What makes Big Ten Football so entertaining? Aside from having one of the best college quarterbacks, several ranked opponents, and raucous crowds, it’s the high-level defense played by all its top teams.
On Saturday night, two of the nation’s top-10 defenses face off in a battle of ranked opponents. The fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes host number-25 Michigan State under the lights at the Horshoe in Columbus.
While so much conversation has focused on the flashiness and ability of Justin Fields, not much has been said about the Ohio State defense which ranks second in college football. The Buckeyes have only allowed four opposing touchdowns this season and have made as much of living off a stalwart defense as they have off an explosive offense.
Over on the Spartans sideline, they’ve also prided themselves on strong defense this season but are coming off a shocking performance against Indiana. The Hoosiers nearly stunned Michigan State, managing to score 31 points in a losing effort. The Spartans’ lone loss came in a 10-7 defeat to 20th-ranked Arizona State at home.
Michigan State Spartans at Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday, October 5, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by BetOnline
Spread: Ohio State (-20.5 at -105)
Over/Under: 49.5 (Over at -105, Under at -115)
Michigan State Spartans
While the Spartans are heralded more for their defense, it has actually been their passing game that has gotten some tremendous performances this season. Receiver Darrell Stewart is fourth in the country with 556 receiving yards and 10th in receptions per game with 7.0 (35 through five games).
But the defense has been particularly solid against the rush. Michigan State is fourth in FBS allowing 55.6 rushing yards per game and allow just 1.86 yards per carry. That’s from a total of 279 yards on 150 carries by Spartan opponents this season.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Yes, Justin Fields has been incredible this season for the Buckeyes. He ranks fifth in overall passing efficiency this season (194.4) and has been aided by strong play by his arsenal of wide receivers. His seven rushing touchdowns are tied for most among FBS quarterbacks with Navy’s Malcolm Perry. Fields is responsible for 138 points this season, second behind Tua Tagovailoa.
But out of the backfield, J.K. Dobbins has been even more impressive. He ranks second in the nation in total rushing yards (654) and averaged 130.8 yards per game, third-best in the FBS. He also has rushed for five touchdowns in as many games.
Over on defense, Chase Young is one of the nation’s top sack leaders with eight total, seven solo for FBS-best minus-58 yards. Ohio State’s pass rush has been key this season to the team’s ability to shut down opposition on defense.
Just how strong is the Michigan State running defense? They’ve only faced one opponent in the top 50 among running offenses, and no team inside the top 40. Ohio State is seventh and is a truly different breed.
Pick: Ohio State wins this one by double-digits but not enough to cover the spread. The teams will hit the over though. Call it 35-17 Ohio State.