Ohio State CFP Hopes in Limbo After Purdue Loss

urban-meyer-fired-osuThe Ohio State Buckeyes looked like the cream of the Big Ten crop this year. But for the second straight season, they went on the road and lost big to an unranked opponent.

Last year, it was the Iowa Hawkeyes who dealt them a 55-24 loss. This season, the Purdue Boilermakers upset the No. 2 Buckeyes by a score of 49-20.

As if the score isn’t shocking enough, Purdue surprised everybody by outplaying and pushing around Ohio State. Hardly anybody saw this outcome coming. But the signs were there for anybody who saw the Buckeyes’ first six victories.

They experienced low points against Indiana, Minnesota, Penn State, and TCU. The linebacking unit has underwhelmed, and the secondary lacks a solid complement to safety Jordan Fuller.

The offense hasn’t been great either, especially with the offensive line’s lack of power making them a one-dimensional team. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw the ball a school record 73 times in a failing comeback attempt.

The good news for the Buckeyes’ is that they’re still mathematically alive to earn a College Football Playoff (CFP) berth. All they have to do is win out the rest of the season in order to take the Big 10 East and land in the conference championship game.

However, the real question is whether they can actually win the rest of their games – especially a home showdown against No. 5 Michigan. I’ll discuss if it’s possible for the Buckeyes to still make the CFP by looking at the Purdue game and discussing other factors.

Purdue Jumped Out on Ohio State and Exposed Them

ohio-state-2018-cfpThe Purdue Boilermakers looked like the elite team when they took the field against the Buckeyes. They outplayed OSU in the first half and went into the locker room with a 14-3 lead. Purdue was especially helped by a successful fake field goal attempt that later turned into a touchdown drive.

The second half started out with more of the same, as Ohio State roughed Purdue’s punter. Rather than having to kick the ball away, the Boilermakers turned this opportunity into another TD drive. This put them up 21-6 in the third quarter. They’d go on to dominate the game after forcing the Buckeyes into constant passing situations.

One huge problem for OSU is their lack of talent in the back seven. Purdue receiver Rondale Moore took full advantage of this by grabbing 12 balls for 173 receiving yards.

Last season’s loss to Iowa looked more like a fluke. This year’s loss to Purdue looks closer to what Ohio State really is – a strong Big 10 team that doesn’t have the raw the talent to take days off.

Again, it’s still very possible that the Buckeyes’ win out the rest of their schedule and end up in the conference championship game. From here, they’d look to beat the Big 10 West representative and earn enough respect from the committee to land a CFP spot.

They did exactly this in 2017, but their ugly loss to Iowa prevented them from getting a playoff bid. I don’t see why this season would be any different, even if they are able to rally and win the conference.

Michigan Steps in as Big Ten’s CFP Favorite

jim-harbaugh-michigan-bears-coltsOdds are that Ohio State doesn’t have a realistic chance of earning one of the four CFP slots. However, their rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, are definitely in the conversation.

Michigan, which entered this Saturday 3-8 against top 15 teams during the Jim Harbaugh era, exercised some demons with a 21-7 victory over Michigan State.

The Wolverines were previously 1-6 in rivalry games against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. It also wasn’t good that the No. 24 Spartans had won eight of the last 10 meetings between the two teams.

But Harbaugh’s squad battled cold, rainy conditions to pull out a convincing victory against their instate rivals. Furthermore, the win makes Michigan look like the best team in the conference. Assuming they played Ohio State next week, they’d likely be a 7-10 point favorite.

Their defense was absolutely suffocating, holding the Spartans to 94 total yards. They also forced Michigan State to fail on all 12 of their third down conversion attempts.

QB Brian Lewerke felt the full brunt of Michigan’s defense as he produced a terrible 5-for-25 passing line – the lowest completion percentage by a Big 10 quarterback in the last 20 years. These five completions only amounted to 66 yards.

Harbaugh’s four-year tenure has been marked by winning games against schools they’re supposed to, only to be dominated by upper tier teams. However, this victory could be the one that catapults Michigan from a good Big 10 team to the conference’s dominant school.

They now have the best chance to make the CFP since losing a double overtime game in Columbus two seasons ago. They may have lost to Notre Dame to open the year, but they’re fully control their destiny and still have a chance to both win the conference and grab a playoff spot.

Alabama Bettor Risks $1,600, Wins $1.60 Profit

alabama-louisiana-lafayette-bettorThey say there’s no such thing as a guaranteed win in sports betting. But one bettor put this saying to the test by making a very risky wager on the Alabama Crimson Tide beating the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

Alabama was a giant favorite to beat Louisiana-Lafayette. Many bookmakers had them at -99,000 odds of defeating the Ragin’ Cajuns.

