As I wake from my autumn slumber for a noon bout with the minor beast of the north, I remind myself that not once have I rode into a fall Saturday believing in earnest that the Local Team would be bested – and that ain't starting today.
The Spartans are a rare breed of Buckeye slayers and the bitter north is unforgiving, but the Local Team is due.
The Bucks have gone too many weeks handily handling an opponent, and now they find a top-20 that backed its way into the top-25 last week ready to receive a knockout blow with glee.
I'm not going to pretend Mark Dantonio hasn't led his fair share of successful strikes against the Bucks, he's been a regular thorn in the side and I tip the cap to that.
Dino is a worthy adversary and could damn well spoil another Saturday in Buckeyeland, but he's also responsible for the most lopsided Spartan loss to Ohio State in program history, which coincidentally came last season after a string of frustrating performances and a bad, lopsided Buckeye loss.
He'll be riding the top run defense in the country, which seems to be all folks want to talk about leading up to this game. But they conveniently forget the Spartans also have the 98th pass defense in the nation going against the top passing team in the conference. I'm not advocating the Bucks throw it 72 times in the game, but merely that 25 times should prove lethal.
And meanwhile, Michigan State seems completely opposed to playing any semblance of offense.
I'm not going to pretend Ohio State's defense has been anything near magnificent this year, but forgive me that I'm not exactly shaking in my boots when I see a Michigan State offense that hasn't scored 30 points since September.
It could be ugly, especially given the weather forecast, and the Buckeyes are going to take Sparty's best shot, but if that's anything close to what we saw against Michigan or even Penn State, I'm just not sold it's going to be good enough.
The Buckeyes are rolling today.
|TIME (ET)||MATCHUP||FAVORITE||TV CHANNEL|
|12:00||#10 OHIO STATE @ #18 MICHIGAN STATE||OSU (-3.5)||FOX|
|12:00||SOUTH CAROLINA @ #15 FLORIDA||UF (-6.5)||ESPN|
|12:00||WISCONSIN @ #20 PENN STATE||PSU (-8.5)||ABC|
|12:00||NAVY @ #12 UCF||UCF (-24)||ESPN2|
|12:00||TCU @ #9 WEST VIRGINIA||WVU (-11.5)||FS1|
|3:30||#4 MICHIGAN @ RUTGERS||MICH (-37.5)||BTN|
|3:30||#11 KENTUCKY @ TENNESSEE||UK (-5)||SECN|
|3:30||#16 MISSISSIPPI STATE @ #1 ALABAMA||ALABAMA (-24)||CBS|
|3:30||NORTHWESTERN @ #21 IOWA||IOWA (-10)||FOX|
|3:30||BAYLOR @ #22 IOWA STATE||ISU (-16.5)||FS1|
|3:30||OKLAHOMA STATE @ #6 OKLAHOMA||OKLA (-21.5)||ABC|
|3:30||#8 WASHINGTON STATE @ COLORADO||WAZZOU (-6)||ESPN2|
|7:00||#24 AUBURN @ #5 GEORGIA||UGA (-13.5)||ESPN|
|7:30||#7 LSU @ ARKANSAS||LSU (-11.5)||SECN|
|7:30||#19 TEXAS @ TEXAS TECH||TEXAS (-1.5)||FOX|
|7:30||FLORIDA STATE @ #3 NOTRE DAME||ND (-16.5)||NBC|
|8:00||#2 CLEMSON @ #17 BOSTON COLLEGE||CLEM (-19)||ABC|
Word of the Day: Ravage.
THAT 11W PREGAME FIX.
- Game Preview.
- Q&A with Michigan State beat writer Matt Wenzel.
- 10 Reasons to hate.
- Five Things to know.
- Game Poster.
- Game Trailer.
- Our picks against the spread.
- Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio have quite a history the past few years.
EVERYTHING TO LOSE. Ohio State is playing for its College Football Playoff and Big Ten Championship lives today.
1. Ohio State at Michigan State (Noon ET, FOX)
What's at stake: Everything. Ohio State trails Michigan by one game in the Big Ten East standings but will win the division if it wins out. The Buckeyes will have home-field advantage against the rival Wolverines in the regular-season finale, but the significance of that game -- beyond bragging rights -- will diminish if Ohio State loses to MSU. A second loss would likely eliminate the Buckeyes from the playoff and would make it extremely difficult for them to win their division, as Michigan would have to lose at least once before visiting Columbus. That's highly unlikely, considering Michigan's next two games are at Rutgers (1-8) and home against Indiana (4-5).
So yeah, that's where we're at. And because I am extremely online, I have a rare ability to hear your rage comments before you even so much as pound a key.
