Good evening. Let's just be honest, life is good. No matter where you are in B1G country, the weather has not turned to horrendously frigid conditions, allowing you yet one more tremendously comfortable tailgating day. Your food selections, while including traditional summer foods and beers, now are populated by Oktoberfestesque beers, some ciders, and the occasional pumpkin infused treat. Ah, yes, it's that tweener time of tailgating season.
And no place will the tailgate be more overflowing with folks, alcohol, and nerves than in East Lansing, Michigan, where we'll all be treated to the B1G's Game of the Week, nay, Game of the Year? Although the Buckeyes cannot go to a Bowl game or play in Indianapolis, how monstrous of a statement would Urban Meyer be making with a beatdown of the B1G's preseason favorite in their hometown? And think of the tremendous shot of confidence the Spartans could get by showing they can play a complete game, something Dantonio's squad didn't do against Boise or Eastern.
So what are we left with? Two flawed yet talented teams who believe in their heart of hearts that THEY are the best team in the B1G. On Saturday it shall be decided, as most B1G conference games this year, who is least flawed.
Flaw v. Flaw
MSU is struggling to throw the ball. Everyone knows it. Here are Andrew Maxwell's statistics:
81-143, 869 yards, 3 TD's, 3 INT's (Passer Rating, an extremely low 110.4)
No one is open, no one is creating separation, no one is catching the ball. The talent exists in the MSU wide receiver corps, but they've been one of the conferences most disappointing units in 2012. But you've got to think Fowler and Lippett will step up soon? And how could they not against the struggling Buckeye defense? Some stats for you -
Yards allowed to UAB: 403
Yards allowed to UCF: 352
Yards allowed to California: 512
So this, is apparently not your daddy's Ohio State defense. Will the secondary stop fudging around and make some plays? How many easy 8 yard sit down route completions will it take to make the Bucks change their defensive strategy?
The OTE Writers Say?
MNWildcat: MSU 21, OSU 17...To sound just cliched enough, this matchup looks like it'll boil down to a movable object (OSU's pass defense) meeting a stoppable force (MSU's pass offense). I don't trust the MSU pass attack, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few Sparty turnovers make this an even closer game than it is. But boil it down to the end of the game, and I trust the Spartans' defense far more to get the stop when it counts. ESPN reviews this game and asks "What's wrong with B1G offenses?" before cutting to clips of another LSU win, 14-13.
JDMill: OSU 21 - MSU 17...MSU has me nervous. I desperately want them to be the class of the conference, but it looks like there won't be one of those this year... unless the class we're talking about is Intermediate Basket Weaving, but I'm pretty sure that's only offered at North Carolina and possibly Miami in the 80's. I think Urban Meyer is ready to flex his muscles and start making the statement that this will be Ohio State's conference once again starting in 2013, and this could be his coming out party.
Jesse Collins: MSU 13 - OSU 12...I don't know if Michigan State can really keep Ohio State to 12 points, but the Spartan defense is legit. Miller is good but young, and he's learning a new system still. As for Sparty scoring 13? Sure, why not. Bell is going to get 49 carries and 8 catches and his legs will literally fall off but he'll still get a TD on the day so no harm done, right?
C.E. Bell: MSU 27 - OSU 21...At some point, MSU's receivers will start catching the ball. And that point is this week, against an OSU defense that has been uncharacteristically soft against a weak slate of non-conference teams. Throw in the fact that the MSU defense is hungry and still probably the best single unit in the B1G, and it will be a long day for Braxton Miller.
Hilary Lee: OSU 20, MSU 13
Jon Franz: OSU 17 - MSU 14
This is a serious toss up, but the homer in me says OSU. To be sure, our defense is outright lousy when forced to make plays in space, but screens, slants, and sweeps aren't exactly Michigan State's strength, and I'm confident that Johnathan Hankins will clog up the middle, making it extremely difficult for Bell to get his north/south game going. Although Ohio State's linebackers and secondary have been extremely vulnerable to quick passes, I don't know whether MSU can take advantage. I also think the combination of Miller/Hall/Hyde and Brown on offense will be just enough to break a couple of big plays on MSU's defense.
Having said that, I could just as easily see the opposite. Michigan State gets running downhill, chewing up yardage in chunks off missed tackle after missed tackle. They burn the OSU secondary for big plays a couple times, and OSU's offense is largely ineffective, as they were for large portions of the UCF, Cal, and UAB games.
The real reason I'm picking OSU is Urban Meyer. Urban's record in big games speaks for itself, and something tells me he and the OSU coaching staff have a few tricks up their sleeves.
I might be dead wrong, but I think we finally see Ohio State play four full quarters of football and the results are promising.
Graham Filler: MSU 24, OSU 21...I've got some sincere issues with the OSU offense (you know, lack of weapons not named Braxton) and I could see the Spartans following the same Denard-type gameplan against the aforementioned Miller. I tend to lean towards Sparty in a home game like this.
Ted Glover: I said 23-13 over at LGHL, and I'm sticking with that. In one of his press conferences, Urban Meyer said that MSU runs a more traditional offense that plays into the strengths of OSU's defense. If...and so far this year, it could be a big if...but if OSU's defense remembers how to tackle, they're going to bottle up Le'Veon Bell and make Andrew Maxwell make plays. I'm just not convinced he can. Braxton Miller, on the other hand, can make plays with his feet and arms, and I think he'll make enough to be the difference. Go Bucks, beat Sparty.