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Michigan State Football Preview: Game Eleven — Ohio State

Watch the windmill while you can. This might not be a good week for MSU football.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State is fresh off the heels of a 49-0 victory over Rutgers. The sun was shining, people were happy. It felt like we were finally leaving Barb behind and getting out of the damn upside down once and for all.

Well friends, we hope you enjoyed your Eggos, because week 11 is here and the Buckeyes and rolling into town with their eyes on complete and total domination.

How We’re Feeling.gif

Michigan State has not had a lot of highlight to the 2016 season. Between injuries and losses that should have been wins, the chances of a bowl game left after MSU fell to Illinois a few weeks back. (Technically it is still possible but even I don’t think that is going to happen and I picked this damn team to go 12-0).

Ohio State has a 4th quarter FG blocked for a loss to Penn State in October s for them to get into the College Football Playoffs they are going to need to give the committee a reason to let them in. They took that challenge and have beaten their last two opponents by a combined score of 124-6. We are talking scorched earth type of football and they are peaking at the right time.

Now there are certain fans that have been critical of the way we have been critical of the team this year but this game has the potential to be over by halftime and the numbers back that up.

In the win against Maryland (a team we lost to, fyi) OSU had scored 45 points by halftime. In the game against Nebraska, they scored 31. By comparison, MSU has only scored over 30 points 3 times this season.

Some other facts:

  • OSU is averaging 46.5 points per game (a full 20.4 points more than MSU this season)
  • They are on average only giving up 12.7 points per game to opponents. 4 times this season thy have held opponents out of the end zone completely.

take alert: Ohio State is really good at football this year.

Buckeye Offense vs Spartan Defense

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Buckeyes

  • Leading Passer: QB J.T. Barrett - 189 for 292 (64.7%) 2218 yards, 23 TD/4 INT
  • Leading Rusher: RB Mike Weber - 152 carries, 935 yards, 7 TD
  • Leading Receiver: WR Curtis Samuel - 57 catches, 750 yards, 6 TD

Notable Spartans

  • Leading Tackler: LB Chris Frey — 81 tackles, 2.5 TFL
  • Leading Sack Artist: DT Raequan Williams — 2 sacks / DL Malik McDowell — 7 TFL
  • Leading Ball Hawk: CB Darian Hicks — 2 INT

Want the good news first?

Michigan State is coming off of the first and only shutout this season and only the time this season that MSU held the other team from getting in the end zone.

The bad news?

Ohio State isn’t Rutgers.

Barrett and co are currently the number one ranked offense in the country. Yes, Louisville and the TD machine that is Lamar Jackson are not scoring as many points as this Buckeyes squad. They are keeping turnovers and offensive penalties to a minimum, and converting 26.4 first downs a game.

Barrett is not the same QB he was in 2014 when he helped lead a Braxton Miller-less Buckeye team to an undefeated Big Ten season (before getting injured before the Playoff) but if you think back to the last time Barrett came into East Lansing you know just what this bad dude can do. He is responsible for 31 total touchdowns on the year and if you take his rushing stats (140 attempts for 617 yards and 8 TD) he would be rank second on the Spartans list, only behind LJ Scott.

This is coming up against a Spartan D that has been a shell of its former self. A 3rd string QB for Illinois put up 31 points on us two weeks ago. Ranking 60th in the country in team total defense and a questionable McDowell makes for a game that could get ugly. Ohio State is able to score quick and in bursts. With a lack of pressure on Barrett and athletic weapons like Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson (all three have 5 or more receiving TD this season) it might be a long day for our depleted secondary.

Spartan Offense vs Buckeye Defense

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Spartans

  • Leading Passer: QB Tyler O’Connor — 131 for-213 (61.5%) 1,747 yards, 15 TD/7 INT
  • Leading Rusher: RB LJ Scott — 149 carries, 775 yards, 5 TD
  • Leading Receiver: WR RJ Shelton — 47 catches, 710 yards, 5 TD

Notable Buckeyes

  • Leading Tackler: LB Raekwon McMillan — 64 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack
  • Leading Sack Artist: DL Tyquan Lewis — 6.0 sacks, 8.5 TFL
  • Leading Ball Hawk: S Malik Hooker — 5 INT, 2 TD

Well, the running game looked about as good as it has since the Notre Dame game. For the third time in the last four games, LJ Scott decided to go off for over 100 yards. Top that off with some solid effort from Gerald Holmes and 2 scores from London and you have a team that figured out and executed what we thought they should have been doing since week one of the season.

That was short lived as we realized after the game that redshirt freshman, Tyler Higby, broke his ankle and would be out the remainder of the season. That being said the line was solid with Keiler being back to full strength but it is going to be a big question mark on Saturday as Ohio State comes in the with the 3rd best total defense in the country.

The Buckeyes are only allowing 12.7 points per game and no one has scored a touchdown on them since Northwestern did in the 3rd quarter nearly three weeks ago. It is going to be a tough matchup as the Buckeyes are also forcing an average of 2 turnovers a game, a stat that does not bode well for a Spartan team that has lost the turnover battle in the majority of the games they have played in this year.

One bright spot for the Spartans could be Trishton Jackson, the freshman who scored his first career TD on Saturday on a pass from Tyler O’Connor. Speaking of O’Connor, he is someone with first hand knowledge of what it takes to beat OSU. He has not had the best senior season but if he is able to go two for two against the Buckeyes the Spartan faithful will undoubtedly look on him with favor.

Special Teams

NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Like most teams that are ranked this high, special teams have not been an issue for Ohio State. They have not been out of the ordinary, but they have not been bad either.

Michigan State does out rank OSU on average yards put punt return (7.9 compared to 5.2) but Ohio State has the advantage in yards per kick return (24.9 compared to 21.2 for MSU)

The kicking game is a little different, with Ohio State’s Tyler Durbin hitting 93.8% of his FGs, good enough for 6th in the country. Compare that to Geiger who has hit just 10 of 14 which falls to 78th in the country at 71.4%. Geiger and MSU do have the extra point advantage however, as MSU is a perfect 29 for 29 while OSU has missed two extra point kicks on the year.

Bottom Line and Prediction

Bottom line, we really have no place winning this game. In a perfect world where Penn State doesn’t block that kick you might have a Buckeye team that looks over a 3-7 MSU while eyeing Michigan and a trip to the Big Ten Championship.

That is not the case this year. You have an OSU team who is angry that MSU came into their house and windmilled away with a win. You have a team that needs to get a big win to make a case for a playoff spot even if Penn State wins out and gets a conference title. Add that in with the fact that MSU is depleted on the offensive line, playing a greater number of freshman than anyone predicted and it could be a somber senior day for MSU.

One thing that might help the Spartans is not what they do but rather what Mother Nature cooks up. It is going to be a cold and potentially wet one on Saturday morning. If things are slippery and Barrett’s arm is taken out of the game, MSU might have a chance if they can figure out a way to stop the run.

My hopes are high, but my hopes are not great at predictions. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think I am.

OSU 38 - MSU 24