With two one-loss teams meeting Saturday night in East Lansing, it'd be tempting to call Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan State game the de facto Big Ten East title game. Indeed, the winner will be in great shape entering mid-November to reach the Big Ten conference title game. But of course, plenty can happen in the final month of the regular season.
Michigan State enters the game off its second bye of the season, two weeks after its 35-11 takedown of Michigan. Ohio State dispatched Illinois 55-14 last weekend, having the game wrapped up by halftime. The Spartans' defense might be slightly down from last year's incredible unit, but there's no ignoring MSU's 22nd-ranked scoring defense. The offense is certainly more explosive than last year's edition, and with the Buckeyes dangerous as ever, this game should be a blast.
One last thing to remember: College GameDay is in town. Who says ESPN doesn't love the Big Ten?
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game time: 8 p.m. ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Rankings and records: Both teams are 7-1 (4-0 Big Ten). Michigan State is ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Ohio State is No. 13 in the AP and No. 11 in the Coaches.
Vegas: Michigan State opened as a 2-point favorite. The Spartans are now 3.5-point favorites.
Weather forecast: A high of 42, a low of 31 and a chance of rain.
Two things at stake
The Big Ten East (for now). Again, much can happen over the last month of the season. But both teams' remaining schedules are manageable; a win Saturday would obviously be critical for the College Football Playoff picture. After MSU, OSU travels to Minnesota before hosting Indiana and Michigan. MSU gets Maryland on the road, Rutgers at home and Penn State on the road. Ohio State gets two home games, but both Michigan and Indiana are sub-.500 teams. Michigan State hits the road twice, but only Maryland among its final three opponents is above .500 in conference play.
One big matchup
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook vs. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. Both quarterbacks are among the Big Ten's best on offenses that haven't been tested very often. Barrett was miserable in Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech (9 of 29 for 219 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT; 24 rushes, 70 yards, 1 TD) but that was also two games into his collegiate career. Cook fared decent in MSU's only loss, going 29-of-47 for 343 yards, 2 TD and 2 INT in the Sept. 6 loss to Oregon. Cook also struggled against Nebraska, Michigan State's only game that was decided by fewer than 14 points. The same goes for Barrett; in Ohio State's closest game, the double-overtime thriller vs. Penn State two weeks ago, the freshman went 12 of 19, 1 TD, 2 INT. Of course, his running abilities give him an added advantage. Whichever QB limits his mistakes most ably could decide the game.