No. 3 Ohio State will be trying to keep its hopes alive for a College Football Playoff berth and an undefeated season when it goes on the road to face Michigan State on Saturday. Ohio State began the season with a tense and difficult 21-10 win over a Notre Dame team ranked in the top five at the time, but life has been much easier for the Buckeyes since.
Ohio State's reeled off four more wins, outscoring opponents 223-64 and never scoring fewer than 45 points. That includes two Big Ten wins over Wisconsin and Rutgers by a combined score of 101-31. However, all five of Ohio State's games have been at home; the trip to East Lansing will be the first road game of the season.
Once there, the Buckeyes will confront a Michigan State team dealing with a disappointing start to the season. After going 11-2 last year and winning the Peach Bowl, the Spartans have already surpassed their 2021 loss total. Michigan State began the year with wins over Western Michigan and Akron, but have lost three straight since to Washington, Minnesota and Maryland -- the latter two by a combined score of 61-20. Now, it must find a way to slow the bleeding while having to face the best team in the Big Ten.
Follow along at this link here for live updates, highlights and analysis of Ohio State vs. Michigan State on Saturday.
How to watch Ohio State vs. Michigan State live
Date: Saturday, October 8 | Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: Spartan Stadium -- East Lansing, Michigan
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Ohio State vs. Michigan State: Need to know
Ohio State has won six straight meetings: If Michigan State is going to end its three-game losing streak, it'll have to end a six-game losing streak to Ohio State in the process. The Spartans haven't beaten the Buckeyes since a 17-14 win at Ohio Stadium during the 2015 season. Making matters worse, after a close 17-16 Ohio State win in 2016, it's been nothing but blowouts since. Ohio State has won the last four meetings by an average of 35.6 points, including a 56-7 whooping last season.
Ohio State stars on the mend: The Buckeyes have been without star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba for nearly the entire season after he suffered a hamstring injury in the opener against Notre Dame. Ohio State coach Ryan Day said this week he's "hoping" Smith-Njigba can return to action this weekend, but with injuries of this nature it's "so hard to tell." Star running back TreVeyon Henderson is expected back against the Spartans after being added to the injury report last week vs. Ohio State, according to Day.
Michigan State's pass defense has been abysmal: It was a problem last season and one Mel Tucker tried to address in the offseason. Whatever he's done, it hasn't worked. The Spartans defense has played well against the run, but it's being gashed by opposing quarterbacks. The Spartans rank 107th nationally in expected points added (EPA) per pass against and 107th in pressure rate against quarterbacks. In short, the Spartans aren't pressuring the quarterback, giving him time to find open receivers, and asking their secondary to cover for far too long. Considering the Ohio State offense they'll be facing Saturday, that's a significant concern.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State prediction, picks
If betting the spread, I lean toward Ohio State -25.5, but with questions about the availability of Smith-Njigba and Henderson, I'm not as confident. It's entirely possible the Buckeyes could build an early advantage and take their foot off the gas to rest some banged up players and save themselves for upcoming games against Iowa and Penn State. Plus, while Michigan State's biggest problem has been its defense, the team's offense hasn't been great, either. When considering all of that, the under seems like the best play on the board. Prediction: Under 65
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