Ohio State hasn’t lost against Michigan State in East Lansing since 1999, but that doesn’t mean Saturday’s away game against the Spartans will be a breeze for the nation’s fourth-ranked team.
Especially considering the condition of their available roster.
During his weekly radio show on 97.1 The Drive, head coach Ryan Day noted that the Buckeyes will be coming into Spartan Stadium “a little short-handed,” although the school hasn’t released a list of which players will be unavailable.
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While the Spartans hold an uninspiring 2-3 record under first-year head coach Mel Tucker, they’re a talented squad coming off a huge upset of the formerly eighth-ranked Northwestern Wildcats. Their first victory of the season came against the Wolverines, who were at the time ranked 13th.
And if Michigan State is going to challenge the Buckeyes, there’s a good chance it will happen through their deep passing game, which has been a strong spot for the team this season. Just last week, MSU quarterback Rocky Lombardi found receiver Jalen Nailor on a deep strike that went for a 75-yard touchdown.
Even though the Buckeyes are no doubt the most complete team in the Big Ten, their pass defense has likely been the team’s weakest area this season, giving up 491 yards through the air to Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. on Nov. 21.
This weekend’s contest is also critical for the Bucks in terms of what it means for the team’s Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff hopes. According to Big Ten Conference rules, teams are only eligible to compete in the Big Ten title game on Dec. 19 in Indianapolis if they’ve played in a minimum of six games. Due to cancelled matchups against Illinois and Maryland, Ohio State must play in their remaining two games if they hope to end up in Indy, and beyond.