It’s little wonder why sportsbooks gave the Tide such great odds of winning, considering that they’re coming off their fifth national championship in nine years. Meanwhile, Louisiana-Lafayette finished 5-7 last season and has started this year 1-3.

The most puzzling thing, though, is why anybody would want to bet on Alabama. After all, one stood to earn a very, very small profit by winning this bet. On the other hand, they needed to risk a large amount for such a small payout.

One Sports Gambler was Willing to Take the Risk

As reported by ESPN’s Dave Purdum, one sports bettor put $1,600 on Alabama winning this game. And their wager came through when the Crimson Tide won by a score of 56-14.

The crazy thing is that the gambler only collected a $1.60 profit for their $1,600 bet. That said, their profit was worth 1,000x less than their wager.

This was a moneyline bet, meaning that the person only needed Alabama to win the game. Those who wagered on the Tide the covering the spread were beaten, though.

Alabama was favored by 49 points at most sportsbooks, and they “only” won the game by 42 points. This being said, there was little incentive for anybody to bet on Alabama all around. They were facing a much weaker opponent and had to win by a massive amount to cover the spread. Furthermore, moneyline bets weren’t offering many profits, as you can see in this story.

Alabama Odds Against Arkansas

alabama-linebackers-injuriesThe Crimson Tide are number one in the polls, which is no surprise when considering that they’re the defending champions and have started the season 5-0.

They’re also heavily favored to win the College Football Playoff (CFP) for a second straight year. Of course, there are some other good schools that could challenge them at the end of the season.

This week, Alabama will play Arkansas in an SEC contest. The Razorbacks don’t stand to fare much better against a superior Tide squad. Here’s a look at our GTBets odds on this game:

  • Alabama: -34.5 (-110); -23000; O 61 (-110)
  • Arkansas: 34.5 (-110); +8500; O 61 (-110)

Ohio State Eyeing CFP Berth After Win Over Penn State

ohio-state-beats-penn-stateThe Big Ten had a huge showdown this weekend, with the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions facing off. Both teams were battling for first place in the Big Ten West, and the Buckeyes prevailed 27-26.

This game was a thriller, with Ohio State needing a fourth quarter defensive stand to stop Penn State from scoring with 1:16 left in the game.

PSU quarterback Trace McSorely had been lighting up the Buckeyes throughout the game, racking up 286 passing yards and 175 rushing yards. But Penn State made the strange call to hand the ball off to senior Miles Sanders on fourth down, which resulted in a 2-yard loss and turnover on downs.

Many questioned why Penn State didn’t simply put the game in McSorely’s hands, given how he was having such a great night against the vaunted Buckeyes’ defense.

Whatever the case may be, Ohio State is now 5-0 (2-0 conference) and in firm control of the Big Ten West. Meanwhile, Penn State falls to 4-1 (1-1 conference) and will need some help to win their division.

Does Ohio State Have a Clear Path to the CFP?

ohio-state-2018-cfpThe Buckeyes appear to be in the driver’s seat to win the West after beating their next-closest challenger. Ohio State doesn’t have a real test until mid-November, when they face Michigan State (#20 in polls). They also play Michigan (#15) on the road to end the season.

The Big Ten East doesn’t seem to present any big-time challengers. Wisconsin is a perennial favorite in the East, but Ohio State had no problem beating them last year in the conference championship game. The way things look right now, it doesn’t feel like the result will be much different in 2018.

Much will depend upon OSU quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who’s remained a Heisman candidate for the first half of the season. The sophomore sometimes still looks like a newcomer. He threw for 197 yards against Penn State, but was outclassed by McSorely most of the night.

However, Haskins did come through in the clutch by leading his team down for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. 73 of Haskins’ passing yards came on this drive, which ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Hill. The 2-point conversion failed, but it didn’t matter in the end.

Ohio State was far from perfect and looked bad at times on both sides the ball. But even without standout defensive lineman Nick Bosa, they still managed to win a very tough road game.

The Buckeyes aren’t automatically going to win the conference now. After all, the Big Ten schedule can get rather tricky as Ohio State has found out in years past. For example, they lost 55-24 to the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2017, which ultimately caused them to miss out on the CFP.

However, the Buckeyes are still favorites to win the conference and earn a playoff bid in doing so.

Where Does Penn State Stand?

trace-mcsorley-penn-stateThis is a very tough loss for the Nittany Lions to take. They essentially won the battle all night long, racking up more passing and rushing yards than Ohio State.

