Today’s Topic: Why is Michigan Favored Over Ohio State?
On Tuesday, online sportsbook BetOnline.ag released their first college football lines for the season’s biggest games. It’s a way to generate some betting ($500 limits) and interest during the offseason, and there was plenty of interest when Michigan opened as a 6.5-point favorite over Ohio State.
Obviously, Buckeyes fans weren’t buying it, and they took to Twitter, Facebook, the workplace, church, and message boards to make their confusion and disbelief known. Heck, even some Michigan fans were rolling their eyes at the thought of being favored, just as they were last season.
I had a couple of people ask me how Michigan could possibly be favored based on the 62-39 game last year. They also cited the complete and militant ownership that Ohio State currently possesses over the Wolverines.
There are reasons for Michigan to be favored, however, and they’re not insignificant.
For one, the game is in Ann Arbor, and home-field advantage is real, even if it doesn’t look like it all the time.
There is also the tiny fact that Urban Meyer is no longer coaching Ohio State. Meyer has always dominated his rivals. He did it at Bowling Green, he did it at Utah, he did it at Florida, and he definitely domesticated the Wolverines in his seven seasons at OSU.
Confidence is high in Ryan Day, but he’s not 7-0 against Michigan.
Dwayne Haskins is also gone. The best passing quarterback in Ohio State history is now off to the NFL and the Buckeyes will now turn to a guy who has never been turned to.
Those three factors alone — location, no more Urban Meyer, and no more Dwayne Haskins — are enough to make the Wolverines a favorite.
Sure, Michigan loses some talented defensive players (and coaches), but defensive coordinator Don Brown returns and he’s replaced starters before.
I know what you’re saying right now. You’re saying, “The same Don Brown whose defense played a large role in 62-39 last year?”
Yes, that same Don Brown. Also the same Don Brown whose defense held OSU to 350 total yards in 207 and 330 in 2016.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has also brought in a new offensive coordinator and has promised to open up the offense. No more wasted snaps with a fullback and two tight ends on the field.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State defense is a bit of a mystery right now. You know those players that Buckeye fans like to complain about? They’re probably going to start this year as well.
And can the OSU running game bounce back? Probably?
There is also the fact that Michigan plays Indiana the week before The Game and Ohio State plays Penn State.
So yeah, there are plenty of reasons for the Wolverines to be favored against the Buckeyes.
Of course, there are also plenty of reasons why that opening line has already been bet down to -4.5 by people putting their money on Ohio State, but we can save those reasons for another day.