The No. 21 Michigan State Spartans are gearing up to host the No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes, and despite the fact both teams have been relatively unimpressive throughout their non-conference schedules, ESPN's College GameDay crew will travel to East Lansing, Mich. this Saturday.
This game is set up to be one of the biggest snoozers of the college football season, and the fact that College GameDay would elect to travel to Spartan Stadium instead of Morgantown to see the No. 25 Baylor Bears take on the No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers is completely laughable.
Michigan State opened the season against the Boise State Broncos and needed 210 rushing yards from junior tailback Le'Veon Bell to overcome junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell's three interceptions in his first career start, though it should be noted only one of those picks were really the fault of the Midland, Mich., product.
The following week, all appeared to be well as the Spartans lit up the Central Michigan Chippewas, 41-7, on the road without a strong performance from Bell.
Maxwell and his receivers were in sync for most of the afternoon, as the Spartans finished the game with 322 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Michigan State returned to Spartan Stadium to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who exposed the Spartans offensive line and weak receiving corps without much effort and quieted the Green and White faithful with a 20-3 victory.
Michigan State fans expected their team to bounce back from the loss to the Fighting Irish with an easy victory over the winless Eastern Michigan Eagles. However, the Spartans found themselves in a dog fight all afternoon due to the receivers dropping several passes for a second straight week.
Bell once again carried the Spartans to a 23-7 victory, which was far less convincing than the final score reflected, with 253 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
The Eagles defense went into the game giving up over 500 yards of total offense, but held the Spartans without a touchdown until late in the third quarter, and had it not been for a 40-yard run by Bell with the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter, Michigan State would have been held under 400 total yards.
"What you've got to do to improve is catch the ball," a clearly frustrated Mark Dantonio said after the Spartans' lackluster performance on Saturday.
"There's nothing wrong with the route. The route is there, the ball is thrown there you've got to catch the football. I hate to lay it out there like that, but that's just the way it is."
The only saving grace for the 3-1 Spartans so far this season has been their defense, which ranks No. 6 among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools in total defense and only give up 233.50 yards per game.
The Ohio State Buckeyes have not gone through four games without some problems of their own, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense lit up the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks defense in their season-opening 56-10 win at the Horseshoe.
In their second game of the season, the Buckeyes struggled in the first half, but came on strong in the third quarter to top the Central Florida Golden Knights 31-16.
The problems began for the Buckeyes in their third game of the season against the Cal Golden Bears. Ohio State surrendered over 500 yards of total offense and allowed Brendan Bigelow and Isi Sofele to combine for 246 rushing yards.
Ohio State narrowly escaped with a 35-28 victory courtesy of three missed field goals by Cal's junior kicker, Vincenzo D'Amato.
The Buckeyes were outgained offensively for a second straight game against the UAB Blazers this past Saturday. The Blazers gained 403 yards of total offense and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first half.
Ohio State once again pulled away late in the fourth quarter for an unimpressive 29-15 win in Columbus.
The Buckeyes offense will struggle to move the football all afternoon against Michigan State's defense, which only averages allowing 69.25 yards on the ground where Miller does the most damage.
Michigan Wolverines dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson has yet to have an efficient performance against Michigan State's defense, and their game plan for Miller will not be much different.
On the other side of the ball, Michigan State's offense will continue to struggle unless the Spartan wide receivers decide to sleep with footballs for an entire week to help improve their pass-catching abilities.
Ohio State's defense is begging to be exposed by a legitimate team, but the Spartans offense does not appear to have the weapons to do so.
Expect a field-goal battle with only a couple of touchdowns between the two teams at Spartan Stadium, which will not exactly give college football fans what they want from a GameDay matchup.
Prediction: Michigan State 20, Ohio State 13
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