The Buckeyes enter as just 5.5-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook over a team they’d of been a double-digit choice against just a month ago, but the roster turnover for the Bucks has been massive. Starting quarterback Kyle McCord is already at Syracuse, with likely the No. 1 receiver in the NFL Draft in Marvin Harrison Jr. questionable for the matchup.
While it looks like running back TreVeyon Henderson will be a go, there are still plenty of questions with players such as Chip Trayanum and Julian Fleming in the portal already. Harrison has been at practice with his team this week, but only an exercise bicycle and has not been seen on the field by any of the media.
Expect quarterback Devin Brown to be the starter for Ohio State, who in five games this season was 12-22 for 197 yards and two touchdowns with one interception as a passer. He added 35 yards and a TD as a rusher as well.
For the Tigers, Brady Cook (3189 yards, 20 touchdowns, six interceptions) will be under center, and the underdogs have a bit more continuity. All their main pieces including Luther Burden and Theo Wease are back, as well as running back Cody Schrader (247 carries, 1499 yards, 13 touchdowns).
Without a lot of variance in their personnel, this is a matchup of a less-talented offense against one with more depth, but also many more holes in the first string. The difference might be on defense, with linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper (second in tackles at 55) and DB Ennis Rakestraw out of the contest.
Mizzou’s defense was already No. 81 in overall rushing defense, and that could take an even bigger hit with the losses. The offensive and defensive line for the Buckeyes are pretty intact should have a field day, but can the rest of the team do enough to get a NY6 victory for Ryan Day?
Cotton Bowl Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: Ohio State -5.5
Moneyline: Ohio State -218, Mizzou +180
The pick: Under 51
Mizzou’s explosive offense has only faced one team with a defense close to what they’ll see in Jerry World, and they put up 21 on Georgia. But that was two TD’s and two field goals, which will be harder to come by tonight after a month of preparation. Without Harrison, all of the Tigers defense will be focused on Henderson in the backfield, and that should force Devin Brown to be the key factor here.
It’s a tough spot for the redshirt freshman to enter without some of the best weapons OSU has has this season. Look for a defensive struggle where the Buckeyes hold on for victory late.