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Game Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Michigan State at Ohio State Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michigan State (2-3) is unranked and returns home to East Lansing this weekend to host No. 3-ranked Ohio State (5-0) at Spartan Stadium on Saturday. The game is scheduled to kick off at 4:06 p.m. Eastern Time, and fans can also watch on ABC.

To say Michigan State is a home underdog would be a massive understatement. Ohio State enters the game favored by 27 points in this game, according to the DraftKings Sportsbook. Given how these two teams have performed in 2022, the four-touchdown spread favoring the Buckeyes feels right.

Could this be a 1998 or 2015 type of upset? That feels like a huge stretch against an OSU team with legitimate national title aspirations, but let’s take a closer look at the matchup and preview what is on tap for Saturday.

Tale of the Tape

Michigan State:
2022 Record — 2-3 (0-2 in Big Ten)

2022 Offense (per game averages) — 370.4 total yards, 243 passing yards, 127.4 rushing yards

2022 Defense (per game averages) — 411.8 total yards allowed, 275 passing yards allowed, 136.8 rushing yards allowed

2022 Cumulative Points Scored: 135 (27.0 ppg)

2022 Cumulative Points Allowed: 113 (22.6 ppg)

Current SP+ Ranking: 37th

Ohio State:
2022 Record — 5-0 (2-0 in Big Ten)

2022 Offense (per game averages) — 529.6 total yards, 303.4 passing yards, 226.2 rushing yards

2022 Defense (per game averages) — 263.8 yards allowed, 153.4 passing yards allowed, 110.4 rushing yards allowed

2022 Cumulative Points Scored: 244 (48.8 ppg)

2022 Cumulative Points Allowed: 74 (14.8 ppg)

Current SP+ Ranking: second

Series History/All-Time Records

All-time head-to-head record: Ohio State leads 35-15
Current streak: Ohio State has won the past six meetings
Last Michigan State win: Nov. 21, 2015 (17-14)
Last Ohio State win: Nov. 20, 2021 (56-7)
Michigan State all-time record: 723-475-44 (.600)
Ohio State all-time record: 947-329-53 (.733)

Uniform Watch:

Michigan State:

Michigan State is getting nostalgic this week and will pay homage to the 1998 team that upset No. 1 Ohio State. The Spartans’ green helmets feature a triple stripe (thick white stripe with two smaller green stripes down, just like the 1998 squad) and white Spartan head logos on each side. The jerseys are green with white numbering and lettering, while the pants are white with a green stripe down each side.

A closer look:

Ohio State:

Ohio State (somehow playing its first road contest of the 2022 campaign in the sixth game of the season), will wear white jerseys with scarlet red lettering and numbering, grey pants and the program’s usual helmets.

Previous Game Results

Maryland 27, Michigan State 13

Michigan State went out on the road to play Maryland in College Park, and ended up coming back to East Lansing with its third-straight loss.

The Terrapins got the ball to start, and quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa led his offense down the field for a 12-play, 93-yard drive, capped off by a 15-yard touchdown run by Antwain Littleton II.

The Terps led 7-0 early, but Michigan State immediately responded. Quarterback Payton Thorne led an eight-play, 77-yard drive that was finished by Elijah Collins’ 12-yard rushing touchdown to tie the score.

The scoring continued, as Maryland’s second drive also ended in a touchdown on a two-yard rush from Colby McDonald. The Terps led 14-7 in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Thorne connected with Jayden Reed for a 24-yard touchdown strike. The extra point was botched, however, so Maryland remained up 14-13.

Tagovailoa would find Rakim Jarrett for a five-yard touchdown before halftime, making the score 21-13.

The Spartans held the Terps to just six points in the second half, but did not add any points to their own total. The game went final at 27-13, with Maryland getting the victory.

For more, please read our full game recap and check out the postgame quotes from head coach Mel Tucker and several players.

Ohio State 49, Rutgers 10

Ohio State did the same thing to Rutgers that it has done to just about every other opponent — completely dominated.

Surprisingly, Rutgers actually got on the board first as quarterback Evan Simon found Sean Ryan on a 14-yard touchdown pass, giving the Scarlet Kings a 7-0 lead.

After that, the Buckeyes scored 28 unanswered points. Running back Miyan Williams had three of OSU’s first four touchdowns, while quarterback C.J. Stroud connected with Julian Fleming for one of the scores.

Rutgers would add a field goal in the third quarter to make the score 28-10, but that would end the scoring for the Scarlet Knights.

Ohio State would add three more touchdowns — Williams scored two more times and Stroud threw one more touchdown to Marvin Harrison Jr. The score went final with Ohio State winning 49-10.

