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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Indiana Hoosiers Point Spread - Pick

Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: OSU -21/IND +21
Over/Under Total: 56.5

The Ohio State Buckeyes come to Bloomington to face the Indiana Hoosiers on Thursday, as both teams open their 2017 campaigns with a Big Ten Conference matchup. The Buckeyes open the season at number-two in the rankings. They made it into the CFP semis last season and have high hopes once again for this year. In week one, they get what appears to be a manageable conference game, but one on the road against an Indiana team that made some strides last season and might not be as easy to run over as some suspect by just looking at it on the surface.

Especially in college football, you can't place much importance in what happened last season, but the 2016 matchup between these teams was not flattering to the Hoosiers. A 38-17 loss to a national title contender isn't so bad for a team like the Hoosiers perhaps and they played them well for a half, but it was the worst loss of the season for an Indiana team that was fairly tough. Indiana beat Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers, and Purdue, while losing to Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, and Michigan by only a combined 39 points.

Indiana now needs to rebound from a tough offseason where their coach was fired amidst player-safety concerns. Defensive coordinator Tom Allen takes over and has a good unit in which to work his magic. The defense was their saving grace in a lot of close games and got them to a bowl game in 2016. Mike DeBord comes over from Tennessee to run the Hoosiers' offense, but if Indiana returns to a bowl, it will be the "D" that enables them to do so.

Indiana features an offense that has trouble putting up points, but one that can grind its way to close wins. QB Ricky Lagow will have a deep receiving crew, but needs to reduce his 2016 total of 17 picks. Look for Nick Westbrook, Simmie Cobbs, Donovan Hale, and others to become a reliable group. The real questions seem to loom over the ground-game and offensive line. Up-front, they'll need some youngsters around tackle Coy Cronk to develop ahead of schedule for the Hoosiers. After losing their top two backs, they will also need some answers in that department. And against the defense they face in week one, they might have to wait to find it.

Again, the success of this Indiana program in 2017 rests on the other side of the ball. Big steps forward were taken last season when they trimmed 130 yards per game off the previous season's average. This group can be stout against the run. Nine starters return, highlighted by DB Rashard Fant, Greg Gooch on the line, and a real presence in the middle with Tegray Seales. They could be even better than last season.

It's just that Indiana might not fare well in this context—against a top Ohio St. team. They lost Curtis Samuel, but almost everyone is back on offense. They look for a big season from quarterback TJ Barrett, who they hope finally puts it all together. RB Mike Weber remains and was over 1000 yards last season. They have big talent in-wait with JK Dobbins. The receiver package features Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin, and TE Marcus Baugh. Add 4 returning starting offensive linemen and the offense could be an ultra-potent one.

The defensive front for Ohio State is going to make it hard for Indiana to work in new backs. Tyquan Lewis is a future star and along with Sam Hubbard, and Dre'Mont Jones, along with Nick Bosa, and this could be the shining light of the whole team. The second level has difference-makers on it like Jerome Baker and Dante Booker, who returns from injury. And while the secondary lost three key pieces, one should defer to Urban Meyer's expertise on the topic, as reloading has never been an issue. Denzel Ward offers experience and returning starting safety Damon Webb does, as well. Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield have great potential, with others looking to get in the rotation. Still, when 3 defensive backs go in the first round of the NFL draft, there could be a bit of a void.

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Last season, the margin of victory for Ohio State in this matchup was the same as the point spread for this game—21 points. Indiana's Ricky Lagow was able to toss a few touchdowns, but their prospects for running the ball in this game seem iffy, as the Hoosier's O-line could be facing an uphill battle from the opening whistle. While last season's game was at Ohio State, the Buckeyes got an uneven throwing day from TJ Barrett. Weber also had success against this defense with 2 scores on the ground.

Week one is always tricky. With so much personnel and coaching turnover in college ball, you don't know what you need to know at this point. It's just with Indiana having a new head coach and an iffy run-game behind a line that might not be up to Big Ten standards, they might not hit the ground running. We're taking the Buckeyes.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Ohio State Buckeyes minus 21 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Ohio State vs. Indiana game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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