With a victory in the Big Ten title game this Saturday, No. 2 Ohio State will likely punch its ticket to Pasadena, Calif. for a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.
Standing in the way of that reality is No. 10 Michigan State and its relentless defense.
The Spartans rank first nationally in total defense, giving up just 238 yards while holding their opponents to fewer than 12 points per game. That domination has lifted Michigan State to the top of the Legends Division and arranged a date with the unbeaten Buckeyes this Saturday in Indianapolis.
Ohio State will challenge the Spartans with one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. The Buckeyes are averaging more than 538 yards of total offense and 48 points per game, both of which rank inside the top six nationally.
Michigan State hasn't given up more than 28 points in a single game while Ohio State hasn't failed to eclipse 30 points all season.
Needless to say, it will be strength vs. strength when these two battle for the Big Ten title.
In last year's meeting, Michigan State dictated the pace, forcing the uptempo Buckeyes into a defensive slugfest. Ohio State came out with a 17-16 victory, though, despite the Spartans forcing Ohio State out of its comfort zone.
I'm not taking anything away from Michigan State because they are excellent. But we're a much better offense than we were a year ago. But that was a street fight last year and certainly between the tackles, we have to be ready for that.
Between the tackles, where Ohio State wants to run the ball and where Michigan State is so dominant, will be the setting for another street fight.
The Buckeyes are averaging 321 rushing yards per game, which ranks second in the nation. Ohio State's two-headed monster of a backfield—Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde—are on an absolute tear, averaging 356 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks.
No one in the country is better at stopping the run than Michigan State, though. The Spartans surrender just 65 rushing yards per game, which ranks first in the nation by a wide margin.
Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman knows the challenge his unit is facing:
Herman on MSU defense: "Probably the best-coached defense we'll have played in two years. They're like fine wine. They get better with age."— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) December 2, 2013
This will be the hardest test Ohio State has faced all year, and passing it will take a flawless performance from the offense.
All stats via NCAA.com.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.