2023 Ohio State University
The Buckeyes remained at No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings this week after a 35-16 victory on the road against Rutgers last weekend. Now they travel back to "The Shoe" for the first home night game of the season against the Michigan State Spartans. MSU comes into this game having struggled for most of the season after firing their head coach Mel Tucker after just two games. Following his removal from the program the Spartans lost six straight games before finally getting back in the win column this past weekend with a win over Nebraska.
Michigan State made a switch at quarterback in week seven as Junior Noah Kim was benched for Freshman Katin Houser who has taken over for the last four games. However, they have also utilized Freshman QB Sam Leavitt for a dual quarterback system. Prior to the switch at QB the Spartans were averaging 21.6 points per game and since moving to Houser at QB they are averaging 14 points per game. The move was not one that is designed to win now for the Spartans. They are looking towards the future and are giving two Freshman QB's an opportunity to learn and grow against high level competition. While building for the future Michigan State also uncovered another high level running back in Sophomore Nathan Carter who is likely going to be the majority of Sparty's offense this coming weekend. Ohio native and wideout Montorie Foster Jr. is their go to man on the outside and a target that Houser and Leavitt are going to try and get involved as often as possible. The Spartans this season have the 11th worst scoring offense in the nation and are likely to struggle once again this week on the road. Defensively the Spartans have also struggled this season as they have allowed an average of 26.6 points per game which ranks in the bottom half of all teams in college football.
Going into their weekend matchup against MSU the Buckeyes are looking like heavy favorites and are expected to dominate in their lone home night game of the season. The Buckeyes defense has continued to exceed expectations after allowing just one touchdown in each of the last four games. Denzel Burke and Tommy Eichenburg are both expected to play this weekend, but Lathan Ransom remains questionable going into the weekend. Offensively the Buckeyes struggled to open up last week and trailed the Scarlet Knights at the half 9-7. They would figure things out in the second half and put up 28 second half points. However, going forward the Buckeyes will have to be better to start games if they are going to contend for the National Title once again this season. That will likely be the focus for Ryan Day this weekend against Michigan State. So a big first half is expected by Kyle McCord who currently is at the helm of an offense that ranks outside of the top 30 in scoring this season. Cade Stover is the lone question mark on offense going into the week after not playing against Rutgers last weekend. With a near fully healthy offense this week and a lackluster opponent expectations are high for the Buckeyes this weekend at home.
There is no sugar coating the struggles Michigan State has had this season, it has not been one any of their fans will want to remember. That being said a win last week is likely to give the Spartans a confidence boost on both sides of the football and they should give the Buckeyes a tough first couple drives of this game before the talent gap begins to shine through. However, that talent gap is massive at the moment and the Buckeyes should be looking to make this a statement win at home in primetime. After a quiet first few minutes of the game the Buckeyes offense and defense should really start to hit their stride taking a 24-3 lead into the half.
Another few drives for the starters should end in the endzone before this game is handed over to the backups for the Buckeyes. Once that happens the scoring is likely to come to a screeching halt as Ryan Day rarely elects to throw the football with the second unit and the backup offensive line hasn't shown much of an ability to get the run game started. It is unknown who the backup QB will be for the Buckeyes after Devin Brown was back at practice last week in a limited capacity. Ryan Day has said that both of the backups after Brown are great options that they feel confident about if they had to put them in the game. Tristan Gebbia and Lincoln Keinholz are those backups. Whoever is taking the fourth quarter snaps will likely not get to show off their arm talent and instead be showing off their ability to protect the football and give clean handoffs to a variety of talented running backs.
Game Prediction: 48-10 Ohio State defeats Michigan State
The weather shouldn't be much of a factor in this weeks ballgame, but with this game taking place at sunset and the temperatures dropping rapidly into the night going from 45° down to 38° by the end of the game the ball and field could get a bit slick. Artificial playing surfaces have a tendency to get very damp with temperature changes this time of year. This will be Kyle McCord's first time since high school playing in sub-40° weather and it will be interesting to see how Ryan Day and McCord choose to deal with that aspect of the game this weekend.
Betting Line: OSU -31.5 | O/U 47.5
The Buckeyes have now covered the spread in four of their last five games after struggling in the first half of the season to do so. However, this is the most points they have been favored by all season. It's a dangerously high number for an offense that averages just 32.8 points per game. That all being said, if the Buckeyes are going to have a huge game at any point this season it is likely to be this weekend against a struggling opponent in MSU. Taking the spread is not a safe bet this weekend, but I would still take it alongside the over in this game. With all likelihood if one of these two bets hit, they both will hit.
How to Watch & Listen
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
- Noah Eagle (Play-by-Play), Todd Blackledge (Analysis), Kathryn Tappen (Sideline)
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
- Paul Keels (Play-by-Play), Jim Lachey (Analysis), Matt Andrews (Sideline)