Note: If you're looking for the 2015 Week 12 matchup between these teams, please go here: MSU vs. OSU 11/21/15 Game.
Michigan State Spartans (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, Week 5 NCAA Football, Saturday, October 1, 2011, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, TV: ABC/ESPN
by Badger, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSU +3/OSU -3
Over/Under Total: OFF
Two one-loss teams looking to make a spark and get back into the eye of the national pollsters will clash in the Horseshoe this Saturday when the Ohio State Buckeyes host the Michigan State Spartans for a tough Big Ten Conference opener for both teams in Columbus.
But with the national spotlight 400 miles away in Madison, and the new oddity of the Leaders Division (Ohio St.) and the Legends Division (Mich. St.) in the Big Ten putting these two schools in opposite brackets, the Spartans-Buckeyes opener that looked so promising in the preseason has turned into an undercard-type of game on Saturday’s college football docket.
Michigan State enters the Horseshoe on Saturday fresh off a solid tune up against an inferior Central Michigan team last weekend, 45-7, in a game where the Spartans successfully exorcised the demons from their loss the week before at Notre Dame. Offensively the Spartans ran the football for 197 yards and over 4 yards per carry against the Chippewas (held to 29 yards vs. ND), and the defense intercepted four passes and held Central Michigan to 112 yards of total offense in the lopsided win.
Ohio State also enters the game Saturday riding high on the rebound, scoring a, 37-17, win last Saturday over a mistake-prone Colorado Buffaloes one week after their disappointing loss at Miami. The Buckeyes turned to true-freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to spark the offense, and Miller (83 yards rushing; only 5-of-13 passing, 83 yards, 2 TD) took advantage of great field position to give Ohio State exactly what they needed in the victory over the Buffaloes.
Adding to the malaise kind of feeling around this game is it’s ho-hum point spread from the oddsmakers, opening with the Buckeyes listed as the “standard” 3-point favorites for having homefield advantage at the Shoe. The early action has been pretty even-handed on that number for both teams, resulting to very little line movement thus far. There are a few offshore sportsbooks that have moved the point spread to 3.5-points, but for the most part everyone is still listing the game at minus -3.
As of press time the over/under total has yet to be released.
The key to this game is going to be defense. More specifically, the defense that stops the run because that’s what both offenses are built to do.
The Spartans grind away with Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker as much as they can on offense, but with an offensive line that’s already on their backups at several positions they might struggle against the Buckeyes front seven. The good news for Michigan State is that the Buckeyes have struggled stopping the run, giving up 5.7 yards per rush against Miami and 4.8 per against Colorado the past two weeks.
Ohio State will also rely on a time-consuming running game on Saturday, especially now since Miller is much more dangerous as a runner than as a passer this early in his college career. The combo of Miller with Jordan Hall is going to be a tough task for the Spartans run defense, but the unit should be up to the task since they only allowed 114 yards (3.6 ypc) in the loss at Notre Dame. Look for them to sellout to stop the run and make Miller have to throw it over the top to beat them.
If either of these teams is unable to run it and is forced to play catch-up, the edge has to go to Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins over Miller. Cousins played well under pressure at ND (34-of-53, 329 yds., TD, INT), but he’s not really a “carry-your-offense” type of QB but more like a “manage-your-offense” kind of one that needs a running game.
But Cousins might be good enough though, because Miller is still raw in the passing game and is likely to be replaced by Joe Bauserman if the Buckeyes fall behind too quickly. It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility to see the Buckeyes game plan a few series for Bauserman anyway, because they really need to try and remain two-dimensional with both the run and pass and the jury is still out on Miller as a passer in comeback or two-minute mode.
The Spartans and Buckeyes haven’t met on the field since the 2008 season, a 45-7 butt-whoopin’ the Buckeyes laid on the Spartans in their home stadium. Ohio State won the matchup the year earlier in ’07 at the Horseshoe as well, but it was a much closer game all around with the Buckeyes eventually prevailing, 24-17.
All told the Buckeyes haven’t lost to Michigan State since the 1999 season, a seven-game win streak that also includes a 5-1-1 ATS mark for bettors who bet along with it.
The year before, in 1998, is the last time the Spartans have won in Ohio Stadium in a major upset,28-24, as 27.5-point underdogs before kickoff.
