COLUMBUS — It took a change to an arbitrary rule, but Ohio State is officially set to defend its Big Ten crown yet again.
And the Buckeyes will do so in Indianapolis next week as a heavy favorite over a Northwestern team that, while improved from an abysmal season last year, is outmatched on paper.
Ohio State opened as a 20-point favorite over the Wildcats this week, a clear sign that oddsmakers are confident in the Buckeyes ability to get through the last hurdle before a presumptive invite to the College Football Playoff.
And with the rule change, the Big Ten is allowing its clear best team to compete for the conference crown.
“I think the [minimum-games rule] was one of those things that was put into place early on, and decisions are made based on the information that you have at the time,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said on Tuesday shortly before The Game against Michigan was canceled. “Things change, as we know. They cancelled a non-conference season early on, it got changed to conference only, then it got changed to no season, then it got changed to a season — there’s been a lot of changes. I think we have to take a hard look periodically at all this stuff. I think this is one of those situations.”
The league did take a hard look at the rule and changed the rule, and now the Buckeyes will have a crack at a fourth-straight Big Ten title and second-straight College Football Playoff berth.
They’ll do so as a 20-point favorite.
Ohio State gambling trends
- Ohio State is 3-2 against the spread this season, covering the massive spread in the opener against Nebraska and then a week later at Penn State. The Buckeyes failed to cover the spread in sloppy wins over Rutgers and Indiana before easily covering against Michigan State.
- Northwestern is 4-1-1 against the spread this season. The Wildcats failed to cover as a one-point favorite against Iowa and lost to Michigan State. But the Wildcats will face Illinois on Saturday, so that number could change.
- The Buckeyes are 3-2 all-time against the spread in the Big Ten title game.
- Ohio State is 63-14-1 all-time against Northwestern, including a 45-21 win over the Wildcats in the 2018 Big Ten title game.
- The total in the Big Ten title game is 59.5. It’s the highest total in a Northwestern game this season. The previous high was 54. It’s the lowest total set on an Ohio State game this season.
- The total has hit the under in five of Northwestern’s six games this season, but three of Ohio State’s five games this season have gone over the total.
- Underdogs are 6-2-1 against the spread all-time in the Big Ten title game.
- The total has hit the over in six of the nine all-time Big Ten title games.