There was some light drama on what ended up being a fake punt by the Buckeyes in the fourth quarter, already up 49-10, and head coaches Greg Schiano (Rutgers) and Ryan Day (Ohio State) briefly got into with each other afterward.

But all in all, another easy victory for Ohio State.

Key Matchups

C.J. Stroud/Ohio State wide receivers versus Michigan State secondary: As always, the most vital thing for Michigan State is to not get torched in the passing game. The Spartans have obviously not been able to contain passing attacks this season, and Stroud is easily the best quarterback the Spartans have seen thus far, and probably for the entire season. Plus, Ohio State has arguably the best group of wide receivers in the country. Even if Jaxon Smith-Njigba misses another game on Saturday, I don’t see how Michigan State can cover the likes of Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., Julian Fleming and others. Ohio State averages 303.4 passing yards per game, while Michigan State is allowing 326.3 passing yards per game to Power Five opponents. That is a recipe for disaster. If MSU is to have any shot in this one, the secondary has to play its best game yet, and the pass rush needs to make life difficult for Stroud.

Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson/Ohio State offensive line vs. Michigan State defense: While Ohio State’s passing attack is terrifying, the Buckeyes’ ground game has been just as effective as Williams and Henderson provide a two-headed monster at running back. Henderson missed last week’s game against Rutgers, but is expected to return this week against Michigan State. Meanwhile, Williams dropped five touchdowns on Rutgers last week. In last year’s embarrassing 56-7 loss to Ohio State, Michigan State was completely dominated in the trenches (on both sides of the ball). OSU is averaging 226.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks 11th in the nation. Meanwhile, MSU has not been as strong defending the rush as many anticipated, allowing 136.8 yards per game (tied for 63rd in FBS). The Spartans have to shut down the run game because OSU’s passing game will already be too much to deal with by itself.

Update: Williams and Smith-Njigba are out. Henderson is in.

Mel Tucker versus Ryan Day: If Michigan State stands any shot in this one, Tucker and the MSU coaching staff need to out-coach Ryan Day and the Ohio State staff. The Buckeyes rank third in the country in total offense per game, and Day is an outstanding offensive coach and has amazing skill players at his disposal. However, it’s Ohio State’s top-10 ranked defense under coordinator Jim Knowles that has been the most surprising part to the Buckeyes’ 5-0 start, and this is truly a complete team. Meanwhile, Michigan State has lost three in a row and is still struggling to find its identity. MSU fans’ confidence in Tucker is beginning to slip. The passing defense remains atrocious, while the offense has struggled to score points as of late.

Tucker has to have his team mentally and physically prepared (he will), but the talent gap here is too wide. Tucker, offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton and the rest of the staff will need to throw everything at OSU and cause some chaos to stand a chance in this one. The staff needs to do things much differently compared to the past three games.

Game Info

Time: Saturday, Oct. 8, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (kickoff scheduled for 4:06 p.m.)
TV Channel: ABC
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Weather expectations: Mostly sunny, temperatures around 55 degrees at kickoff, winds blowing west at 10 to 20 miles per hour
DraftKings Line: Michigan State +27


It’s only the sixth game of the season, but it feels like Michigan State’s hopes for a bowl game are in serious trouble. Already losing three games in a row, with a fourth loss in a row looking inevitable against Ohio State, the Spartans will have to finish the second half of the season strongly just to get to six wins.

There isn’t much to say about this weekend’s matchup other than it might get out of hand quickly if Ohio State is clicking on all cylinders. The only path for Michigan State to win this game is essentially playing a perfect game while Ohio State has an off day.

Defensively, the Spartans need to force a few turnovers, pressure/sack Stroud, cover OSU’s wide receivers tightly, shut down the running game, force turnovers and get off of the field on third down. Offensively, the Spartans need to take care of the football (zero turnovers), Thorne needs to be sharp and efficient (no more sailing throws and giving the ball away), the running game has to be effective against a tough Ohio State front and MSU has to control the ball and time of possession, keeping the ball away from Stroud and the OSU offense.

The chances of all of that happening are probably close to zero, and even if all of that went right for Michigan State, Ohio State would still be capable of winning because the Buckeyes are just that good, and have a much more talented roster. If I am being frank, I think the Spartans are in for another miserable day, and most fans and pundits see it the same way.

Oh, and on another note, Michigan State fans are encouraged to wear green this weekend, per an email sent out by Michigan State Athletics.

For more on Ohio State, please read our “Get to Know the Opponent” article and check out our “5 Questions with Land-Grant Holy Land” chat.


Will Michigan State upset Ohio State?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    (16 votes)
  • 77%
    No way!
    (54 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now

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