The Buckeyes will play in their second road game in as many weeks. The BSB staff came up with five things to watch for when OSU plays the Spartans.
1. Will MSU Defensive Tackle Malik McDowell Play?
Junior defensive tackle Malik McDowell did not play in Michigan State’s game vs. Rutgers last Saturday as he sat out with a left ankle injury. He wasn’t listed on the team’s depth chart that was released Tuesday and head coach Mark Dantonio said he’s probably out for the game vs. Ohio State. For the season, McDowell has 34 tackles and leads the team with seven tackles for loss. Not having McDowell for this game could be a blow to an MSU rush defense that ranks eighth in the Big Ten, allowing 160.3 rushing yards per contest.
2. How Will The Weather Affect Play-Calling?
There’s about a 50 percent chance there will be either rain or snow showers during the game between the Buckeyes and Spartans Saturday afternoon. With that in mind, it should be interesting to see how both coaching staffs run their respective offenses. Last year’s contest in Columbus was cold and rainy, which led to OSU running the ball 29 times for 86 yards and MSU running it a whopping 51 times for 203 yards. How will Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and his guys approach this game should the conditions be similar? We’ll soon find out.
3. Will Another OSU Receiver Step Up?
In the last two games against Nebraska and Maryland, junior H-back Curtis Samuel spearheaded the Buckeyes’ air attack. He led the team with eight receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns against the Cornhuskers. A week later against the Terrapins, he hauled in five passes for 74 yards and added another score. Outside of Samuel, no other Buckeye has really broken away from the pack of late. Redshirt freshman receiver K.J. Hill has played well the last couple of games, recording 10 total receptions for 128 yards. A lot of that, however, was in the second half of both games when the contests were well in hand. So, the score of the game may dictate how much playing time he gets.
4. Which Team Will Get Off To A Fast Start?
Ohio State has scored 45 points in the first quarter of the last three games combined. The Spartans, meanwhile, have scored 31 points in that same time span. It should be noted that 21 of those points came in the 49-0 win over 2-8 Rutgers last week. So, which team will get off to the quick start? And how important is it to start fast in this one? Considering what the weather could be like, the team that scores early and often may be able to coast to a victory while the opponent tries to play catchup.
5. How Close Will Barrett Get To The B1G TD Record?
Ohio State junior quarterback J.T. Barrett is responsible for 98 career touchdowns, eight shy of the Big Ten record. Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees holds the record at 106 total scores. By accounting for four touchdowns last week vs. Maryland, Barrett could possibly claim the record by the end of the regular season. The MSU defense has allowed 18 rushing touchdowns (ninth in the conference) and 14 passing scores (eighth) this year.