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The 3-2-1 preview: 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats, 1 best bet vs. Ohio State

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Best bets are cooking at 7-3 on the season

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

T-minus one day until MSU kicks off at noon, again, in hopes to spoil Jim Delaney’s dream of a OSU-UM matchup that means something.

Can MSU do it? I mean, maybe.

Let’s take a walk down the 3-2-1 preview to see what has to happen for our Spartans to have a shot.

3 Things We Want To See

Get to Haskins

Getting to the quarterback is always a good idea (this is genius, I should be coaching somewhere). It’s an even better idea with Dwayne Haskins taking snaps, and look to the Penn State game as evidence. That’s the most pressure he’s been under this season, and they almost lost that one. Just almost.

More importantly, Haskins has a cannon for an arm. The Buckeyes average 8.9 yards per pass attempt, and they like to go for the deep ball. Get to Haskins before the route develops or rush him into a rare bad decision, and life will be easier for MSU.

Keep the run game going

Who was that team that played Maryland last week? Because it’s not the MSU we’ve been watching all season as they gained 5.8 yards per carry. Even if you take out Connor Heyward’s 80-yard score, they still averaged 4.2 yards per carry. That’s…shocking from this team.

Now comes the real test – can they sustain anything close to that against the Buckeyes? OSU is pretty average in the run defense, giving up 4.3 yards per carry.

With a banged up quarterback who hasn’t looked good in a while getting the start, for whatever reason, the MSU run game will need to show up for the Spartans to have a chance.

Early success

Look, things aren’t great in Columbus. You can see it in the last two games with the Buckeyes as they got housed by Purdue and basically took a moral loss against Nebraska.

Get on the Buckeyes early, force them to make mistakes and get them to unravel early on. I’ve got a hunch that there’s really no one to turn to when the going gets tough, and I got that hunch from watching OSU-Purdue.

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

2 Key Stats

16-45

That’s your starting quarterback’s completions and attempts in the last two games. Oh, and zero touchdowns too. Remember, even after he admitted he has pain while throwing the ball after last week’s game, Mark Dantonio said this week that he isn’t hurt and that if he was, he wouldn’t be starting. Pain in your shoulder is very healthy, apparently.

You probably know my thoughts on this decision. You have a healthy quarterback that looked good against Purdue in his lone start. You have a quarterback who’s banged up, who just hasn’t looked like himself and who can’t get the offense off the ground in his state. Why choose option B here?

When healthy, Lewerke is the man. When he’s not – which he’s clearly not – you have a competent backup in Lombardi that can get the offense going. I can’t believe they’re straying away from elementary decision making here, but all well.

Three

That’s sacks per game for Ohio State. Last year’s game went completely off the rails because of the trenches. MSU’s offensive line was getting smoked like a nice ham and MSU’s defense line was getting pushed all the way to Toledo.

MSU’s pass blocking has been stout for the better part of a month now, but this will be the biggest test they’ve seen in a while. Lewerke has enough issues going on right now – the last thing he needs is just .8 seconds of decision making time every snap like last year.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

1 Best Bet

(OSU -3.5, O/U 52)

Again, with MSU’s quarterback decision, I can’t see the offense getting off the ground. If they bring Lombardi in, it won’t work. Bringing in a cold quarterback off the bench in the third quarter won’t work unless your name is Tua Tagovailoa.

I like the under in this game as well, but my official bet will be OSU laying the points.

Record: 7-3

Poll

What’s your best bet for Saturday afternoon?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    OSU -3.5
    (50 votes)
  • 25%
    MSU +3.5
    (49 votes)
  • 2%
    Over 52
    (4 votes)
  • 46%
    Under 52
    (89 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now