Ohio State at Michigan State Preview

BEST MATCHUP OF THE YEAR IN THE BIG 10 GOES SATURDAY NIGHT WHEN BUCKEYES VISIT SPARTY

It’s such a down year in the Big 10...that the only regular season game on the entire conference schedule that’s created any buzz is this Saturday Night’s battle between Ohio State and Michigan. And, that involves a team that lost a home game to lousy Virginia Tech!

This is “the game of the year’ in the Eastern Division of the Big 10. Wisconsin and Nebraska will probably be playing the “game of the year” in the West (though Iowa and Minnesota could derail that, making the race even less relevant in the process). Ultimately, the Big 10 championship game will feature the winner of Ohio State/Michigan State laying points over a less impressive Western champ...with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

So...we HAVE to preview this prime time showdown here in the NOTEBOOK...it may be the only time we talk about the Big 10 again for weeks!

Let’s see if JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats provide a clue as to who will win Saturday night, and as whey neither of these teams are currently a major factor in the Final Four chase.

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Ohio State: 7-1 (#67 schedule in USA Today)
Michigan State: 7-1 (#58 schedule in USA Today)

The first thing that jumps out is strength of schedule. Both are one-loss teams against much softer slates than teams from other parts of the country are playing. We have to say that we’re glad the selection committee is paying attention to schedules. Too many pollsters and pundits kept saying variations of “you can only play the schedule you were given, so all wins are equal.” Hey, whatever it took to get the Big 10 into the big money games! The selection committee isn’t falling for that hype. So, both OSU and MSU are penalized for their schedules amongst the one-loss teams. It really hurts the Buckeys that their one loss was at home to Virginia Tech. It kills Michigan State in the Final Four chase that they lost by so many points to Oregon...who’s ahead of them in the rankings.

Yards-Per-Play
Ohio State: 6.6 on offense, 4.5 on defense
Michigan State: 6.7 on offense, 4.7 on defense

Very strong numbers for both against those soft schedules. Virtually interchangeable numbers. Both teams dominate soft opponents...but don’t play to anything near what those differentials would suggest when facing quality. In the past, we had to wait until bowl season to see that. For handicapping this game, nothing to go on yet. Very even teams.

Turnover Differential
Ohio State: +8
Michigan State: +12

Michigan State has the more impactful defense in terms of trying to bully people. That creates more turnovers. Ohio State tends to sit back and hope for the best...which works against bad, mistake-prone teams but becomes a problem when you step up in class. The yardage data may cancel out. Michigan State is likely to win the turnover battle on its home field...which may be enough to swing the win and cover.

Market Performance
Ohio State: 6-2
Michigan State: 5-3

Odd situation, these teams are probably both “over” rated in terms of the national scale. Stick them in the SEC West, and they’ll wear down and suffer some embarrassing losses quickly. But, both are “under” rated against their schedules. The market continues to underestimate how much these coaches are trying to run up the score to earn style points. That’s a hallmark of Urban Meyer coached teams. Sparty is learning that you have to win impressively if you’re not playing other powers. MSU is 5-2 ATS when not playing Oregon. Ohio State has cashed tickets 75% of the time. Underrated locally, overrated nationally. Handicappers have to understand paradoxes like that.

Current Line: Michigan State by 3.5, total of 56

Michigan State opened at -2, which doesn’t make any sense at all given how the season has played out. Sharps pounded that opener, and have driven the number up past the key number of three to Michigan State -3.5. Ohio State is capable of winning...but there’s no way this line should have opened below a field goal in East Lansing. The opening total of 63 has fallen precipitously because of the potential for cold weather...and because sharps who like Michigan State will naturally like the Under because of respect for the defense.

JIM HURLEY has had his eye on this game for weeks. But, it’s just one of many great possibilities on the full Saturday schedule. NETWORK clients only get BEST BETS! You can purchase the final word for Saturday any time before kickoff of the early games right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453

Its back to the NFL tomorrow. Ove the next two days we’ll be studying Chicago at Green Bay Sunday Night on NBC, and then Carolina at Philadelphia Monday Night on ESPN

Enjoy this SUPER SATURDAY that’s chockerblock full of marquee matchups. And, WIN WHILE YOU WATCH with BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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