(14) Ohio State at (8) Michigan State (-3.5)
The biggest game of the year in the Big Ten goes tonight, as the Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) visit the Michigan State Spartans (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) in East Lansing (8:00 p.m. Eastern).
With one loss each, both teams are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. However, the Big Ten is not on par with the SEC and Big 12 – at least in the opinion of the Selection Committee – both the Buckeyes and Spartans sit behind several other one-loss teams. Winning out will not guarantee a playoff spot for either team, especially the Buckeyes, who have an embarrassing home loss to Virginia Tech on their resume, and narrowly escaped Penn State two weeks ago.
However, if Michigan State finishes the season with one loss and doesn’t make the four-team playoff, the entire Big Ten conference may riot. The Spartans only loss of the season came in Eugene to then-No. 2 (and now No. 3) Oregon, and Michigan State looked like the better team for most of the game.
Spartans coach Mark Dantonio thinks his conference is getting a bad-rap. “I’ve said since I’ve been here the coaching that goes on in this league is outstanding. You see different ways people are running the football, different ways they’re passing the football,” said Dantonio. “Very innovative, cutting-edge offensive football being played in this conference on a week-to-week basis. I think you see the same thing defensively.”
After the narrow victory over a mediocre Nittany Lions team, Ohio State is feeling the pressure to perform well against a top team and boost its national reputation.
“I could give you the coachspeak and say I don’t feel it, ” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said this week about the importance of the game. “I feel it. I won’t say personal pressure. Ohio State pressure. That has been brought up a couple times.”
Michigan State is a 3.5-point favorite. But the Spartans are just 1-4 ATS in their last five home games against Ohio State.
(Photo credit: Rkevins82 09:36, 30 October 2006 (UTC).Rkevins at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)