EAST LANSING, Mich. - Seventh-ranked Ohio State is in must-win mode to remain in the national championship picture as it travels to face Michigan State on Saturday in Big 12 play. The Buckeyes, who are 10th in the College Football Playoff rankings, have allowed an average of 40 points while splitting their last two games and their high-powered offense should be tested by the Spartans' stingy defense.
TV: Noon ET, FOX. LINE: Ohio State -3.5
Michigan State (18th CFP) leads the nation in rushing defense (71.7 yards per game) and allowed just 100 total yards while beating Maryland 24-3 last Saturday, but coach Mark Dantonio was stunned to be asked if he is "eager" to see his unit in action against the Ohio State offense. "Am I eager? That might be an overstatement," Dantonio told reporters. "I'm curious. But you know last year they had their way so we're going to have to play very, very well, have to know what they do and be on top of our A-game." The Buckeyes certainly did have their way while walloping Michigan State 48-3 last season and the prolific offense is averaging 42.2 points per game this season. Ohio State scored 40 or more points in five of its first six games but is averaging just 28.7 points over its past three contests.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten)
After topping 400 passing yards in a school-record three straight games, sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. threw for just 252 yards in a 36-31 win over Nebraska but boasts season totals of 3,053 yards and 32 touchdowns against six interceptions. Sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins (684 yards) had a season-best 163 yards on the ground against the Cornhuskers during a contest in which the team's best two wideouts - senior Parris Campbell (56 catches for 631 yards and eight touchdowns) and junior K.J. Hill (51-695-4) - combined for just 70 receiving yards. Junior defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones has a team-high 10 tackles for loss for a unit allowing 23.8 points per game.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (6-3, 4-2)
Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke has passed for 1,740 yards and eight touchdowns against eight interceptions for an offense averaging 23.4 points per game. The defense allows 19 points per outing and received a yeoman effort from linebacker Joe Bachie against Maryland as the junior forced a career-best three fumbles (recovering one) and recorded two tackles for loss while winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. Bachie has a team-best 68 tackles while junior defensive end Kenny Willekes leads the squad with 13.5 tackles for loss, including a team-best 7.5 sacks.
1. Ohio State leads the series 31-15, including 16-5 when playing in East Lansing.
2. Spartans sophomore RB Connor Heyward rushed for a career-best 157 yards against Maryland.
3. The Buckeyes rushed for a season-high 229 yards against Nebraska.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 30, Michigan State 24
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