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We’re just days away from this fall’s most meaningful Big Ten game to date. On Saturday, Michigan State, No. 7 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, travels to Columbus for a date with No. 4 Ohio State. Depending on how the final two weekends of the regular season shape up, the winner of Saturday’s game has a realistic chance at a securing a spot in college football’s four-team Playoff.
Though there’s plenty on the line for both squads, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker wants his Spartans focused on the present and not a hypothetical.
“I just tell the players to focus on what we can control. Focus on what’s next, the preparation for the next game. We all know what the bottom line is – we have to win,” Tucker told ESPN on Tuesday. “We control our own destiny.”
Mel Tucker said on ESPN the Spartans don't worry or talk much about the #CFBPlayoff rankings.
"We have to win and we control our destiny," he said.
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) November 17, 2021
In order to survive and advance, MSU will need to figure out a way for its leaky defense (allowing a league-worst 444.2 yards per game) to slow Ohio State’s offensive attack, which ranks first in the country in both total offense and points per game (46.3).
“We have some things we need to clean up and we’re gonna try to get some guys back. We’ll just keep choppin’,” Tucker said after last weekend’s win over Maryland. “Two plus two is four. It’s not gonna change. We gotta do what we gotta do. We got a process, we’re gonna stick with it.”
For the Spartans’ sake, hopefully Tucker’s process differs from MSU’s recent approach. Michigan State has dropped five-straight games to Ohio State and only one of those losses (2016) was by fewer than 20 points.
“We have to play complementary football – offense, defense and special teams working together,” Tucker told ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. “We have to be physical, we have to win the time of possession, we have to take care of the football and take it away. Those are all things that we have to do to win. Just do simple better. Just be us.”
The Spartans and Buckeyes kickoff at noon EST Saturday.
Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF