Utah vs. Ohio State Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Utah vs. Ohio State prediction and pick for Saturday's Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Handicapper Mike Spector gives us his complete breakdown of the game and gets into his picks for The Granddaddy of Them All.
Mike Spector |
Mon, December 27, 9:24 AM EST | 7 min read
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Utah vs. Ohio State Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Utah Utes vs. Ohio State Buckeyes - Rose Bowl

Spread: Ohio State -6.5

Total: 66

Game time: 5:00 p.m. ET Saturday

Where to Watch: ESPN

Utah vs. Ohio State odds

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Utah vs. Ohio State Prediction

While the Ohio State Buckeyes are disappointed they are not one of the four playoff teams competing for a national championship, it is not hard to find solace in a Rose Bowl berth. They face a stiff test from the Utah Utes, who are making their first Rose Bowl appearance since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. This is just the second-ever meeting between these two schools, as Ohio State won their first and only matchup 64-6 in 1986. Will Ohio State’s explosive offense carry them to victory, or will Utah’s physicality be too much for the Buckeyes to overcome?

Utah is the only three-loss Power Five conference champion, but that does not mean they should not be considered a legitimate threat to win this game. The Utes finished strong with nine wins in their final ten games after struggling to a 1-2 start. Their 8-1 conference record is tied for the best of any Pac-12 team since the conference expanded. Utah’s 28-point victory over Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship was the second-biggest margin of victory among all Power Five conference championships. In addition, the Utes proved they could beat elite competition repeatedly, as they won four consecutive games over AP-ranked opponents.

Ohio State likely feels they would have been a College Football Playoff team had they beaten Michigan in the regular-season finale, as they would have proven too tough for Iowa in the Big Ten Championship. This is unchartered territory for head coach Ryan Day, whose Buckeyes qualified for the playoffs in his first two seasons. Nevertheless, this is Ohio State’s 16th Rose Bowl appearance and first since 2018. The Buckeyes lead the country in total offense (551.1 yards per game) and scoring offense (45.5 points per game). 

This game is a fascinating matchup of Ohio State’s quickness and explosiveness versus Utah’s brute strength and physicality. Thus, how Ohio State’s run defense holds up in the trenches and how Utah’s secondary fares in pass coverage will be the biggest keys in determining the game’s outcome.

Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud had a phenomenal season and is mainly responsible for Ohio State ranking fifth in passing yards per game and fourth in passing touchdowns. No team in the country has the trio of receivers the Buckeyes have, as Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba combined for 215 receptions, 3,253 receiving yards, and 31 touchdowns. 

Utah forced just nine interceptions this season, but they rarely let receivers run free, and they rank fourth in the country with 58 pass breakups. In addition, Ohio State’s offensive line has its hands full with Utah’s front, which has 41 total sacks (fifth-most in the country), and six players with at least three sacks. C.J. Stroud struggled with Michigan’s pass rush led by Aidan Hutchinson, and this Utah front presents many similar problems.

Utah is also similar to Michigan in how they can punish the Buckeyes with a physical running game. The Wolverines ran for 297 yards and 7.2 yards per carry in their 42-27 win over Ohio State, and the Utes will look to establish the line of scrimmage early. Utah had six players average at least 5.6 yards per carry, and are led by Tavion Thomas’ 1,041 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. Utah led the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game (216.1) and rushing yards per game allowed (122.5), and that is always a good recipe for success in football.

This being Utah’s first-ever Rose Bowl appearance, we expect their fans to come out in full force and make the neutral site feel like a home game. Utah is 5-1 ATS against teams with a winning record and is 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games as underdogs. Meanwhile, Ohio State is 1-4 ATS in their last five neutral site games. We are all-in on Utah’s point spread odds and will even sprinkle a little on the moneyline as they have a great chance to pull the outright upset.

Utah vs. Ohio State Pick

  • PICK: UTAH +6.5 (-110)
  • PICK: UTAH ML (+200)

Mike Spector
@MikeSpector01

Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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