The Michigan State Spartans travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on their long-time Big Ten rival, the Ohio State Buckeyes, in a crucial game that will impact the race for the East Division crown. Shaking off the lethargy following their last-second loss at home to Arizona State on Sept. 14, the Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) have won two straight games, scoring at least 31 points in each.
The win over Indiana did not come without some anxious moments for Michigan State fans. Tied at 31, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio elected to kick a field goal in the final seconds while close to the Indiana goal line to secure the victory.
Ohio State (5-0, 2-0) returns home after a dominant 48-7 win at Nebraska on Saturday evening. So far this season, transfer sophomore quarterback Justin Fields has been everything Ohio State coaches and fans could have wanted and more, with 16 touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a level of control over the offense that has Ohio State fans believing the Buckeyes could be a College Football Playoff participant for the first time since 2016.
Michigan State at Ohio State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio State -20.5
When Michigan State Has The Ball
After a 40-31 win over Indiana that saw the Spartans rack up nearly 450 yards of offense, one would think that all is well with Spartans fans. The problem confronting Michigan State offensively is the fact that the Spartans have become largely one-dimensional, relying heavily upon the passing of quarterback Brian Lewerke. The ground game, keyed by Elijah Collins, did rush for 142 yards versus Indiana, but Lewerke accounted for the majority of that yardage (12 carries for 78 yards). Against an Ohio State defense that is only giving up about 85 yards per game on the ground, the Spartans cannot allow themselves to become too one-dimensional. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young has been wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines so far this season.
When Ohio State Has The Ball
Averaging 52 points a game, the Ohio State offense has been making quick work of opposing defenses. Quarterback Justin Fields is a threat both passing and running and is quite effective at distributing the ball to a wide variety of Buckeye playmakers. Junior running back J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 654 yards this season but will be the focus of a Michigan State defense that is giving up about 56 yards per game on the ground. Look for Ohio State to attack the Spartans secondary first in an effort to prevent the Spartans from crowding the line of scrimmage.
Michigan State has made a habit of ruining Ohio State seasons — 1998, 2013, 2015. While Michigan State is stout defensively, this Ohio State team has a tremendous amount of depth and speed that will be challenging for Michigan State to match. This game should be a street fight in the physical style Michigan State prefers, but Ohio State should be able to eventually pull away late in the third quarter.