The 2013 Big Ten season comes to an end on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship. While Penn State was not eligible for the game (and wouldn’t have made it anyway), that doesn’t mean that Nittany Lion fans won’t be interested. Here’s what the VBR staff expects to see tomorrow in Indianapolis.
Lead Editor Barry Leonard (@barryleonardjr)
This is the classic matchup of the top offense in the conference against the best defense in the conference. Sure, Ohio State has all the starpower and the glamour, but I’m still of the old notion that defense wins championships. There’s no doubt that this will be the toughest test the Spartans have faced all season. Stopping Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller will be the key to the game.
Michigan State has been inconsistent on offense and could struggle to put up enough points. However, I expect star linebacker Max Bullough and company to control the game and hold the Buckeyes down. Although Ohio State will be fired up for this one, knowing that a trip to the title game is on the line, I think they looked vulnerable last week at Michigan.
I know I’m taking a bit of a longshot here, but I’m really expecting this one to be a lot closer than most people may think. I’m taking the Spartans in an upset that will cause some fun-to-watch chaos in the BCS. Michigan State wins this one, 24-21.
Staff Writer Eric Sion (@ericbsion)
Staff Writer Corey Hunter (@realhuntdog23)
The Big Ten title game brings together two of the hottest teams in the country, Michigan State, winners of 8 in a row with an elite defense giving up a scant 11.8 points per game, and Ohio State, winners of 24 consecutive games with an electric offense scoring at a 48.2 points per game clip. This game truly is the irresistible force against the immovable object.
The folks in Las Vegas initially installed Ohio State as a 5.5-pt favorite, with the line having dropped to 5-points. It’s difficult not to be awestruck by the immense talent that each team possesses. The Buckeyes, on offense, have weapons like Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year QB Braxton Miller and Big Ten Running Back of the Year Carlos Hyde. On defense, Michigan State has Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Shilique Calhoun and Big Ten Defensive back of the Year Darqueze Dennard.
For Ohio State to win, Braxton Miller has to live up the pre-season Heisman hype. His ability to use his legs and allude would-be tacklers is a dimension that no amount of preparation can get you ready for.
For Michigan State, they need to take advantage of their trips to the red zone. The Spartans have a near-conference low 45 trips to the red zone and have only scored 25 TDs (55.6%) while conference leader Ohio State has had 56 trips to the red zone and have scored a TD on 47 of those trips (83.9%). For Michigan State to win this game, they need to take full advantage of their chances in the red zone while their staunch defense must find ways to have Ohio State settle for FGs instead of scoring TDs.
So who wins? I think this game stays relatively close throughout, with the Buckeyes ability to score, and the Spartans inability to get 7 instead 3 will finally catch up with them. In an ironic twist, the Buckeyes defense will come up with a late stop to snuff out a potential winning Spartan drive and go to the BCS title game.
Prediction: Ohio State – 23 Michigan State – 17