It’s time to shake the rust off (again), because Ohio State football is back! The fourth-ranked Buckeyes (4-0) face Michigan State (2-3) in the penultimate regular season matchup of what’s been a bizarre 2020 football season.
After cancelling last week’s matchup against Illinois, Ohio State confirmed Friday that today’s matchup would take place as scheduled given program improvement in COVID-19 issues. The team resumed activities Tuesday in preparation for today’s game.
While the Buckeyes look to be shorthanded overall when they take the field against the Spartans, the most notable absence might be that of head coach Ryan Day, who is staying home after testing positive for COVID-19. Filling in Day’s stead will be defensive line coach Larry Johnson who, in his interim capacity, will become the first Black head coach in Ohio State program history.
On the field, quarterback Justin Fields will be looking to step up after a down performance against Indiana what feels like ages ago. Fields threw three picks against the Hoosiers, matching his season total from 2019. The good news is Fields will continue to be supported by his cast of receivers, including Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, who both posted 100-yard receiving games against the Hoosiers. Running back Master Teague also looks to follow-up a career game as he has found his groove on the offense.
Defensively, the secondary hopes to improve on one of its worst outings in recent memory, in which it allowed nearly 500 yards passing and five touchdowns through the air.
Michigan State, meanwhile, is hoping to make it to .500 after defeating previously-unbeaten Northwestern. Leading the Big Ten’s most anemic offense (which averages just 18 points per game) is quarterback Rocky Lombardi, who’s thrown for eight touchdowns and eight picks this season. Lombardi’s best game this year came against in-state rival Michigan, when the junior went 17-of-32 passing for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
The Buckeyes are 24-point favorites over the Spartans, which feels pretty reasonable given what we’ve seen from Michigan State so far this season. Ohio State holds a 33-15 overall record against the Spartans, with the Buckeyes taking the last four matchups over Michigan State. Most recently, the Buckeyes defeated the Spartans in Columbus by a score of 34-10 in 2019.
Now, Ohio State looks to earn a strong win over Michigan State, despite questions of personnel persisting due to COVID-19, and remain a contender for the College Football Playoff.
When is the game and how can I watch?
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 5, 12 p.m.
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Online: Watch ESPN
Radio: 97.1 FM/1460 AM
Where is GameDay this weekend?
Because this week is happening in 2020, of course the location for College GameDay would not be as straightforward as it should be. However, it will still be a great story, because, for the first time ever, the crew will head to No. 18 Coastal Carolina ahead of the Chanticleers’ matchup with No. 13 BYU. Coastal Carolina, which is on a historic 9-0 run this season, was initially slated to face Liberty today but, due to concerns around COVID-19, had to cancel. Fortunately, the Cougars, who also hold a 9-0 record this season, were there to step in. The teams are scheduled to square off at 5:30 ET on ESPNU.
What’s the rest of the Big Ten up to today?
With No. 8 Northwestern at Minnesota and Maryland at Michigan being cancelled due to COVID-19, the Big Ten has just five matchups scheduled for Saturday. While Ohio State takes the opener on ABC at noon, Nebraska heads to Purdue on BTN and Penn State travels to Rutgers on FS1. In the afternoon slot at 3:30 ET, No. 12 Indiana heads to No. 16 Wisconsin on ABC, and No. 19 Iowa faces Illinois in Iowa City on FS1.
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Below is your Ohio State - Michigan State GameThread. Be respectful, be kind and as always, keep it classy. If you like GIFs, lay ‘em on us. In all, be good fans, cheer for your teams, be cool to each other (even if somebody else isn’t) and everyone wins. Let’s kickoff the season strong!