For Michigan State, the biggest prize out of the conference championship game is winning the Big Ten for the first time for the second time in four seasons. For Ohio State, there’s a lot more in stake – from remaining undefeated a second straight year to making the BCS national championship game.
However, there’s no reason to look that far ahead for the Buckeyes, who barely made it through their visit to Michigan Stadium, winning 42-41 against the Wolverines, thanks to Brady Hoke choosing to go for a 2-point conversion instead of trying to win the game in overtime. Powell intercepted Gardner, and Ohio State were 12-0 for a second consecutive season.
Michigan State rank 86th in the nation when it comes to total offense, with Connor Cook’s main job simply being not making mistakes. They just might be the best defensive team in the nation, which has helped them keep teams at only 11.8 points per game. They did lost to Notre Dame 17-13 in a controversial game, but they’ve also kept five of their last six opponents in single-digit scoring.
But Ohio State have a pretty good defense themselves, especially when it comes against the run, which is pretty much the only outlet for Michigan State, through Jeremy Langford, gaining 1210 yards this season, scoring 16 touchdowns.
The game against Michigan proved Ohio State might have a problem with screens, as the Wolverines moved away from their strong interior and went after the cornerbacks. It almost cost the Buckeyes the season, but the big question is if Connor Cook can finally look like a quarterback who has no problem staying in the pocket, waiting for the big hit, while looking for a play to develop. If not, that Michigan State won’t be able to score points on Ohio State.
How will the Buckeyes treat this game? The same way as always? Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde running up the middle, averaging 321.3 yards per game on the ground, second in the nation? There is Devin Smith, maybe the fastest receiver in the nation, to open the Michigan State defense, and Ohio State can go with Kenny Guiton to change things a bit.
Predictions – Ohio State don’t have the best defense in the nation, but they’re good enough on both ends of the field to figure out the Spartans defense, and reach the BCS national championship game.