Everyone wants to talk about how the ranking don't matter because Ohio State can't win a national title playing like it's been playing, and I agree. Where I disagree is with people who say this is just who the team is and it's too late for the Buckeyes to turn it around.
Here's the thing, it's not like Ohio State was lighting the world on fire at this point in the 2014 season, either. The win against Michigan State was huge, but after that you had that dumb snow game against Minnesota, an awkwardly close game to Indiana where Tevin Coleman rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, and an awkwardly close game to Michigan.
The Bucks didn't look anything close to a title contender until they recreated the Doolittle raid on Wisconsin in December, and heading into that game I was confident Melvin Gordon was going to rush for 730 yards.
My point is, it can switch at any moment. I don't know when it will switch, and I don't know for sure if it even will switch, but I'm sure going to tune in to find out.
YOU CAN STILL FEEL THE HURT. 20 years ago this year, Michigan State did a horrible, horrible thing to the local team.
From Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade:
Perhaps no day encapsulated the Buckeyes’ tough luck like Nov. 7, 1998, and it wasn’t the maize and blue thorn in its side that did in OSU.
Michigan State, not Michigan, dealt Ohio State its most devastating defeat. Twenty years later, the Spartans’ 28-24 win endures.
“Twenty years,” Nick Saban told The Blade this week, almost incredulous. “How many games have we had since then? How many memories are there, and how much of a mind do I have to remember all that?
“There are certain games that you play, whether you’re an assistant coach or a head coach, that you always seem to remember. Obviously [Ohio State] being No. 1 in the country, our guys just kept playing and made a lot of plays and came back and won. You never forget that. That’s one that will stick with you for a long time.”
Ah hell, Rowland roped Nick Saban into fondly remembering arguably the most bitter loss in Buckeye football history?
I'm ready to rumble now.
Don't ever let anyone steer you astray, it's never too late to seek revenge from an event that occurred 20 years ago from people who have nothing to do with that pain.
The Buckeyes are going to look to avoid the upset again this week – as they do nearly every week of the season – and they'd be wise to keep this money quote in mind as they do it:
“We just panicked,” Miller said. “Rewinding time, we probably could have done some different things. There were some miscommunications. We were ranked No. 1 and we just didn’t want to lose.”
Shit gets wild when your opponent doesn't fear death, and the justifiable reaction is to panic, cause you've still got a whole lot to lose.
What is dead may never die. That's what the Buckeyes face every week.
FIVE QUICK WINNERS. I went 3-2 last week thanks to some low-scoring games and Kentucky turning out to be everything we knew them to be all along.
That brings my total on the season to 23-27, which remains ungreat, but still one perfect week from above .500.
Ohio State -3.5 against Michigan State
Y'all, I told myself I told myself I wouldn't do this. I outright begged myself not to do this. But then I though, who would I even be if I didn't do this? Here's my thought: for as awful as the score was last week, Ohio State actually was much improved and without a few turnovers, that game's probably a blowout. Michigan State is a better team than the Huskers, but the style matches up a lot better for Ohio State. The Spartans really don't have a threatening offense by any means and I just don't think their defense will keep the Buckeyes at bay forever. Ohio State by at least a touchdown, or I'll be damned.
Virginia and Liberty Under 60
I'll be honest, there isn't a whole lot of extensive logic here, I just don't really think Virginia is a team built to drop 48 or 56 on a team and I don't really think Liberty is going to score too many points against a pretty solid Virginia defense. In my brain, I'm seeing something like 38-10.
Mississippi State +24 against Alabama
This one scares the hell out of me, but I'm going to do it because I just think it's the right play. Alabama has looked like a damn juggernaut all season, but if there's any chance for any sort of letdown game, it's the week after this year's game of the century. I also think Mississippi State is a fine football team with a defense is better than LSU's overall, and the Tigers kept it close against Bama last week for much of the game despite not scoring. I feel like this game is going to come down to whether or not Mississippi State can score like, 10-14 points, and I'm optimistic.
Utah State -31 against San Jose State
I feel like Utah State could be up 31 at halftime in this game. The Aggies are legit good and have just been crushing the bad teams they've played all season. They average more than 50 points a game and San Jose State gives up over 30 points a game to teams decidedly worse than Utah State and ain't all that potent on offense either. I think this one is going to be a bloodbath and feel comfortable laying 31 points.
Boston College +18.5 against Clemson
I've had this game circled as a game Clemson could lose since before the season. Now back then, I expected Boston College to be an unranked, but deceptively very good team that could catch Clemson sleeping, and that's obviously not what we have here with the Eagles ranked No. 17 in the country. Still, I think Boston College is legit good and can challenge Clemson, especially at home. I'm not totally sure the Eagles genuinely threaten to beat the Tigers, especially with how dominant Clemson has looked the past few weeks, but I think they keep it within three touchdowns.