OHIO STATE AT
From 2011 to 2016, Michigan State and Ohio State split six meetings, including two games decided by one point and two decided by three.
Last year, however, the Buckeyes steamrolled the Spartans, 48-3, in Columbus. MSU was held to 195 total yards and converted just 4-of-17 third down attempts. Meanwhile, Ohio State racked up 335 yards on the ground as both Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins eclipsed the 100-yard mark.
This season, the Buckeyes enter this matchup 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten. They can win the Big Ten East by winning their final three games, including a date against #4 Michigan on November 24. Ohio State has one of the top offenses in the country this season, led by sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who ranks in the top-10 nationally in passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdowns. The Buckeyes rushing attack is the two-headed monster of Dobbins and Weber. Dobbins leads the team with 684 yards this year and seven touchdowns, while Weber has 607 yards and three scores.
The Ohio State defense is a youthful bunch in 2018 and has gone through some growing pains. The Buckeyes rank eighth in the Big Ten and 69th in the country in total defense, surrendering nearly 400 yards per game. Part of the problem may be that Ohio State is without future first round NFL Draft pick Nick Bosa, who will miss the rest of the season after surgery on a core injury. But even with Bosa the Buckeyes were playing with a thinner defensive line than normal as OSU lost five defensive players to the NFL Draft in 2017, three of which were defensive lineman.
Michigan State has had a roller coaster of a season. The Spartans are 6-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play, but have been up-and-down all year. MSU lost a shocker to Arizona State, 16-13, back in week two, then again fell in surprising fashion to Northwestern in early October. The Spartans bounced back with a win over then-#8 Penn State, only to lose the next week to Michigan in a game where MSU had only 94 yards of total offense. Throughout the year, Michigan State’s offense has had a tough time getting going. Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke has battled injuries and inconsistent play and the MSU running game hasn’t found its footing. Overall, the MSU offense is ranked 111th in total offense.
Where the Spartans have shined is on defense, specifically against the run. Michigan State boasts the top rushing defense in the country, holding opponents to 72 yards per game. Against the pass, MSU’s defensive passing efficiency is 37th nationally, boosted by the fact that the Spartans have 12 interceptions this season, third best in the Big Ten. The Michigan State defense is led by junior linebacker Joe Bachie, who leads the team with 68 tackles this year. Junior defensive end and former walk-on Kenny Willekes has become one of the best pass rushers in the country, leading MSU with 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
This game sets up as strength against strength when Ohio State’s offense meets the Michigan State defense. The Buckeyes are talented enough that they will score some points, so this game should come down to whether or not the Spartan offense can find some rhythm throwing the ball.