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USATSI

No. 4 Ohio State will make its return to the football field this weekend in East Lansing, Michigan, against Michigan State. It's a contest between  teams that have proven to be two of the best programs in the Big Ten East since the conference split into geographical divisions, but it hasn't been the case lately.

Ohio State enters the game at 4-0 and in position to make the College Football Playoff. Michigan State is 2-3 but comes into the game off an upset win last week against Northwestern.

The Buckeyes come into this game with a four-game winning streak against the Spartans, and none of the last three meetings have been close. The Buckeyes have won the last three by an average of 29.7 points per game, and they'll be looking for another impressive win this week as they hope to impress the selection committee.

Storylines

Michigan State: It's been a strange year for the Spartans. It almost had to be considering Mark Dantonio's abrupt retirement in February and Mel Tucker's signing after National Signing Day.  Then, shortly after Tucker was hired, the entire world was shut down due to a pandemic. So it wasn't a shock to see the Spartans lose their opener against Rutgers, but it certainly was to see them pick up a win the next week against Michigan. The Spartans followed that up with two more losses before catching everybody off guard again last week with a 29-20 win over Northwestern. Can Sparty pull off another surprise on Saturday?

Ohio State: The Buckeyes were forced to cancel last week's game against Illinois due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the team that includes coach Ryan Day. While Day will not be available for this game, he has an experienced coaching staff, so it's not likely there will be a noticeable difference. We don't know which players have been affected and who will be available to play in this game. We do know that Ohio State must get this game in and get a victory to keep themselves viable in the Big Ten title race as well as the College Football Playoff.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Dec. 5 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Spartan Stadium -- East Lansing, Michigan
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Ohio State at Michigan State prediction, picks

Latest Odds: Ohio State Buckeyes -23.5

Here's the thing: Michigan State beat Northwestern last week, but it's not like it was a dominant performance. Four Northwestern turnovers certainly helped, and we must not overlook the fact that Michigan State's final touchdown came on the final play of the game when it recovered a lateral in the end zone. I just don't think Michigan State has the offensive firepower to match up with the Buckeyes, and as mentioned above, Ohio State needs impressive wins. If it has a chance to run up the score, it's not going to be shy about it. Pick: Ohio State (-23.5)

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