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Ohio State opens up as 24.5-point favorites over Michigan State

The Buckeyes are favored in their first road game of the year.

Rutgers v Ohio State Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images

DraftKings Sportsbook odds: Ohio State -24.5

Sometimes the Vegas oddsmakers really outdo themselves, and they did exactly that when Ohio State defeated Rutgers 49-10 on Saturday — a 39-point margin of victory in a game that closed with a line of OSU -39.5. Now 5-0, the Buckeyes will hit the road for the first time this season with a trip to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. After winning their first two games, the Spartans have now lost three-straight to fall to 2-3 on the year. Mel Tucker’s team is now 0-2 in Big Ten play, getting dismantled by Minnesota, 34-7, in the conference opener before a 27-13 loss to Maryland this past weekend.

Ohio State really sleepwalked their way through the Scarlet Knights on Saturday, but that didn’t stop the offense from dropping 49 points. While the passing attack has been Ryan Day’s calling card in Columbus, this time around it was the ground game getting all the love. Miyan Williams scored a program record-tying five touchdowns with 21 carries for 189 yards in an incredibly impressive performance by the third-year running back. C.J. Stroud had a bit of an off day in an offense that looked like it lacked some focus across the board against a lesser opponent, but the Heisman favorite still threw for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Buckeyes’ defense continued to dominate in its first year in the Jim Knowles era. Rutgers wasn’t able to do much of anything offensively, and their 10 points were the result of an Ohio State muffed punt and an interception by Stroud. Otherwise, starting quarterback Evan Simon was held to just 74 yards passing, and the Scarlet Knights’ run game was only able to average three yards per carry, totaling 107 yards on 36 attempts. Ohio State also caused a pair of turnovers in the lopsided victory, with Zach Harrison forcing a fumble and Steele Chambers snagging a pick off a ball tipped at the line. Speaking of Chambers, he had a huge day for the Silver Bullets, totaling a team-high 11 tackles with two for loss and the takeaway.

As was the case last year for Michigan State, the Spartans’ biggest issue has been on defense — more specifically, the secondary. That issue reared its ugly head once again in the loss to the Terrapins this weekend, as Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 314 yards in his team’s victory. Overall, Michigan State allowed 489 yards of total offense, with all three of the Terps’ touchdown drives spanning over 80 yards. While stopping the pass has been an issue for the Spartans, they weren’t great against the run this last time out either, allowing Maryland RB Antwain Littleton II to rack up 120 yards on 19 carries. There wasn’t a single turnover in the game, as MSU has not yet recorded an interception this season.

Offensively, things have not gone so well for quarterback Payton Thorne after a solid year in 2021. Thus far, the third year QB has thrown six picks through five games, and was a very inefficient 27-of-44 for 221 yards against a Terrapins defense that isn’t all too highly touted. Running the ball had been a strength for this team heading into the game, led by a two-man tandem in Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard at RB, but none of the team’s four ballcarriers on Saturday registered more than 36 yards on the ground. Star receiver Jayden Reed scored his first touchdown of the season against Maryland, but it’s been tougher to get him the ball without Jalen Nailor there as his running mate.

Simply put, the Spartans have underperformed in year two under Mel Tucker after largely over-performing in year one. Building a team through the transfer portal year over year is not a sustainable strategy, and Michigan State is learning that the hard way. The defensive secondary that was one of the worst in the country last season is still very very bad, and the offense hasn’t done nearly enough to pick them up now that Kenneth Walker III is gone. Ohio State beat Michigan State handily in Columbus last season, and I don’t think things are going to go much better for the Spartans within the friendly confines.

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