Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Ohio State -3 -110 over Notre Dame
Notre Dame Stadium – South Bend, IN
7:30 PM EST. Spotting points on the road is not typically in our wheelhouse, but there is an occasion to do so and this is one of those moments.
Notre Dame has been making a name for itself since Week 0. The Irish ventured off to Ireland and steamrolled Navy 42-3. The Irish would then follow that up with a 56-3 drubbing of FCS Tennessee State, a 45-25 beatdown of N.C. State in Raleigh, and a most recent 41-17 dismantling of Central Michigan in South Bend last Saturday. Over that span, the Irish rose up the rankings from #13 to #9 and they have been cashing tickets at a clip while doing so, going 3-1 against the number in those four games. Additionally, the Irish look like a bona-fide College Football Playoff contender. The Irish are getting it done on both sides of the ball, led by a transfer quarterback in Sam Hartman that looks like a Heisman hopeful. Hartman has lived up to the acclaim and then some, while Notre Dame’s defense has played physical and stout complimentary football that have left the talking heads revelling.
By contrast, there have been many adjectives that have been tossed around to describe the Buckeyes in the early going this season from a variety of media sources, they include: sluggish, lackluster, uninspiring, and not Ohio State-like. The Buckeyes, though ranked as high as #3 in the preseason AP poll, have slid down to #6 after putting together a portfolio of results that brought the Buckeyes under a lot of scrutiny, which include a 23-3 victory at Indiana where OSU was nowhere near close to covering as a 30-point favorite, a 35-7 win against FCS Youngstown State as a 44.5-point choice, and a 63-10 win over Western Kentucky as a 30-point choice, which the market has placed no clout in because of the results that precede them.
To put in another light, Ohio State is one of few programs in America that always has immense expectations placed upon its shoulders. If the Buckeyes don’t demolish teams that they are supposed to put up a boatload of style points on, the prophets of doom hold council in Columbus. Given the fact that Ohio State struggled early against Indiana and Youngstown State, the Buckeyes were characterized as taking a step back though they actually won by considerable margins. This speaks into the lofty expectations and superfluous standards that this program is held to. To reframe this in another way: Ohio State is trending down while Notre Dame’s trajectory is trending upward. We now get to take advantage.
Sam Hartman has 49 career starts combined between his time at Wake Forest and Notre Dame. However, despite Hartman’s litany of experience and the Sea of Gold behind him, the Buckeyes once again opened at a “favorite” number against OSU and quarterback Kyle McCord who is still green behind the ears after making his first official start against Western Kentucky last Saturday. Makes you wonder why, no? Despite all that we have mentioned, oddsmakers still installed Ohio State as high as a 3½-point choice. This resonates with us as the figure is a “favorite” number. The number posted is designed to attract action on the underdog under the guise of a win should the Irish lose by a field goal. Seldom is the margin ever close to the actual number, as anecdotally, the favorite often covers by a much larger margin in this range. Nevertheless, the market has responded overwhelmingly. This is not a bargain giveaway on the Irish; it is a show of respect that the bookmakers have for Ohio State. We're paying attention.
Ohio State -3 -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)