Michigan State Spartans face Ohio State for shot at Big 10 football playoff
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING — Once again, the biggest game of the Big Ten regular season might be Ohio State against Michigan State.
That’s nothing new, but it’s also not what was predicted in 2017.
“No one expected us to be here at this point, except for us,” Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke said Tuesday. “It’s a big moment. We realize it. I don’t think it’s one of those where we’ve got nothing to lose, because we do have stuff to lose — the Big Ten championship on the line, and we definitely want to be there.”
Saturday’s game at Ohio State will merely be the latest of several matchups between the Buckeyes and Spartans this decade that has major conference title implications. MSU beat Ohio State in the 2013 Big Ten title game. Since then, the teams have been in the same division, and in 2014 and 2015, they split two meetings that essentially decided who would play in the league title game.
The matchup lost its luster last season, when the Spartans went 3-9, but 13th-ranked MSU (7-2, 5-1, No. 12 CFP) has rebounded and has the inside track to a division title if it can beat No. 11 Ohio State (7-2, 5-1, No. 13).
The Buckeyes are double-digit favorites over a Michigan State team that hasn’t won a Big Ten game by more than eight points, and if the Spartans lose, this will still have been an encouraging season with an inexperienced team. After coming this far, however, Michigan State now has high stakes to play for.
“We have a lot to lose. We’re in control right now. So we do have a lot to lose and we want to stay in control,” coach Mark Dantonio said.
The Spartans got here by edging Penn State last weekend on a last-second field goal.