It’s been a wild season for No. 9 Michigan State (9-1). The Spartans have had close wins against good and not-so-good competition, they had a miraculous win at Michigan – winning on a blocked punt as time expired – and they had a heart-breaking loss at Nebraska, losing 39-38 after a controversial call.
Now the Spartans head into Columbus this Saturday to take on defending national champion Ohio State (10-0). A second loss would all but eliminate Michigan State from College Football Playoff consideration, but the team, it seems, isn’t thinking about it.
No, the team is only focused on the positives.
“I feel great,” former Michigan State running back T.J. Duckett said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think everyone around here feels great. Even though that loss (to Nebraska) hurt, it did take off a lot of pressure that we had. Carrying that (feeling of) ‘Where would we be at the end of the year?’ – it took off a lot of pressure. So once we had that loss and was able to get a lot of guys back, now it comes down to one season, one game. Everything is on the marbles come Saturday.”
If the Spartans beat No. 3 Ohio State this weekend, Penn State in the regular-season finale and No. 5 Iowa in the Big Ten Championship, it would be hard to keep them out of the playoff.
“Everything is out in front of them,” Duckett said. “It’s almost a little blessing. For them to be able to now have had adversity, for them to have players go down, for them to have gone through all these things to test what kind of team they are – if this is something Michigan State really truly wants, they got to come down to Columbus and own that game.”
Ohio State, meanwhile, has won 23 straight games but has not looked overly impressive this season, often winning close games against inferior competition. Even last Saturday’s 28-3 win at Illinois lacked conviction, as the offense has simply not been in rhythm for much of the year – even with J.T. Barrett.
Are the Buckeyes vulnerable?
“I (think they are),” Duckett said. “I think this is going to be their first big test. All the other teams, they were tested but they were able to overpower and they had more talent than other teams. If Michigan State can come in firing on all levels, Ohio State will not be able to start slow, they will not be able to make those mistakes, and quite frankly, if they start having some pressure, we may see them put in situations we haven’t seen all year – and they may not be able to answer.”
Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET.