Ohio State is entering the 2024 season with high expectations — the Buckeyes are one of just a few programs with legitimate national title aspirations this coming season.

With the College Football Playoff set to expand to 12 teams in 2024, the path to the playoff has never been wider for an elite program like Ohio State. That’s especially true as Michigan is expected to take a step back this fall after undergoing a coaching change — and plenty of roster turnover — this offseason.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Ohio State is -600 at ESPN BET to make the College Football Playoff in 2024. The Buckeyes are also +380 to miss the Playoff, if you’re of a more pessimistic mindset about their postseason chances.

Let’s break down Ohio State’s 2024 roster and schedule to get a better idea of if there’s enough value on -600 to place that bet at ESPN BET.

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Ohio State’s 2024 roster and returning production

Ryan Day and his staff have built one of the best rosters in the country for the 2024 season.

At quarterback, the Buckeyes brought in former Kansas State quarterback Will Howard to compete for the starting job this offseason. Howard is the favorite to earn the nod over Devin Brown, who backed up Kyle McCord for much of last season. Howard projects to be one of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks this year.

At receiver, Ohio State brings back Emeka Egbuka and signed 5-star phenom Jeremiah Smith to help bolster that room this season. Ohio State should be elite at receiver again in 2024, as they have been for the past several years. It’s a similar story at running back, where the Buckeyes return TreVeyon Henderson but also add former SEC Freshman of the Year Quinshon Judkins out of the portal.

There are some questions to be answered along the offensive line, but the Buckeyes did strengthen that unit by adding former Alabama center Seth McLaughlin via the portal. Ohio State also returns left guard Donovan Jackson, who was named first-team All-Big Ten in 2023.

Defensively, Ohio State returns 9 starters from a unit that ranked 3rd in the Big Ten in yards-per-play allowed last season. The Buckeyes also added Caleb Downs, who starred at safety for Alabama in 2023 as a true freshman. Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau and Denzel Burke headline a talented group of returning starters who will be in a position to wreak havoc this fall.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly updated his returning production rankings earlier this week and ranked Ohio State 56th nationally in that category. The Buckeyes (65%) graded out above-average when compared to their Big Ten foes (62.8%). Given Ohio State’s other advantages in terms of coaching and talent level, that should be encouraging to the Buckeye faithful who are hoping for big things in 2024. Ohio State ranks No. 2 overall in SP+’s post-spring update.

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Ohio State’s 2024 schedule

Here’s a quick trivia question: When was the last time Ohio State lost a Big Ten game to a program other than Michigan? The answer is Oct. 20, 2018, when Ohio State was steamrolled by Purdue in West Lafayette. Ohio State is 42-3 in Big Ten regular-season games since that loss, with all 3 defeats coming at the hands of the Wolverines.

Obviously, Ohio State’s schedule is changing a bit in 2024 with the addition of 4 former Pac-12 programs: Oregon, USC, Washington and UCLA. However, Ohio State will only face one of those teams (Oregon) during the regular season this fall.

Ohio State will likely be heavily-favored in at least 9 regular season games and could end up as the Vegas favorite in all 12. The 3 toughest games on Ohio State’s schedule, on paper, appear to be at Oregon on Oct. 12, at Penn State on Nov. 2 and at home against Michigan on Nov. 30.

Here’s Ohio State’s 2024 schedule in-full:

  • Aug. 31: Akron
  • Sept. 7: Western Michigan
  • Sept. 21: Marshall
  • Sept. 28: at Michigan State
  • Oct. 5: Iowa
  • Oct. 12: at Oregon
  • Oct. 26: Nebraska
  • Nov. 2: at Penn State
  • Nov. 9: Purdue
  • Nov. 16: Northwestern (Wrigley Field)
  • Nov. 23: Indiana
  • Nov. 30: Michigan

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Will Ohio State make the College Football Playoff in 2024?

In order for Ohio State (or any other power-conference program) to earn a Playoff bid, it will almost certainly need to finish with a record of 10-2 or better during the regular season. The Playoff will feature the 5 highest-ranked conference champions as well as 7 at-large programs. The last team to finish inside the top-11 (accounting for the automatic G5 bid) of the final CFP rankings with a record of 9-3 or worse (excluding 2020) was Auburn in 2019.

Connelly’s SP+ projections give Ohio State an 85.2% chance of going 10-2 or better during the regular season. That’s roughly in-line with (although a bit below) the implied odds (85.7%) on ESPN BET‘s offering of -600 to make the CFP.

Given Ohio State’s utter dominance over non-Michigan Big Ten opponents during Day’s tenure, I’m comfortable laying the small difference between SP+’s projection and the implied odds. That gap may even be made up by the chance that Ohio State could theoretically earn a CFP berth with a record of 9-3, depending on how the season goes for the nation’s other top programs.

PICK: Ohio State to reach the College Football Playoff (-600)

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