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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans: Watch Live Stream Online for Free; Preview

By Melissa Siegel - Posted: 09/28/12 09:00PM EDT
Braxton Miller

Quarterback Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes face off against the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday. (Photo: REUTERS / Matt Sullivan)

Big Ten conference play begins on Saturday as the No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes take on the No. 20 Michigan State Spartans. The game will be broadcast live on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET, and you can also watch a live stream online for free here.

The Buckeyes got off to yet another slow start last weekend before defeating UAB. Ohio State trailed 9-0 early in the second quarter but outscored the Blazers 21-3 in the rest of the half. The Buckeyes went on to win, 29-15, but only managed 347 yards of offense against a UAB team that had ranked last among FBS schools in scoring defense. The Blazers actually finished last week's contest with more yards and more first downs than Ohio State.

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Indeed, Ohio State has looked somewhat shaky over these first four weeks, despite its undefeated record. The Buckeyes fell behind early against Miami (OH) and let both University of California and University of Central Florida hang around longer than they should have.

They will likely need a stronger performance on Saturday to get past a 3-1 Michigan State squad. The Spartans won their first two games of the season before falling to then-No.20 Notre Dame on national television. The Fighting Irish held the Spartans to under 300 yards of total offense in that game.

Last week, Michigan State bounced back with a 23-7 win over in-state rival Eastern Michigan. The Spartans trailed until late in the third quarter but scored 17 straight points to pull away with the victory.  Running back Le'Veon Bell led the charge offensively with a career-high 253 yards and a 7.0 yards per carry average. Bell has 610 yards and five touchdowns so far this season.

But the real strength for Michigan State this season has been its defense. The Spartans are 11th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing fewer than 12 points per game. The 20 points they allowed against the Fighting Irish are the most they have allowed to an opponent all season.

However, these numbers came against below-average offenses. Notre Dame is statistically the best offense the Spartans have faced this season, and the Fighting Irish rank just 86th in the nation with an average of 25.8 points per game. Central Michigan, the Spartans' second opponent this season, ranks just 87th in the nation in that category, while Michigan State' other two opponents, Boise State and Eastern Michigan, are 109th and 119th, respectively.

The Spartans will face a much tougher test this week against a Buckeyes offense that averages 37.8 points per game, 25th-best in the nation. They are led by running quarterback Braxton Miller, who has just 754 yards passing but averages 6.6 yards per carry on the ground.

Last season, the Spartans defeated the Buckeyes, 10-7, and held Ohio State to 178 yards of total offense. Miller struggled in that game, completing just five of 10 passes for 56 yards and an interception. The Spartans also bottled him up on the ground, holding him to negative rushing yardage.

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