The game of the week in the Big 10 for week 11 of the 2014 season features two top 25 teams fighting for a potential spot in the conference championship game and the inaugural college football playoff. The loser of this game has the inside track on the former and is still alive for the later. The 14th ranked Ohio St. Buckeyes (7-1) travel to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, MI to take on the 8th ranked Michigan St. Spartans (7-1) on Saturday night (8:00pm ET). OSU has won 6 games in a row after their shocking 35-21 week 2 loss to Virginia Tech in the Horseshoe, since then the Buckeyes have defeated Maryland (52-24), Rutgers (56-17), Penn St. (31-24) and Illinois (55-14) last week in Big 10 play. Michigan St. has also ripped off 6 wins in a row; they lost in week 2 at Oregon 46-27 to the Ducks and have since taken down Nebraska (27-22) and Michigan (35-11) in their last action two weeks ago, among others.
The Buckeyes rank 4th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 45.6 points per game and 14th in total offense with 457.1 yards per game. OSU ranks 17th nationally in scoring defense with 19.9 PPG allowed and 8th nationally in total defense with 300 YPG allowed. The Buckeyes have greatly improved their defense from a season ago, and the unit is led by end Joey Bosa who has 110 sacks an 14.5 tackles for loss.
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Michigan St. ranks 5th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 45.5 PPG and 9th in total offense with 515.3 YPG. The Spartans feature a balanced attack on offense with quarterback Connor Cook, and are the only team on the nation to average 250 YPG both passing and running. MSU ranks 22nd nationally in scoring defense with 20.3 PPG allowed and 5th nationally in total defense with 279.4 YPG allowed. Defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun is capable of making life miserable for opposing QBs, and will look to pressure OSU freshman signal caller J.T. Barrett and force the young QB into making costly mistakes.
Ohio St. vs. Michigan St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Ohio St. Buckeyes +3.5
@Michigan St. Spartans -3.5
Over 55.5 (-110)
Under 55.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag
Ohio St. vs. Michigan St. Pick:
The Spartans took the last meeting between the two teams in last season’s Big 10 Championship Game, but the Buckeyes have won 20 straight regular season games in conference play. Since 2003 OSU head coach Urban Meyer has a 35-3 record in the month of November. The Buckeyes won in their last trip to East Lansing in 2012, a 17-16 victory.
The Spartans have the type of attacking defense that can make life miserable for Barrett, the way that Virginia Tech did in OSU’s only loss this season. MSU is the best in the Big 10 and ranks 3rd among FBS teams, with a +1.5 turnover margin per game and a +12 turnover margin overall. The Ohio St. offensive line is a weak link that Calhoun and company should be able to take advantage of to pressure Barrett relentlessly. They have the more experienced big-game quarterback in Cook, who threw for 300 yards against OSU last season and should make fewer mistakes than his counterpart this time around. With the edge upfront and under center, and a balanced attack that can play from behind or with a lead, the Spartans are the smart play here. Take MSU and give the points.