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College football odds: Handicapper makes OSU huge favorite vs. Michigan
College Football

College football odds: Handicapper makes OSU huge favorite vs. Michigan

Updated Jul. 12, 2022 1:01 a.m. ET

By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst

On a snowy day in Ann Arbor, Mich., in November, the Michigan Wolverines stamped an exclamation point on their 11-1 regular season with a 42-27 win over the big, bad Ohio State Buckeyes.

It catapulted Michigan toward a Big Ten championship and appearance in the College Football Playoff and cemented Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson’s placement at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft.

It was also the first time Jim Harbaugh tasted victory in the storied rivalry as Michigan's head coach and the first win for the Wolverines in the series since 2011.


But don’t think for one second that the pendulum has swung in the Big Ten.

"I’ve got Ohio State 11 points better on a neutral field heading into this season," college football bettor and handicapper Brad Powers told FOX Sports. "Starting with last year’s game, the Buckeyes were -6 in the Big House. That line tells you that Ohio State was vastly superior heading into that game [despite the result].

"Michigan will take a little bit of a step back this year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The losses of Hutchinson and David Ojabo at edge rusher are significant, and the Wolverines also lost both coordinators. If you compare last year to this year, Michigan is probably down three points."

Conventional wisdom would say that after losing six players to the NFL Draft — including star wideouts Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave in the first 11 picks — Ohio State might not be as strong, either.

Powers vehemently disagrees.

"Ohio State is probably three or four points better than last season," he explained. "I expect them to be the best offense in the entire country. No team has more weapons on that side of the ball. There’s a lot of hype around USC’s offense, but Ohio State’s is superior.

"Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the best receiver in college football and leads a room with four five-star wideouts. [Quarterback] C.J. Stroud deserves to be the Heisman favorite, TreVeyon Henderson is a top-two or three back in the country and two starting offensive linemen could go in the first round.

"And pay attention to the Buckeyes' defense. They signed the top two defensive ends in the country last year, and those guys will be sophomores. The pass rush will also be much improved, and the defense is in a better place with [former Oklahoma State coordinator] Jim Knowles running the show.

"I have Ohio State -13.5 or -14 hosting Michigan this year."

The Buckeyes averaged 45.7 points per game last season, and there’s a very realistic possibility that they’re even better this fall.

Stroud completed 72% of his passes for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns with only six interceptions last year in his first full season under center. If I know anything about elite college quarterbacks, he’ll be even more dangerous with a better offensive line and a deeper group of playmakers.

Look out.

"I think Ohio State can approach 50 points per game this year if they want. The total in the opener against Notre Dame [O/U 58] feels low. I think you’ll see a lot of Ohio State totals in the upper 60s into the 70s."

Powers’ preseason ratings have Alabama No. 1, followed by Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan. And while the Buckeyes are the cream of the Big Ten crop and massive favorites to win another conference title, the Wolverines are certainly no slouch.

"I’m more optimistic than the market on Michigan," Powers opined.

"There’s a huge disparity between Ohio State and Michigan [11 points in Powers’ ratings], but Michigan is clearly the second-best Big Ten team and I’ve got ‘em just behind Clemson with room for growth.

"Michigan’s offense is mispriced. There’s a possibility the offense is the best it’s been at the skill positions since Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Mario Manningham were there around 15 years ago. I’m a big believer in Michigan’s offense.

"I fully expect Michigan to be favored in 11 of its 12 games, with the game at Ohio State the only exception. I lean ‘Over’ the win total [O/U 9.5] and think a 10-2 regular season is very doable."

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He'll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.

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