Penn State was poised to go into the half with a shutout. But they fumbled the ball, which led to the Buckeyes scoring a touchdown that gave them new life.

Now, PSU will need Ohio State to lose, and win tiebreakers in other areas for shot at the CFP. It’s not impossible for this to happen, especially with how early we are in the season. But Penn State has to be hurting after missing out on yet another opportunity.

Penn State coach James Franklin said that his team has shown that it can play with the game’s best. And they certainly proved it last night, despite losing on the big stage yet again.

Don’t count on PSU giving up, though, because anything can happen over the next six games. Again, they’ll need some help and have to win out the rest of their schedule. But with half a season left to go, there could be more upsets in the works, clearing the way for a Penn State conference title shot.

Urban Meyer’s Uncertain Future Leaves Buckeyes’ 2018 Hopes in Limbo

urban-meyer-administrative-leaveOhio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer has been placed on administrative leave. The school is currently investigating whether Meyer knew about allegations that assistant coach Zach Smith was abusing his then-wife, Courtney.

Meyer fired Smith last week. Smith is accused of abusing his wife multiple times over a six-year span, dating back to his time as a member of Meyer’s Florida Gators staff.

The domestic voilence came to public attention after Smith was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing in May. Courtney Smith later obtained a restraining order that prevents Zach from coming within 500 feet of her.

Ryan Day Will Serve as Interim Coach

Ohio State announced that they are currently “conducting an investigation into these allegations.” Ryan Day, the team’s offensive coordinator, will take over head coaching duties while Meyer is on leave.

An Ohio State press release reads: “We are focused on supporting our players and on getting to the truth as expeditiously as possible.”

Meyer also released his own statement: “[Athletic director] Gene [Smith] and I agree that being on leave during this inquiry will facilitate its completion. This allows the team to conduct training camp with minimal distraction. I eagerly look forward to the resolution of this matter.”

How Much did Meyer Know about the Abuse?

urban-meyer-zach-smith-domesti-abuseMeyer admitted that he was aware of a 2009 domestic violence incident between Smith and his ex-wife. The former was head coach of the Gators at the time, while Smith was a staff intern.

However, Meyer has been quick to deny any knowledge about domestic abuse since then. Text messages obtained by college football reporter Brett McMurphy, along with an interview from Courtney Smith, suggest otherwise.

Ohio State is currently examining text messages exchanged between Courtney and other wives of the Buckeye coaching staff. Urban’s wife, Shelley, sent particularly damning messages that indicate she knew Courtney was suffering from domestic violence. One text even shows a bruised Courtney after a run-in with Smith.

2015 Text Indicates that Meyer Knew of Continued Domestic Violence

McMurphy’s report includes a Nov. 2015 text conversation between Courtney and Lindsey Voltolini, wife of OSU director of football operations Brian Voltolini. Although a third-hand account, the text conversation makes it seem as if Meyer indeed knew of Zach and Courtney’s abusive relationship.

Here’s the text exchange in question:

  • Courtney: “(Zach’s) trying to make me look crazy bc that’s what Shelley is saying (he’s doing)”
  • Lindsey: “He (Urban) just said he (Zach) denied everything”
  • Courtney: “I hope urban is smarter than that”
  • Lindsey: “He (Urban) doesn’t know what to think”
  • Courtney: “I don’t really care. Ya know”
  • Lindsey: “Yeah, don’t worry about urb”

Courtney also detailed conversations that she had with Shelley Meyer.

“In 2015, I spoke to Shelley. I sent her some pictures. I spoke to her on the phone,” Courtney explained.

“Shelley said she was going to have to tell Urban. I said, ‘That’s fine. You should tell Urban. We can’t have somebody like this coaching young men.’ ”

Shelley would continue to check in on Courtney to see if she was alright from time to time. But Courtney admits that she doesn’t know for sure whether Shelly ever told her husband.

courtney-smith-ohio-state“She would reach out to me, ask me how I’m doing, tell me she’s worried and that if I needed anything she was there,” said Courtney. “When somebody is crying out for help, I believe the coach and the coach’s wife have a duty. They have a duty to do something. To help.”

Courtney Smith added that she believes Shelley did talk with Urban about the matter. But she has no concrete proof of the allegations.

“I hope in the future he never turns his head away again,” she said. “I know Shelley did everything she could. I firmly believe that.

“She was very supportive. She never made me feel uncomfortable. She never made me feel like I was a threat by telling her these things.

