I am a bad decision-maker to begin with, so I feel this way often, but it feels like a mistake to put the best opponent on the schedule as the third-most anticipated game of the season. Alas, here we are.
Last year, Michigan State was the clear-cut, circle-the-calendar game on Ohio State’s schedule. Not only did the Spartans present the biggest challenge on the schedule, but there was also the revenge angle from 2013 and the mounting pressure to win something – anything – for the 2014 seniors. It seemed inconceivable (rightfully so, it turned out) that Urban Meyer could go three years at Ohio State without winning much other than the Illibuck and a division title, but breaking that hex hinged on the Buckeyes’ 2014 trip to East Lansing.
The Spartans are in all likelihood the only thing capable of standing between Ohio State and another trip to Indianapolis, so this game will once again be the most practically important one of the regular season. But fandom isn’t practical or emotional, and I’m betting the bloodlust of revenge and blinding hatred make Virginia Tech and Michigan more anticipated and intriguing games at the moment.
No. 3: Michigan State
Conference: Big Ten
Stadium: Spartan Stadium (75,005)
Head coach: Mark Dantonio (ninth year, 75-31)
Record against Ohio State: 14-29
Returning starters: seven offense, seven defense
2014 record: 11-2 (7-1 Big Ten)
Scout.com recruiting rankings: No. 18 (2015), No. 19 (2014), No. 47 (2013), No. 37 (2012), No. 27 (2011)
Who to watch: QB Connor Cook, DT Shilique Calhoun, C Jack Allen, LT Jack Conklin, LB Ed Davis
Why This Matchup Could Be Higher:
The Spartans are, at least on paper, by far the best team Ohio State is going to face in the regular season. That’s good enough to land the top spot of most anticipated game almost every year (including last fall), but #revenge and #Harbaugh are not to be trifled with.
Why This Matchup Could Be Lower:
Not possible, really. Even this seems too low.