In 2012, the Ohio State Buckeyes went undefeated, but were unable to compete for a national championship because of a one-year Bowl Ban. A year later, the Buckeyes still haven’t lost and the team is one victory away from playing in the BCS title game.
On Saturday, Ohio State will face Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans have one loss in 2013, but they failed to drop a game in the conference. They easily beat out Iowa State in the Legends Division, who finished the season at 5-3 in the conference.
A win for Ohio State would likely guarantee them a spot in the national title game. Following Alabama’s loss last weekend, the Buckeyes were elevated to No.2 in the BCS Standings. The computer will probably keep them in the top two, though there is a slight chance that the voters could sway the rankings and put the SEC winner in the title picture. Auburn is behind Ohio State in the AP Top 25, but they are the only team besides Florida State to get any first-place votes.
The Spartans are not in the national championship discussion, despite their unblemished record in the Big Ten. After defeating Minnesota in their last game, the Spartans 11-1 record moved them to No.10 in the polls.
The Buckeyes are expected to pull off the victory. Most Las Vegas casinos have set the betting line at 5.5 points. Ohio State may be undefeated, but they haven’t been dominant against the spread. They’ve covered the point spread in just half of their games. The Spartans are 11-1 straight up, but 7-4-1 against the spread.
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In the matchup, both teams will pit their strengths against one another. Ohio State has failed to lose a game on the strength of their rushing attack. Michigan State has one of the best defenses in the country, and is particularly good against the run.
Ohio State’s ground game is led by their quarterback and one of the best running backs in all of college football. Heisman Trophy hopeful Braxton Miller has thrown for 21 touchdowns this season, but he’s been even more effective when using his legs. He has 891 total rushing yards, including a 70-yard touchdown run. The biggest reason that the Buckeyes have the second-best rushing attack in the nation is Carlos Hyde. The senior missed the first three games because of a suspension, yet he still has 1,290 yards and 14 scores. He’s been extremely efficient, averaging just less than eight yards per carry.
The Spartans are No.4 in college football, allowing 11.8 points per contest. Only twice have they given up more than 17 points. Several players that were named to the All-Big Ten First Team will look to slow down Miller and Hyde. Linebacker Max Bullough leads one of eight defenses in the sport that surrender less than 100 rushing yards per game. Hyde has surpassed more than 110 yards in each of his last nine games.
Neither team has played many close games in 2013. Ohio State just got by Michigan last week when the Wolverines missed a two-point conversion at the end of the game. Besides that, only one of their contests were decided by one score. None of Michigan State’s victories have come by less than 11 points.
Betting Odds: Ohio State -5.5, 51.5
Prediction: Ohio State 41, Michigan State 28