COLUMBUS — In a year that is expected to be different than any other in memory, some things remain the same for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes will have no crowd, fewer typical traditions and fewer games this fall. All of that is different from the past. But the sense of normalcy comes from the field, where the Buckeyes are picked to win the Big Ten in runaway fashion. And they’ll start the season as a heavy favorite over Nebraska inside Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Ohio State is a 26-point favorite over the Cornhuskers, according to the folks at BetOnline.ag, in the Big Ten opener set for Saturday at noon on FOX. The first game of the year is the first hurdle on the Buckeyes path to another College Football Playoff appearance.
“Some days, it seems like everything is different,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “But it’s not. The timing is different in terms of not having a typical preseason. The start of the season is different. The schedule is different. But at the end of the day, it comes down to football. And nothing has changed with that. If you turn the ball over, you have a chance to lose the game. If you don’t tackle, you have a chance to lose the game. If you don’t win the line of scrimmage, you have a chance to lose the game. You have a lot of penalties, you put yourself at risk. So that hasn’t changed.
“The game is the game. But it’s going to be different.”
Ohio State was 9-5 against the number last season when it had a historically dominant team on its way to the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes covered the spread last season against the Cornhuskers and were 7-2 against the number in Big Ten play a season ago.
Ohio State is 4-1 against the spread in its five wins over Nebraska since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten. Nebraska has one outright win, coming in 2011.