Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 7:00 PM
The Ohio State Buckeyes are tired of hearing that they don’t belong in the BCS Championship showdown with #1 Florida State. They haven’t lost a game under Urban Meyer. They ran the table again this season in one of the nation’s storied conferences. It’s not their fault that Alabama…and Oregon…and Baylor…and Stanford…kept losing.
Didn’t they beat Wisconsin? Didn’t they beat…didn’t they beat…well, who else did they beat? The only other team they faced besides Wisconsin that had a winning record in Big 10 play was Iowa. It wasn’t a particularly great year for Iowa….and Ohio State beat them 34-24 as 19-point favorites.
Ohio State had at least been blowing out bad teams in the same way that Florida State had been. Until last week’s thriller in Ann Arbor against Michigan. The Buckeyes survived 42-41 when Michigan couldn’t convert a two-point conversion in the final moments. Ohio State was 16-point favorites in that one.
Sorry Ohio State. The reason you keep hearing that you don’t belong is that you haven’t proved you belong! You will get a chance to make a compelling case Saturday Night against a Michigan State team that also ran the table in Big 10 play in a game that will be played on a neutral field in Indianapolis.
This this is a virtual bowl game in terms of quality, let’s see how both of these teams performed vs. bowl eligible teams this season. Note that many teams who couldn’t manage .500 or better records in the Big 10 still managed bowl eligibility because of soft non-conference schedules.
OHIO STATE vs. BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAMS
Ohio State (-46) beat Buffalo 40-20 (winning yardage 458-265)
Ohio State (-28) beat San Diego State 42-7 (winning yardage 445-280)
Ohio State (-7) beat Wisconsin 31-24 (losing yardage 390-399)
Ohio State (-19) beat Iowa 34-24 (winning yardage 495-375)
Ohio State (-16) beat Penn State 63-14 (winning yardage 686-357)
Ohio State (-16) won at Michigan 42-41 (losing yardage 526-603)
That’s only six games this year against teams who qualified for bowls…and it managed to be a very soft six outside of Wisconsin. Heck, Wisconsin stunned the world with a loss to Penn State last week. Way to impress the bowl committees Wisconsin! The Buckeyes were outgained by both Wisconsin and Michigan, but were decent otherwise. Maybe Florida State would have called off the dogs later against the likes of Buffalo and SDSU. Ohio State hates Penn State so much they didn’t call off the dogs.
MICHIGAN STATE vs. BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAMS
Michigan State (+6) lost at Notre Dame 17-13 (winning yardage 254-220)
Michigan State (+1) won at Iowa 26-14 (winning yardage 412-264)
Michigan State (-4) beat Michigan 29-6 (winning yardage 397-168)
Michigan State (-5) won at Nebraska 41-28 (losing yardage 361-392)
Michigan State (-16) beat Minnesota 14-3 (winning yardage 324-249)
Goodness, only five bowl caliber opponents for Michigan State. Maybe the Spartans aren’t a real test at all! Maybe the Big 10 is so bad that its teams are going to get bludgeoned in the bowls this year. The only tough non-conference game was a loss at Notre Dame…who isn’t exactly a world beater this year. The best news for MSU fans is that those last three games were in November, meaning that Sparty is peaking at the right time.
Current Vegas Line: Ohio State by 5.5, total of 51.5
The case for a Michigan State upset:
*Michigan State has the significantly superior defense
*Michigan State didn’t have a long war last week against a hated rival
*Michigan State has nothing to lose, virtually locked into a Rose Bowl bid win or lose
*Michigan State is 4-1 ATS its last five, and 8-2 ATS its last 10
*Ohio State is 0-3 ATS its last three, keyed by a badly fading defense
The case for Ohio State sealing the deal:
*Ohio State has the significantly better offense, by a mile
*Ohio State has TWO quarterbacks who are better than MSU’s signal caller
*Ohio State has something to prove, and a chip on its shoulder about it
*Indoor game in Indianapolis will accentuate OSU’s speed advantage
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his Big 10 sources to get the right read on this prime time game. We could be dealing with a SHOCKER OF THE YEAR on Michigan State, or a BLOWOUT OF THE YEAR if Ohio State’s athletes can get up to full speed and force turnovers from a chasing opponent. To get the final word in this game and all the best from Championship Saturday, purchase our full day and night slate right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you Sunday to preview the huge Carolina/New Orleans game that has been time-changed to prime time for NBC. Then, the next day, we’ll look at the fascinating Dallas/Chicago showdown on Monday Night Football.
Championship Weekend is HERE! WHEN CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE ON THE LINE, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!