There's no doubt that Michigan State and Ohio State match up well, so here's a closer look at the facts and figures surrounding the Big Ten title game:
Ohio State's rushing attack is among the best in the nation, as it's ranked second in rushing yards per game (321.3) but first in both yards per rush (7.1) and rushes that have gained 10 yards or more (130). The Buckeyes lead all BCS schools with 1,502 rushing yards after contact. And they're closing in on the 1973 school record of 4,199 rushing yards in one season. (They currently stand at 3,855.)
On the other end, Michigan State's defense matches up well -- very well. The Buckeyes had four rushing touchdowns last week against Michigan, which is one fewer than Michigan State allowed all season. The Spartans lead the FBS in rushing yards allowed per game (64.8), yards per rush against (2.2) and the fewest carries that have gained 10 or more yards (19).
Let's compare that matchup a little more. In the last four games, Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde has rushed for 700 yards and seven touchdowns on 77 carries. In the last 12 games, Michigan State has allowed just 777 rushing yards (and five touchdowns). That's a lot of 7s.
Braxton Miller started off slowly this season when it came to running the ball, but he's certainly made up for lost time. In the first seven games, he rushed for 410 yards (4.7 ypc), two touchdowns and had just two carries that went for at least 20 yards. In the last three games, he rushed for 481 yards (10.7 ypc), six touchdowns and had nine carries that went for at least 20 yards. His 481 yards are the fifth-most in the FBS since Week 12.
The key to Miller's improvement at running the ball has been his improvement on zone-read plays. In those first seven games, he attempted 24 zone reads and gained just 87 yards and no touchdowns. In the past three games, he recorded 21 such rushes for 276 yards and three TDs.
But one of the keys for Michigan State? Quarterbacks have not rushed for much against it. The Spartans have allowed an FBS-low minus-19 yards on 92 carries by opposing QBs this season. They're the lone team that hasn't allowed a quarterback to have a single carry longer than 12 yards, and they're one of just four teams that haven't allowed a quarterback to score a rushing touchdown.
Both Hyde and Miller are closing in on big career milestones. Hyde needs 33 yards to reach 3,000 rushing yards while Miller needs just 133 to reach that same mark. Only six other Buckeyes have reached that career milestone. Miller also needs just 43 passing yards to top 5,000 yards for his career -- and needs just 166 total yards to reach the 8,000 combined yards mark. Only Art Schlichter has ever reached that 8,000-yard passing/rushing plateau.
Plenty of talented defensive players will be showcased Saturday. Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier leads the Big Ten in tackles-for-loss with 21 and has amassed 50 tackles in his last three games. MSU DB Darqueze Dennard was named the conference defensive back of the year and is third in the conference with four interceptions.
The Spartans are the first Big Ten team to win all eight of their conference games by double-digits since the league went to the eight-game schedule in 1971. The last team to win all of its Big Ten games by double-digits was Michigan back in 1943 when it went 6-0 in conference play.