The Ohio State Buckeyes have already taken a hit this year, losing Heisman candidate quarterback Braxton Miller to injury.
And they enter this season on a two-game losing streak after tasting only victory in the prior 24 matches. How much trouble are they in for when they take on Navy's Midshipmen on Saturday in Baltimore?
Point spread: Buckeyes opened as 19.5-point favorites. It moved down six points after the Miller injury but is now back up to -16.5; the total was 55.5 at M&T Bank Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 50.3-37.6 Buckeyes
Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread
The Buckeyes may have lost Miller, but there's still talent galore. That's especially true on defense, where seven starters are back to improve upon the 23 points per game the unit allowed last season. Ohio State is 24-2 SU, 14-12 ATS in two seasons under head coach Urban Meyer and figures to simply reload for this season.
The Buckeyes will have to pull back on the playbook without Miller, but that may just give the running game a chance to grind out drives on the Navy defense. Ohio State was favored in every game last year, but when favored by less than three touchdowns, the Buckeyes went 5-3 ATS.
Why the Navy Midshipmen can cover the spread
The Midshipmen return 15 starters from a team that went 9-4 last year. Eight starters are back on offense, led by QB Keenan Reynolds (who accounted for 39 touchdowns last year) and the entire offensive line; seven starters are back on defense.
Navy finished 10-3 ATS last season, 5-1 ATS as an underdog, 2-0 ATS when dogged by double-digits.
The Mids are also 4-1 ATS against ranked teams under head coach Ken Niumatalolo. If Navy can keep the chains moving with its option attack and avoid giving up the big plays, it could stay right in this one and extend its 7-1 ATS run.
How much does Miller's absence mean to Ohio State and the betting odds? The Buckeyes were initially favored by almost three touchdowns for this game, but after the Miller injury the line dropped by a touchdown.
The last time these two programs met, back in Week 1 of 2009, the Midshipmen went into the Horseshoe as 22-point underdogs and gave OSU a scare.
They rushed for 186 yards and took a lead with six minutes to go before eventually succumbing 31-27. Could something similar happen Saturday? With Miller out, why not? Take the points with Navy.
- Ohio State is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games on the road.
- Navy is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games.
- The total has gone under in 10 of Navy's last 11 games at home.