The 14th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are traveling to East Lansing to take on the 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans in a Big Ten showdown. The Buckeyes have struggled a bit on defense, but the Spartans have had a tough go of it on offense.
On the other side, the Buckeyes offense has been great, but it's been the Spartans defense that has really shown up. They are allowing 3.9 yards per play this year.
So what will happen? Here are some keys to a Buckeye victory.
Stopping the run
The Spartans have a pretty good running back in Le'Veon Bell, but they have just not been able to get it going in the passing game. Andrew Maxwell has struggled.
The Buckeyes are going to do what they can to contain Bell. That might mean keeping eight men in the box on running downs. They're going to force Maxwell to throw.
While Ohio State's pass defense isn't great, their run defense is solid enough. With the extra attention, they should be able to contain Bell. Maxwell simply isn't good enough to win this game on his own.
Carlos Hyde and the ground game
Carlos Hyde is expected back from injury this week. That means Ohio State will have their full complement of runners available.
Braxton Miller has done a lot of the running, and Michigan State will be focused on preventing him from getting big plays. Remember, the Spartans do have a good defense.
But will they be able to handle Hyde and Jordan Hall? This is the first real three-pronged attack they've faced, and it could cause problems.
If the Buckeyes are going to win, then Braxton Miller has to come up big. He is their best and most dynamic player and has put up some really impressive numbers.
Miller has gone 60-of-98 for 754 yards and seven touchdowns. He's thrown only two interceptions and has a nifty 61.2 completion percentage.
But Miller struggled last year against Sparty. He went 5-of-10 for 56 yards and negative 27 yards rushing. Yikes.
Yet, Miller is a different player this season. He's more poised, more accurate this year. He's getting it done on the ground, rushing for 510 yards and seven touchdowns.
Yes, Michigan State has a pretty great defense. But let's be honest: They haven't faced a player like Miller. Two of their wins were against Eastern and Central Michigan. Good programs, but they don't have a Braxton Miller-type player.
Miller will have to play better than he did last year, and this year's performance indicates that he will. He's become a star and a dark-horse Heisman candidate.
Look for Miller to have a big game. If he does, Ohio State will come away with an impressive road victory.
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