The top game in the Big 10 this week features the 14th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) in their inaugural season under new head man Urban Meyer traveling to East Lansing, MI to take on the 20th ranked Michigan State Spartans (3-1) in an afternoon (3:30pm ET) affair. OSU is 1-3 ATS this season, covering a 25.5 point win in their opening 56-10 win over Miami of Ohio, while eking out closer than expected wins over Central Florida, Cal and UAB. The Spartans are also 1-3 ATS this season, covering their week 2 41-7 win at Central Michigan while failing to cover in wins over Boise St. in their opener and Eastern Michigan last week, in addition to their 20-3 loss to Notre Dame.
The Ohio St. offense has transitioned nicely to Meyer’s version of the spread offense with quarterback Braxton Miller (754 yards passing, 441 yards rushing with 7 TDs on the ground) directing the attack. The Buckeyes rank 26th in scoring offense with an average of 37.8 points per game and 53rd in total offense with 427 yards per game. The Buckeye defense has been a bend but don’t break unit this season, ranking a mediocre 76th in total defense with 399 YPG allowed, but a very respectable 32nd in scoring defense with 17.2 PPG allowed.
Michigan State utilizes a run-oriented offense that chews up yardage with running back Le’Veon Bell (610 rushing yards, 5 TDs), and utilizes quarterback Andrew Maxwell (56.6 % completion rate, 869 yards passing) to move the ball through the air. The MSU offense ranks 65th among FBS teams in total offense with 405.2 YPG, and a dismal 105th in scoring offense with 21 PPG against a tough non-conference schedule. The Spartan defense has been outstanding, ranking 11th in scoring defense with 11.8 PPG allowed and 6th in total defense with 233.5 YPG.
Ohio St. vs. Michigan State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Ohio St. Buckeyes +2.5
@ Michigan State Spartans -2.5
Over 41.5 (-110)
Under 41.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Ohio St. vs. Michigan State Pick:
Ohio St. has gone 25-9-1 ATS in their last 35 road games, 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 games against winning teams and 42-18-1 TS in their last 61 Big 10 games. Michigan State is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Big 10 games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against winning teams and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games. The over is 4-1 in Ohio State’s last 5 Big 10 games and the under is 10-4-2 in their last 16 road games. The under is 3-0-1 in MSU’s last 4 games overall and 4-1 in their last 5 games on grass. MSU ended the Buckeyes 7 game winning streak in the series with a 10-7 win in Columbus last season.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched, and their meeting last season was about as close as it could be. This should be another tight game, with OSU looking to be an improved team from a year ago largely because Miller’s game has taken a step forward. This will be the first top-flight defense he has seen this year though, as Ohio State’s non-conference schedule was much weaker than the Spartan’s. The OSU passing game is still near the bottom (ranked 99th among FBS teams) of the national rankings, as is their ability to defend the pass (108th among FBS teams). This game should be a low-scoring affair, although it should produce more points than last year’s 10-7 slug fest. The under is a little too risky to play here, I would recommend the under if the total gets to 45 or 46. The play is to take the Spartans at home with the superior defense and a ball-control offense that should make some plays in the passing game against a weak OSU secondary.