Ohio State Buckeyes Updated Futures Odds and Betting Impact of Braxton Miller Injury
by Trevor Whenham - 8/19/2014
If there is any flooding in the Midwest in the next few days we know that it will have been caused by the collective tears of Ohio State Buckeye fans. Injuries are a fact of life, but rarely are they as crushingly significant as what hit the Buckeyes on Monday afternoon. QB Braxton Miller re-injured his surgically repaired throwing shoulder, and has been lost for the season.
Miller started the offseason as the second choice to win the Heisman behind only Jameis Winston, and his team was nearly unanimously selected as the Big Ten Champion and the conference's best shot at making the inaugural college football playoff. Few players were as significant to their team's chances as Miller, so this has had an obvious impact on the way Vegas is viewing the team.
As soon as rumors of the injury broke yesterday, most books pulled down all odds surrounding the team. Now, a team that was 10/1 to win a national championship as of Monday can now be found at 40/1 at Bovada. So, is the movement in the odds justified? Or could there be some value on the team at these new lower odds? Here are five factors to consider:
The backup situation is frightening: When Miller was hurt last year, senior Kenny Guiton was available to step up and fill the gap pretty admirably - though his starts came against weak opponents. Guiton graduated and played Arena Football for the L.A. Kiss after failing to crack the Buffalo Bills lineup as an undrafted free agent. Without that security blanket, the team has to rely on a lot of inexperience. Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett is expected to have the edge over redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones to start the season. Barrett obviously hasn't played at all, while Jones had two pass attempts and 17 rushes last year in very limited action. The team, then, is essentially starting from scratch and doing it with a guy who no one expected would likely play at all this year. Barrett had a strong showing in the spring game this year, though, and has strong potential. It would be easier to have faith, though, if he weren't forced to play behind an offensive line that is facing real changes or if Carlos Hyde was still around to run the ball so reliably. It's perhaps not quite the disaster that it could be, but it is very tough to imagine a team still contending for a conference title and national championship with so little experience under center.
Bye weeks come at a good time: The good news on the schedule front is that the team has both of their bye weeks in their first six weeks of play - one after their third game and another after their fifth. With Miller around it was a concern that those bye weeks came too early before the schedule really got tough. Now, though, they couldn't be better timed. It will be a chance to allow the young starter(s) to slow down and absorb what they have seen so far and for the coaches to fix what problems they have seen.
Early schedule is manageable: A Week 2 home game against Virginia Tech may not be as winnable as it once looked, but the rest of the first half of the schedule is manageable. The opener against Navy in a game that will be much more of a test for the Buckeyes defense than the offense. Then they host Kent State and Cincinnati before opening conference play at Maryland and then against Rutgers. With Miller it was hard to imagine the team losing any of those games. That is no longer the case, but at least they save their toughest tests - at Penn State and Michigan State and at home against Michigan - until the last half of the season. If Barrett can hold onto the job then he'll have half a season of experience behind him before he faces his big tests.
The defense is improved: Last year the Buckeyes defense really wasn't good and put a lot of pressure on the offense. While the offense is likely to not be as strong, the defense has improved significantly and should be able to take a good deal of pressure off the offense. This new offense with last year's defense would have been an absolute disaster. This year's offense with this year's defense at least has a fighting chance at success.
It's not the first time they have played without Miller: The team played two full games without him last year, he missed almost all of a third when he was hurt, and he was limited other times as well. The offensive personnel has changed significantly, so they don't all have experience dealing with this absence. The coaching staff has been here before, though, and they know what to expect - at least to some extent. It's not much, but at least it's better than if this was completely new.
The public will be (and already is) panicking: This is big news, and the public doesn't always deal with big news gracefully. It won't make sense to bet on this team early, but if Barrett and company can prove themselves competent in early action then there could be some value in the first quarter of the season because the public will expect the very worst.
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