Before the season started, many people looked at Ohio State's scheduled and marked Nov. 21 as the can't-miss game, the one that decides it all. They were right to do so. The No. 3 Buckeyes have their last home game of the season against the No. 9 Spartans, and for both teams, it's all on the line. The winner of today's game will have a chance to go on to the Big Ten Championship game in two weeks, most likely against Iowa. If that weren't enough, the playoff hopes of both teams depend on a win today.
For Ohio State, though, it's a little bit more than that. Today is also Senior Day for the Buckeyes, the last home game for veteran players like Braxton Miller (as well as those who leave early for the NFL Draft). The only thing sweeter than getting the W for your final trip to the 'Shoe would be seeing that confetti fall again come January. (That and beating Michigan next week, of course.) The stakes are higher this year. We spent most of 2014 as the underdog; this year, we've been the target. The Buckeyes can't afford to look ahead, though.
Aside from a very surprising (and controversial) loss to Nebraska two weeks ago, the Spartans have taken care of business all season. Their 9-1 record includes wins over then-No. 7 Oregon and then-No. 12 Michigan. The Spartans are led by QB Connor Cook, who this season passed Kirk Cousins in the East Lansing record books for career touchdown passes. (Cousins had 66; Cook has 68.) After Cook left the Maryland game last week after taking a hit to his shoulder, however, the question of the week has been "Will he be healthy enough?" Cook and the coaching staff say yes; he'll be starting in today's game.
The Buckeyes are coming off a 28-3 win against Illinois. J.T. Barrett threw for 150 yards and ran for another 74, while Ezekiel Elliott churned up the turf for 181 yards and two touchdowns. With an average of 6.5 yards per carry so far this season and 15 straight 100+ yard games, it's no surprise that the offense continues to rely on the Heisman hopeful. (The young RB is 204 yards away from passing Eddie George on the all-time career rushing yards list at Ohio State.)
Join us in the comments below for our Ohio State-Michigan State GameThread! With some serious post-season hopes on the line today, you know you want to talk about the game with the rest of Buckeye Nation. (Plus, we'll all need a strong support group when Braxton hits us with his final XBRAX1.GIF moves in Ohio Stadium.)