Buckeyes will shut down Spartans

Making bold predictions for Week 5, including a big game for Ohio State's D

Updated: September 27, 2012, 10:19 AM ET
By Phil Steele | Special to ESPN Insider
John Simon, Noah SpenceAP Photo/Jay LaPreteLook for Ohio State's D to turn in its best performance of the season against Michigan State.

Last week was not one of the better performances for my bold predictions, as Illinois was crushed at home by Louisiana Tech thanks to six Illini turnovers and Oklahoma managed only 88 rushing yards in its loss to Kansas State. The lone bright spot was Florida State owning a 287-136 rushing yards edge in its 49-37 win over Clemson (although the Seminoles didn't cover the two-touchdown spread).

We'll try to rebound in a big way this week. Here are my bold predictions for Week 5:

1. Ohio State's defense will shut down Michigan State's offense
Coming into the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes' defense, which returned nine starters from last year's underrated unit, was expected to carry the team early as the young Buckeyes' skill-position players adjusted to Urban Meyer's new spread scheme. That has not been the case so far, as the maligned Ohio State defense has allowed 395 yards per game (No. 71 nationally), including 512 yards to California and 403 yards to UAB in the past two weeks. Traditionally, Ohio State has been known as having one of the premier defenses in the country, but this year's unit is allowing over 30 more yards per game than any Buckeyes defense in the past 20 years.

This week the Buckeyes have a stern test as they take on the nation's No. 3 rusher in the Michigan State Spartans' Le'Veon Bell, who is averaging 153 rushing yards per game. However, after analyzing the individual matchups, I will boldly predict that the Buckeyes will hold the Spartans under two touchdowns and 300 yards, which would be by far their best performance this season when taking into account the competition.

Phil Steele

ESPN Insider