May 30, 2024

This week, Michigan State football returned to winning ways, ultimately snapping a six-game losing streak. The team’s current goal is to put together a winning streak and, ideally, cause trouble for the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes in their Week 11 encounter at the Horseshoe. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

On MSU’s senior day last Saturday, the Spartans defeated the now 5-4 Nebraska Cornhuskers to earn their first conference victory of the season. The Spartans defeated Nebraska 20–17 thanks to a strong defensive effort and a sufficient offensive showing, improving their overall record to 3-6.

The offence, which was mostly dependent on the passing game, totaled 295 yards. Sam Leavitt and Katin Houser combined to throw two touchdowns and 190 yards as quarterbacks. Using a trick play, wide receiver Alante Brown participated in the passing game as well, hitting Montorie Foster Jr. for a 42-yard pass. MSU’s defence was excellent as well, generating three turnovers and giving up just 129 passing yards.

But the matchup this week is significantly different. Right now, the Buckeyes are rated third in the country. They recently emerged from what some may consider to be a lacklustre 35-16 victory over Rutgers, where they played poorly for three quarters. They are 9-0 and have defeated highly regarded teams like Notre Dame and Penn State, which is why they are ranked third in the country. However, Harlon Barnett, the team’s acting head coach, believes that this team’s background will help to slow down Ohio State.

“This year, we have a lot of players with a lot of football experience,” Barnett stated at a press conference on Monday. We now need to go out and execute while paying close attention to every little detail. I believe that because they have that experience, our guys will feel confident and at ease working outside on Saturday and complete the task at hand.

The Spartans lost their game against these two teams in East Lansing, Michigan, last year, 49-20. Heisman contender and first-round pick of the NFL Draught quarterback CJ Stroud tore apart MSU’s defence, throwing for 361 yards and six touchdowns, while OSU’s rushing attack amassed over 200 yards on the ground in total.

These difficulties are not new; in fact, it has been seven years since the Spartans defeated the Buckeyes, going all the way back to 2015, when MSU entered the Horseshoe ranked ninth in the country and defeated the Buckeyes, who were ranked third, in an exciting 17–14 thriller.

“I told everyone in today’s team meeting that we want to keep the positive energy going,” Barnett said. “It’s gonna be a great challenge and a great experience to play against a top 10 team, and I look forward to it. I tell the guys all the time that this is why you come to play college football. So competitors will be out there for us on Saturday that want to get the job done.” Barnett acknowledged the struggles against OSU in the past, but also noted that MSU has fought hard in those encounters.“I told everyone in today’s team meeting that we want to keep the positive energy going,” Barnett said. “It’s gonna be a great challenge and a great experience to play against a top 10 team, and I look forward to it. I tell the guys all the time that this is why you come to play college football. So competitors will be out there for us on Saturday that want to get the job done.” Barnett acknowledged the struggles against OSU in the past, but also noted that MSU has fought hard in those encounters.

Ohio State averages 32.8 points per game this week, so the MSU defence will have its hands full. This seasoned squad is led by quarterback Kyle McCord, who has 2,352 passing yards and a touchdown to interception ratio of 17 to 4. Given that Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka are both anticipated first-round selections in this year’s NFL draught, MSU faces a threat from his two top receivers. Running back TreVeyon Henderson is averaging 6.5 yards per carry with seven rushing touchdowns this season. Last year, he ran for 118 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against MSU.

Although Barnett is pleased with the number of turnovers MSU has forced this year, he believes that in order to match this potent offence this week, they will need to maintain their defensive intensity.

“The ball, the ball, the ball,” is written on signs in the conference room, so Barnett explained, “we’re always stressing to get the ball back for our offence and give them multiple possessions.” “Our guys have the mentality to go and tackle and win, and we’re trying to be deliberate about going after the football.” That is our mindset, and it won’t alter.

Ohio State has some of the best defensive statistics in the country—only allowing 11 points per game—so MSU’s offence will need to be on point. This week, tight end Maliq Carr will be back in the starting lineup, giving Katin Houser—who has passed for 674 yards this season—one of his main threats back. However, Tre Mosley, the starting wide receiver, will remain sidelined because of a hand injury he sustained against Minnesota.

This Saturday, 7:30 p.m., will mark the start of this matchup on NBC. Following Ohio State, the Spartans play the Hoosiers in Indiana before going to Ford Field in Detroit to play No. 9-ranked Penn State.

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