An early spin through MSU’s football season: Prime-time showdown with Buckeyes on Nov. 8

This is the ninth in a 12-day series looking at Michigan State’s opponents this football season and their chances against the Spartans.

Week 9: Ohio State
Time and Date: 8 p.m., Nov. 8
Venue: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

Buckeyes at a glance
Coach: Urban Meyer (third season, 24-2)
Last season: 12-2 overall; 8-0 Big Ten (1st, Leaders Division)
Returning starters: 11 (five offense, six defense)

Preseason magazine predictions
Athlon: 12-1 overall, 7-1 Big Ten (1st, East Division); ranked No. 3 nationally
Lindy’s: 1st Big Ten East; ranked No. 5
Sporting News: 1st Big Ten East; ranked No. 9

Why they’ll beat the Spartans
It took a special Michigan State defense not to allow it to happen in the Big Ten title game. Gumption won the Spartans that championship. Pound for pound, at third quarter’s end, the Buckeyes were the more talented crew. Without the sweaty equity and sense of determination of that senior-led MSU defense, it doesn’t get done. And so if that is absent this year, more often that not, the Buckeyes probably win.

No single player has befuddled MSU more than Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. He’s back for his senior year, a true dual-threat QB like few others. There were losses at the other skill positions, replaced by more five-star bodies. And defensively, the Buckeyes defensive line might be too much for MSU up front. Beyond talent, the motivational swing is in Ohio State’s favor — MSU won its title, found its paradise, and did so at the expense of the Buckeyes.

Why they won’t
The loss of running back Carlos Hyde is enormous. He, coupled with Miller, were a devastating duo. The Buckeyes also lost four seniors from the offensive line. And, keep in mind, two years ago, when Ohio State finished 12-0 and offensively inept MSU was just 7-6, the Spartans lost 17-16 on a perfect Miller pass — an argument the difference in physical roster talent is less than recruiting rankings. That game was at Spartan Stadium. This will be, too. And at night. If MSU is the team it believes it can be, the atmosphere might tilt the game in its favor.

Final analysis
MSU will have a week off between Michigan on Oct. 25 and Ohio State on Nov. 8. It’s one of many kind elements to MSU’s schedule this season. This one has the makings of an epic battle, if the key figures on both sides are healthy.

Previously …
Desperate Wolverines visit on Oct. 25
A dangerous visit to Indiana on Oct. 18
Spartans look to avoid letdown at Purdue on Oct. 11
No easing into Big Ten play, as Huskers visit Oct. 4
Impressive new coach adds intrigue to Wyoming’s Sept. 27 visit
New coach, same EMU Eagles visit on Sept. 20
A telling test at Oregon on Sept. 6
Rose Bowl encore begins with Friday night lights vs. Jacksonville State on Aug. 29

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