Ohio State and Michigan State were in pretty similar situations a season ago when the No. 5 Buckeyes and the No. 7 Spartans met in the next-to-last week of the regular season. But they’ve diverged dramatically since Ohio State’s 56-7 dusting of the Spartans.

MSU has taken a turn for the worse since signing Mel Tucker to a 10-year, $95 million extension less than a year ago. The Spartans have opened this season 2-3, with losses at Washington, at home to Minnesota and at Maryland. They opened Big Ten play by going 0-2 and being outscored 61-20 by a pair of unranked opponents.

Historical edge

History is certainly on OSU’s side. The last trip to East Lansing was in an empty stadium during a COVID-shortened season. Ohio State won 52-12, and CJ Stroud, seeing his first meaningful action as a Buckeye, had a 48-yard TD run.

Ohio State has won the last 8 matchups in East Lansing. In fact, Michigan State’s last win over Ohio State at home was in 1999. That was a few years before Mel Tucker was an Ohio State assistant coach, which he was from 2001 to 2004, including the 2002 national title season.

Who’ll be back?

With Ohio State having a long list of injuries and a bye week coming up, it seems doubtful that the Buckeyes will rush back any players who aren’t needed.

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Still, Ohio State’s staff talked about having Jaxon Smith-Njigba and/or TreVeyon Henderson back for the Michigan State game. DB Cameron Brown was also discussed as potentially available. Still, when push comes to shove, the OSU air attack, ground game and secondary have been fine without those 3. It wouldn’t be surprising to see any or all of them take another week off to have a 2-week rest heading into the Iowa game on Oct. 22.

Stroud’s Heisman situation

CJ Stroud didn’t really do much to help or hinder his Heisman campaign against Rutgers last week. The 154 yards passing he amassed were the fewest he’s posted as a starter at Ohio State. That said, his 22 pass attempts also tied his starting-career low mark.

Only in the opener against Notre Dame has Stroud thrown more than 27 passes. Stroud’s 1,376 passing yards is only 26th among FBS passers, but his 10.3 yards per attempt ranks 3rd in the nation and his 18 touchdown passes are also 3rd. In a week where Bryce Young was injured and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett muddled through an ugly win, Stroud may not have advanced any in the Heisman race, but he probably didn’t fall back, either.

Passable situation for OSU?

A year ago, Michigan State spent a fair chunk of the season getting carved up by opposing passers. The Spartans allowed 324.8 passing yards per game, worst in the FBS, even while going 11-2.

CJ Stroud was 1 of 4 opposing passers to reach 400 yards in the air against MSU. Things haven’t changed much in 2022.

While Michigan State has allowed “just” 275 passing yards per game, that’s still 13th in the Big Ten (Indiana has given up 14 more passing yards on the season). And the Spartans have allowed 8 passing touchdowns and recorded 0 interceptions. A year ago, the Spartans did manage 10 interceptions while allowing 27 passing touchdowns.

This year, the Spartans have allowed 65 passing plays of 10+ yards so far. That’s 128th in the FBS. Meanwhile, Ohio State leads the nation in 30+ yard passing plays (16). A big passing day seems to be in the cards.

And the prediction …

A year ago, a talented Michigan State squad ranked in the top 10 was a 19.5-point underdog to Ohio State. Of course, they lost by 49, so that might have been a kind Vegas line. How much worse this season, when Michigan State’s offense is stuck in the mud and the Spartans could well be headed for a losing season?

Given Michigan State’s pass defense issues, Ohio State can score at will. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a limited Ohio State offense ride Miyan Williams for much of the game, but it also seems likely Stroud will pass for 300+ yards, even in a blowout.

Given the way that Ohio State has boat-raced its opponents to date, there’s no reason to think otherwise here.

Ohio State 52, Michigan State 13