The records suggest a quality Big Ten battle. The oddsmakers disagree and we will explain exactly why right here.
Each of these Big Ten clubs has a record of 9-1, which means this should be a special contest. Yet, sportsbooks like FanDuel have Ohio State as a Big Gulp-size 19-point home favorite. Why are the Buckeyes such a chalk-laden favorite? Though we are not always fans of comparative shopping, sometimes it offers answers.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday, November 20, 2021 – 12:00 PM EST at Ohio Stadium
The Spartans and Buckeyes have five common opponents. Michigan State is 4-1 and 3-2 ATS and has outscored them by 6.8 points a game. Ohio State versus those same five foes is 5-0 and 4-1 ATS and has won by 34.4 PPG. And they both played three times on the road and twice at home. That is substantial. Let’s delve into what both clubs have to do against the betting odds.
Michigan State Has to Run, Score Touchdowns and Create Turnovers
We’ll accept the criticism that this reads like a Captain Obvious commercial. Yet, so does winning the game – one play at a time – but that’s how upsets happen.
Michigan State has to establish running back Kenneth Walker III. The Spartans are 29th in rushing at close to 200 yards a contest and will need the offensive line to be extremely physical. After allowing over 200 yards on the ground to Minnesota and Oregon, Ohio State has given up just 75.1 YPG on the ground. However, nobody is as committed or played close to how the Spartans do. If Sparty can run, QB Payton Thorne has playmakers outside. You don’t beat the Buckeyes by kicking field goals, you have to match touchdowns the entire 60 minutes.
Michigan State is giving up 329 yards passing a game, the worst in FBS, and Ohio State’s offense is averaging 353.6 yards passing, which is No. 6. That’s hard to overcome and the only hope to make this competitive is generating miscues, which leads to trips in the end zone.
Ohio State Has to Deliver Haymakers to Force Michigan State to Pass Only Mode
Coach Ryan Day’s squad can score from anywhere on the field on any given play. Quarterback C.J. Stroud is the real deal and his teammates are as good as any group in the country catching the rock.
This is what makes Ohio State so hard to defend. They can spread the opposing defense out and their receivers can beat almost any defense if they play man coverage and they are all skilled and have the speed to create seams in zones. Do you want to drop eight in coverage? Stroud reads this and the run game is also close to 200 YPG at six yards a clip.
Once again, the Buckeyes have holes in the defense, specifically the secondary. A part of that is building big leads and the opposing team has to pass on almost every down. However, a good pass rush would cure that, and Ohio State is not consistent in doing this.
If Ohio State can build a quick lead, they could force Michigan State to pass on every down by jumping to a 17-0 lead, which makes Walker less effective.
Who Covers the Sportsbooks Spread?
Though Michigan State is decidedly better than in recent years, Sparty has lost by an average of 32.2 PPG the past four years to Ohio State. They have not covered a spread since 2016 or won outright since 2015. Let’s face it, that’s a lot to overcome in one year, particularly at Columbus.
With the total around 67 points, given the spread, that suggests Ohio State wins 43-24 or thereabouts. This season, when the Buckeyes score less than 40 points, they are 0-3 ATS. However, with Michigan State’s pass defense, it’s hard to think that happens. Then we dug up this beauty that made up our minds for college football picks. Ohio State is 12-2 ATS at home vs. passing defenses allowing a completion percentage of 62% or higher, winning by more than 35 PPG.
College Football Pick: Ohio State -19 (-110) at FanDuel