Gleitman’s Gameday Guide: Michigan State Week

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Welcome to Gleitman’s Gameday Guide, presented by Steamboat Dry Goods, a quick-hitting resource for fans on Buckeye Scoop as they prepare for the upcoming Ohio State game and the national slate of college football each week.

This guide will include my five players who must step up each week for the Buckeyes to win, score prediction and how it plays out, and “brave and bold” predictions for the upcoming contest. Additionally, I’ll look at the national and Big Ten games to let you know my picks (straight up and vs. the spread), as well as who I am picking as my four teams to advance to the College Football Playoff each week.

This week, Gleitman’s Gameday Guide looks at the Buckeyes next game vs. Michigan State, as well as the rest of college football in week 12.


The Buckeyes are a 19-point favorites in this one, which is high considering the Spartans enter this game ranked 7th nationally. Here are five players that need to step up to ensure Ohio State advances to 10-1 and keeps their B1G and CFP hopes alive:

  • QB CJ Stroud: Was lights out against Purdue. Can he keep that rolling against a better team in Michigan State? OSU fans would love déjà vu of JT Barrett in 2014.
  • NT Antwuan Jackson/Jerron Cage: Coupling Cage and Jackson here as whoever is at nose tackle is going to need a big game. Stopping Kenneth Walker is priority number one for the Buckeyes and the nose tackle taking on multiple blockers and letting the linebackers get to the ball is going to be very important.
  • DE Zach Harrison: When the Bucks get after the passer, Ohio State’s defense is at its best. Last week (for various reasons), they did not get home and you saw the results. Shutting down the run will be important too but getting after Payton Thorne can help make this one ugly.
  • DE Tyreke Smith: See above.
  • LB Cody Simon/Tommy Eichenberg: I feel confident in Steele Chambers at this point. But nobody else has proven to be consistent and they will need to be this week in order to stop Kenneth Walker, and also not give up easy chunk yardage in the passing game.


This will be covered in our weekly staff picks, but I want to provide it here as well:

This is a matchup that is great for Ohio State on paper. The MSU passing defense is putrid, and that is the strength of the Buckeyes’ offense. Ohio State should be able to score in bunches, and while the Spartans’ offense is solid, they are not built to keep up with an OSU team that could put up over 600 total yards on the day.

That said, Mel Tucker is a very good coach on the defensive side of the ball, and I think he’ll cook up some things that will at least slow Ohio State down a bit for the first half or three quarters. That, coupled with Michigan State trying to play keep away/ball control with Kenneth Walker, could be the recipe for Sparty to keep this one close or even have a chance to win. On offense, the Spartans will need to have success protecting Payton Thorne in the passing game as well, in order to be able to have success on the ground.

For Ohio State, the offense should do their thing, but it will be the defense that determines how close this game is. They don’t have to be lights out, but if they can be better at the linebacker/safety positions in defending the pass, it will go a long way. The pass rush is the key to this unit, and they didn’t have a good week against Purdue. They need to be getting after Thorne, and if they do this is game over.

At the end of the day, while I think MSU can somewhat contain the Buckeyes’ offense and passing game through scheme, as well as score some points on the OSU defense, I just don’t think they have the horses to get this done. They may not give up 400 through the air or 50+ points like many expect them to, but I also don’t think they are going to score 30+ like many Silver Bullet-doubters think they will. There is absolutely a talent gap here and that should be reflected in the final score on Saturday, with Ohio State winning decisively.

Ohio State 48 Michigan State 24

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While the score prediction is pretty straight forward, here are three “brave and bold” predictions each week that I’ll make about things that happen in the game:

  • CJ Stroud has his “JT Barrett vs. MSU” game that everyone has been waiting for. Played on November 8, 2014, Barrett, as a redshirt freshman, emerged in that game by completing 61.5% of his passes (16/26) for 300 yards with 3 TDs against 0 INTs, while also running 14 times for 86 yards with 2 scores. I am not expecting Stroud to have the ground yardage totals that Barrett did but I will predict Stroud out-performs JT in total yards (he will have more than 386) and matches his 5 TDs with 0 INTs on the day.
  • Ohio State successfully executes a fake punt for a first down and extend the drive, ultimately leading to a score.
  • Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker has 1,473 yards and 17 TDs on the ground this year, with another 85 yards and 1 score through the air. He has gone over 100 yards in all but 3 games this year, with one of those being Youngstown State in week 2 (blow out). The other 2 were against Nebraska (61 on 19 carries, 3.2 average) and Indiana (84 on 23 carries, 3.7 average). I predict Ohio State will hold Walker to a season low in rush yardage (so 56 or under) and a season low on yards per carry. Let’s call it 18 carries for 54 yards for Walker, an average of 3 yards per touch. I do think he may score a touchdown or two, but I think generally OSU will keep Walker in check


Every week I will pick every Big Ten game and a few select national games both straight up and against the spread (LW SU: 9-6; LW ATS: 10-3-2; TOTAL SU: 107-55; TOTAL ATS: 83-77-2)

  • Michigan State at Ohio State (-19): Ohio State Straight Up & Against The Spread
  • Purdue at Northwestern (+11): Purdue SU & NW ATS
  • Rutgers at Penn State (-17): Penn State SU & ATS
  • Illinois at Iowa (-12): Iowa SU & Illinois ATS
  • Michigan at Maryland (+15): Michigan SU & ATS
  • Nebraska at Wisconsin (-9.5): Wisconsin SU & ATS
  • Minnesota at Indiana (+7.5): Minnesota SU & ATS
  • San Diego State at UNLV (+10.5): SDSU SU & UNLV ATS
  • Wake Forest at Clemson (-4): Clemson SU & ATS
  • Iowa State at Oklahoma (-4): ISU SU & ATS
  • Arkansas at Alabama (-20.5): Bama SU & ATS
  • SMU at Cincinnati (-11.5): UC SU & ATS
  • Baylor at Kansas State (-1): KSU SU & ATS
  • Oregon at Utah (-3): Utah SU & ATS
  • Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (+10.5): OKST SU & ATS


The latest College Football Playoff rankings came out this week and the top six in order were Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Cincinnati, and Michigan. But here are my weekly rankings for the CFP heading into this week’s slate of games:

  1. Georgia: Continue to prove they are the clear number one. (Last Week: 1)
  2. Ohio State: Looked back on track against Purdue on offense, but still have work to do on defense. Very tough stretch run coming up to finish the year. (Last Week: 2)
  1. Cincinnati: Another win and an Oklahoma loss moves them up a spot. (Last Week: 4)
  2. Alabama: It’s a joke they play New Mexico State at this point in the season, but they move up with the OU loss. (Last Week: 5)
  3. Oregon: I think this is the week they get their second loss, but for now they are still in the mix. (Last Week: 6)
  4. Michigan State: The head-to-head keeps them above Michigan, although I think the Wolverines are the better team—it will all work itself out the next couple of weeks. Michigan is at 7, Oklahoma State jumps to 8, Notre Dame is at 9, and Baylor is at 10 for me. (Last Week: NR)

Be sure to check out the Buckeye Scoop Staff Picks feature this week to learn how you can win a prize pack giveaway from Steamboat Dry Goods by predicting the score of the Ohio State game!

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