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TOC Staff Picks: Michigan State vs. Ohio State

A win would push the Spartans one step closer to the Big Ten Title game.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State has a big opportunity to prove it is a legitimate contender in the Big Ten and College Football Playoff races with a trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State this weekend.

The winner of this game controls its own destiny in the Big Ten and is one step closer to Indianapolis. The Spartans are nearly 20-point underdogs and not many are taking Michigan State seriously.

However, MSU has one top-10 win already this season, with a victory over Michigan just a few weeks ago. Do our writers think the Spartans can pull off the upset?

Ryan O’Bleness

Ohio State 49, Michigan State 38

I think Michigan State is going to put up a better fight than most people are predicting. I believe that the Spartans can move the ball on Ohio State’s defense. For Michigan State to win, it will come down to playing mistake-free football, winning the turnover battle, shutting down Ohio State’s run game and playing keep away from OSU’s offense. It will take an absolute A+ effort from the Spartans in all three facets of the game. With that said, I’m not confident all of that will happen. MSU’s passing defense won’t be able to contain C.J. Stroud and Ohio State’s potent aerial attack, and the Buckeyes aren’t going to beaten in a shootout. Expect a lot of points and for Kenneth Walker III to continue his strong Heisman campaign, but in the end, MSU doesn’t have the horses just yet to pull the upset in Columbus.

Paul Fanson

Ohio State 35, Michigan State 24

I think that Michigan State has the tools on offense to hang with the Buckeyes for a little while, but Ohio State’s passing offense against the Spartans’ defense looks like a very tough matchup for MSU. I could imagine a scenario where the Spartans are very sharp and Ohio State is a bit sloppy or unlucky. If MSU can get a tipped ball pick-six or a fumble or two, that would certainly help. My computer does predict that this game might be closer than Las Vegas thinks, but I see the Buckeyes pulling away late.

Kevin Knight

Ohio State 58, Michigan State 42

An epic battle at the Horseshoe Corral is my best hope for this game, but Michigan State’s once vaunted secondary not that many seasons ago has become a free for all fly the friendly skies unit.

Zach Manning

Ohio State 56, Michigan State 24

I hate to be a downer here, but I don’t actually believe the Spartans have a shot in this game. I’ll admit, Ohio State’s defense isn’t great, but I don’t think Michigan State wants to get into a shootout with the Buckeyes.

I think the offense will move the ball with some consistency and string together some solid drives, but I just don’t see the Spartans being able to defend OSU’s potent passing attack and keeping up in this one.

Colin Jankowski

Ohio State 38, Michigan State 28

I think a lot of people are overlooking the Spartans in this matchup and what both teams really have. Obviously, the Buckeyes have a very talented team and one of the best offenses in the country. Their fefense hasn’t been the greatest at times, though, and the Spartans have the offensive firepower to score on them and stay in this thing. Plus, not to mention the fact that when both these teams are ranked in the top-10, Michigan State leads the series 3-1. Every game is different, but just something to think about. But, I do think Ohio State closes the game out on a late touchdown drive by C.J. Stroud.

Matt Sheehan

Ohio State 49, Michigan State 28

Michigan State is a great team but, man, the matchup of Ohio State’s passing game vsersus MSU’s secondary does not have me feeling well. Like, at all. I’m just hoping for a solid game from Kenneth Walker III to keep the Heisman dreams alive. I’m at the bargaining stage already.

Matt Hoeppner

Ohio State 45, Michigan State 28

I have picked Michigan State to win every game this year, but I just cannot do it this week. Ohio State has the best offense in the nation and I just don’t see the Spartan defense being able to do enough to slow them down. MSU might hang in there for a bit if its offense can keep up, but ultimately the Buckeyes are just a better team with too many talented receivers. But the good news is there will still be plenty to play for next week.

David Harns

Michigan State 42, Ohio State 34

If you play this game 10 times, Ohio State will win seven of them, maybe eight. So the logical pick is the Buckeyes by three touchdowns. It seems illogical to even be considering picking the Spartans. But the whole way this season has played out has been unexpected. Who would’ve expected Michigan State to be 9-1 and in the conversations regarding a Big Ten Championship, a College Football Playoff berth, and the Heisman Trophy? Ohio State can be beaten. It’ll most likely be OSU 55, MSU 35 — but there is no reason not to be optimistic, especially since these predictions are meaningless. So I’ll go with the Spartans by eight, 42-34.


Ohio State 45, Michigan State 27

Ohio State’s offense is currently averaging 550 yards of total offense per game, to put that in context, the 2019 national champion LSU offense is considered by many to be one of the greatest offenses of all time, and it averaged 569 yards of total offense. OSU likely possesses the best wide receiver groups in college football. These facts do not align well with Michigan States defensive deficiencies, which have been exacerbated by injuries.

MSU does have a puncher’s chance with its own explosive and balanced offensive attack, and MSU’s defense has been rather effective in limiting red zone scores despite giving up significant amounts of yards.

That all said, I don’t envision a particularly close game on the road versus perhaps the second best team in the nation.

Justin Walsh

Ohio State 52, Michigan State 38

Nothing about this game inspires confidence in a Michigan State victory. Arguably the best passing offense in the country versus statistically the worst passing defense in the country, in Columbus in a top-10 matchup that will undoubtedly make one of the largest crowds in the country even more involved than they usually are. Did I mention it’s also senior day for the Buckeyes? Kenneth Walker III will have a nice day against a suspect Ohio State defense, but the Spartans won’t be able to keep up with the Buckeye offense.

Austen Flores

Ohio State 52, Michigan State 28

The defensive weaknesses for Michigan State play right into the hands of the Buckeyes and quarterback C.J. Stroud is coming off his best game of the season. For the Spartans to have a chance they’ll likely have to turn this into an old western shootout and grab a few turnovers. Kenneth Walker III should be able to hit his season averages, but it will be on the defense and Payton Thorne to hit their peaks to pull off the upset in Columbus.

Throughout the year, several members of TOC will participate in Big Ten picks using Tallysight. You can keep up with those picks here: