923 game.

From 1918 to 1922, Wesleyan was at least a 32-point underdog each year. The Buckeyes outscored them 167-0 over those five games, though the 1922 game was only a 5-0 win for Ohio State. There was also Case in 1917, a 35-point underdog and an eventual 49-0 loser.

Now Buffalo is coming to Ohio Stadium. Maybe we should call them Buffalo Wesleyan, or Buffalo Western Reserve instead. That would probably be more fitting.

As history has shown us, anything can happen once the ball is in the air, but this game was scheduled because nobody from the Ohio State administration is expecting the unforeseen to happen.

In three and a half months, the college football season will finally kick off. Ohio State will get the Bulls, and the Bulls will get the pay day, but it's the fans who will be getting buffaloed.

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