Who: No.14 Ohio State (7-1, 4-0) vs. No. 8 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0)
When: Saturday, Oct. 28 at 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
Remember how everyone has been telling you Ohio State’s season will come down to a November 8th trip to East Lansing? Well, Ohio State’s season has come down to a November 8th trip to East Lansing.
The Buckeyes will travel to Michigan to face the Spartans in, quite possibly, the Big10’s last chance to gain national attention before the conference’s championship game. Both teams enter the matchup with one loss, and an impressive showing on Saturday would keep the winner alive in the playoff discussion, but we don’t care about all that – we’re worried about what the Buckeye’s need to do to win.
But first thing’s first; go ahead and watch this hype video for the game and try not running your head through a wall.
I don’t watch enough actual news to make a political joke (does Sports Center count?), but there was just an election or something, so you see what I’m getting at. From a football perspective, the Buckeyes have struggled when they call games conservatively, and that has been the case for years. Tom Herman needs to open up the playbook and show us that all those snaps Jalin Marshall took against Illinois weren’t simply to give Sparty more film to watch.
Up the Middle
The strength of Michigan State’s defensive line is on the edge, specifically Shilique Calhoun, but the Spartans are young in the interior line. Getting Ezekiel Elliot running downfield early will force Pat Narduzzi to call up his beloved double a-gap blitz, which can open things up for the passing game in a hurry.
This man is a beast; plain and simple. Bosa leads the Big10 in tackles-for-loss (14.5), sacks (10), and forced fumbles (3). He also tied the Ohio State record for consecutive games with a tackle-for-loss at 14 last week. Michigan State will be forced to game plan around Bosa, but the Buckeyes do a great job of moving him around the line. Bosa needs to spend a lot of time in the backfield to slow down the impressive Spartan offense.
Not quite, but they’re getting there. The Buckeyes defense has been very opportunistic this year, and will need to continue to be on Saturday. Connor Cook has, at times, struggled with accuracy, completing only 60% of his passes. If the Buckeye defensive front is able to slow the run and put pressure on Cook, there will be opportunities to make plays in the secondary.
In both games the Buckeyes have struggled in this year (VT and Penn State), so did Barrett, because of pressure in his face. The offensive line has come along this season, but they will have to take a big step forward in order to allow Barrett to gain confidence early, and get through his reads later in the game.
Accuracy was an issue for JT early against Illinois, but it seemed that once he gained confidence in his ability to plant and throw off his injured knee, those problems subsided. If the Buckeyes are going win, JT will need time to get to his second and third read, and he will also need to make some plays with his legs.
The offense will have a decent amount of success, but Michigan State’s will too. This game will be close, but Ohio State will give up too many big passes in play action.
Spartans Win 34-31
Cover Photo: Jonathan Quilter, McClatchy-Tribune
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