Ohio State-Michigan State matchups

QUARTERBACKS

C.J. Stroud was 32 of 35 for 436 yards and six touchdowns in a 56-7 win over Michigan State last season.

Michigan State’s Payton Thorne has thrown for 1,121 yards and eight touchdowns this season. But he has struggled at times and has been intercepted six times.

Advantage: Ohio State

RUNNING BACKS

Miyan Williams had a career day when he rushed for 189 yards and scored five touchdowns when No. 3 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) beat Rutgers 49-10 last week. Williams leads OSU with 497 yards rushing.

Michigan State (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) averaged 228 yards rushing in wins over Western Michigan and Akron in its first two games but since then has gained a total of 180 rushing yards against Washington, Minnesota and Maryland. Wisconsin transfer Jalen Berger leads the Spartans with 301 yards.

Advantage: Ohio State

RECEIVERS

Julian Fleming has caught four touchdown passes in OSU’s last three games. He also has blocked well in the running game, according to Ryan Day. Emeka Egbuka leads OSU with 30 catches for 512 yards.

Keon Coleman (25 catches, 308 yards, 3 touchdowns) is Michigan State’s leading receiver. Jayden Reed has 19 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown and Tre Mosley has three touchdown catches. Reed and Thorne have been teammates since middle school.

Advantage: Ohio State

OFFENSIVE LINE

Ohio State’s offensive line opened some huge holes for Williams last week, as it has done much of the season for all the running backs, and allowed only one sack.

Left tackle Jarrett Horst, center Nick Samac and right tackle Spencer Brown played every offensive snap for Michigan State last week in a 27-13 loss to Maryland. Left guard J.D. Duplain is a four-year starter.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE LINE

Senior Zach Harrison has been overshadowed by some younger OSU defensive linemen this season, but he had two big plays against Rutgers with a tipped pass, which became an interception by Steele Chambers, and a forced fumble.

Jacoby Windmon, a transfer from UNLV, had 6.5 tackles for losses, 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in MSU’s first two games against Western Michigan and Akron. Since then he has had one tackle for a loss, no sacks and one forced fumble.

Michigan State has allowed 508 yards, 503 yards and 489 yards in its last three games.

Advantage: Ohio State

LINEBACKERS

Ohio State’s linebackers might be the position group that has improved the most since the arrival of Jim Knowles as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator.

MSU linebackers Cal Haladay and Ben VanSumeren are tied for second on the team in tackles with 43.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Cornerback has been a bit of a concern for Ohio State recently with starter Cam Brown missing the last two games because of an injury and the other starter, Denzel Burke, giving up some big yardage plays.

Michigan State was one of the worst teams in the country at defending the pass last season. It isn’t much better this year. MSU is giving up 275 yards passing per game and has not intercepted a pass.

Advantage: Ohio State

SPECIAL TEAMS

OSU’s Jesse Mirco got more attention for one 22-yard run against Rutgers than he has for two seasons of good punting.

Michigan State’s two kickers are 1 of 4 on field goals. Punter Bryce Baringer averages 53.3 yards per kick.

Advantage: Ohio State

Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.