Michigan State’s Defense to Deliver vs. Ohio State

Photo by Matthew Mitchell | MSU Athletic Communications

Photo by Matthew Mitchell | MSU Athletic Communications

Of course the Buffalo Bills jumped out to a 14-0 lead last week against Atlanta. Of course the Bills still led 31-24 with two minutes to play, when two horrific calls by two incompetent NFL officials (pardon the redundancy) allowed the Falcons to tie the game. And of course the Bills fumbled the ball away on their two ensuing possessions and lost 34-31 in overtime to an opponent that hadn’t tasted victory since mid-October.

Of course … not because this is what the hapless Bills have been doing for about two decades, but because I had Buffalo (-3½) as my “Best Bet.” If you’re keeping score at home, I’ve now lost 12 of 13 top-play releases—and yet, somehow, I haven’t lost this job. About the only thing that’s kept me from changing my name to DJ Kardashian (you know, money for nothing) is the fact that I’ve kept my nose above water with my other selections. Granted, it’s a huge nose, but no matter: I’m coming off back-to-back winning efforts (including last week’s 4-0 sweep in college), and I’ve had just two losing weeks in the last seven.

To quote the great 20th-century philosopher Ron Burgundy: Don’t act like you’re not impressed!

As for my latest attempt to break the “Best Bet” spell, I’m grabbing the points with Michigan State against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Here’s my some sound (yet inevitably meaningless) logic: Yes, Ohio State is 24-0 under coach Urban Meyer and averaging more than 48 points per game this year. And, yes, the Buckeyes received a double dose of good luck last week to keep their national title hopes alive, squeaking out a 42-41 win over Michigan before top-ranked Alabama’s epic collapse at Auburn.

That said, Michigan State is 11-1 (all double-digit victories), and fields one of the best defenses in the country, allowing just 11.8 points and 238 yards per contest. And when you look at five common Big Ten opponents—Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern—you see that the Spartans’ average margin of victory (22.4 points) is greater than Ohio State’s (14.8). You’ll also see those five opponents scored 144 points against the Buckeyes, but only 57 against Michigan State.

Pretty sure somebody once told me that defense wins championships …

Lucky Seven: Michigan State +5½ vs. Ohio State (Best Bet); Baylor -14 vs. Texas; Arizona State -3 vs. Stanford; Utah State +3 at Fresno State; Chiefs -3½ at Redskins; Bengals -5½ vs. Colts; Raiders +3 at Jets.

Last Week: 5-2 (0-1 Best Bet). Season: 44-49-1 (24-23 college; 20-26-1 NFL; 1-12 Best Bets).

Says Scott Spreitzer (@ScottWins) from Pregame.com: Lay the big points with Baylor. It’s the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium, and the joint will be jumping. So will the Bears’ offense against Texas, which has allowed 25 ppg since hiring Greg Robinson to “fix” the defense. Take out the horrible offenses of Kansas and TCU, and that average climbs to 30 ppg. Baylor rolls!

Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on Pregame.com’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.