Saturday, October 24, 2020, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, noon ET
Cornhuskers at Buckeyes Betting Preview: Cornhuskers (+26), Buckeyes (-26)
The old adage about being careful what you wish for comes to mind with this game. Nebraska coach Scott Frost led the charge to get the Big Ten season back on track after the conference originally had decided to postpone the season to the spring because of COVID-19 concerns.
Frost’s “reward” is a role as a big underdog in their Big Ten opener against the Buckeyes, who backed Frost in his quest. Ohio State team physician Dr. Jim Bourchers provided key medical studies and proposed testing protocols and Buckeye coach Ryan Day and athletic director Gene Smith also were behind the move.
“We’re grateful to Ohio State,” Frost said. “You know, it’s strange where you find allies in certain things, and I think we had an ally at Ohio State to try to get the season played. I don’t think it would have gotten done without Dr. Borchers there, without Ryan Day continuing to push it, Gene Smith continuing to push it.”
Frost has a veteran quarterback to lead his offense with Adrian Martinez holding off a challenge by Luke McCaffrey. Martinez passed for 1,956 yards for the Cornhuskers last year and was the team’s No. 2 rusher with 626 yards. Leading rusher Dedrick Mills (745 yards and 10 touchdowns) also returns.
The Huskers also return five starters in the offensive line, believed to be the first time for the Huskers since two-platoon football was installed at the college level in 1964.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Justin Fields will get a late start in the Heisman race after establishing himself as a 2020 contender by passing for 41 touchdowns and 3,273 yards in 2019 in his first season with the Buckeyes.
The way the season ended in a playoff semifinal loss to Clemson in which Fields threw only his third pick of the season as the Buckeyes were driving in a 29-23 loss may serve as motivation for the junior this fall.
“I know he feels like he has some unfinished business,” Day said.
Talk of the fifth-ranked Buckeyes’ return to the playoff has been a popular topic, but Day wants his players to keep their attention on the opener.
“It’s all about beating Nebraska,” he said. “If you start focusing on things like that or compare ourselves to other teams, all that’s going to do is just distract us from playing the game on Saturday.”
The Buckeyes are looking to replace their leading rusher, J.K. Dobbins (2,003 yards), and K.J. Hill (57 catches for 636 yards) also departs. But Chris Olive 849 yards on 49 receptions, is back, and the offense figures to be as dynamic as ever.
Cornhuskers at Buckeyes Betting Pick for October 24, 2020
Fields was 15 of 21 passing for 212 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for season-high 72 yards as the Buckeyes romped 48-7 in last year’s game against the Cornhuskers. With attendance limited to family members, the Buckeyes won’t have the usual crowd of 100,000-plus going for them, but that doesn’t figure to be a huge factor.
Cornhuskers at Buckeyes Betting Pick:
Buckeyes 56, Cornhuskers 21
Cornhuskers at Buckeyes Best Bet for October 24, 2020
The Buckeyes have had to sit and wait while teams like Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and Notre Dame have made solid starts in their runs to the playoffs and now will be looking to make a good first impression. The best news for the Cornhuskers is that Chase Young (21.5 sacks for the Buckeyes in 2019) is gone.
Cornhuskers at Buckeyes Best Bet: OVER 67
–Field Level Media