November is the month of upsets, and we saw Oklahoma beat Baylor, Arkansas crush LSU, and Arizona bring down Utah. Do more teams have it in them? In this week's upset watch, TCU/Oklahoma and Baylor/Oklahoma State will have major ramifications for the distribution of playoff spots and bowl games in the Big 12. Georgia Southern is looking at a vulnerable Georgia squad and hoping they can create a Florida 2.0. And Michigan State is looking to come into the Buckeyes' backyard and swipe a conference championship spot from them.
Game of the week
(9) Michigan State at (3) Ohio State
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and WatchESPN
The fate of the Big Ten east division will be decided this weekend. Unless Michigan State upsets the Buckeyes, the conference championship will presumably feature a contest between two 11-0 teams in Ohio State and Iowa. The Buckeyes have looked vulnerable at times this season, embodying the saying "If you have two starting quarterbacks, you have none." They managed to hold off a fourth quarter rally against Indiana in October, and that was the closest any team came to upsetting the Buckeyes. Michigan State hasn't had it so easy, with three point victories against Purdue and Oregon and a Michigan win that was only possible due to one of the worst special teams blunders in history.
A key factor in today's game for the Spartans will be the health of Connor Cook's shoulder. Cook was removed from last week's game in the second half after being driven into the turf, and he insists he is healthy for this week, but if Cook isn't 100 percent, his team won't keep up. The Michigan State offensive line, featuring left tackle Jack Conklin and center Jack Allen, will have its hands full protecting cook against Ohio State's talented defensive line. Left end Joey Bosa hasn't exploded on the traditional stat sheet this season for the Buckeyes, but he has 22 quarterback hurries and 16 hits standing next to his four sacks. On the inside, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington will look to deliver pressure. The Spartans don't have very many explosive weapons on offense, with the exception of receiver Aaron Burbridge. He'll have his work cut out for him against Ohio State's vaunted back seven, which includes cornerback Eli Apple, safeties Joshua Perry and Vonn Bell, and linebacker Darron Lee. Lee is only in his first year of draft eligibility, but all four players are draftable options this year.
When the Buckeyes have the ball, their gameplan needs to start with running back Ezekiel Elliott. He has both size and speed to go with the vision for setting up blocks for big plays. He can run, catch, and block, and might have the best chance out of this year's running back class for being selected in the first round. Junior receiver Michael Thomas has the height and route running acumen to be a number one receiver in the NFL, but the quarterback carousel hasn't benefited his stat line. Braxton Miller has had a steady season since converting to receiver. He is still dangerous in the open field, and might be a good project candidate for a team like Buffalo to invest in. The aforementioned quarterback situation looms large, with neither JT Barrett or Cardale Jones impressing much; one has to wonder whether either will enter the draft this year, and if teams will even be particularly interested if they do. The Ohio State offensive line has some notable prospects in left tackle Taylor Decker, center Jacoby Boren, and right guard Pat Elflein. The most notable defensive prospect on Michigan State's squad is edge rusher Shilique Calhoun. Linebacker Riley Bullough (grandson of Hank), safeties RJ Williamson and Demetrious Cox, and cornerback Arjen Colquhoun are also on scouts' radars.
Discussion topic for the week
Right now in the season, who is your number one player in college football? Treat that question any way you like. The number one draft prospect, the best player who isn't yet draft eligible, or a guy having an outstanding season who probably won't play that way in the pros.