“I believe [Urban] knew. Instead he chose to help the abuser. Nobody from the university came to me and asked me for my side of the story. That’s a problem. It needs to change.”

Why wouldn’t Meyer Fire Smith Earlier if He Knew?

urban-meyer-fired-osuUrban Meyer and Zach Smith have a strong connection that dates back years ago. Smith is the grandson of former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce, who was like a father figure to Meyer.

In 2002, Zach walked onto the Bowling Green team coached by Meyer. The latter would bring Smith on as an intern with the Gators in 2005.

Zach remained with the team in different roles during that time. He later received coaching positions at Temple and Marshall before again joining Meyer as the Ohio State receivers coach in 2012.

That said, this long-term relationship — along with Meyer having received mentoring from Bruce — may have played a role in avoiding the truth, if this is indeed the case.

Meyer has been head coach of the Buckeyes since 2012. He’s compiled a 73-8 record since then and won the 2014 national title. The 54-year-old also won titles at Florida in 2006 and 2008.

Ohio State’s 2018 Odds with Meyer’s Career in Jeopardy

Urban Meyer could very well be fired if there’s enough evidence to suggest that he knew about Smith’s continued abuse of Courtney. But even with Meyer’s future in jeopardy, it doesn’t appear to be affecting Ohio State’s national championship odds.

The Buckeyes currently sit with the third-best odds of winning at +600, according to GTBets. Alabama (+225) and Clemson (+575) are the only schools ahead of them.

Assuming Meyer does indeed get fired, though, it could change these odds. However, futures bettors should wait for the outcome of the investigation before taking anything as a guarantee.

2018 March Madness Odds: Syracuse vs. TCU

tcu-syracuse-odds-1One of the more-intriguing matchups in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament is No. 6 TCU and No. 11 Syracuse.

The Orange (20-13) barely made it into the 2018 March Madness field. They then beat Arizona State 60-56 in a play-in game to arrive here.

TCU began the year with a 12-game winning streak. But they had an up-and-down Big 12 slate that resulted in a 9-9 conference record. The good news for the Horned Frogs (21-11), though, is that they never had to worry about getting selected for the field.

No. 11 and No. 6 matchups are always tricky from a betting perspective. That said, I’ll break down the odds and discuss both team’s chances of covering in this game.

Syracuse vs. TCU Odds (Friday, March 16 at 9:40pm)

  • Syracuse +4 (-110) / +165 moneyline
  • TCU – 4 (-110) / -185 moneyline
  • Over/under 136.5
  • Odds from GTBets.eu

Why Syracuse will Cover

The Orange are regarded as the last team to earn a selection bid. They beat out fellow bubble schools Oklahoma State and Notre Dame to make the Big Dance. And Syracuse has somewhat justified their inclusion by beating Arizona State. But another win would undoubtedly validate them being here.

syracuse-tcu-oddsThe knock against Syracuse is that they haven’t beaten many quality opponents. Their only victories over quadrant 1 schools include Louisville, Miami, Buffalo, and Wake Forest.

Their losses to 11-20 Wake Forest and 13-19 Georgia Tech are particularly ugly. And their ACC tournament run ended in the second round with a 78-59 blowout loss to North Carolina. That said, you never know what the Orange will bring to the court.

Tyus Battle averages 19 PPG and can come through in the clutch. But as a team, the Orange only score 67.5 PPG and shoot 41.8% from the field. This goes a long way to explaining their inconsistencies.

What Syracuse does do well is defend. They hold opponents to just 64.5 PPG and 39.6% shooting. This strong defense can keep them in almost any game, regardless of how they’re shooting. Expect Syracuse to do their best to make this an ugly and low-scoring scoring affair.

Why TCU will Cover

The Horned Frogs looked like a bonafide title contender in running off 12 victories to open the year. But conference play was mired by a number of losing and winning streaks.

tcu-syracuse-oddsOf course, some of this was attributed to bad luck. TCU had a three-game losing streak in early January, where they lost to Kansas by 4, Texas by 1 in double overtime, and Oklahoma by 5 in overtime. Had things went differently in a couple of these contests, the Frogs might be facing a No. 13 or No. 14 seed in the first round.

TCU’s best attribute is their offensive efficiency since they rank eighth in the nation. They have five players scoring in double figures and share the ball very well. Forward Vladimir Brodziansky leads this balanced attack with 15.1 PPG.

What the Horned Frogs don’t do well is play on the road. They went just 4-7 away from home and have lost three of their last four away contests. It’s also worth adding that their 12-game win streak came in part because these were all home games.

The challenge for them will be performing well on neutral courts during the tournament.

