Saturday, 8:17, FOX
What they do well
Nationally, the Buckeyes rank #2 in points per possession (3.67), #3 in Effective Points Per Possession (1.79), #5 in yards per possession (41.7), #5 in starting field position (66.3), #2 in drives that end in TDs (50%), and #2 in points per red zone trip (6.06). The defensive numbers aren't quite so eye-popping, but they're still strong: #15 in points per possession (1.33), #4 in field position (74.9), and #20 in yards per drive (25.7).
Michigan State's offense isn't on par with Ohio State's, but they do have good field position (65.7) and the #10 time of possession (169 seconds per drive) keeps their defense fresh along with keeping OSU's offense off the field. The Spartans rank #1 in the country in avoiding turnovers, with just 5.2% of drives ending in an INT or fumble. Where MSU stands out is on defense:
0.97 points per possession (#3)
1.20 Adjusted effective points per possession (#6)
5.00 plays per possession (#5)
18.9 yards per possession (#1)
74.4 starting field position (#5)
116 seconds per possession (#3)
11.2% of drives ending in TD (#5)
14.0% of drives reaching Red Zone (#1)
It's as good a resume as any defense in the country. Getting to see them go against the Ohio State offense will be one of the treats of championship weekend.
What they don't do well
Ohio State's defense yields too many touchdowns in the red zone, but other than that, they're a team with few weaknesses. That's hardly a surprise when you're 12-0.
Michigan State has a mediocre at best offense, ranking 55th in points per possession, 70th in EP3+, 61st in TD rate, 67th in RZ%, and 81st in RZ scoring.
OSU rush O (.36) vs. MSU rush D (.28)
OSU pass O (.27) vs. MSU pass D (.24)
MSU rush O (.04) vs. OSU rush D (.13)
MSU pass O (.06) vs. OSU pass D (.08)
It's a tale of two equally important matchups: On one hand, you have a dynamic Buckeye offense going against the best defense they've faced all season. On the other, a generally boring MSU offense takes on a solid but unspectacular OSU defense. Unfortunately for the Spartans, a chic upset pick all week long, the Buckeyes hold the EPA+ matchup edge in each facet of the game. That suggests a Buckeye victory.
I've heard a lot of upset chatter surrounding this game, but the Buckeyes are the better all-around team and should win.
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