The showdown under the roof of Lucas Oil Stadium comes after a regular season that saw the Buckeyes and Spartans cruise to unbeaten conference marks to win division titles, each a victim perhaps of a down year for the Big Ten other than what OSU and MSU have accomplished. At stake is an automatic berth in a BCS Bowl Game that comes with the league crown, and perhaps a shot at the national title for Ohio State.
Kickoff in Indianapolis is about a quarter past eight with FOX providing the broadcast. The Buckeyes are showing up as 5 point favorites on SBR's live college football odds, down a half from the opener, with what has been a steady 51.5 for the total.
The Buckeyes and Spartans really aren't fierce football rivals, certainly not like they both are against the Michigan Wolverines. But this game could change that. Beginning next season, Ohio State and Michigan State will compete in the newly aligned East Division as the addition of Rutgers and Maryland ends the Leaders-Legends setup.
It is a series that has belonged to the Buckeyes, winners of 28 of 41 overall and eight of the last nine. Ohio State eked out a 17-16 win in East Lansing a year ago, the closest the Buckeyes came to a loss in 2012, and the final marked the fourth 'under' in the last five clashes.
Will 25 Be Buckeyes' Lucky Number?
Just before surviving last week's scare vs. the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was talking about what a flawed system the BCS was. But then Auburn shocked Alabama to throw a wrench in those works, and renew the Buckeyes' hopes to play for the National Championship.
Still, 24 straight wins isn't going to get it done for No. 2 Ohio State (12-0 straight up, 6-5-1 against the spread), and even a 25th might not be enough if No. 3 Auburn puts on another show in the SEC Championship against No. 5 Missouri. Hell, I'm still not convinced the No. 4 Crimson Tide have played their way out of the picture.
For all the talk about Ohio State having a weak schedule, the Buckeyes at least played a team still in the BCS top 25. That isn't the case for Michigan State (11-1 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) who battled two teams that were ranked at the time, Notre Dame and Michigan, but no longer part of that list.
Head coach Mark Dantonio can squawk all he wants about the Big Ten titlist deserving to be in the BCS Championship, but it ain't going to happen if MSU pulls off a mild upset. That lone loss to the Fighting Irish really sticks out for the No. 10 Spartans, who aren't putting enough offensive glitter into voters' eyes despite having the premier defense in the land.
Only One-Third Of Matchup Getting Attention
One might think the entire game will be played with Braxton Miller and the OSU offense on the field against the incredible Michigan State defense. But while Miller and the Buckeyes are going to have to find a way through the MSU stop unit, which in turn has to figure out a way to stop the 6th-ranked offense in the country, it's but one third of the action that will decide the outcome.
Connor Cook and the Spartans are going to have to generate points, and not sit back waiting for the defense to once again limit an opponent to six points or less, something that side of the ball has done five of the last six weeks. Ohio State's defense isn't chopped liver, and the MSU offensive line is going to have to win that trench battle as much if not more than on the defensive side.
Weather obviously isn't going to be an issue being indoors, a good thing for the fans since it's going to be in the low-20s for the start of the game. But one thing to keep in mind is the artificial turf; both teams practice on FieldTurf, so it won't be brand new, but the consensus is it should give Ohio State a slight advantage.
Not that Ohio State needed an extra advantage. Meyer will have them ready, and Miller will execute, it's that simple when it comes to my free college football pick for this affair.
My picks: Ohio State -5
Season: 26-13 (+11.7); 7 picks pending