Prediction on Syracuse vs. TCU

Good defense can always help you win games. And this is why Syracuse can’t be counted out in this one. However, the Orange have had their biggest struggles against teams that are efficient on offense. In fact, they’re 0-9 against teams that rank within the top 30 in offensive efficiency.

TCU will be looking to deliver the 10th such loss. The Frogs aren’t perfect, especially when they go on the road. But I like them to win this contest by 6-7 points.

Final score prediction: TCU wins 74-67 and covers their -4 spread.

Nick Saban, Kirby Smart Scenario Adds to College Football Championship Drama

nick-saban-kirby-smartThe 2018 College Football Championship game will certainly be an interesting one. Not only does this title matchup feature two SEC schools, but also a student vs. teacher scenario.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart was Alabama coach Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator for seven years, before becoming the Bulldogs’ head man.

The good news is that there’s no bad blood between these two. In fact, Saban offered praise earlier this season for the guy who was with him at Alabama, LSU, and the Miami Dolphins.

AL.com reports that this game isn’t personal in any way. “As the people who know them will tell you, in their 11 years together, nine of them at Alabama,” writes AL’s Kevin Scarbinsky, “their relationship was strictly business, and business was very good.”

Nevertheless, this is certainly a game that both coaches want to win badly. Saban has always been one of the most competitive coaches in college football history. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that he’s won four national championships at Alabama in nine years. If he’s able to win on Monday, this would be his fifth.

Smith no doubt wants to get his first-ever title as a head coach. And perhaps it would be even sweeter for him to beat his mentor in the process.

Saban Never Envisioned the National Title would be this Way

nick-saban-alabama-1Neither coach will admit that their competitive juices want them to beat the other side. But Saban did discuss how he couldn’t have envisioned this is how the College Football Championship would play out.

“I never imagined it, never thought of it that way,” Saban told the media. “I’m proud of the fact that Kirby has done a great job. He’s a done a fantastic job to get them to this level.

“He did a fabulous job for us for the years that he was with us. It’s certainly a challenge to play against someone who does such a good job.”

Of course, nobody has done as good as Saban in the modern college football game. But he’ll have the task of trying to win his first national title without Smart on his staff.

Saban’s assistants haven’t had much luck against him. They’re currently 0-11 against their old boss. If Smart can win, he’ll be the first former assistant to accomplish this feat in 12 tries.

kirby-smart-georgiaSmart sees similarities between Alabama and Georgia entering this game. But he also wants to reiterate that the Bulldogs aren’t trying to be anything but themselves.

“I’m close to a lot of those guys, but the game is not between Coach Saban and I,” Smart explained. “I know who he is, I know what he does. He knows everything that I do and that we do. There’s a lot of similarities between the two programs.

“We’re trying to be Georgia, and they’re trying to be Alabama. That’s the bottom line. It’s not really about he and I. I have tremendous respect for him and everything he stands for, and he’s been a great asset to my career.”

Smart added that he’s still close with some of the former Tide players from when he was on the staff.

“I watch those guys when I’m not playing them, from afar, watching a game. I’m cheering and rooting for every kid I signed.

“There’s a lot of guys that are seniors and juniors on that defense, that team, that I know their families and they’ve sent me congratulatory texts, but I know where my focus and concentration is. It’s on giving our team the best chance they’ve got. I can’t be thinking about personal relationships to do that.”

Alabama is Facing a Familiar Foe

Much how Smart is familiar with his former Tide players, Alabama also knows Georgia well. In fact, Smart’s defensive coordinator spot was filled by Jeremy Pruitt, who served as the Bulldogs’ DC from 2014-15. The two even game-planned on how to shut down Clemson’s Deshaun Watson last year.

nick-saban-kirby-smart-title-game“Everybody’s worked together so much, we kind of know what each other wants to do in certain situations, so it’s gonna be about the players going in to execute,” Pruitt said.

“There’s probably some advantages both ways, but at the same time you can possibly have too much information. It’s definitely interesting.”

The Alabama players even think that Smart and Saban are very much alike.

“They’re very similar,” said Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. “They’re both very passionate, both very thorough in what they do in their gameplans. They challenge their players to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Running back Damien Harris also chimed in.

“[Smart] knows what we do, but I think Coach Saban knows a little bit better what he’s going to do,” said Harris, “considering he learned it all from Coach Saban.”

Game time is set for tomorrow night at 8:10pm EST. And our GTBets line has Alabama as a -3.5 favorite. That said, you still have time to place a bet if you like the Tide or Bulldogs in this one.