It's toward the tail end of a game week again, and we're here to give you the content you desire to get ready for Ohio State football's matchup with Michigan State on Saturday.
It's no secret the Spartans have struggled this season and are reeling after losing three straight games. The oddsmakers have the Buckeyes running away with this one, but we say who knows what will happen when Ohio State takes its first road trip of the season and gets out of its comfort zone for the first time in 2022.
As you get ready to get your high-definition television or streaming device ready for this Saturday, you may not know what this year's Michigan State looks like. That's where we come in. In fact, that's what we get paid for.
So that you can look smart at whatever party or watching engagement you're headed to, we give you five things about Michigan State to know in 2022.
Injuries have played a part in Michigan State's struggles
Michigan State's Xavier Henderson, right, celebrates a stop with Quavaris Crouch during the fourth quarter in the game against Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
While it's true the Michigan State passing defense has been a trouble spot - ranked No. 115 in passing yards allowed - injuries have played into it. Linebacker Darius Snow was lost for the year with a leg injury in Week 1 vs. Western Michigan, and Reynoldsburg native safety Xavier Henderson is still working his way back after being injured early as well.
That's led to some issues with the scheme and ability to cover on the back end. It's a domino effect and losing those two has really hampered what Michigan State wanted to do on that side of the ball. With those two healthy and in the lineup, the defense would most certainly be more of a problem for opposing offenses.
Quarterback Payton Thorne has struggled with consistency
Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne (10) hands the ball to running back Jarek Broussard (3) during the first half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State always seems to have a quarterback that can sling it around, and that's the case with Payton Throne. The problem is he has really struggled with his accuracy in 2022. When he misses, he tends to miss high, and he's thrown six picks already. In fact, Thorne only has eight touchdowns a quarter way through the campaign.
On top of that, Thorne has only averaged 6.9 yards per completion, pointing to the fact that it's been really hard to make big plays on a consistent basis down the field. He'll need to find a way to get things crankin' through the air against Ohio State if the Spartans are going to have a chance Saturday.
Michigan State has a 1-2 punch it likes to use at running back
Michigan State running back Jalen Berger (8) celebrates a touchdown against Akron during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. USA TODAY Sports
While Wisconsin transfer Jalen Berger will get most of the carries from the running back position, Michigan State likes to split carries much like what Ohio State does with Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson.
Jarek Broussard often gets the bulk of the rest of the carries and there's not too much of a dropoff between the two. Neither has been terribly dynamic this year, but the running game is a threat with the Spartans doing their best to be a balanced offense.
Look out for Jacoby Windmon from the linebacker position
MSU LB Jacoby Windmon sacks WMU QB Jack Salopek Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, during the season opener against Western Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. Jacoby had four sacks. USA TODAY Sports
Though the production has dropped off somewhat after the first two games of the year, Michigan State linebacker Jacoby Windmon can get after it on defense. He leads the league in sacks and tackles for loss, and the Ohio State offensive line has to be aware of where he is at all times because the Spartan coaching staff will turn him lose into the backfield.
Though Michigan State has struggled on pass defense this year, there are times when the pressure gets to the quarterback and it's usually Windmon creating havoc and chaos.
Receiver Jayden Reed has yet to break out
Michigan State's Jayden Reed returns a punt for a touchdown against Nebraska during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State has one of the most explosive receivers in the league, senior Jayden Reed. But so far in 2022, he has not yet performed at the level expected. Some of it has to do with the struggles of Payton Thorne at quarterback, but the loss of Kenneth Walker III in the running game has to play into it as well.
It'll be interesting to watch Reed and what he might be able to do in one-on-one situations on the outside, situations that have plagued the OSU defense this year. He almost has to have a big game for a shocking upset to happen in East Lansing.
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Story originally appeared on Buckeye Wire