Ohio State vs Michigan State: Buckeye Showdown Will Define Spartans' Season

James Brown@@chasingballgameSenior Analyst ISeptember 29, 2012

Ohio State vs Michigan State: Buckeye Showdown Will Define Spartans' Season

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    The biggest battle in the Big Ten today is the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans.

    Ohio State and Michigan State will be in the race for the Big Ten title all season, and although both teams reside in separate divisions, this game will have a huge impact on the Big Ten standings.

    This is more than a game for the Spartans—it is a defining moment for the football program.

Who Is Michigan State?

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    This game is very important for the Spartan because they have yet to reach their own expectations.

    They are 3-1 on the season, but they have not looked like a team that can win the Big Ten and compete for a championship on any level.

    They were embarrassed at home against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Spartans only managed three points and the loss snapped a 15-game winning streak at East Lansing.

    It became a signature win for the Irish and a stern warning for the Spartans. The Spartans need to come to play every week or they will fade out of the college football rankings and into mediocrity.

A Disturbing Pattern

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    The loss against Notre Dame was disturbing, but the Spartans had a chance to get a tune-up before the Ohio State matchup when they hosted Eastern Michigan a week ago.

    The Spartans won the game 23-7, but they did not play especially well.

    Le'Veon Bell rushed the rock for a career- high 253 yards on the day, but outside of his contributions, the Spartans put up a lackluster performance.

    The offense sputtered and struggled to get into the end zone. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell became the victim of six dropped passes and the receiving corps did not execute properly until the fourth quarter.

    The Spartans were trailing until late in the third quarter and had to rely on field goals to catch up. The team had a break-out fourth quarter that allowed the Spartans to pull away, but if they play this way against the Buckeyes they could suffer their second loss of the season.

Schedule Woes

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    The Spartans need a win against Ohio State, because after this game the schedule gets choppy.

    The Spartans end the season with three of the five games on the Big Ten highway and will host Nebraska and a pesky Northwestern squad.

    The Spartans have played four of the first five games of the season at home and compiling a 3-2 record over that span would be unacceptable.

Ohio State Offers an Opportunity

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    A win against Ohio State would change everything for the Spartans.

    The Buckeyes are in their first year under Urban Meyer and have already shown that they are ready to compete for a Big Ten title. Ohio State is 4-0 on the season and although they have struggled against sub-par competition, they currently hold a No. 14 spot in the college football rankings.

    A win today for the Spartans would erase the pain of a loss to Notre Dame and propel the Spartans up the rankings.

The Time Is Now for the Spartans

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    Michigan State can control their own destiny and a big win over the Buckeyes is exactly what this football program needs.

    They have an excellent coach, talent on both sides of the ball and a Heisman trophy candidate in Bell. The defense ranks sixth nationally in total defense and this is a game where they can shine against an inconsistent Buckeyes offense that battles with penalties.

    This game is lined up perfectly for the Spartans and a convincing win is what this team needs. That type of win would pave the way for a run at the Big Ten title and define the Spartans, setting the tone for a successful run to the end of the season.  

    James Brown is a B/R featured columnist and can be followed on Twitter. Feel free to contact James at jtsneaks@gmail.com. He also is a contributor at Bookie Blitz, a sports picks website.