Five things: Ohio State vs. Michigan State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A closer look at the critical areas and key players as No. 2 Ohio State takes on No. 10 Michigan State for the Big Ten championship in Indianapolis. Take it easy: The Buckeyes were clearly amped up emotionally against rival Michigan last week, and they paid a pretty steep price for losing focus when right guard Marcus Hall and hybrid offensive weapon Dontre Wilson were ejected. While Michigan State might not get the blood boiling like the Wolverines, there is even more on the line this week for Ohio State, which could mean even more potential for distraction. Obviously the conference title is up for grabs, but after moving into position to play for the national championship last weekend, the Buckeyes know they control their own destiny for a shot at the crystal football. It could slip away easily against the Spartans, who nearly knocked them off a year ago.

Ride Hyde: For all the emphasis Urban Meyer has placed on balancing out his spread attack this season between the run and the pass, one is clearly more effective than the other. And with Carlos Hyde rolling the way he has since Big Ten play opened, unless Michigan State’s top-ranked rushing defense can shut him down, the Buckeyes would be best served handing him the ball as often as possible. It doesn’t hurt to have Braxton Miller in the backfield with Hyde, and the two have formed perhaps the best tandem in the country this season. Ohio State has been more dangerous throwing the football this year, and Miller’s development as a passer does make the offense more difficult to defend. …

Continue reading this article at ESPN: Five things: Ohio State vs. Michigan State