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Buckeyes, Spartans still have Big Ten title hopes


Published: Sat, November 11, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

Buckeyes, Spartans still have title hopes

Associated Press

COLUMBUS

Ohio State couldn’t take much time to stew about its bad loss to Iowa last week. The Buckeyes had to get their minds right to play Michigan State with some emotion because the Big Ten East title is still there for the taking.

No. 13 Michigan State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten, CFP No. 12) visits Columbus riding high after last week’s 27-24 victory over then-No. 7 Penn State. Thanks to Ohio State’s loss, the Spartans find themselves in a first-place tie with the Buckeyes in the Big Ten East, and the winner today will have the upper hand with two conference games remaining.

“Where we’re at right now is pretty much where we wanted to be, in control of our own situation,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said this week.

With their national championship hopes dashed after being routed by Iowa, the Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1, CFP No. 13) are facing some of the biggest questions of the season. Will they play just as hard now that making the College Football Playoff is likely off the table? Is a Big Ten title motivation enough for a program that routinely has a national championship in its sights?

Coach Urban Meyer believes his team will show up.

“We’ve got to move forward and put our laser lights on what’s important,” he said. “That one is done. We have to get on Michigan State.”

Here are some other things to know about today’s game:

WHERE IS JK?

Ohio State coaches faced questions this week about why dynamic freshman running back J.K. Dobbins got just six carries against Iowa.

Meyer said he leaves that up to his assistants and prefers not to micromanage. Late in the game the Buckeyes had to keep passing to try to catch up, but it was a mystery why Dobbins didn’t get more carries in the first half. He’s got 914 yards rushing and five touchdowns through nine games.

“We’ve got to get him carries, we’ve got to,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson acknowledged. “But I don’t think you can force it, either. We can’t be stubborn about it. He’s a special player, he’s a special kid.”

CAN BARRETT BOUNCE BACK?

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has been an enigma this season.

He followed up a horrible game against Oklahoma in September with six straight high-scoring, stat-padding games. He played one of his most heroic games in the 39-38 win over Penn State only to follow up with a head-scratching collapse against unranked and less-talented Iowa.

Barrett, who worked his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation with the win over Penn State, threw four interceptions against the Hawkeyes, including a pick six on the first play of the game.


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