Ohio State-Michigan State football: 3 keys, game picks, score predictions

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Can Ohio State football beat Michigan State on Saturday?

The Buckeyes are favored by 17 points at home against the Spartans despite losing by 31 to Iowa last weekend. Here are three keys for the Ohio State-Michigan State game, followed by predictions from our three Land of 10 Ohio State writers.

1. How they respond

Ohio State and Michigan State will enter this game coming off very different experiences. The Buckeyes suffered a humiliating 55-24 loss to Iowa, while the Spartans took down Penn State on a last-second field goal. Will the Spartans suffer an emotional letdown the same way the Buckeyes did after beating Penn State at home and then hitting the road against a solid opponent? Or will the win buoy their confidence? Will the Buckeyes pack it in after a loss or channel that defeat into focus and motivation?

“It depends on the team,” Urban Meyer said Wednesday. “It depends on the leadership of the team and how the assistant coaches and the head coach handle this business. There’s a psychological advantage if a team’s got that anger. We’ll know more about our team as we continue on our journey. It depends on the team, and it depends on the leadership and the coaches.”

2. Running the ball

The Buckeyes are in an interesting place when it comes to their rushing offense. They have two talented running backs — dynamic freshman J.K. Dobbins and bruising sophomore Mike Weber. As a team, they rush for 5.88 yards per carry. However, the Buckeyes have essentially been a 50-50 team in terms of run-pass calls this season instead of running 60-65 percent of the time like previous seasons of the Meyer era. Dobbins has gone ignored for large periods of time in each of the last two games. Against Iowa, he received only six handoffs despite averaging more than 8 yards per carry.

Will Meyer feed Dobbins and Weber against the Spartans? That’s where things get tricky. Michigan State has the No. 3 rushing defense in the country, surrendering just 87 yards per game on the ground. It will be interesting to see whether the Buckeyes up the amount of carries and whether the two running backs are up to the challenge if given the opportunity.

3. Passing attack

Which team will be able to beat the other through the air? If one team has a big day in the passing game, it could make all the difference. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke has been very good lately, and the Buckeyes linebackers have been killed on play-action passes. And while J.T. Barrett struggled overall against Iowa, he did throw for 3 touchdowns. Moreover, he previously had one of the best games of his career, torching Penn State by going 33 of 39 with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. It will be cold in Columbus, but there won’t be any rain or much wind. Big passing plays could help swing this result.

Ohio State-Michigan State picks, score predictions

Point spread: Ohio State -17

Over/under: 54.5 points

The Buckeyes are 4-5 against the spread this season, and they will have to win handily to cover the spread against the Spartans. Seven of the Buckeyes’ nine games have gone over the point total, which is set at 54.5 points on Saturday. The three Land of 10 Ohio State beat writers are split as to whether the Buckeyes will win, but none have them covering the point spread.

Jeremy Birmingham: Ohio State 21, Michigan State 17

Ryan Ginn: Michigan State 27, Ohio State 20

Austin Ward: Ohio State 27, Michigan State 20

The post Ohio State-Michigan State football: 3 keys, game picks, score predictions appeared first on Land of 10.

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