The rematch of the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game is set for November 8, and you can bet that this East Division showdown will be one everyone in the nation will be watching. Both Ohio State and Michigan State have obstacles to overcome before we even get to November, but this game is sure to be incredibly important in the race for the East title.
Michigan State will need to get past Oregon, Nebraska and Michigan to keep its top-10 ranking secure. Ohio State, on the other hand, doesn't really have any marquee games—unless you count a visit from Virginia Tech and possibly the October 25 trip to Penn State.
But Ohio State does have another obstacle to overcome: the lack of Braxton Miller.
There has been no bigger injury this fall anywhere in the nation than the Buckeyes' loss of their Heisman-contending quarterback. Miller is out for the season after re-injuring his shoulder, and Ohio State's road to the Big Ten title instantly took a massive body blow.
So how does this game top our list of playoff implications?
First, it thrusts Michigan State into a pretty sizable lead as favorites in the Big Ten this season. Ohio State has the opportunity to upset the apple cart with a win over the Spartans, especially if the Spartans beat Oregon in Week 2.
It also carries massive implications should Michigan State lose to the Ducks. Comparing a one-loss Michigan State Big Ten champion to a one-loss Pac-12 champion would swing the direction of the Pac-12 should Michigan State win the Big Ten after losing to the Ducks and Ohio State.
And if Ohio State wins?
Luckily for the Buckeyes, their schedule lines up nicely for a relative walk through the other 11 games. There are some potential pitfalls with Cincinnati, Penn State and Michigan, but even a Miller-less Ohio State should be capable of winning all of those games.
And what if Ohio State beats a Michigan State team that has already beaten a potential Pac-12 champion Oregon squad?
Bottom line: Ohio State isn't as out of it as folks outside of Columbus would have you believe. There's still plenty of talent Urban Meyer can call upon, and the expectations for the Buckeyes is and should still be sky high.
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