Altvater: OSU, MSU meet in elite Big Ten matchupWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Although Ohio State and Michigan State seem to be long shots to be invited to participate in the new College Football Playoff next month, the right to play for the Big Ten Championship hangs in the balance this week as OSU and MSU meet in East Lansing.
The game will be broadcast to a national audience at 8 p.m. on ABC. It must be a big game because Kirk Herbsteit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and Chris Fowler of ESPN’s College Game Day will be on site in East Lansing for their pregame hype and analysis.
Will Corso don the Spartan or the Buckeye head?
Ohio State and Michigan State come into the game with matching 7-1 records. Both are perfect in Big Ten competition, with each of their losses coming outside of league play.
Michigan State’s only loss came at Oregon, 46-27 on Sept. 6. The Ducks were highly ranked and outplayed the Spartans.
The Buckeyes suffered a major setback before the season ever got started when their All-American and Heisman hopeful, Braxton Miller, went down with a shoulder injury. Freshman J.T. Barrett was forced to fill in for the senior. After a win versus Navy in Baltimore, the Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech at home, in front of a national audience.
Barrett’s inexperience was exposed and OSU fell mightily in the polls. Voters have been slow to believe in the Buckeyes, even though Barrett has vastly improved and they have won every game since.
The Spartans enter the game at No. 8 and the Buckeyes are ranked No. 14 in the most recent College Football Playoff Ranking. Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Oregon fill the top four playoff spots this week.
After the Big Ten’s disastrous second week of the college football season when MSU lost to Oregon, OSU was beaten by VT, Michigan was defeated by Notre Dame and both Purdue and Northwestern were beaten by MAC schools, the conference has faced an uphill climb to regain any respect from the College Football Playoff voters.
Big Ten fans may want to savor each play on Saturday evening because this will probably be as close as any Big Ten team gets to the first College Football Playoffs.
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr.