The College Football Playoff might be off the table for Ohio State after last week’s 55-24 loss to Iowa, but the Buckeyes are still in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten East and play in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis next month. If the Buckeyes win their last three games, they’ll take home the Big Ten East crown, and make their third appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game. Click Hear
Game time: Saturday Nov. 11th, 12:00 p.m. ET
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM
Know your enemy: The Only Colors
If Ohio State was going to have to rebound from such an embarrassing loss, there might not be a worse team for them to have to square off with than Michigan State. The Buckeyes and Spartans have alternated wins and losses in the past six meetings, with Ohio State narrowly squeaking out a 17-16 last November in East Lansing. There is usually plenty at stake when the schools play, with six of the last eight meetings seeing both teams ranked inside the AP Top 20.
Big Ten losses for Ohio State are rare under Urban Meyer, with last week’s loss to Iowa being just the third conference loss Meyer has suffered during the regular season as head coach of the Buckeyes. Now, Ohio State will be hosting Michigan State, who beat the Buckeyes 17-14 in Columbus in 2015, which is still the only regular season conference home loss Meyer has suffered as Ohio State head coach.
Michigan State comes into Saturday’s game with some confidence after a wild win over Penn State last week. Not only did the Spartans and Nittany Lions have to endure a lengthy weather delay in soggy East Lansing, but Michigan State was able to win in dramatic fashion. Matt Coghlin’s field goal as time expired gave the Spartans the upset victory, and sent Penn State back to State College with their second consecutive loss.
Had it not being for a 39-31 loss in triple overtime to Northwestern the week before, Michigan State might be sitting atop the Big Ten East standings right now. With each team having one conference loss so far this year, the Buckeyes and Spartans are tied for the division lead. This game takes on even more importance than normal, as the winner will control their own destiny in the division.
Ohio State’s biggest advantages
In Dobbins we trust. If Ohio State wants to set the tone for the future, they need to focus more energy on getting the football to freshman J.K. Dobbins. The running back has rushed for 914 yards this season, putting him on the verge of being just the fourth Ohio State freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in his first year in Columbus.
Not saying it would have dramatically changed the result, but Dobbins only getting six carries last week is inexcusable. There seems to be a theme in Ohio State’s losses under Urban Meyer, where talented running backs are criminally underutilized. In 2015 in the loss to Michigan State, Ezekiel Elliott only saw 12 carries in the loss to the Spartans. Last year in the loss to Penn State, Curtis Samuel carried the football just twice.
Ohio State is 20th in the country with 235.3 yards per game on the ground, and in games where they have been success, the Buckeyes give the running game some time to grow with Dobbins and Mike Weber. The Buckeyes get into trouble when they rely too much on the arm and legs of J.T. Barrett. While the senior quarterback is more than capable of making plays with both, it has come at the expense of a running back who is averaging 7.7 yards per carry this year, which is the most among freshmen in the country.