The Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans will go head-to-head on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game, and there couldn't be more at stake.
Nothing less than a BCS National Championship bid is on the line for the undefeated Buckeyes (No. 2 in the BCS standings), and their conference rivals would love nothing more than to steal that opportunity away.
If not for a narrow 17-13 loss to Notre Dame early in the season, the Spartans would be undefeated, too. As it stands, Michigan State (No. 10) is unbeaten in the Big Ten (8-0).
As a result, head coach Mark Dantonio was recently announced as the conference's Coach of the Year, as announced by the Big Ten Network:
With just one loss between them, these two teams are used to achieving their goals. It's going to be a battle of wills on Saturday, and you can be sure both teams will empty their reserves in order to come away victorious.
Here's a look at when and where to catch the action, along with injury reports for both teams and a final prediction:
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, at 8:17 p.m. ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Betting Odds (via Oddsshark)
- Spread: 51.5 points
- Line: Michigan State (+5.5)
Ohio State Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Tyquan Lewis||DE||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 12/1/13|
|Christian Bryant||S||Out for season - Ankle - 9/30/13|
|James Clark||WR||Out indefinitely - Leg - 9/22/13|
|Blake Thomas||TE||Out for season - Neck - 8/17/13|
|Adam Griffin||CB||Out for season - Shoulder - 8/16/13|
|Jamie Wood||DB||Out for season - Shoulder - 8/16/13|
Michigan State Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Skyler Burkland||T||Out for season - Undisclosed - 8/24/13|
|A.J. Troup||WR||Out for season - Knee - 8/14/13|
Offensive Prowess vs. Defensive Genius
The two teams feature a complete contrast in styles.
Offensive mastermind Urban Meyer's Buckeyes come into the contest with the nation's No. 3-ranked scoring offense (48.2 points per game), while Dantonio's Spartans feature the country's top-ranked defense in terms of total yards and their No. 4-ranked scoring defense, as shown by the Big Ten Conference:
Ohio State has scored 40-plus points in 10 of its 12 games this year, scoring no less than 31 points.
Michigan State, on the other hand, has allowed six points or less on six different occasions this year, and it has allowed 17 points or less in 10 of its 12 games.
Braxton Miller comes into the game on a red-hot tear, having scored 21 touchdowns in his last five games. He's been benefiting greatly from the production of running back Carlos Hyde, however, who has rushed for 111-plus yards in those contests—and eclipsing 225 yards in two of them.
But Michigan State shuts down the run better than any team in the country, allowing just 64.8 yards per game and five rushing touchdowns all year long.
Something's gotta give.
It's easy to get excited about Michigan State's chances in this game.
The Spartans have only allowed nine total points the past two games, and the loss to Notre Dame early in the year is nothing but a distant memory.
Combined with Ohio State's narrow, and somewhat lucky, win over Michigan in Week 14, it doesn't seem far-fetched to think Sparty is going to upset the Buckeyes.
However, Urban Meyer's team is 24-0 the past two years for good reason. This team has been involved in a few scraps along the way and knows how to win close games. Even if Hyde is shut down by Michigan State's defense, Miller's ability to scramble and get outside the pocket will be problematic.
On the other side of the equation, Michigan State's offense just isn't potent enough to outscore Ohio State. Nobody should expect a blowout, by any means, but the Buckeyes will do enough on offense to win this game.
Ohio State wins 24-13.
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