Game Matchup: Ohio State Vs. Michigan State

It's finally here, and the Big Ten showdown between Ohio State and Michigan State tonight is as evenly matched as can be. The Buckeyes and Spartans enter the game each with impressive statistics. So who gets the edge? Take a look at the numbers, facts, figures and our pick.

Ohio State at Michigan State

Matchup Preview | November 8, 2014
No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes
(7-1, 4-0)
No. 8 Michigan State Spartans
(7-1, 4-0)
Offensive Stats Comparison
45.6 (4th in NCAA)Points Per Game45.5 (5th in NCAA)
259.3 (13)Rushing Yards Per Game254.9 (15)
245.9 (54)Passing Yards Per Game260.4 (63)
505.1 (14)Total Yards Per Game515.3 (9)
169.3 (2)Passing Efficiency160.3 (7)
48.5% (11)Third Down %47.4% (17)
68.9% (29)Red Zone TD %73.8% (9)
40.1 (22)Net Punting34.8 (103)
45 (38)20+ Yard Plays52 (13)
7.11% (84)Sacked Percentage2.37% (7)
9-13 (69.2%, 74)Field Goals Made7-12 (58.3%, 107)
Defensive Stats Comparison
19.9 (17)Points Allowed20.3 (22)
118.6 (18)Rushing Yards Allowed95.4 (6)
181.4 (13)Passing Yards Allowed184.0 (15)
300.0 (8)Total Yards Allowed279.4 (5)
106.9 (18)Pass Efficiency Defense103.7 (8)
36.3 (41)Third Down Defense26.6% (2)
68.2% (105)Red Zone TD Allowed63.2% (74)
+1.0 (10)Turnover Margin+1.5 (3)
8.66% (15)Sacks Percentage9.87% (8)

Five Fast Facts About Michigan State
1. Michigan State has won seven of its last eight home night games – including one on a walkoff fake field goal vs. Notre Dame in 2010 and one on a Hail Mary a year later vs. Wisconsin – but OSU has won seven of eight in East Lansing.

2. With 71 victories in 101 games since being hired in 2007, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is second all-time in victories among Spartans coaches, trailing only Duffy Daugherty (109 wins). Dantonio is 18-5 in November.

3. The average heights and weights of Michigan State’s starting offensive line and tight ends is 6-4, 296 pounds. On Ohio State’s side? 6-4, 296.

4. MSU is one of seven schools to have had a player taken every year in the NFL draft since it began in its current format in 1967, joining Arizona State, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee and USC.

5. Michigan State has won 13 consecutive Big Ten games, only one of which – a 27-22 win vs. Nebraska earlier this year – was by less than 10 points.

Game Breakdown
Much of Michigan State’s defensive success the past two years has been built on a stout rush defense, and again the Spartans rank among the best in the nation. MSU has allowed 95.4 yards per game this year on the ground, good for sixth in the nation, but there have been some performances that could worry Spartans fans, including 173 yards gained by Oregon and 213 by Indiana. Teams are averaging 3.3 yards per carry vs. MSU and have scored 12 rushing TDs, so this isn’t quite as impenetrable a defense as last year. The Buckeyes also had success on the ground at times last year, racking up 273 yards. Ohio State’s offense isn’t the same this year, but neither is MSU’s defense, so we’ll keep the slight edge with OSU. EDGE: OHIO STATE

Jeremy Langford is as solid as they come, having topped 100 yards on the ground in 12 consecutive league games dating back to last season. He’s a powerful runner who gets better as the game goes on, but Ohio State will be a test. The Buckeyes are also among the best rush defenses in the nation, allowing 118.6 yards per contest to place 18th in the country. Most importantly, the Buckeyes haven’t given up huge chunks, allowing just one rush of 30 yards or more. This could be sledgehammer on sledgehammer throughout the game. EDGE: EVEN

How Ohio State chooses to attack in this realm could determine the game. There’s no doubt Barrett has had more success throwing the ball than many expected, but his last appearance on the road under the lights was perhaps his worst of the season. Add in the fact that the Spartans run an aggressive, confusing scheme and this edge has to go to the home team. MSU is eighth in the nation in team passing efficiency defense, limiting opposing QBs to just 51.0 percent passing with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. EDGE: MICHIGAN STATE

Some doubted whether Connor Cook could build on a sophomore campaign in which he became one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten by the end of last year, but all he’s done is become one of the most efficient passers in the nation. Cook enters the game seventh in the nation in passing efficiency, having thrown just five interceptions all year against 17 touchdowns. He also has a legit No. 1 target in Tony Lippett (21.2 yards per catch) and some pretty solid secondary options. This will be a very good test of OSU’s back seven, and the front line must get pressure – MSU has allowed just five sacks this year. EDGE: OHIO STATE

This was supposed to be a Michigan State strength with a returning kicker and punter, but both specialists have had rough seasons. Kicker Michael Geiger has made just 7 of 12 kicks, missing his last three, while punter Mike Sadler has gone from first-team All-American to presiding over the 103rd-ranked net punt unit in the nation. The Spartans also haven’t done much in the return game and have allowed a punt return score. EDGE: OHIO STATE

It’s hard to pick one side over the other in this realm heading it as everything is on the line in this one. Ohio State will be playing for revenge after Michigan State cast aside the Buckeyes’ national championship hopes last year, while the Spartans will have a raucous crowd behind them while wanting to confirm that they are still the Big Ten’s big boys. In addition, the winner of this game will have a huge advantage when it comes to securing a trip to the league championship game. Both teams should be ready, as neither has lost a Big Ten regular-season game since 2012. EDGE: EVEN

So here it is, the biggest game of the Big Ten regular season. This game has been circled for months, and it’s put up or shut up time for the Buckeyes. Can Urban Meyer keep his team on track for the first conference title in his tenure, or will youth and inexperience doom the Buckeyes to have to wait another year on that quest? This game seems balanced on a knife’s edge, as both teams have stats that place them among the best in the nation in many categories. In our paper, we picked Ohio State to earn a 27-21 win, but this section on the web is set aside for the average scores provided by BSB writers, as noted below. When the individual predictions came in, three writers had picked OSU and three Michigan State. The average score, however, went for the Spartans. MICHIGAN STATE 27-26

The staff pick is an average of predictions by staffers Kane Anderson, Ryan Ginn, Matthew Hager, Mark Rea, Jeff Svoboda and Blake Williams

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