The No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0) lay more than just a 23-game winning streak on the line when they welcome Big Ten rival No. 9 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) to Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Defending national champion Ohio State is three wins from returning to the College Football Playoff, where they currently rank No. 2 according to the selection committee. A win on Saturday puts them one step closer while ending the Startans’ hopes of winning the East Division and playing in the conference championship game.
Michigan State is the first AP-ranked opponent Ohio State has faced this season and their biggest test so far. If the Spartans pull off the upset, they’ll control their own destiny to the conference championship game and ultimately into the conversation for the CFP.
However, it could be a tall order for the Spartans to stop Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy candidate Ezekiel Elliott on the ground. Elliott has rushed for over 100 yards in 15 straight games, including compiling 181 last week in a 28-3 win over Illinois. Elliott ranks No. 3 nationally in rush yards (1,425) and is tied for No. 6 with 16 rushing touchdowns.
As a team, Ohio State ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten in rush yards per game (244.8). Michigan State’s run defense ranks No. 18 at 121.0 yards allowed per game and held Maryland to 107 yards on the ground last week. They struggled in run defense the week before in their lone loss of the season to Nebraska, yielding 143 yards and three scores on the ground. Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring (34.6) while the Spartans give up 22.3 points per game.
After hurting his shoulder and leaving the game last week, Connor Cook will be under center for the Spartans. In each of the two previous games versus Nebraska and Indiana, Cook threw for at least 300 yards and four touchdowns. In total, Cook has thrown 21 touchdowns and four interceptions while MSU has thrown for the third most yards in the Big Ten (2,359).
The Buckeyes rank No. 2 nationally in scoring defense (13.8 points per game) and have given up just 34 points over their last four games. They allow the eighth fewest pass yards in the nation (171.6) and held their last two opponents to 53 rush yards combined. Michigan State scored 32.9 points per game while the most Ohio State has given up this season is 28.
Start Time: 3:30 p.m.
TV Channel: ABC
Live Stream Info: Watch ESPN