Week 15 College Football Opening Odds Analysis
Thanksgiving has passed, we’re running headlong into Santa Claus coming into town, and college football is going into the final stretch of this COVID-affected 2020 season. The stakes get higher, and matchups mean more as races for conference titles and bragging rights get put fully on display. FanDuel luckily has some odds posted on matchups for this weekend’s college football madness that I’ve highlighted below. It is RIVALRY WEEK!
Michigan at Ohio State
Odds: Ohio State -28.5, Over/Under 67.5
“This rivalry isn’t the Yankees-Red Sox. This rivalry is just short of Israel-Palestine.” I’ll never forget joining a former co-worker who was an OSU grad at New York’s resident Ohio State watering hole, Iron Bar, in Midtown West for the “Big Game” rivalry.
You know Ohio State: Ryan Day coaching, Justin Fields in the thick of the Heisman race, Shaun Wade leading a secondary that is packed with future NFL players, and wide receiver Chris Olave leading an offensive skill player room that will have their share of people playing on Sunday as well.
To put this game in perspective, this is expected to be the largest spread in over 35 years for these two teams, as Michigan is having a bit of a lost season under coach Jim Harbaugh. For reference here: Ohio State beat a Michigan State team (that Harbaugh has always had trouble with) 52-12 last week, and this was with 23 players out due to COVID restrictions.
Michigan, sitting at 2-4, has had their own coronavirus issues, to the point that there were questions whether this game would be played in general. I wish I could write more here on Michigan, but by all accounts, nothing is noteworthy: the hallmarks of Jim Harbaugh aren’t present: their normally ferocious defense doesn’t rank in the top-50 in any important metrics. Defensive coordinator, Don Brown’s unit has looked pedestrian and predictable and will have issues with Fields. Offensively, it looks like Michigan’s backup quarterback, Dan Villari, will be starting this weekend as Cade McNamara and Joe Milton are both injured. The lone bright spot for Michigan has been running back Hassan Haskins, but Ohio State’s defensive line should be able to swallow him up by keying on him as their only real weapon.
Navy vs. Army
Odds: Army -6.5, Over/Under 38.5
The battle of two of our armed forces for “America’s Game” will unfortunately not be played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia this year, but rather at Army: Navy will be traveling to West Point from Annapolis. The game will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Navy has been led by head coach Ken Niumatalolo for 12 seasons, with 22 overall on the coaching staff. The team is quarterbacked by senior Dalen Morris, who has passed for 570 yards and three touchdowns this year, and their best skill position player is senior fullback Nelson Smith who averages a stout 5.3 yards per carry and has had eight rushing touchdowns this year. The team still employs the triple-option offense, which is a headache for opposing defenses to plan for.
Army still also employs the option but has a lethal rushing defense to go with it: the team is ranked 13th in the country in rushing defense. The team’s passing defense is middle of the pack (75th nationally), but given the Midshipmen rarely throw the ball, this shouldn’t impede Army and is likely why they’re almost a touchdown favorite. The 7-2 Black Knights are led by sophomore running back Jakob Buchanan and junior quarterback Christian Anderson.
One quick note: The under in this game is 11-2 in the last 13 games. They play it close and slow, and the use of option offenses keeps the clock moving with incessant rushing attempts by each team.
USC at UCLA
Odds: USC -2.5, Over/Under 61.5
The battle for Los Angeles gives us Chip Kelly’s 3-2 UCLA Bruins against Clay Helton’s 20th-ranked, 4-0 USC Trojans at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the granddaddy of college stadiums: the Rose Bowl.
Last year, USC won a shootout 52-35 against the Bruins, and they hold a 4-1 record in the last five matchups against them.
There should be more offense from USC this time around, powered by quarterback Kedon Slovis, fresh off a 5 touchdown game against Washington State, and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown making a strong push to be considered one of, if not the most explosive, electric wide receiver in football.
UCLA will also have their quarterback back finally after Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s contract tracing period for COVID has ended. Running back, Demetric Felton was limited in their last game against Arizona State but has remained a steady playmaker for Kelly’s Bruins. The Battle for Los Angeles, 2020 edition, should feature a lot of points and a lot of fun, live, from the Rose Bowl!