Ohio State at Michigan State
This is not actually the Big Ten championship game, though you wouldn’t know that from the way it’s being covered. This is the media’s annual designated “OK, maybe the Big Ten isn’t a useless relic of the 1950s” game, and the assumption is that whoever wins this game will easily handle whoever wins the West.
I’ll grant that that’s a pretty safe assumption, but still, there’s a reason they actually play the games.
Anyway, these two teams are the same team. The same dang team. Two seriously talented head coaches. Ferocious defense. Abundant playmakers on both sides of the ball. Guys who will get drafted high and wind up playing special teams in the NFL for a couple years before transitioning into jobs selling medical equipment to hospitals. (Did I just say that out loud?) The atmosphere will be so fully charged the Storm Prediction Center will be forced to take notice. It’s the biggest game in East Lansing in about 50 years, and one of the biggest Big Ten conference games in the last decade. Why? Because, even though Nebraska is in the mix, the Big Ten’s hopes of making the playoffs are resting on the winner of this game.
So who will it be?
That’s difficult to determine, bordering on impossible, because this is one of those games that is likely to turn on one or two big plays. Those are just as likely to be defensive or special teams plays as they are offensive plays. I’m calling both teams essentially equal on defense and special teams. It’ll be somebody’s offense that makes the difference.
It’s not fair to keep treating Ohio State like a team that is always in danger of being flogged by Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes have moved on and learned. I truly believe OSU would win a rematch by at least 17 points if the teams played today. Still, it’s also true that Ohio State couldn’t get points in a hurry against a VT team that’s mediocre at best. That, plus the game being in East Lansing, is enough for me to give the nod to Sparty here. But my confidence is very, very low.
The pick: Michigan State 27, Ohio State 24