Staff Predictions: Michigan State

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INDIANAPOLIS - The Buckeyes have seen 12 teams on the schedule so far and have 12 wins and our pickers have predicted Ohio State wins unanimously during that run. But now the stakes are a little higher with a shot at a BCS Championship berth on the line as the Buckeyes take on Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game.

Sparty is coming in at 11-1 and if not for a tough game against Notre Dame this could be a battle of unbeatens and one of the biggest games in Big Ten recent history. But for both teams and fan bases this is the biggest game of the year with trips to Pasadena (Calif.) on the line, trophies and much more. We make our picks.

Kevin Noon - Publisher
It was only a week ago that every Ohio State fan thought that the Buckeyes would roll into the Circle City and roll the Spartans but a funny thing happened in Ann Arbor (Mich.), the Buckeyes looked very beatable. The pass defense was poor, the pass offense was not really involved and after 59 minutes and 30 seconds the outcome of the game was very much in question. Fast-forward to this week and the Buckeyes still have the best offense in the league but how will it fare against the best defense in the league and maybe the nation? Braxton Miller will feel better being indoors with no wind to alter his throws but it will be important for the line to give him time. Perimeter runs will be Ohio State's best friend as Michigan State doesn't have the offensive weapons to replicate what Michigan did. This game will be in question going into the 4th quarter before the Buckeyes go up two scores and clamp down. Ohio State 31 Michigan State 21

Patrick Maks - Staff Writer
It's really easy to look at this game as coming down to a contest between Ohio State's running game and Michigan State's suffocating run defense and I'm sure the Big Ten championship hinges on that in a lot of ways. But if the Buckeyes want to win their 25th-straight game, a league crown and earn potentially a berth in the national championship, they'll need to pass the ball too. Of course, Braxton Miller and company have the weapons. But it will be easier said than done against the Spartans. Urban Meyer's crew can't become one-dimensional despite wild success on the ground. Regardless, I'm not sure Michigan State can keep up. Ohio State 35 Michigan State 25

Andrew Holleran - Staff Writer
On paper this game appears to be evenly matched. Ohio State has the conference's best offense. Michigan State boasts the Big Ten's best defense. Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio are, in my opinion, the conference's two best coaches. As bad as unevenly matched as some of the previous Big Ten championship games have been, Saturday's contest is clearly a bout between the Midwest's two best teams. But I just don't think it will be all that close. Michigan State's defense has dominated nearly every opponent but one--Nebraska. The Cornhuskers running game is on a similar level to Ohio State's, and Nebraska ran for nearly 200 yards against the Spartans. I see Ohio State, led by Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller, moving the ball on the ground fairly well Saturday. And Michigan State doesn't possess the offensive weapons necessary to go punch for punch like Michigan did. This one will be squarely in hand by the fourth quarter. Ohio State 38 Michigan State 24

Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst
What can you say about that Ohio State game last weekend? A brawl, a crazy finish, and a defensive effort that left many shaking their heads. Now comes a much different type of test in the Spartans. I have an enormous amount of respect for this Michigan State defense and think it will present different challenges than Ohio State has seen this year. A lot of this game should come down to which quarterback can make a few big plays with his arm as each defense will be focused on stopping the run. I think the advantage at quarterback, and the fast indoor track help Ohio State tremendously. With that being said, I look for Michigan State to hold Ohio State to its lowest point total of the season but still think Braxton Miller and company will make enough plays to pull out a close win. Ohio State 27 Michigan State 24

Andy McLachlan - Team Writer
In our final Big Ten game of the season, we get our wish and see the two best teams in the conference duke it out. The Buckeyes enter with a 24-game winning streak and are front-runners for the final spot in the BCS title game. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde continue to punish opponents through the ground game and combined average over 230 rushing yards a game. The Spartans are built around their stellar defense, led by Max Bullough and Darqueze Dennard. If anyone has the tools to slow down Miller and Hyde, it'd be the boys from East Lansing. While some believe the game will be decided between their strengths, I see it differently. After a poor showing against the Wolverines, the silver bullets need to bounce back in a big way. And with the way Jeremy Langford is running, Ohio State's D can't sleepwalk and expect to win. This game may require a late stage drive to decide a winner. And when you have a talent like Miller under center, how can you pick against him?
Ohio State 27 Michigan State 23
Tom Levenick - Time and Change Contributor/Former Player
Ohio State will play the Michigan State Spartans in the Buckeyes' first appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game. This game, given the development of the teams since their contest last year and given their recent performances is quite intriguing to say the least. While the media is playing up the fact that this is a battle between the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the Big Ten, there are many other factors to be considered. The Spartans have consistently grown their offense behind new quarterback Connor Cook and RB Jeremy Langford and gone undefeated in the league. The Spartan defense has led the country behind stalwart LB Max Bullough and defensive tackle Tyler Hoover. Interestingly, and this may be somewhat confusing, but the Buckeyes are No. 1 (in the Big Ten) in total offense, scoring offense and rushing offense. The Spartans are also No. 1 in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense. The difference lies in Rushing offense, where MSU ranks No. 7 versus OSU ranked No. 2 in rushing defense, while the Spartans are No. 11 in pass offense versus the Buckeyes also rated No. 11 in pass defense. Ohio State leads in all special teams statistics. However, Statistics don't win games. I believe the Bucks learned a huge lesson against TSUN last weekend and will improve dramatically on the defensive side of the ball. The buckeyes defense will have to improve on pass defense and swing passes in particular. Offensively, I again expect Braxton and Carlos to shine, but we need the receivers like Devin Smith, Corey Brown and Evan Spencer to show up. I also expect Dontre Wilson and Jeff Heuerman to make significant contributions. The Buckeyes will win and advance to the BCS Championship.
Ohio State 38 Michigan State 28