Oddsmakers love Ohio State's chances

Heavy favorite to win Big Ten; 2nd only to Alabama for national title

Braxton Miller and OSU were 12-0 last year and oddsmakers think that will happen again.
Braxton Miller and OSU were 12-0 last year and oddsmakers think that will happen again.

Even the most scarlet-colored Ohio State optimists may have finally met their match.

Las Vegas.

As bookmakers begin to release the betting lines for this college football season, odds are they have never been this bullish on the Buckeyes — or down on the rest of the Big Ten.

According to multiple sports books, OSU is at least a touchdown favorite in every game, given approximately the same chance as a snowball in Hades of relinquishing the Big Ten Leaders division, and is the overwhelming pick to win the conference.

A national title isn’t out of the question, either. The Buckeyes are widely seen as two-time defending champion Alabama’s stiffest threat.

The Buckeyes opened as a double-digit favorite in all but two games, per the Golden Nugget Casino. They are giving six points in the season finale at Michigan and eight points in the Oct. 5 night game at Northwestern. Otherwise, their lines are staggering, with OSU favored by 11 points in its conference home opener against Wisconsin and by at least 16 against everyone else — including in road trips to California (-21), Purdue (-17), and Illinois (-23), and home games against San Diego State (-21.5), Penn State (-16), Iowa (-23), and Indiana (-25).

Michigan, meanwhile, opened with even odds for its much-hyped Sept. 14 primetime home date against Notre Dame, as underdogs against OSU and at Michigan State (+2.5), and as favorites the rest of its schedule.

While these lines are for entertainment purposes only — right? — they offer a clear gauge of expectations.

And perhaps nowhere are they higher than at Ohio State, where the Buckeyes are coming off an unbeaten season with a veteran offense led by Heisman-eyeing quarterback Braxton Miller and a coach — Urban Meyer — who historically saves his finest work for Year 2.

One representative book, 5Dimes, made OSU (-105) the resounding pick to win the Big Ten, meaning a $105 bet would earn $100 if the Buckeyes take the league.

Michigan (+480) was second — a $100 bet would pay out $480 — followed by Nebraska (+625), Northwestern (+710), Michigan State (+710), Wisconsin (+975), Iowa (+4000), Minnesota (+4000), Indiana (+6500), Purdue (+8000), and Illinois (+8000). Penn State remains ineligible.

OSU (-465) is also by far the heaviest favorite in any divisional race nationally, ahead of Wisconsin (+480) in the Leaders Division. Michigan (+230) is favored in the Leaders, though Nebraska (+285), Northwestern (+325), and Michigan State (+325) are right behind.

Nationally, the Las Vegas Hotel SuperBook has Alabama as a 5:2 favorite to repeat, with the Buckeyes second at 6:1. Another book, Bovada, gives OSU and Texas A&M 13:2 odds.

That jibes with the national media’s projections. As the preseason top-25 rankings continue to roll out, OSU is ranked first by ESPN.com and CBSSports.com, second behind Alabama by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, and fourth after Alabama, Texas A&M, and Stanford by Sports Illustrated. In those same forecasts, Michigan is respectively ninth, unranked, 14th, 19th, and 16th.

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @ DBriggsBlade.