Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 11/6/2014
Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans, Saturday Nov. 8, 8 p.m. ET
It is a rough time to be a fan of the Big Ten. I am fully qualified to say that as a life-long fan of the conference. This game represents the last chance for the conference to salvage some shred of dignity in an otherwise embarrassingly forgettable season.
The winner of this game will have the only thing that counts as a quality win in the conference and will be very likely to wind up with just one loss on the season. They will need a lot of help to make it into the playoff because neither team has been impressive when it has mattered most, but they will be the only remaining conference squad with any chance at all of success.
So, motivation shouldn't be a problem for either team. The issue, though, is that it has been so long since either team has played a meaningful game that we really don't have any sense of how they might react. Both teams lost their second games of the season - an acceptable loss at Oregon for the Spartans and an incomprehensible one at home to Virginia Tech for the Buckeyes. Since then, both teams have been favored by 6.5 points once, and at least two touchdowns in every other game they have played. They have been favored by more than 20 points seven times combined, and they have covered the spread in all but one of those games. That doesn't happen when teams are playing against strong teams. Michigan State has lost the only real game they have played, and that was two months ago. Ohio State hasn't played a real game. Are they up for the challenge? There is nothing you can do but guess.
Ohio State at Michigan State Betting Storylines
Revenge is an overrated factor in college football for the most part, but it is going to be in play here. Last year Ohio State rode a 24-game winning streak into the Big Ten Championship Game against the Spartans. The Buckeyes were favored by 5.5 points, but they got smoked - the 34-24 final score was very flattering to the losers. That was obviously the wrong game for the Buckeyes to lose, and it completely sabotaged both the season and the whole winning streak - they hadn't been bowl eligible the previous year, so the undefeated season and the huge bowl opportunity that came with it was supposed to be the culmination of two years of work.
Urban Meyer is not a guy who forgets and moves on easily, so he is going to be darned motivated to make sure that another season isn't lost to the guys in green.
Ohio State needs to find an answer for the Michigan State defense - easier said than done. The last two years the Spartans have held the Buckeyes to their lowest point total of the season. The year before, Ohio State's lowest point total in conference play came against Michigan State. This is not quite the same ferocious Michigan State defense we have seen the last couple of years, but it is far from a bad one - fifth in the country in total yards allowed. With solid personnel and consistent coaching they are going to be able to confuse and confound the Buckeyes like they have for several years now. The Spartans will have a puzzle of their own to solve, though. The Buckeyes have not allowed a point in their last two first halves and have outscored opponents almost 5-to-1 in their last six opening halves. Michigan State has a potent offense - fifth in the country in points scored - and QB Connor Cook has owned the Buckeyes lately, but they will really have to focus on finding ways to get off to a stronger start than others have against Ohio State so they aren't starting in a hole.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Spartans favored by three points, and that has since climbed to 3.5. Nearly three-quarters of all bets have been on the Spartans, so it would be very surprising to see a really significant line move - it almost certainly won't go back to or through the key number of three. The total opened at 60 and has fallen to 57.5.
The road team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these teams. The Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last five visits to East Lansing. The underdog is also 4-1 ATS in the last five games.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans Expert Predictions and Picks
I have to go with the Spartans here. I have more faith in their offense, respect their defense more, and have been somewhat more impressed by performance over the course of their weak schedule than I have by Ohio State. I wish I could have gotten in at the opening line, but 3.5 isn't too bad at home. The Spartans are the pick.
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