Yesterday morning Ohio State was a national championship front runner, listed only behind Florida St, Alabama, and Oregon in the future book. Vegas believed the Buckeyes would at worst go 11-1, giving them an outstanding chance to get into the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Winning the Big Ten title seemed a foregone conclusion. The Buckeyes were listed as prohibitive favorites over the likes of Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. However, because of a surgically repaired right shoulder that hasn't healed correctly, the entire Ohio State fan base is left to wonder if its title aspirations will be realized in 2014.
Reports of Braxton Miller's injured shoulder sent shockwaves through the college football community yesterday. The biggest fallout outside of Columbus occurred in the sports betting community. Before the injury announcement, Ohio State's win total was listed at 10.5 over -165 (risking $1.65 to win $1.00). That meant that Vegas believed the Buckeyes were major favorites to win at least 11 games. Early this morning the Vegas price was flipped upside down to 10.5 over +290 meaning that same bet now yielded $2.90 in profit for every $1.00 wagered. The odds of Ohio State winning eleven games had plummeted.
Ohio State's national championship odds also soared from 12-1 to 50-1 at the Las Vegas Hilton.
“Coming off of the Braxton Miller injury news we dropped OSU’s odds to win the National Championship from +1100 to +1800. Before the injury, the Buckeyes were a popular bet as they are one of our biggest exposures. Since adjusting the odds we’ve yet to take a wager on OSU,” Dave Mason, head of marketing for Betonline shared with me this morning.
What’s the impact on the Big Ten race? Mason indicated his shop elected to keep those odds off the board for wagering this morning but other offshores had already adjusted. Before Braxton was sidelined Ohio State was listed as the favorite at 5-4 to win the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Michigan State in the 3-1 range. Since the injury news broke both the Badgers and Spartans' numbers settled around 5-2 with Ohio State now listed as the third favorite at 3-1 ahead of Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan. The Braxton Miller injury knocked the Buckeyes from prohibitive Big Ten favorites to an average team at the top of the conference.
Had this injury happened before last season, Miller's absence wouldn't be as cataclysmic. Kenny Guiton was a more than capable backup to Miller in the eyes of bettors. With Braxton sidelined during Ohio State's trip to Berkeley to take on California, oddsmakers made roughly a 3.5 to 4 point adjustment to power numbers. Ohio St was favored by as many as 16 points before official news of Miller's status was made public, dropping the line down to 12.
I had the chance to talk to a professional bettor last night who said Braxton's absence may not be felt initially against Navy but that it would factor prominently into how he capped the Buckeyes home opener against Virginia Tech in Week 2. OSU was listed as an 18 point favorite for the Hokies visit to Columbus with Miller but without him in the mix that price could re-open as low as a 11. That's a full touchdown difference.
“After news came out we re-opened OSU -16 for their season opener at Navy. We took a couple bets on each side, but took a sharp bet on Navy plus the points forcing us to pull the bet off the board completely,” Mason added.
It's always difficult to gauge the exact impact one player's absence has on a team's national championship prospects but understand that a six point change to an elite squad's power rating means they go from being a surefire top ten team to one that's barely in the top 25. Enter Cardale Jones and JT Barrett; Jones won the backup job coming out of spring, however it appears that JT Barrett, a redshirt freshman who tore his ACL in his final year of high school football and hasn't taken an in-game snap since 2012, will actually be the starter for the Buckeyes season opener against Navy (currently off the board). Oddsmakers will keep a tight eye on the quarterback for Urban Meyer's team but no matter who wins the job, he won't be nearly as valuable as Braxton Miller to Buckeye point spreads moving forward.