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Everyone is talking about whether or not Ohio State should be ranked No. 2 in the BCS and if they should go to the BCS National Championship Game over Auburn. However, none of that will matter if the Buckeyes lose this game. Led by one of the best defenses in the nation, Michigan State is not a team to take lightly. The Buckeyes are -5.5 point favorites at Lucas Oil Stadium.
This is the first time since 2002 that two teams have gone undefeated in Big Ten conference play. It's a stat that either shows the weakness of the conference, or just how good these teams are, it's an ongoing debate.
The Buckeyes are 24-0 over the last two seasons, yet still aren't getting tons of respect. It didn't help matters when they barely beat Michigan last weekend 42-41 after the Wolverines failed on a two-point conversion to win it. Outside of that, Ohio State's only other troubles have come against Wisconsin and at Northwestern in back-to-back weeks. One thing we know about Ohio State is that they have a top offense.
If quarterback Braxton Miller didn't get injured and miss the majority of three games earlier in the year, he'd likely be the frontrunner for Heisman. His numbers are better through the air this season, completing 65.7 percent of his passes to go with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. Plus, he's the second part in one of the best rushing attacks in the country. Miller has 891 rushing yards and eight TDs on the year, hitting at least 144 yards in three straight. He's joined by RB Carlos Hyde, who is just carving through defenses since being suspended for the first three games of the year. Hyde has at least 100 yards in seven straight games, including 589 yards and seven TDs over the last three. Because defenses worry about the running game, Miller often finds WRs Devin Smith and Philly Brown open deep.
The defensive end is where the Buckeyes are struggling. They just allowed 41 points to Michigan and haven't exactly shut down Big Ten offenses this year, allowing 24 to Iowa and 35 to Illinois. Outside of a 56-0 win at Purdue, Ohio State struggles defensively on the road.
That's where the Spartans come in with a suffocating defense allowing 11.8 points per game. Their only loss came at Notre Dame in a game that was highlighted by a mass of pass interference calls against the MSU secondary. However, like Ohio State, the Spartans do have some slip ups, most notably against Nebraska's option offense. The Cornhuskers had success running the ball in that game which is something to look out for. Still, MSU has allowed six points or less in five of the last six games. That's incredible.
Michigan State has improved offensively steadily throughout the year with Connor Cook at quarterback. When asked to lead the team, Cook has done it with a solid 17 TDs and four INTs on the year, a huge step up from last year's Andrew Maxwell. He doesn't have a favorite receiver with three different players catching at least 30 passes. Cook's receivers have been huge for him lately, catching passes when needed and they will definitely need to come up big here. The run game is what makes this offense move though. Jeremy Langford has come out of nowhere and been a complete beast for the Spartans with 1,210 yards and 16 TDs on the year. He has hit the 100-yard mark in seven straight games.
The way to beat this offense is by stopping Langford. Once you're there, it will fall on Cook to succeed, which is a good thing for the defense.
The last couple times these teams have played, it has been extremely close with the Buckeyes winning 17-16 at MSU last year. The previous year, the Spartans won 10-7 at Ohio Stadium. In that 2012 battle, OSU contained Michigan State's running attack which was the difference maker while Miller rushed for 136 yards. This figures to be another close game, but if MSU can't run the ball, OSU will be looking nice.
The Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last five neutral site games, but 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games on field turf. The Spartans have covered in six straight games on field turf and are 7-1-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Buckeyes are 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine meetings between these schools while the under has hit in four of the last five matchups.
Ohio State is currently a -5.5 point favorite at 5 dimes sportsbook with a total of 51.5.
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