Ohio State is a rock-solid 17-4 ATS in their last 21 home games as the Shoe. Michigan State is not a great road team either, going 1-5 ATS in their last six games as a road underdog.
The under is riding a few nice betting trends, including a 5-2 mark in the Spartans last seven Big Ten games and a 4-1 record in the Buckeyes last five at home. Both teams play under the total on fieldturf too, with both teams playing under the total in four of their last five on the fake-grass surface.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I was burned by the Spartans a few weeks back at Notre Dame, so it’s hard for me to pull the trigger on them. But with a senior QB in Cousins, and enough defense to contain Miller and make Ohio State one-dimensional, I have to say I like the Spartans straight up here as well. Burn me twice, shame on me, but I like Michigan State plus the 3-points.
Are you still betting with a corner bookie? Find out why online is the better choice by reading our piece titled Betting Online vs. The Corner Street Bookie.
Editor's Picks - Each weekend our very own in-house All-American Editor makes his NCAA point spread predictions in an attempt to force fumbles, sack and intercept your bookie!
Expert College Football Picks - Free premium college foots plays against the spread from expert handicappers from around the web from week 1 through the National Championship.
Underdog of the Week Pick - We sort through it all and find out which University is getting "too many points" this week. If there was a Heisman Trophy for picking underdogs, we'd be a frontrunner. Expect a 57%+ winning percentage with these picks as we've got a keen ear for loud barking dogs.
Line Movement - NCAA football lines open early in the week and often times move up or down based on wagering activity, injuries to key players and weather. We decipher whether it's square or wiseguy action and predict the point spread winner based on value.
College Football Consensus Picks - We assess the public perception each week and let them pick the winners for us as we fade their selections which provides us with many trips into our bookies endzone.
Computer Picks - We enter them into the computer and the machine makes it's picks. This is a great guide especially when betting totals! These are available after the first few weeks of the season.
Trends - Despite what you have been told or read on tout sites, the trend ain't your friend. We however turn the tables and fade the almighty trend for what should be some great profits over time.
2015 College Football Predictions - Badger gives his picks to win each major conference. At the end, he gives his prediction on who thinks will win the 2016 National Championship game.
2015 Heisman Trophy Predictions - Trevone Boykin (TCU QB) is favored to win the award at 7.5-1 odds but Bob says this is a sucker bet! Dak Prescott should be a contender and ball carriers Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette look good as well!
2016 College Football Championship Predictions - NCAA football handicapper Bob gives his picks on who he thinks will win the 2016 National Championship. Despite not liking to side with heavy favorites, he believes the Alabama Crimson Tide (+950) are the team to beat.
MyBookie - Get a HUGE 50% bonus (up to $1000 FREE!) after making an initial deposit of $100 or more! Great at getting Visa cards to work for deposits.
Bovada - Boasts the highest credit card acceptance rate on the internet! HUGE menu of wagers for you to choose from! One of few online sportsbooks to offer Texas Hold'em! 50% bonus up to $250 in free cash!
5Dimes - 15 team parlays! 20 point teasers! Reduced juice betting odds! Buy up to 15 points! Most props on the web!
Bookmaker - Offers a HUGE 50% sign up bonus up to $300! Enjoy LIVE college football betting where you can jump into the action at any time during the game and place a bet! This gives you a huge advantage!
Heisman Trophy Betting Odds - Ezekiel Elliott starts the season as a 6/1 favorite to win the award. Those that have seen crafty LSU Soph. Leonard Fournette think he's a lock though. Trevone Boykin brings experience and plays on a high scoring team. Cardale Jones won the big game last year and is listed as 12-1. It might be a good year to bet more than one prediction!
Odds to Win the 2015 BCS Championship - The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored to be repeat winners of the National Championship this year at +500 followed by Oregon at +800, Ohio St. +850, LSU/Texas A&M +1200 and Florida/FSU both at +1400. Check out your school's odds here!
Heisman Trophy Winners - A full list of college football quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers who have made history on the field and won the prestigious award.
Fantasy College Football - Draft a fresh team every week! Leagues range from $2 to $420! You can play head to head or in big groups! Payouts take place approx. one hour after the final Saturday game.
The Spread - Who will cover the spread? They will! Offers scores, odds, free game predictions, current news and more!