The Ohio State football team is heading into the home stretch and the next two weeks will determine where the Buckeyes will play in the postseason.
The Bucks got off to a good start with a dominating performance Saturday against Purdue. Yes, the defense still doesn’t seem to have it all together, but it’s hard to get a true picture with the pass-happy offense the Boilermakers bring to the table.
Ohio State will now face Michigan State in what is effectively a playoff elimination game. Can the Buckeye defense stop Kenneth Walker, who many believe is the Heisman frontrunner? Hang on tight fans … the next few weeks promise to be a wild ride.
NEXT … Records and broadcast information
Records and Broadcast Information
Ohio State (9-1), Michigan State (9-1)
Broadcast, TV, Game Time
Date: Saturday, Nov. 20
Game Time: Noon. EST
Venue: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, Ohio ) Capacity: 104,944
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 34-15
Last Meeting: Ohio State defeated Michigan State 52-12 in 2020
Next … The game plan
Ohio State Game Plan for Victory
Ohio State has been playing at a high level for the past several weeks. However, Michigan State will be the best opponent the Buckeyes have seen since week 2 against Oregon. Sparty is a much more well-rounded team than we’ve seen from East Lansing in recent years.
This Spartan team has embraced the physical toughness embodied by head coach Mel Tucker. There is no quit in this MSU team as we witnessed in the fourth-quarter comeback win over Michigan. And they did it mainly on the ground behind the legs of Wake Forest transfer, Kenneth Walker III.
The Ohio State defense must keep Walker in check if it wants to walk away from Saturday and still be in playoff contention. As we mentioned earlier, Walker is a legit Heisman candidate with nearly 1500 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season.
Even if the Buckeyes can bottle Walker up, the secondary will have to account for a more than capable passing attack led by Payton Thorne. The Spartan QB has passed for close to 2500 yards and 21 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. You’ll also hear a lot about Thorne’s childhood friend, Jaydon Reed, who is one of the top receivers in the Big Ten. Bottom line, the Spartans have multiple weapons at their disposal.
On the offensive side of the ball, the O-line will need to up its game in pass protection. Michigan State is second in the conference with 31 sacks on the season, behind only Ohio State who has recorded 33 sacks. However, Sparty ranks dead last in yards allowed per game, giving up 444 yards on average each week.
That doesn’t bode well when going up against the top-rated offense, not just in the conference, but in the entire country. The Bucks will need to keep spreading it out and make good use of their vast array of skill players and the points will come.
Next … The key players for Ohio State
Key Players for Ohio State
Chris Olave – wide receiver: Chris Olave has quietly put together arguably the greatest receiving career in Ohio State history. The Buckeyes have had some all-time greats wear the scarlet and gray and Olave is about to pass David Boston in the record books for receiving touchdowns. The Spartans won’t be able to cover all three OSU receivers. After Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson went off in the last two weeks, it feels like it’s Olave’s turn.
Jerron Cage – Defensive Tackle: Ohio State leads the Big Ten in sacks against opposing quarterbacks. However, the Buckeyes did not record a single sack against Purdue on Saturday. That can be attributed to the fact that the Purdue passing attack consists of mostly quick hitters. The big guys in the middle need to limit Kenneth Walker and force Michigan State into third and long situations where the ends can pressure quarterback Payton Thorne.
Next … How it’ll all go down
The Predicted Outcome
Both teams know what’s on the line when they take the field this Saturday. The winner stays alive in the College Football Playoff race and the loser is effectively eliminated from playoff contention. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
Michigan State has looked solid all year long playing with toughness and relying on Kenneth Walker to do the heavy lifting with a dash of Payton Thorne when needed. With the exception of laying an egg at Purdue, Sparty has looked the part of contender.
But this will be the first time they walk into an environment like Ohio Stadium and face the type of depth that the Buckeyes have. The Spartans will score some early, but they won’t be able to keep up with the Bucks high-powered offense. Ohio State pulls away in the second half to set up another showdown with arch-rival, Michigan.
Ohio State 42, Michigan State 24
Ohio State favored by 18.5
All Betting Lines are Courtesy of Tipico Sportsbook