Ohio State at Michigan State odds preview: Can Buckeyes take their show on road?

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Ohio State defensive back Lathan Ransom plays against Rutgers during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Ohio State will travel to East Lansing, Michigan, this weekend to take on the Michigan State Spartans in the Buckeyes’ first road game of the season.

Last weekend, Ryan Day and OSU scored more than 40 points in a fourth straight game despite C.J. Stroud posting less than 200 yards passing for the first time in 2022. Meanwhile, MSU lost a third straight game as Mel Tucker and the Spartans continue to search for their first win over a non-MAC opponent nearly halfway through the schedule.

Michigan State enters as a pronounced underdog for Saturday’s game at Spartan Stadium, with Caesars Sportsbook listing Ohio State as a 27-point favorite. The contest’s over/under scoring total is 65.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:

Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans

Time/TV: 4 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC

Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Ohio State -27

Money line: Ohio State Buckeyes -10000, Michigan State Spartans +2000

Over/under: 65

Analysis: The two biggest issues for the Spartans in this matchup will be their ground attack and passing defense. Michigan State’s expected points added per rushing attempt ranks 103rd out of 131 FBS schools, while the Buckeyes defense allows the 10th-lowest success rate against running plays (27.8%).

Underdogs almost always need the ability to consistently move the football on the ground for the purposes of running clock and controlling time of possession. This reflects in the Spartans’ last three losses that saw the offense record a combined total of only 180 yards rushing.

Worse yet, Michigan State’s passing defense figures to quickly make this game uncompetitive, even if Ohio State ends up missing star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a third straight outing. At the moment, MSU is one of just 17 teams giving up at least 275 yards through the air per game while also allowing the 43rd-highest success rate to opponent passing plays at over 43%.

Stroud has only attempted more than 30 passes in one game so far this season compared to eight a year ago. If the Buckeyes commit to airing it out early and often against a demonstrably poor pass defense, the afternoon could be highly productive for the Heisman Trophy front-runner and his available receivers.

In five straight games as a favorite against the Spartans, Ohio State has successfully covered the spread each time. Additionally, Michigan State has not scored beyond 12 points in any of those contests and thrice failed to exceed double digits, including Tucker’s first game coaching against Day last season. Given these trends and recent performances — and despite gradual increases from bookies this week — the projected point differential seems quite coverable for the Buckeyes.

Prediction: Ohio State 52, Michigan State 10

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