This has not been the year Ohio State was hoping for up to this point, but quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been holding his own with an excellent passing season. This weekend, he goes up against a solid Michigan State defense, hoping to slow him down as much as possible.
Since Urban Meyer arrived on campus, expectations have been extremely high for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Simply put, this is a football program that feels as though they should be National Championship contenders each and every year. One look at the last four games for this team will show anyone that they don't look like anything close to a contender in 2018. Although they can still finish the season with one loss (albeit a bad 29-point drubbing from Purdue), the schedule does not look great. Ohio State has struggled against the spread, and now they face a solid Michigan State team that is 6-3 on the year.
The Spartans come in on a two-game win streak, albeit against some mediocre teams. They did beat Purdue one week after the Boilermakers beat Ohio State, but their last win over Maryland was against a team dealing with a tone of turmoil. The Spartans know that Ohio State is better than either of those teams.
Ohio State is 0-5 in their last five games against the spread, showing that they are just not playing well even in wins. One person carrying his weight though? Haskins. The quarterback leads the country in touchdown passes, and he is fifth in passer rating. The Buckeyes are used to getting things done with the run, but the quarterback play has carried them.
Michigan State's defense is good, but they really excel in stopping the run. In fact, they are the best defense in the country against the run. Their passing defense is still good, but Haskins should still find ways to get things going against them.
What really hurts Michigan State is the fact that they have a ton of issues on offense. Their quarterback, Brian Lewerke, has one of the worst passer ratings in the country. Their running back, LJ Scott, is barely getting three yards per carry in his last four games. They aren't going to shut down Ohio State completely, so they need to find a way to score at least a couple touchdowns to pull off the win.
Michigan State's defense will keep it close, but they will need more than that to really handle Haskins and Ohio State. At some point, they have to turn things around and start playing better again, and they should be able to against the Spartans on Saturday. Ohio State will have work to do after this to make it to the College Football Playoff, but it all starts Saturday.
Ohio State at Michigan State: Week 11 Preview | Big Ten Football