(3) Ohio State 9-0 (6-0) v. Michigan State 3-6 (1-5)
In an interesting week of college football antics off the field, getting back to business will be great. Ohio State faces off against Michigan State, you know, the other Michigan program currently suffering from a scandal. They will do so at the Shoe and under the lights for the first time this season.
The Buckeyes continue to roll through their schedule, and the Spartans just happen to be the next stop. Ohio State won last week over Rutgers 35-16. Even though it is an impressive score against a top-rated defense, many critics would have expected the Bucks to dismantle the Scarlet Knights easily. The College Football Playoff selection committee ranked the Buckeyes at number one for the second week in a row, so they must be doing something right. With that ranking will come the added pressure to maintain and not falter, which is easier said than done.
The Spartans are without former head coach Mel Tucker as the result of an odd scandal that took place several weeks back. They’ve put together a dismal, although not as bad as it could be, record of 3-6 this season. The high-flying Washington Huskies’ offense (41-7) and their bitter rivals, the University of Michigan (49-0), embarrassed Sparty equally. The only wins of note for the Spartans were against the former MAC powerhouse Central Michigan and eeking out a narrow victory against Nebraska.
Date: Saturday, 11/11/23
Time: 7:30 PM, Eastern
Venue: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio (Capacity: 102,780)
Series: Ohio State leads 36-15
Last Meeting: Ohio State over Michigan State 49-20 (2022)
What to Watch For:
The Buckeyes keep winning. They have all the talent in the world on offense but still haven’t completely dominated a noteworthy opponent. Ryan Day and the fans in Columbus have lofty expectations, yet here we are again. There are only two games left before the marquee matchup of the Big Ten season, and if the Buckeyes plan to ease any doubts, they’ll come out and punish the other Michigan school and send a clear message to the folks in Ann Arbor. Ohio State has held the advantage over the Spartans for seven straight years, so it would be surprising if things went Sparty’s way at all.
Everyone knows the names involved by now, but we’ll go over them anyway. Receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. will continue his Heisman-worthy campaign as he leads the elite Bucks’ receiving corps in every statistic. He has 52 receptions, ten for touchdowns, and nearly 1,000 yards. His presence alone forces every team to think twice when crafting their strategies. Running back TreVeyon Henderson has returned emphatically and looks to continue steamrolling defenses this week. I expect him to make just as much of an impact as Harrison, allowing McCord to continue the arduous journey to being an elite quarterback. The Bucks will be as much substance as they are flash with their unique one-off gray uniforms making their appearance on Saturday night.
There isn’t much to watch for. Statistically, Michigan State doesn’t crack the top 50 in offense. They average just under 15 points per game, which is good for the bottom of the barrel, ranking 130th and 117th in yards, averaging roughly 302 yards per game. Maybe these stats are due to the fact they have been without quarterback Noah Kim since the end of September, relying on three others to try and fill the void.
All things considered, the defense isn’t much better. Sparty gives up nearly 370 yards while allowing 28 points per game on average. The defense garners less than two takeaways per game while getting roughly three sacks per game. In fact, their sack totals are the only thing that may cause concern for the Buckeyes, as their offensive line is still trying to find their identity.
Ohio State finally has the opportunity to play at home, under the lights, and in the prime time slot. Both previous matchups for the Bucks after dark happened on the road in hostile environments and eventually led to victories. I expect with the Buckeyes being urged on by their faithful fans in brand-new uniforms to be electric. Michigan State will have to bring everything they’ve got and then some just to stand a chance. This game should be an onslaught, but in the end, Ryan Day’s Ohio State will dominate but not obliterate 38-7.