Urban Meyer and Ohio State search for the program's 25th consecutive victory on Saturday against Michigan State with their national championship hopes on the line.
The argument has been made all season that the Big Ten is weak, and the Buckeyes haven't played anyone. But that won't be the case after Saturday. Michigan State has only one loss this season and has NFL caliber talent all over the field, particularly on defense. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller won't find it easy to move the ball against Michigan State.
When Ohio State has the football
The Buckeyes' offense will be the key to the game. Getting into a shootout with Ohio State is a recipe for failure, and Michigan State will hope to keep this score manageable. Braxton Miller has been improving in recent weeks after missing time this season with an injury. With a lot of underclassmen returning to school, some are suggesting Miller should declare for the NFL Draft early. That may not be Miller's best bet, but he has been impressive lately. His running back, Carlos Hyde, has also shown tremendous NFL potential late in the season. He's a powerful runner who will make a living between the tackles at the next level. Buckeyes tackle Jack Mewhort will also be a key player to watch on a loaded Ohio State offensive line.
Michigan State presents as big a challenge as Ohio State has faced all season long. Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard is the best NFL prospect on the Spartan defense. He's a physical corner with an aggressive mentality when it comes to attacking the football. He may be talented enough to alter the Buckeyes' game plan. Inside linebacker Max Bullough may also be a solid player at the next level. If Michigan State is going to slow down Ohio State's running game Bullough. Safety Isaiah Lewis is also worth watching.
When Michigan State has the football
If the Spartans manage to beat the Buckeyes, they will need a strong performance up front from a pair of seniors on the offensive line. Offensive tackle Fou Fontoni could be a candidate for the Senior Bowl, and guard Blake Treadwell may be the more impressive prospect.
Ohio State's defense was shredded against Michigan a week ago, but it does have a few potential first rounders on that side of the ball. Cornerback Bradley Roby has fallen off a bit as a junior, but he's already declared himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. He and linebacker Ryan Shazier both have a shot at the first round in May. Ohio State safety C.J. Barnett is also one of the best in the country.
Question of the night: Is Braxton Miller up for the challenge?
Miller has had an up and down career, but 2013 has been filled with more ups than downs. Everyone is doubting the competition Ohio State has played this season, but Miller will have a chance to show what he can do against one of the best defenses in all of college football. Can he keep the Buckeyes moving downfield, or will Michigan State slow him down enough to keep Ohio State out of the BCS Championship.