2021 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Michigan State
This Big Ten matchup will have the nation watching as two top 7 teams battle it out not only for a chance to represent the Big Ten East in the Big Ten Championship, but to have a chance of making the College Football Playoff. Both teams enter 9-1 on the season, with Ohio State being undefeated still in Big Ten play, and istting in first place. They will still need to win this week and next week to secord their bid, unless Maryland defeats Michigan this week and they beat Sparty. Michigan State has a similar path where they will need to win, and Michigan will need to lose on of the next 2 games in order to be the representative.
College GameDay returns to Columbus, and it will be the 51st time Ohio State has been a part of GameDay, the most of any school. They will be set up in front of St. John Arena, for the first 2 hours of the show, and then will work their way to the Stadium for the last hour, and where Corso will make his headgear pick. Will he wear the Brutus head one more time?
Head Coach: Mel Tucker (2nd season)
2021 Record: 9-1
Location: East Lansing, MI
Conference: Big 10
Ohio State Preview: The Buckeyes moved the ball well against Purdue last week, in what could be their best offensive performance of the season, and they will need to match that success this week as well to keep their hopes alive. If they win this game, and Michigan beats Maryland, then next weeks edition of The Game will be deciding who will play for the Big Ten Championship game, and potentially play Wisconsin. The defense gave up some yardage last week against Purdue, but the Boilermakers had one of the better offenses in the country, and better than the next 3 teams the Buckeyes will potentially play.
The Buckeyes will also be rooting for Utah this weekend, who plays Oregon and still sits in front of the Buckeyes at 3 in the CFP poll. Everything is still ahead for the Buckeyes, and they have arguably one of the toughest stretches to reach the Championship, but in order to be the best, you have to beat the best, and 3 wins with a Big Ten Title could move them up to the second best team on selection Sunday.
CJ Stroud was great last week and now has 3036 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in just 9 games played. He is one of the Heisman favorites and has a chance that no other contender has, which is play 3 straight top 15 teams, including 2 in the top 7.
TreVeyon Henderson broke 1000 yards last week, and totals 1035 on the ground with 14 touchdowns. He still remains a threat in the passing game with 223 yards and 3 touchdowns. Miyan Williams has emerged as the second leading rusher with Master Teague and Marcus Crowley being out, and lead the Buckeyes in rushing yards last week against Purdue. He has 435 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Buckeyes have the chance to do something that has never happened at Ohio State, and that is having 3 1000 yards receivers in the same season. Jaxon Smith-Njigba already eclipsed it with 1029 yards and 5 touchdowns. Garrett Wilson broke out with 4 total touchdowns last week, and for the year has 813 yards and 9 touchdowns receiving. Chris Olave is 1 touchdown shy of tying the record, and has 11 touchdowns on the season with 708 yards.
Michigan State Preview: The Spartans are having a great season thanks in large part to how Mel Tucker addressed the needs of the team in the offseason with the transfer portal, and landing Kenneth Walker. They enter this game 9-1, one spot below Ohio State, but with Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff hopes in front of them as well. They currently sit 7th in the CFP poll, 1 spot behind Michigan who they beat earlier in the season, but a win against Ohio State could propel them to the top 4, and leading the Big Ten East. A loss will eliminate them from their 4th Big Ten Championship game appearance, and potentially a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten representative. Michigan State started off the season great with 8 straight wins, but fell to Purdue on the road losing 40-29.
Michigan State will be wearing their all-white uniform combination ahead of the game.
The offense is led by Payton Thorne, who has passed for 2460 yards with 21 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He is also the teams third leading rusher with 147 yards on 60 carries with 3 touchdowns.
Kenneth Walker is their top running back, and a semi-finalist for the Doak Walker award. On the season, he has 1473 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards a carry. He also has 12 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Jayden Reid is the top receiver for the team, and has been Thorne’s teammate since middle school. He has 839 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns on the year. Their second leading receiver Jalen Naylor is injured, so the Spartans will have to rely on Tre Mosley to help with the passing threat. On the season, Mosley has 417 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Buckeye Spotlight: CJ Stroud. Henderson might out rush Walker in this game, but Stroud will be the reason the Buckeyes have a good chance to put up some big numbers in the passing game. If he doesn’t turn the ball over, or make mistakes, and can get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, her could have a really good stat line at the end of the game.
Spartan Spotlight: Kenneth Walker. The transfer running back is one of the Heisman leaders with a big performance against Michigan at the end of October. He leads the country in rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 130. Michigan State is the worst pass defense in the country, giving up 329 yards a game. Ohio State to counter is the 6th best passing offense in the country, passing for 353.6 yards a game.
Prediction: If Ohio States offense rolls like they did last week against Purdue, this game should not be even close, and the 19 point spread is justified. The Buckeyes will need to extend their lead, and make sure to not let Kenneth Walker break tackles, or else it will turn into a shoot out. Depending on the health of TreVeyon Henderson, we might see a balanced dose of Henderson and Miyan Williams to keep the Spartan defense honest, but the Buckeyes have too many weapons at receiver and will be facing the worst pass defense in the country. With the Big Ten Eats and College Football Playoff stakes on the line, this one could be a great one, but it is hard to see the Spartans keeping up scoring wise.
Ohio State 52 – Michigan State 21
Photo Credit to Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports