The Ohio State Buckeyes started last season as the consensus favorites to win the national championship. Ahead of the season, Las Vegas sportsbooks offered odds on whether Urban Meyer's loaded 2015 team would go undefeated. And even after a disappointing regular season, some oddsmakers still believed the Buckeyes could have stood up to either Alabama or Clemson.
A year later, however, the Buckeyes are seen as a three- or four-loss team by one Las Vegas sportsbook.
The Golden Nugget sportsbook posted season win totals on 24 teams Thursday. Clemson, Florida State, Oklahoma and Tennessee all opened at 10 wins. Ohio State opened at 8.5, a number that seems low, especially considering that the Buckeyes are 50-4 under Meyer. They'd need to lose four times this season to stay under the 8.5 number.
A record 12 Ohio State players were selected in the first four rounds of the NFL draft, including five in the first 20 picks. The Buckeyes' most difficult road tests are at Oklahoma (Sept. 17), at Wisconsin (Oct. 15) and at Michigan State (Nov. 19). Ohio State gets Michigan at home on Nov. 26.
"Well, OU's going to be a real tough one. Sparty on the road is no fun, and this may be the year Michigan finally takes back the Big Ten," Golden Nugget college football oddsmaker Aaron Kessler said Friday. "Wisconsin and Penn State (on the road) are far from 'gimme' games. I do expect some over money to come in on the Buckeyes, but nothing's showed up yet."
The Golden Nugget is not the only sportsbook in town with tempered expectations for Ohio State. The South Point sportsbook opened Ohio State as a 9-point underdog in its showdown at Oklahoma. That number has been bet down to plus-7 at the South Point, an indication that bettors favor the Buckeyes more than the sportsbooks. Noting Vegas' record against the betting public, that scenario doesn't appear to be a good omen for Ohio State.
There is still plenty of belief in the Buckeyes, though. In fact, at the Westgate SuperBook, only Michigan has attracted more bets to win the national title than Ohio State. And, at William Hill's Nevada sportsbook -- where the Buckeyes are listed as national championship favorites at 11-2 -- 20 percent of all the money bet on the title odds is on Ohio State, more than any other team.
The Buckeyes are five-point favorites over the Wolverines at South Point.
The Golden Nugget also is offering season win totals for entire conferences. The over/under for SEC teams' combined wins opened at 103.5. The Big Ten is next at 97.5, followed by the ACC at 96.5 and Pac-12 at 81.5. The Big 12, with only 10 teams, is set at 69.5.