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Big Ten Championship

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Matchup: Ohio State vs. Michigan State
Date: Saturday, Dec. 7
Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, FOX
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Line, Total: Buckeyes -5.5, 51.5

How They Got Here
Ohio State is off of a grueling win over rival Michigan last week. Credit the Wolverines, who came to play last week; but its concerning that the Buckeyes allowed 603 yards and 41 points to a team that had tallied just 708 yards and 46 points the previous three games combined. Ohio State’s defense locked down when it needed to: a two-point conversion attempt that would’ve given Michigan the lead with 32 seconds remaining. Now Ohio State is a win away from a 13-0 record and a strong shot at a national championship appearance.

Michigan State ended its regular season with a much less exciting 14-3 win over Minnesota. It wasn’t an overwhelming win for MSU, who gained just 324 yards and tallied 15 first downs, but it ended the Spartan’s season with an unscathed Big Ten record. MSU is back in Indianapolis for the 2nd time in three years (lost to Wisconsin in 2011) with a great shot at an elusive BCS Bowl bid.

When Ohio State Has the Ball
This game is a major contrast of strengths. Ohio State ranks 3rd nationally with 48.2 PPG as the Buckeyes have scored 40+ points in 10 of 12 games this season. Michigan State ranks 4th nationally with just 11.8 PPG allowed. The Spartans have held five of its last six opponents to six points or fewer and haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than 28 points this season. OSU’s QB Braxton Miller and RB Carolos Hyde anchor this offense that averages 322.1 rush YPG (2nd nationally). Hyde has come on strong after an early season suspension. He’s averaging 166 rush YPG on 8.1 YPC with 14 touchdowns over the past seven games.

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Michigan State ranks 1st against the run (65 YPC allowed), 1st in opponents YPC (2.2 YP C), and 1st in opponents rushing first downs per game (3.9). Just two teams have rushed for over 100 yards against Michigan State this season and only one averaged more than 3.4 YPC. Whichever team wins the battle in the trenches will likely win the game. But Ohio State will also count on some big pass plays to set up the run. Miller is completing 65.7% of his passes with 21 TD and just 5 INT this year. He’s benefitted from defenses loading up the box, setting up favorable matchups on the outside. MSU doesn’t have to load the box and they have a fantastic secondary. Sparty ranks 1st in the Big Ten allowing just 173 pass YPG on 47.9 completion percentage. Opponents are averaging just 4.1 yards per pass with 11 TD and 16 INT this year.

When Michigan State Has the Ball
If Ohio State replicates the defensive effort it put forth against Michigan last week, it will be a long night for the Buckeyes in Indianapolis. The Spartans aren't an offensive juggernaut by any means, but this is arguably the most improved offense in the Big Ten. MSU has averaged 29.8 PPG in Big Ten play, led by a balanced attack of QB Cook and RB Langford. Cook has been extremely efficient and mistake free since becoming the Spartans starting QB. He has 17 TD’s and just 4 INT this year while leading MSU to an undefeated Big Ten mark. Langford, much like Hyde of OSU, has been absolutely on fire in the 2nd half of the season. He’s topped 100 yards in seven straight games (128 YPG) with 12 rushing TD over that span.

Ohio State’s stop-unit has been far from dominant lately as the Bucks have allowed 35+ points in two of the last three games. Their pass defense has been horrendous at times and it ranks 11th in the Big Ten allowing 256 pass YPG. They’ve allowed opposing QB’s to complete 60.6% with 23 pass TD compared to just 13 INT. Despite OSU’s inconsistencies in its pass defense, the Buckeyes are very good against the run. This group allows just 100 rushing yards per game, good for fifth nationally, which means MSU’s Cook will need to bring balance to Michigan State's offense with an accurate passing attack.

Previous Meetings
Michigan State won at Ohio State, 10-7, in 2011. Ohio State won at Michigan State, 17-16, in 2012. In 2012’s matchup, OSU’s Miller was briefly knocked out of the game on the first series. Miller returned, of course, and finished with 23 carries for 136 yards to complement 179 passing yards and a touchdown. MSU didn’t have much of an offense to speak of last season, and they finished that game with 303 total yards and only one offensive touchdown. The Buckeyes are 8-1 SU & 6-3 ATS in the last nine meetings overall.

Big Ten Championship History

Big Ten Championship History
Year Matchup Line Score ATS Result
2012 Wisconsin-Nebraska Nebraska -2.5 (48) Wisconsin 70-31 Underdog-Over
2011 Wisconsin-Michigan State Wisconsin -9.5 (56) Wisconsin 42-39 Underdog-Over

  
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