Posted on November 8, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Two weeks ago, fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes were on top of the world. Their team completed an incredible comeback to take down the mighty Penn State Nittany Lions. With the win, they climbed back into the CFB Playoff conversation. All they had to do was keep winning and get a little help to make it in.
As it turns out, they hit a roadblock on the ‘keep winning’ part when they traveled to Iowa last weekend.
Somehow, their mighty defense couldn’t do anything to stop the 102nd ranked offense of the Iowa Hawkeyes. J.T. Barrett went from being a guy that looked like he deserved to win the Heisman to one that would be benched from most scout team offenses (18-34 for 208 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions).
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It would take a minor miracle for them to make the playoffs now, but there is still something of value they can win, the Big Ten Championship. But to remain in the running for that, they will need to take down the killed Penn State’s playoff dreams, Michigan State.
The Spartans were supposed to test the Penn State offense with their highly ranked defense (No. 12 total yards; 303.7 yards/game allowed). But they must have learned something from watching how J.T. Barrett destroyed Penn State’s secondary because they did the same.
Had the three+ hour weather delay not given them a chance to reset and essentially start over, maybe the outcome would have been different. But the weather happened, Penn State couldn’t stop Brian Lewerke (33-56 for 400 yards and two touchdowns, one interception), and Trace McSorley threw too many interceptions (3).
Can the Spartans muster enough offense against Ohio State? Can Ohio State stop them? The Buckeyes were scorched by a lesser team last weekend.
So—who’s going to win?
It is not hard to picture Ohio State winning this one. Except for the interceptions he threw last week, J.T. Barrett is having an incredible season. He has a great running back in the backfield with him in freshman J.K. Dobbins. Between the two of them, the Buckeyes will have to get the run game established early.
The longer they can keep the offense on the field, the less time Brian Lewerke will have to work his magic. His transformation the last couple of weeks can only be explained as such. During the first seven games of the season, he threw for less than 200 yards on four occasions. Once, against Michigan, he didn’t break 100.
But then against Northwestern, in a triple overtime game, he completes more passes than he had all month (39) and for more yards (445). Fluke, right? Maybe—but then he did again last week against Penn State (33-56 for 400 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception).
Whatever he is doing now is working. With how poorly the Buckeyes secondary has played the last couple of weeks, they’ll ask him to do it again this week.
Michigan State’s run defense is going to limit what Barrett and Dobbins can do. Once Lewerke gets the Spartans out to a big enough lead (because he is going to torch Ohio State’s secondary), the Buckeyes will slowly abandon the run.
While Barrett is a good passing quarterback, he is not going to be good enough to lead the kind of comeback Ohio State is going to need.
Oddsmakers have Ohio State favored by 15.5 points. So, take Michigan State and the points and watch them win.