Tomorrow the third annual Big Ten Championship will take place at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. There the Undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes, winners of the Leaders Division, will play the Legends Division victors, the 10th ranked Michigan State Spartans.
This will be the first trip to the Big Ten Title game for the 12-0 Buckeyes. They also went undefeated last year, taking the Leaders Division as well. They were however not permitted to take part in any post-season play due to NCAA sanctions from the previous year.
For the Spartans this is their second trip in three years. They took part in the Inaugural Big Ten Title Game in 2011, but fell to the Wisconsin Badgers 42-39. The Spartans were undefeated in conference play at 8-0. Overall they stand with a record of 11-1, with their only loss from bitter rival The Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Coming into the game, the Spartans bring their top ranked defense. They still lead the FBS in total defense (237.7 yards per game), rushing defense (64.8 ypg.) and pass efficiency defense (91.8 rating). They’ve been the best defense in terms of total defense for 12 consecutive weeks. In the Big Ten Conference, they lead in seven defensive categories: total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, opponent third-down conversions, first downs defense. In five of their last six games, the Spartan D has not allowed an opponent into the end zone.
Keys to a Spartan victory in the title game will heavily depend on keeping Ohio State’s Braxton Miller contained. In 10 games the dual threat quarterback has thrown 138-210 for 1759 yards with 21 passing touchdowns and five picks. He also has rushed for 891 yards on 132 carries with eight touchdowns on the ground. In addition to Miller, starting Buckeye tailback Carlos Hyde could be a serious threat on the ground. So far this year, in nine games he has rushed 1290 yards on 165 carries with 14 touchdowns. Together, these playmakers have helped the Buckeyes achieve the second best rushing offense in the FBS with 321.3 yards per game.
Michigan State’s offense will have its work cut out for them. Defensively, the Buckeyes sit fourth in the Big Ten and 30th in the FBS in terms of total defense at 355.8 yards per game. They sit at number two in the conference and fifth in the nation in terms of rushing defense at 100.0 yards per game.
Spartan tailback Jeremy Langford will lead the rushing attack. He is averaging well over 100 yards per game, totaling 1210 yards for the season on 245 carries. He averages 4.9 yards per carry and has notched 16 touchdowns on the ground.
Sophomore starting quarterback Connor Cook has improved more and more each game. He is especially skilled in finding multiple receivers, preventing opposing defenses from using double coverage on a particular player, thus spreading the pass to multiple receivers. Since taking the starting reigns he has totaled 2119 yards, throwing 117-305 with 17 passing touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Kickoff is scheduled for tomorrow at 8:17 pm Eastern Time. The game will air live on FOX.
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