Rivalry games are heavy on the menu for this week’s action in NCAA Football and this game between the #14 Ohio State Buckeyes and the #20 Michigan State Spartans will renew a great Big 10 rivalry which should be a fantastic battle. The Buckeyes enter the game with a 4-0 record while the Spartans come into this one with a 3-1 record as this is both teams conference opening contest.
Ohio State is currently averaging 197.8 passing yards (99th in FBS), 229.3 rushing yards (24th in FBS) and 37.8 points (25th in FBS) per contest while allowing just 17.3 points (32nd in FBS) per game which are all pretty solid numbers across the board. When one talks of Ohio State offense the conversation clearly begins with their sensational sophomore signal caller Braxton Miller. So far this season Miller is leading the team in seven different statistical categories including pass attempts (98), pass completions (60), passing yards (754), passing touchdowns (7), rushing attempts (67), rushing yards (441) and rushing touchdowns (7). If the Buckeyes look to earn a tough victory on the road in East Lansing, not only will Miller have to play as he has all season but someone else is going to have to step for them as well.
The candidates that OSU has for that role of assisting Miller in this contest could be senior running back Jordan Hall (34 carries for 192 yards), junior running back Carlos Hyde (24 carries for 109 yards), sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith (17 receptions for 272 yards and 3 TD) and junior wide receiver Philly Brown (20 receptions for 233 yard and a TD). One or two of these players are going to have to play their best game of the season in order for the Buckeyes to notch a tough road victory.
The Spartans head into this game averaging 229 passing yards (61st in FBS), 176.3 rushing yards (55th in FBS) and 21 points (104th in FBS) per game while allowing just 11.8 points per game (11th in FBS). Not only are they going to need another strong performance out of their defense who has only given up more than 13 points once (20 points versus Notre Dame in their sole loss) but are also going to need more out their sputtering offense. That offense runs through their star junior running back Le’Veon Bell who so far this season is pulling his weight well with 117 carries for 610 yards and five touchdowns along with 12 receptions for 67 yards.
Bell’s going to need some help though and junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell (81-143, 869 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT and 56.6 completion percentage) is going to have to give him that aid. Maxwell is going to have to find a way to get the ball to his other playmakers besides Bell in order to keep the Buckeyes defense honest. Two of those other playmakers include junior tightend Dion Sims (22 receptions for 277 yards and 2 TD) and junior wideout Bennie Fowler (14 receptions for 154 yards and a TD). If Maxwell can put his finger prints on this game then they should be able to knock off their conference rivals.
This is going to be a typical Big 10 physical, knock-down drag out contest which will feature plenty of rushing and even more defense; I like the Spartans to get the win 24-20.