UNLV Rebels vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Opening College Football Odds: Ohio State -39.5
UNLV vs. Ohio State TV Coverage: Big Ten Network
UNLV has had itself an interesting start to the season. The Rebels were 45-point favorites against Howard in Week 1 of the campaign. They were beaten 43-40 in what was statistically the biggest upset in college football history. To come back a week later and win on the road against Idaho 44-16 was a nice response.
This, though, is a squash match in every sense of the word.
Lexington Thomas had had two great games out of the tailback spot to start the season, accounting for 341 yards on the ground and a total of five touchdowns to lead the team in both categories. But good luck averaging nine yards per carry against the Buckeyes.
The same could be said for Armani Rogers under center. He's averaging 11.8 yards per pass attempt and 6.7 yards per rush. Think he's going to get anywhere near that playing at the 'Shoe? Neither do we.
Then again, this Ohio State team is far from perfect this year. It's not fair to completely judge it based on the Oklahoma loss for sure. But outside of a big second half against Indiana, have we really seen the Buckeyes play all that well this year?
Defensively, this is still one of the more feared teams in America. Don't let all those passing yards per game scare you. The Bucks held Army to just 278 yards last week in a 38-7 romp.
Offensively, we still have some concerns. J.K. Dobbins has come out of nowhere to be one of the top freshmen in America, and he had another fantastic game last week, running for 172 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries.
But J.T. Barrett has been far from spectacular this year. He's got 757 yards and five touchdowns as a passer and has been good enough with his legs, too. That said, Barrett hasn't really gotten out there and made those stupendous, "Wow" plays that we've known him for over the years.
39.1 percent – UNLV's third down conversion percentage this season.
In a vacuum, 39.1 percent on third down isn't good, but it isn't devastating either. However, when you consider the fact that these first two games of the year have come against Howard and Idaho, and there's reason to panic.
The Rebels have flat out just made big plays happen to account for most of their offense this year. They've already had four plays of over 60 yards this season and eight more plays of 30+ yards. That's all fine and dandy against the little guys, but to count on those plays against Ohio State would be preposterous.
UNLV vs. Ohio State Free Picks
If UNLV had even just barely beaten Howard, we could have had a lot greater justification backing Ohio State in this game. That said, the Rebels are going to be looked upon as the team that was beaten by a horrible FCS squad, and they're going against an Ohio State team that most assume will open up another can on a poor foe.
But just as was the case last week when the Buckeyes came up just short of the spread, they're going to have to score some points if you're going to cash in with this sportsbook wager. If they aren't going to get into the 40s – and we're just not sure they have any desire to do so in this game – they aren't going to cover this hefty number.
College Football ATS Pick: UNLV +39.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Ohio State 37, UNLV 14