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Michigan State

vs.

Ohio State

College Football

Free Pick

11/11/17

It’s been a weird season in the Big Ten and it could get even more so after this game, which will likely produce the East’s team in the championship game. Michigan State has managed to stay near the top of the standings all season, while the Buckeyes fell flat last week and need to win this or could be looking at a surprise three-loss campaign. The Bucks were -15 point favorites late Monday (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) and that line has moved a bit since opening.

The spread is extremely large in this game considering how Mark Dantonio has faired against Ohio State in recent history. Even in a three-win campaign last season, the Spartans still almost upset OSU, losing just 17-16. Since 2011, this matchup has been pretty even, with the biggest Buckeye win being 49-37 back in 2014. In two of the last three games played in Columbus, MSU has walked away with a win.

The Spartans haven’t looked amazing on the road and that’s where their only loss comes, at Northwestern. They’ve beaten Michigan and Minnesota, but neither of those came easy. Then again, the Buckeyes haven’t looked good against any decent team, needing a late comeback against Penn State and then losing 55-24 to Iowa last weekend. But coming off a loss, Urban Meyer will definitely have his team ready.

J.T. Barrett’s Heisman aspirations took a big dive after throwing four interceptions against the Hawkeyes. For Ohio State to have a chance of covering, Barrett will need a big game, mainly because Michigan State has one of the best rush defenses in the country. MSU just held Saquon Barkley to 63 rushing yards if that says anything and that’s how it’s been all season. If that trend continues against Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins, Barrett will have a lot on his shoulders. And usually, Barrett has his best games when he can also churn out yards on the ground. But if Ohio State can’t run the ball, Barrett will have to do a lot with his arm and covering by more than two touchdowns is a stretch.

The other question is what happened to the Buckeyes defense last week, giving up 55 points to a mediocre Iowa offense. In the last two games this group has fallen apart and the Spartans at least know how to move the ball when needed.

MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke put his name on the map as a future top quarterback in the conference after throwing for 400 yards and a couple touchdowns against Penn State. He’s been called upon in the last two games and shown up big with 845 yards on 113 pass attempts. The Spartans would like to do the same thing Iowa just did to this defense and that’s get a ground game going with LJ Scott the likely candidate to have a big day. Even if that doesn’t work, Lewerke has shown he can beat good defenses with his arm.

The spread is moving in Ohio State’s direction and that’s mostly because of the public. The Buckeyes will be hard to take as more than two touchdown favorites. The Spartans are 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games, while the Buckeyes are 1-5 ATS in their last five home games. The underdog has covered in the last six meetings between these teams and the road team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine.

Our Pick - Michigan State +14.5

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