College football game of the week preview and best bets: Michigan State Spartans vs Ohio State Buckeyes
The Big Ten should be a whole lot of fun throughout the remainder of the regular season. Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State are all in the top 8 of the rankings with visions of College Football Playoff berths. Ohio State ends with Michigan State and Michigan on the schedule. Michigan has a road date with Maryland before facing the Buckeyes. Michigan State follows up this week’s showdown against OSU by hosting Penn State.
All three of these Big Ten juggernauts are 9-1 and cannot afford another loss. Who will stay alive in the National Championship discussion when the Buckeyes host the Spartans on Saturday? Let’s take a look.
Breaking down the Spartans
Michigan State’s first blemish of the season came in a recent letdown spot. After posting a comeback win over rival Michigan, the Spartans lost at Purdue 40-29 one week later. They rebounded with a 40-21 defeat of Maryland last week, improving to 6-1 in the Big Ten. That record has them tied with UM for second place in the East Division, one game back of Ohio State. That’s right; all three powerhouses are on the same side of the conference—making Saturday’s contest all the more important.
Kenneth Walker III is obviously the straw that stirs the drink that is Michigan State. The junior running back has racked up 1,473 rushing yards on a 6.5 ypc average to go along with 17 touchdowns. He has churned out at least 156 yards from scrimmage in each of the past three games and has scored a whopping 8 TDs during this stretch. But don’t overlook Sparty’s defense. This team has held 7 of its 10 opponents to 21 points or fewer.
Breaking down the Buckeyes
Undefeated in the Big Ten, Ohio State has responded impressively to a 35-28 loss at Oregon’s hands back on Sept. 11. Although the Buckeyes beat Penn State and Nebraska by single-digits, for the most part they have been crushing opponents. Recent scores included a 52-13 beatdown of Rutgers, a 66-17 victory over Maryland, a 54-7 humiliation of Indiana, and most recently a 59-31 win at Purdue’s expense.
Only two players are ahead of Walker III on the list of Heisman Trophy favorites and one is Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud. The star freshman has passed for 3,036 yards with 30 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has 22 TDs and 2 INTs over the last six outings. Stroud is a +220 Heisman second choice behind Alabama QB Bryce Young, while Walker III is +280. The Buckeyes lead the nation in total offense (550.0 ypg) and scoring (46.3 ppg).
Predictions and best bets
It’s not often that the marquee matchup on a weekly football schedule also has one of the largest spreads. But that is the case with No. 5 Ohio State vs No 8 Michigan State. It is true that Georgia may possess the only defense that can contain the Buckeyes, but 19.5 points are lot. Michigan State’s defense only has to decent in order to cover, and the Spartans’ effort to reduce their opponent’s point total will be aided by a steady dose of Walker III on offense. If Walker III can deliver his standard output and control the clock, MSU can cover. An Under 67 play probably correlates nicely with the underdogs, so I will also go in that direction.
At Pickswise we offer free expert College Football Picks and College Football Predictions for all games in the Power Five conferences and the top 25 teams outside of Power five, including our College Football Parlay picks each week.