By: Teddy Ellison
The Big Ten season opens this weekend, and perhaps the most intriguing matchup takes place in East Lansing, Michigan. The #14 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) make their first road trip to take on the #20 Michigan State Spartans (3-1).
Michigan State, who had an early loss to Notre Dame, looks to turn their fortunes around against a strong Ohio State squad. The Spartans hope that Le’Veon Bell continues to run the ball well, and takes advantage of an Ohio State defense that has struggled mightily in the past two weeks. After giving up huge gains on the ground to Cal, Ohio State came right back and gave up 144 rushing yards to a bad UAB offense. This does not bode well if the Buckeyes want to remain unbeaten.
This match is certainly Urban Meyer’s biggest test in the scarlet and grey. Entering a hostile environment, the Buckeyes will need to play much-improved ball if they hope to have success this year in the Big Ten. Relying on Braxton Miller has helped the Buckeye offense thus far this season, but eventually they are going to need to lessen the burden on the young quarterback. As only a sophomore, Braxton Miller has carried the ball 64 times in 4 games; a far from optimal pace for the young quarterback.
Michigan State will likely key on the running game and force Braxton to put the ball in the air, which will bring turnovers. I see the Buckeyes having at least three turnovers in this game as they struggle against their first talented opponent. The defense will step up and play better, but the turnovers will keep the defense on the field until they break.
If Michigan State can show some balance in their offensive attack, I see them handing Ohio State their first loss this Saturday at home. A 14-10 halftime score, favoring the Spartans ends in a 27-17 victory for the home team. This first loss will send questions back through the Ohio State system, which just thought it had turned things around.
Nonetheless, anticipate a hard-nosed Big Ten football game, with a significant amount of big hits and run plays.