Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date and Time: November 8 - 8pm ET
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OSU +3.5/MSU -3.5
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Within each conference season, there comes a swing game that will propel the winner towards the championship game and send the loser begging. One such contest happens this Saturday night when the Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans (7-1). The winner is in the drivers seat to be the Big Ten East representative in Indianapolis and will drastically improve their chances of being included in the four-team playoff picture. These teams met in the B1G Championship game last year with MSU coming out on top so there is an additional revenge factor for the Buckeyes. Given what is at stake, this is probably the most important game to date on the NCAA Football season.
The online betting sites have installed Michigan State as 3.5 point favorites and the Spartans look to continue their good play coming off a bye week as they have won four of the last five games against the spread when returning from an idle week. Ohio State looks to stay hot against the spread after accumulating a 5-1 record in their last six games overall and a 4-1 ATS mark in the last five against MSU. The underdog is 4-1 against the spread in the last five between these teams and the road team has won four of the last five ATS.
Michigan State has won two of the last three meetings between the schools but all of the games have been close with a 4.6 point average margin of victory. These squads are near mirror images of each other as both teams possess brilliant offensive attacks and stout defenses. The stat comparison is nearly identical with OSU averaging 45.6 points per game to MSUs 45.5 and the defenses allow 19.9 and 20.2 PPG respectively. This one is simply strength on strength.
Ohio State has truly been on a roll since their loss to Virginia Tech, scoring at least 50 points in five of the last six games and, outside of the 31-14 overtime win against Penn State, all of the games have been nearly decided by halftime. That fact might be the only downside to the Bucks latest run is that they havent had to step up and make many plays with the game on the line. OSU is looking for its 21st regular season conference win and has yet to lose a Big Ten game regular season game under Urban Meyer.
State is riding an impressive streak as well, with 13 straight wins in conference and have one of the best offensive balances in the country. Connor Cook has thrown for 17 touchdowns against just five interceptions with Tony Lippett (42-889-9) leading the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. The run game has been led by Jeremy Langfords 841 yards and 10 scores but five different Spartans have at least two rushing touchdowns. They face a top-20 run defense this week but this will still be a run-first gameplan as MSU looks to soften up the Buckeyes.
Ohio State leans on J.T. Barrett to be a do-it-all QB and he had performed well, throwing for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns while adding 496 yards and six scores on the ground. There arent many teams that spread it around like OSU. Seven different receivers have at least 10 catches on the year and nine different pass catchers have at least one touchdown. Devin Smith defines what a big play threat is with seven touchdowns on just 16 receptions, averaging 27.2 yards per catch. Ezekial Elliott leads the Buckeyes with 705 rushing yards but MSU will be tasked with defending multiple rushers as four OSU players have at least four rushing touchdowns. The Spartans are top-15 in defending both the run and the pass but gave up a ton of yards and 46 points to Oregon and they havent faced a truly dynamic offense since.
This is the current premier rivalry in the Big Ten and there wont be a game with more at stake in the conference this year. Both teams have veteran leaders, are well coached and have plenty of playmakers so this one is a bit of a coin flip overall but I think you have to give the edge to Michigan State in their own building. I cant imagine anyone running away with this game as the defenses are just too good to give up a ton of points and this one should be a whistle to whistle grinder. OSU might have a bit more top-end to their offense but MSU has the crowd and Cook is the more polished signal caller. The hook bothers the heck out of me in this one as it could easily be a field goal game but Im will to lay the three and half and predict a Michigan State win. Watch for a line change as some books have this line at 3. It will be close and Ohio State has the goods to be up in this game at any point but MSU wears them down at home. Michigan State 30 Ohio State 24
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Michigan State