The Spartans will look to avenge a 17-16 defeat to Ohio State in 2016, their sixth straight home loss against the Buckeyes. Both teams enter this matchup at 7-2 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play.
Since coach Mark Dantonio’s arrival at Michigan State, the Spartans have faced the Buckeyes eight times and have won three of them. Dantonio holds a 2-3 record against Ohio State coach Urban Meyer since both coaches have been in their current positions, including a victory in the 2013 Big Ten championship game.
Michigan State-Ohio State football TV channel, time, live stream
Michigan State and Ohio State play at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Kickoff time: 12 p.m. ET
Date: Saturday, November 11, 2017
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
TV channel: FOX
Michigan State-Ohio State football picks, odds
Ohio State is a 17-point favorite on MyBookie. The over-under is 54.5 points.
Michigan State-Ohio State football preview: 3 keys
1. Get off the field on third down
Ohio State won’t make it easy on Michigan State’s defense. The Buckeyes have a dynamic quarterback in J.T. Barrett, who has helped make them the Big Ten’s top scoring offense (43.8 points per game), top-ranked total offense (549.0 yards) and No. 1 passing offense (313.7). No other teams in the conference have averaged 300 passing yards per game.
The Spartans’ secondary has struggled with crossing routes and slants in the past several games. Once Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley got things going last week, it was tough for Michigan State to stop him until it regrouped during the lengthy weather delay.
Safeties David Dowell and Khari Willis have to be at their best on Saturday. When the Spartans have a chance to get off the field against a team that converts 47.7 percent of its third downs, they’ll need rock-solid play from the secondary to make it happen.
2. Stay disciplined
This starts with the offense. Quarterback Brian Lewerke must make smart decisions when he gets outside the pocket, and the running backs must protect the ball. The Spartans can’t afford costly turnovers against an offense that is capable of scoring in a hurry.
But more than that, Michigan State could give itself a huge advantage by avoiding needless penalties. Personal fouls in crucial situations have halted promising drives on offense and allowed the opposition easy first downs on defense. Those will be killers in a game like this.
On the other hand, Ohio State has a tendency to beat itself. In their 55-24 loss to Iowa last Saturday, the Buckeyes got flagged 9 times for 95 yards. They rank dead last in the conference in penalty yards with 77.2 per game. This game will likely come down to whichever team makes the fewest mistakes.
3. Establish the run
It hasn’t been easy all season, and there’s no significant indication that it will change against Ohio State. Michigan State has a young offensive line that has often struggled to get the push it needs, and the “hot hand” (as Dantonio puts it) among the running backs has been difficult to find.
Senior Gerald Holmes has been more effective in the passing game than on the ground, and junior LJ Scott has mustered only 59 rushing yards in the last two weeks. Junior Madre London didn’t get any carries against Penn State. Someone has to get going.
Otherwise, Lewerke will find himself throwing more than 50 times again. He said he could throw 100 times if necessary, but why push it? The Spartans could use a bit more balance in their offense, and it starts with Scott.
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