Akron Zips vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Odds & Game Pick (2021)

Sep 23, 2021 - 2:56 PM

The old Yogi Berra adage, “it’s getting late early,” applies to this Ohio State football season. After they followed up their disappointing loss to Oregon with a flat performance against Tulsa, the Buckeyes need answers quickly. The stakes are high — Indiana is the only other Big Ten East team to have lost a game, and the current Buckeye team looks capable of losing multiple games. That isn’t ideal for a program with playoff expectations. Akron presents the last good chance for them to work out the kinks before the conference schedule begins.

Fortunately for Ohio State, the Zips struggled to open the season. They started the season with a 60-10 loss against Auburn, and they followed that with a 21-point loss to Temple. Akron is coming off a win against an outmatched Bryant, but the line indicates the talent advantage is lopsided in this matchup.    

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  • Opening Line: Ohio St -49.5, O/U 67.5
  • Current Line: Ohio St -49.5, O/U 67.5
  • Last meeting: September 3, 2011, Ohio St 42, Tulane 0


Akron features a balanced offense. They rank 74th in passing yards per game and 99th in rushing yards. A surprise suspension to 2020 leading rusher Teon Dollard before the season has left their run game reeling — quarterback D.J. Irons now leads the team in rushing with 165 yards on the ground. Kato Nelson started the season at quarterback, but an injury against Temple cost him the Bryant game; it’s an open question if he will return in time for this game. The backfield features two freshman running backs in Jonzell Norris and Anthony Williams Jr., but both struggle with consistency. The youth extends to the receivers, though the returning Michael Mathison’s 230 yards represent 33% of the team’s total share.  

Defensively, the team hasn’t fared much better. They rank 96th in rush defense and a very symmetrical 74th in passing defense. Linebacker Bubba Arslanian is the leading tackler, and he will be active against the Buckeyes. However, Ohio State doesn’t have to worry about potentially disruptive NFL talent. Akron is stuck in rebuilding mode and will expect the defense to struggle as they did against Auburn.

Questions have abounded about Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud’s health and performance. The numbers in the first two weeks ended up okay, but the pass offense cratered last week against Tulsa. A fast offensive start could improve quarterback play if the backup can enter the game. Heralded freshman TreVeyon Henderson made his grand entrance in Week 3 and accumulated a school freshman record of 277 yards. There is no question the pieces are in place for an offensive explosion, but nothing has gone perfectly with Stroud at quarterback.

Ohio State’s defense has struggled. Their pass defense ranks 117th in the nation, and the team transitioned playcalling from defensive coach Kerry Combs to secondary coach Matt Barnes. The hope is that Zach Harrison can return to help anchor the defensive line after missing last week, but this team needs multiple players to step forward.  

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  • Akron is on a 4-16 ATS streak.
  • Ohio State is 2-6-1 ATS over nine games.
  • The over has hit in four out of five Ohio State games.

Bottom Line 

The line in this game is daunting, given Ohio State and C.J. Stroud’s previous performances. They have struggled to convert in the red zone, and field goals will not cover this game. Expect Akron to do just enough to move the sticks and eat the clock, preventing Ohio State from scoring enough to clear the line.

Pick: Akron +49.5

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Jeff Bell is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Jeff, check out his archive and follow him @4whomjbelltolls.

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