No. 9 Michigan State Spartans (9-1 SU, 3-7 ATS) vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0 SU, 4-6 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday November 21st, 3:30PM EST
Where: Ohio Stadium Columbus, O.H.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSU +13.5/OSU -13.5
Over/Under Total: 52
A colossal Big Ten matchup will take place this Saturday inside the Horseshoe when the 2nd ranked Ohio State Buckeyes host the no. 9 Michigan State Spartans with conference championship implications on the line. The Buckeyes have cruised through the season unscathed with the help of a pretty favorable schedule. However, Ohio State will get their biggest test of the season this week against a very good 9-1 SU Spartans team. If the Buckeyes can survive this weekends contest to stay undefeated, it will put even bigger stakes on next weeks regular season ending rivalry meeting with Michigan.
For the Spartans, they could take the outright lead in the Big Ten East Division with a victory this Saturday. Due to their victory over Michigan, they would potentially hold the tie breaker over both 1 loss teams if they can knock off the unbeaten Buckeyes. Last week Michigan State scored a 24-7 victory over Maryland despite losing quarterback Connor Cook with a shoulder injury. The senior quarterback missed the entire 2nd half and had every Spartan fan in panic with Ohio State just a week around the corner.
The good news for Michigan State fans is that Cook will be good to go this weekend. The Spartans quarterback has had a strong season with 21 touchdowns and just 4 picks. This Spartans offense has not been quite as strong in the running game this year since Jeremy Langford departed to the NFL. In fact, their leading rusher LJ Scott has just 519 yards on the season. The Spartans are averaging just 3.9 yards per carry on the season which is significantly down from the 5.1 yards per touch they averaged a week ago. As a result, the Spartans have had to turn to the air a bit more often with Cook behind center.
WR Aaron Burbridge has posted a strong season because of those circumstances as Michigan States leading target on the offensive side of the football. Burbridge has caught 65 passes for 1,021 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. Burbridge has posted big receiving lines in 4 of his last 5 games. The only exception during that streak was last weeks Maryland contest which may have been contributed more to the loss of Cook than anything. I am sure that Urban Meyer and company will find a way to give extra defensive help towards Burbridges side of the field this week. Therefore, I am more concerned about what Michigan State is going to do in order to counter? Will they turn Cook loose throwing the football or will they try to win this game on the ground against a tough Ohio State defense?
On the other side of the ball, Michigan State does not have the outstanding defense that they have had in years past and I am concerned that they may not be able to keep pace with Ohio States offense. Odds makers seem to think along those lines with the point spread currently showing at nearly 2 touchdowns. The Buckeyes have a dynamic running game with Ezekiel Elliot at the helm. Elliot has already racked up 1,425 yards and 16 touchdowns this season with an outside chance to eclipse the 2,000 yard plateau. Of course we also know that Ohio State has big play potential all over the field. J.T Barrett is coming off a strong outing against Illinois and I look for him to be a big factor in this Saturdays contest against a vulnerable Spartans defense yet again.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Interestingly the road teams have covered the mark in 6 of the last 7 meetings between Michigan State and Ohio State. I believe the Buckeyes will win this game as the Spartans have a tough time getting things going offensively. However, I also believe the entire game will be low scoring and defensive driven which gives a lot of value towards a near two touchdown spread. Consider it a small play towards Michigan State +13.5!
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