Point/Counterpoint: Will Ohio State or Michigan State be crowned Big Ten champion?

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Daily Iowan staff debates whether Ohio State or Michigan State is more likely to win the Big Ten championship game this weekend.

Ohio State

I hate Ohio State.

I really, really do. 

But I also can’t deny that the Buckeyes are a very talented team. You don’t go two undefeated two regular seasons in a row if you’re not a good team. And Ohio State is a good team. But don’t get me wrong, so is Michigan State. 

But in the matchup against the Big Ten’s No. 1 defense and No. 1 offense, I think the offense will prevail. It’s important to score more points than your opponent, after all. 

It doesn’t matter how stout Michigan State’s defense is: Ohio State can move the ball. If it’s not Braxton Miller throwing the ball or making plays with his feet when receivers aren’t open, it’s halfback Carlos Hyde rushing for an average of 7.8 yards per carry. 

Say what you want about the competition that Ohio State has faced, but wins in the Big Ten aren’t easy to come by, and the Buckeyes have eight of them. Northwestern’s greatest game of the season came in a loss to the Buckeyes. One of Wisconsin’s three losses came to the Buckeyes. Michigan was a 2-point conversion away from upsetting its archrival. 

And yet the Buckeyes have always prevailed. 

While the Buckeyes are not the strongest team defending against the pass, they have defended rushing attacks well. While Connor Cook has definitely improved over the season, he still isn’t an elite quarterback by any means, and he could make a subpar Ohio State pass defense look elite if the Big Ten championship stage is too big for him. 

I hate cheering for the Buckeyes, and yet I’ll cheering for them to win here. The thought of a non-SEC national championship game for the first time in years is very exciting to me. 

Urban Meyer is a great coach, and he has a lot of talent at every position for his team. The bad guys have to prevail sometime. And a superior offense will ultimately prevail in the House that Peyton Manning Built. 

— by Matt Cabel

Michigan State

As Michigan State and Ohio State play this weekend for the Big Ten championship, the game features one of the best defenses in the league versus one of the best offenses.

The story of this game, plain and simple, will be if Ohio State’s high-powered attack can best Michigan State’s nearly impenetrable defense. The Spartans have allowed the fewest yards of all Football Bowl Series teams and are top-five in scoring defense as well.

In addition, the Spartan defense has been very opportunistic at points this year, scoring several touchdowns and causing general havoc on the offensive side for opposing teams. Ohio State has not taken care of the ball well at points this season and can be prone to turnovers on occasion.

During these times, that Ohio State could score points in bunches helped it through and allowed it to still win by impressive margins, simply because opposing defenses could not hold up against the onslaught for long.

It is true that Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller won’t be stopped completely. They are impressive athletes and have put up extraordinary numbers this season. However, those numbers don’t mean a bunch against the mostly less-than-stellar defenses Ohio State has faced.

If the Spartan defense is able to do a passable job of containing the Buckeyes, the offense will be able to do some work against a surprisingly porous Buckeye secondary. The same secondary that allowed a truly awful 1-11 California team to throw for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns against them.

Spartan quarterback Connor Cook hasn’t been anything special this season, but he has taken care of the ball well and has made generally good throws to his wide receivers. Cook will have to throw well for them to pull the upset, because Ohio State has the fifth-ranked rushing defense and has been able to shut down several rushing attacks this year.

Michigan State has absolutely nothing to lose coming into this game, because it will most likely get a Rose Bowl berth whether it wins or loses this game. Ohio State, on the other hand, has a chance to play in the national championship should it win, and the Buckeyes will come in with that on their minds.

With a turnover or two, solid QB play, and containment by the defense, Michigan State could very well find itself in the Rose Bowl with only one blemish on the season.

— by Jordan Hansen

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