College Football

Ohio St. takes on Michigan St. in Massive Big 10 Matchup

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No. 4 Ohio St. welcomes the 7th ranked Michigan St. Spartans to Columbus for one of the biggest games of the year so far. The Buckeyes, who sit at 9-1, must win out to keep their playoffs hope alive. On the other hand, the 9-1 Spartans also have a chance to make the playoff should they secure a conference championship. The winner of this game will control their destiny in the conference, and almost certainly be ranked in the top 4 heading into the final week of the season.

Can Ohio St. Finish Strong?

Since losing to Oregon 35-28 in Week 2, Ohio State has managed to reel off eight straight wins to stay in the playoff picture. hey are currently outscoring opponents by an average of 46-20, and will look to continue their offensive dominance at home on Saturday. The Buckeyes are a massive 19 point favorite, but in what has been a crazy year for college football, Ryan Day will need to have his team locked and loaded come game day.

Offensively, aside from a slow week against Nebraska, Ohio St. has had no trouble putting up points in a hurry. Quarterback CJ Stroud had yet another big week in their most recent game against Purdue, going 31-38 for 361 yards and 5 touchdowns. Given that the Michigan State defense has struggled the most against the pass so far this year, it is likely the game plan remains the same. Stroud will look to push the ball downfield to his ultra talented receiving core, while running backs Treveyon Henderson and Miyan Williams will provide a change of pace on the ground.

On the defensive side of the ball, all focus should go to Michigan States star running back Kenneth Walker III. The Buckeyes run defense has been largely untested during the win streak. Thanks to their explosive offense, teams playing Ohio State typically find themselves down big early, forcing them to pass. However, Michigan State has shown faith in their running game even when losing, so the Buckeye run defense will need to show up in a big way to slow down one of the best rushing attacks in the nation.

How Michigan St. Pulls off the upset

Mel Tucker’s squad finds themselves in a position nobody thought they would be in at the beginning of the year. The Spartans are two wins away from the Big 10 title game, and perhaps 3 wins away from a playoff berth. However, this is the toughest task of the year for the Spartans, and they will need to play their most complete game yet to escape the horseshoe with a victory.

The offensive formula in East Lansing has remained the same all year: Feed Kenneth Walker III. Walker, who is currently 4th in nation in carries, racked up another 143 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win against Maryland. Aside from the 1,400 yard rusher, wide receivers Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor must find ways to get open against an Ohio State secondary that has been vulnerable at times. If Walker can continue to role and the Spartans can get a few big plays in the passing game, they can certainly score enough to make this a competitive game.

The biggest concern for Michigan State comes on defense. Mel Tucker’s defense has given up 350 or more passing yards in three straight games now. This certainly does not bode well considering Ohio State has perhaps the most talented receiving core in the nation in Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Garrett Wilson, along with a red hot quarterback throwing to them. Michigan State will have to put an emphasis on eliminating the big plays the Buckeyes love so much. If they can force Ohio State to earn every yard, there is a greater chance they can force a mistake, or at least get enough stops to give their offense a chance to keep up.

Prediction

Despite Ohio States prolific offense, this game may be tighter than people think. Michigan State has proven to be a resilient team, and their strong running game may keep Stroud and company on the sidelines longer than they would like. With that being said, I think the aerial attack of the Buckeyes is simply too much for any team to handle right now, and I expect Ohio State to walk away with the win, 48-38.

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