Michigan State-Ohio State Preview
(14) Ohio State (4-0) at (20) Michigan State (3-1)
When: Saturday, September 29th, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Spartan Stadium
If you haven't heard yet, ESPN's College Gameday will be coming live from Beaumont Tower, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The biggest college football pregame show in America will be led by Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, and Lee Corso. Gates open at 7 a.m., and the show starts on ESPNU before switching over to ESPN at 10 a.m.
If you plan to attend, signs are encouraged, and be loud!
The Ohio State Buckeyes roll into East Lansing spouting a perfect 4-0 record. Led by new coach Urban Meyer, the Bucks have gone back to their winning ways, albeit not they way they'd prefer. With a rather easy schedule, they took care of Miami-Ohio (56-10), but then struggled in three consecutive games with Central Florida (31-16), California (35-28), and Alabama-Birmingham (29-15) -- all at home.
Michigan State hosts the Buckeyes with a 3-1 record. While this looks good on paper, the team has been extremely suspect on offense, and haven't put away opponents the way that fans are accustomed to seeing. After a 17-13 victory over Boise State, MSU went to Mount Pleasant and overpowered the Chippewas, 41-7. Next came the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. An undefeated match-up on national television, the spotlight was on. With a stout defense lead by Manti Te'o, the Irish prevailed, 20-3. After a lackluster victory over Eastern Michigan, questions remain, and fans want them answered quickly.
Keys to Victory
Braxton Miller: The dual-threat signal caller is coming off a two TD game (rushing) in which he looked like the quickest man on the field. Leading the team with over 400 yards rushing on the year, if he finds a seam, he's gone. Limiting his turnovers will be key, and if he can lead the team down the field with his arm, then it'll be a long day for the Spartans
Penalties: The Bucks rank near the bottom in the penalty category, averaging nearly 8 per game. They cannot give the MSU offense second chances, otherwise confidence will rise, especially from quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
Receiving Core: While Coach Mark Dantonio has many options to choose from, nobody has stepped up thus far, with Tight End Dion Sims leading most of the receiving categories. Last weekend versus EMU, there were six drops, and that was only in the first half. Look for the group to improve on that, and help out Maxwell on his throws.
Turnovers: The Spartans have a negative turnover margin, which means they've given up more turnovers than they've received. Yeah, not a good sign going into conference play. Not all of this is the offenses fault, though. A defense that lived off of turnovers last year, including the memorable pick-six off of Denard Robinson by safety Isaiah Lewis, has been lacking in that category, only forcing six on the year. This ranks in the middle, and will need to change on Saturday. If the defense flusters Braxton Miller and wreaks havoc, the offense should put up just enough to earn a victory.
The Spartans feed tailback Le'veon Bell all game, and the receivers show up by holding onto the ball. The defense feeds off the crowd's energy, leading to the first Big Ten victory of the year.
Michigan State 20, Ohio State 13