Skull Session: Oddsmakers Set Double-Digit Win Total for Ohio State, Urban Meyer Thinks Marvin Harrison Jr. Can Win the Heisman and the Basketbucks Will Be Dancin' Next March

By Chase Brown on May 9, 2023 at 5:00 am
Marvin Harrison Jr.
Joseph Scheller / Columbus Dispatch

Welcome to the Skull Session.

JT Tuimoloau and Tommy Eichenberg are pretty good at football. Perhaps a Lott IMPACT Trophy will be in their future.

Let's have a good Tuesday, shall we?

 NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS. Ohio State football has recorded 11 or more wins in 10 consecutive seasons (excluding the 2020 season, in which the Buckeyes were limited to five regular-season and three postseason contests). The oddsmakers in Las Vegas expect that trend to continue this fall.

According to current lines at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Buckeyes' win total is set for 10.5 in 2023, with the over (-115) favored more than the under (-105). Michigan accompanies Ohio State at that number. However, the under (-122) is favored more than the over (+100) for the Wolverines, as Jim Harbaugh and Co. will visit a talented Penn State team on Nov. 11 and host an even more talented Ohio State team two weeks later on Nov. 25.

As for Penn State, the Nittany Lions' win total is 9.5, with the over -138 and under +112. FanDuel also has Iowa’s over/under marked at 7.5. Other notable programs with betting lines include Georgia at 11.5, LSU and Tennessee at 9.5, Notre Dame at 8.5 and Coach Prime's Colorado Buffaloes at 3.5.

I am no professional gambler, but for what it's worth, I think all of these lines are accurate as the 2023 season approaches, especially for the Big Ten teams. I am surprised, however, that the under for Michigan is heavily favored against the over.

Vegas must think highly of James Franklin and Penn State because the Wolverines' schedule is criminally bad next fall outside the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes. Michigan’s non-conference opponents are East Carolina, Bowling Green and UNLV, and its Big Ten West crossover matchups are Nebraska, Minnesota and Purdue. That doesn't look the same as road trips to South Bend, Indiana, to face Notre Dame or Madison, Wisconsin, to face the Badgers.

This contradicts Ohio State fan protocol, but bet the over for Michigan. Yes, the Wolverines could fall to the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley – and believe me, I will root for that outcome the same as you – but I expect The Game in 2023 to again feature two undefeated teams in a winner-takes-all game for the Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.

That said, I will end this section with a familiar message: Just beat Michigan.

 SUPER MARV. When ranking the best players in college football for 2023, Marvin Harrison Jr. should be one of the first names mentioned. Ask former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, and Harrison wouldn't be just one of the first, he would be the first name to come out of his mouth. He even thinks Harrison can win the Heisman Trophy.

Meyer shared his thoughts on "Urban's Take" with Tim May of On3:

“I think he’s the best player in college football, even last year. I don’t think it’s going to be close this year. Now, it’s can (Ohio State's quarterbacks) get him the ball? Can he stay healthy and still prep the way he is? I think he’s a unique individual. I think he will be the No. 1 draft pick.”

Meyer later compared Harrison's performances across his first two seasons to legendary Buckeye wide receiver Cris Carter, who played for Ohio State when Meyer was a graduate assistant for Earle Bruce in the 1980s.

"It's still hard to say (Carter is) not the greatest receiver of all time. I’ll tell you what. Marvin Harrison Jr. is knocking on the door. I think at the end of the year, he’ll be right with Cris Carter as the best to ever play in the scarlet and gray."

Harrison collected 77 receptions for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2022. After the regular season, he received the Big Ten's Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award and was named a first-team All-Big Ten honoree. Harrison was also named a top-three finalist for the Biletnikoff Award but (inexplicably) lost to Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt.

In 2023, Harrison will continue as Ohio State’s No. 1 receiver and hope to replicate and exceed the numbers mentioned above. If Harrison can become Ohio State's second Biletnikoff Award winner along with Terry Glenn in 1996 and at least contend for a Heisman, Meyer can undoubtedly back up his claim.

For the sake of Ohio State's season and its potential success in 2023, all of Buckeye Nation hopes Harrison can live up to the massive expectations placed upon his shoulders this offseason. Given what he's proven about himself to this point, it's hard to believe he won't once the fall rolls around.

 NO BRONNY, NO PROBLEM? Chris Holtmann and Ohio State could not land five-star Bronny James in the class of 2023, as the son of NBA star and Ohio native LeBron James committed to USC over the weekend. But how does James' decision to remain in Los Angeles impact the Buckeyes?

Well, in the short term, not that much. Ohio State's 2023-24 roster is set after the additions of transfers Jamison Battle (Minnesota), Dale Bonner (Baylor) and Evan Mahaffey (Penn State) this offseason. That trio of newcomers accompanies a 2023 class of Taison Chatman, Devin Royal, Scotty Middleton and Austin Parks as first-timers in Holtmann's program. Would Bronny make that cast and crew better? Sure. But it's not bad without him.

The impact is also minimal in the long term, according to the latest update to ESPN's Bracketology from Joe Lunardi. The veteran college basketball analyst believes Ohio State will still reach the Big Dance in 2024, this time as one of the last four teams to receive a “bye” along with Rutgers, Clemson and Indiana.

With that result, Lunardi placed Ohio State as the No. 10 seed in the Detroit Region, headlined by Tom Izzo's Michigan State squad as the No. 1 seed. The Buckeyes would have to move past TCU and the winner of Tennessee vs. Radford to advance to the Sweet 16, a first in Holtmann's tenure in Columbus.

All in all, adding Bronny James would have helped Ohio State's chances to succeed in 2023-24. How much help remains up for debate. The Buckeyes will be fine without him, as Bruce Thorton, Felix Okpara and Roddy Gayle look to lead a young and talented roster to a Big Ten championship and a deep NCAA Tournament run. My heart of hearts tells me they have a great chance to make those outcomes a reality.

 POETRY IN MOTION. I have a confession to make. I have a TikTok account. I would assume reactions to that confession range from, "I knew it" to "You're better than that" and the Cris Carter, "C'mon man!"

Believe me, I know. Shameful.

All kidding aside, I don't make TikToks or even comment and like posts from other accounts. It's usually a social media I occasionally use for entertainment, as my feed is full of clips from movies and sports. After reading my Skull Sessions for nine months, doesn't that match my persona?

Anyway, I believe one of the sports clips I came across on Monday was worthy of inclusion in today's Skull Session, as it includes a super-smooth crossover, pump fake and fadeaway from D'Angelo Russell, who, as many of you know, is one of my favorite Ohio State players of all time.

@linktheworld Oh my lord… ‍ #lakers #nbaplayoffs ♬ original sound - Logan Linkmeyer

Russell's primary defender in the clip, Klay Thompson, isn't known for his lockdown defense but for his offensive prowess. Still, Thompson is regarded as one of the league's better defenders, even at his advanced age. Despite that, Russell put the man on skates twice and finished the possession with a tuff bucket.

That version of DLo is dangerous, folks, and I hope we see more of it as the series between the Lakers and Warriors continues.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Basketball" by Lil' Bow Wow (The movie "Like Mike" is an all-time classic – just want to make that clear).

 CUT TO THE CHASE. Nikola Jokic fined $25K by NBA for making contact with Suns owner... Iowa, Iowa St announce investigations into athlete gambling... Americans bet $220B on sports in five years since legalization... What to know what TV loses without writers? Just look at 2007... Tommy Hilfiger's life in the very fast lane.

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