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1) Give me an update on your picks so far and what lines do you find interesting this week?
Overall picks on the year, combining the OSU picks with the weekly plays of the week, I am 20-11-1 against the spread (7-0-1 picking the Ohio State games ATS). I like Virginia getting 20 against Florida State. Coming off the big comeback win over Louisville on the road, I think the Noles get complacent again. And Virginia has a stingy defense. I’ll go with another dog and advise taking Notre Dame getting the 2 ½ at Arizona State. I tend to think Notre Dame wins a tight game outright. And despite the tough remaining schedule, I think Notre Dame may win all four of their remaining games and end up in the playoff. Finally, I like Oregon laying 8 at Utah, despite what appears to be a bad spot for the Ducks coming off their spanking of Stanford. Not a great spot for Utah either, after the tough OT loss at Arizona State. And I think Oregon, as a team, is starting to pull together nicely.
2) Wow. This is a big game. Lose and the best we can hope for is third in the frigging Big Ten. Yuk. Can you recall a more important Buckeye conference game with still so much football to be played?
Wrong or right, lose this game, and the Buckeyes look like a fraud to those CFB fans outside of Ohio. I mean, sooner or later, Urban Meyer has to beat a top team. And like you said….lose this game and for all intents and purposes, the Bucks are at best #3 in the Big Ten. And come 2015, four Big Ten Championship games will then be in the books, of which Ohio State will have won none of. So, no….I can’t recall another game that means so much, three games prior to the Michigan game.
3)This same Buckeye team had trouble scoring against MSU just 11 months ago with the two time Big Ten MVP at QB and Carlos Hyde pounding the rock behind our best O line in decades. I'm trying to imagine how on Earth we are going to score any points let alone enough to win. Help me out.
I guess one counter argument is that Michigan State’s defense appears to be a notch below where they were a year ago, which offsets some of OSU’s offensive downgrade. But your points are very much valid. I tend to think the Buckeye defense and/or special teams are going to have to score in order for Ohio State to win this game. And the Buckeye defense is going to have to play far better than they did in last year’s Big Ten Championship game. They simply cannot give up 30+ points again.
4) You recently returned from the game in Happy Valley. How did that insane environment help prepare this team for what lies ahead at East Lansing? How tough of a venue is Spartan Stadium?
It won’t be as crazy as Happy Valley – not sure any venue is. I have been to Spartan Stadium twice; both were beat downs, with OSU winning 38-7 in 2006 and 45-7 in 2008. But Michigan State is such a better program now and that stadium will be rocking Saturday night. I think the craziness in Beaver Stadium two weeks ago will indeed help the Buckeyes deal with the Sparty crowd tomorrow night.
5) Doesn't the case of MSU once again prove the advantage of having a tough schedule a myth? Instead of losing to Oregon on the road, what if Sparty had traveled to say, Central Florida and come into this game undefeated? Surely they would be top six in the country and in much better shape for the playoff. Why bother to schedule such tough games?
I guess I’ll go back to what I keep harping on….just win (from here on out), and things will take care of themselves. I think there is a 90%-plus chance that the winner of Ohio State – Michigan State will be in the CFB playoff if they win their other games as well (which is not a given). Therefore, I don’t think the Oregon loss hurt Sparty that bad. But I see where you are coming from. In some cases, scheduling the big dog can do more harm than good.