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Staff Predictions: Ohio State vs. Michigan State

Ohio State is set to take on Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.

James Grega

A crazy stat about this game is that the home team has not won since the Buckeyes defeated Brian Hoyer and the Spartans in 2007 in Ohio Stadium. At the time, Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the country and South Florida and Boston College were ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Safe to say, a lot has changed since then.

Now, the Buckeyes are still in a position to get back to the College Football Playoff, but the Spartans, for the fourth year in a row, stand between Ohio State and a possible shot at a national title. In those games so far, the Buckeyes are 1-2, and after last season’s shocking 17-14 loss you better believe 2015 is still in the hearts and minds of players on both sides.

LJ Scott is a monster at running back, but outside of him, the Spartans have struggled to get much going offensively this year. Former OSU recruiting target Donnie Corley has become one of Michigan State’s top receiving threats, but the Spartans have been plagued by injury and poor play at the QB spot all season.

On defense, Sparty has registered just seven sacks all season after a year in which they recorded 37 on their way to an appearance in the CFP. Assuming Ohio State can win the line of scrimmage (something it did not do a season ago), I believe the Buckeyes win a hard-fought game on the road.

Although MSU’s record doesn’t reflect it, I expect the Spartans to push the Buckeyes for about three quarters before OSU pulls away late.

SCORE: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 17

Ryan McGlade

So, Ohio State is favored by three touchdowns at Michigan State. That just sounds strange when considering what this game has been like the last few seasons, doesn’t it?

I really don’t know what to make of this game. Some people have suggested that this might be a trap game because the Buckeyes are looking ahead to an epic showdown with Michigan next week. Others think the Buckeyes will absolutely hammer the Spartans because they want to exact revenge for last year’s loss.

Weather could certainly play a role in the game as well because there’s a chance of rain or snow showers. But both teams have to play in the conditions regardless.

All things considered, I see Ohio State having another relatively easy win on the road. It may not be to the tune of 62-3 as it has been the previous two weeks against Nebraska and Maryland, but it won’t be like the 17-14 loss in Columbus one year ago.

Being around this team all week has led me to believe it is 100 percent focused on Michigan State. That loss to Penn State made this group realize the importance or concentrating on every single opponent no matter who it is and to be fully ready to play each game.

I think all signs point in the direction of head coach Urban Meyer having his guys raring to go. The offense is clicking and the defense is peaking at the right time.

SCORE: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 10

Tim Moody

Back-to-back 62-3 wins is a pretty good way to break out of a slump, but it might be too much to ask for three 59-point margins in a row.

That said, Ohio State is much, much better than Michigan State, but the Buckeyes were better than the Spartans last season, too, and we all know what happened then. Obviously, things are different this time around. Michigan State is reeling with a 3-7 record while the Buckeyes are playing arguably their best football since the three-game run to the national title in 2014.

Last year is last year, and the Spartans just don’t have enough to shock the world this time around, even at home, and even if the weather is bad once again.

Ohio State has the ability to control this game at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball – as long as the Penn State version of the offensive line doesn’t decide to make a cameo – and that’s enough to lead the Buckeyes to a dominating win.

Michigan State does still have some talented players such as LJ Scott and Donnie Corley – both players Ohio State pursued in the past two years in recruiting – but there isn’t enough going for the Spartans for those two to make a difference. Ohio State is, quite simply, a lot better, and the scoreboard should reflect that when it’s all said and done.

The Buckeyes jump out early in this one, and Urban Meyer won’t be likely to let up too much the rest of the way.

SCORE: Ohio State 42, Michigan State 13

Jeff Svoboda

So, should I just go with 62-3 again, or will Michigan State be able to keep things a little closer than Nebraska and Maryland did?

My guess is yes, though I don’t expect the Spartans – even after Saturday’s drubbing of Rutgers – to really push the Buckeyes to the very end.

It’s nice that the Spartans, after a year in which everything that went right the past three seasons went wrong this year, were able to down the Scarlet Knights. But the reality is Rutgers is probably the worst team in a Power Five conference (which doesn’t bode well for Buckeye fans rooting for the Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State this week).

It’s hard not to like where the Ohio State offense is right now, which is a good sign heading into the stretch run. Though Michigan State has built its recent run of success with defense, the Spartans aren’t at the same level this year, as evidenced by just 12 turnovers caused and seven sacks made on the year. The Spartans have been gashed on the ground during Big Ten play, which should mean a good day for Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel.

The Spartans will start Tyler O’Connor, the quarterback who won in Ohio Stadium last year, but the offensive attack has also been lacking in big plays. I just don’t see how MSU can score enough to win this one, leaving OSU at 10-1 heading into The Game for the second year in a row but with much more momentum this time around.

SCORE: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 13

Blake Williams

What happened to Michigan State?

I thought that the Spartans would take a step back after losing key pieces from last season’s team, but I certainly didn’t predict a season that would feature the worst start in Big Ten play in decades. It’s remarkable.

This version of Michigan State doesn’t do anything well. The Spartans enter their game with Ohio State 57th in rushing defense and 59th in scoring defense. The “strength” of their defense has come against the pass, where the Spartans rank 30th nationally. On the other side of the ball Michigan State can’t throw (70th in passing offense), can’t run (64th) and thus can’t score (84th in scoring offense). Considering the way the Buckeyes have been rolling lately, this one could get ugly.

Thing is, Michigan State still has quality athletes and players who know what it’s like to win big games. But my thought is that they’re tired of this dismal season. The argument could be made that the Spartans topping Ohio State would make their otherwise disappointing season, but I’m not buying it. The Buckeyes have everything to play for, and remember the Spartans ending their season for all intents and purposes last year.

I think the Buckeyes ride Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel to a big lead early and Urban Meyer is able to rest his starters early yet again – though not quite as early as the past two weeks. The defense will smother Michigan State, which might have some energy early but will break once its deficit mounts.

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SCORE: Ohio State 42, Michigan State 13

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