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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State’s win over Rutgers began to look like a sure thing toward the end of the third quarter. Bettors backing Ohio State to cover the spread, however, were on the edge of their seats until the end of the game.

For the fourth time in five games, the Buckeyes covered thanks to a late Marvin Harrison Jr. touchdown to beat Rutgers by 19 points as 18.5-point favorites. A trend that broke in Saturday’s game was the total going under as the teams combined to hit the over, just the second time an over has hit for a Buckeyes game this season.

This Saturday, the Buckeyes play Michigan State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC4, and the sportsbooks believe this is the biggest mismatch in decades for the series. The Buckeyes might need to cover a large spread to make its resume better, and the sportsbooks have not made that easy.

Odds are from DraftKings SportsbookFor a full explanation of how to read betting odds, click here.

Latest odds

Moneyline: Ohio State (-9000), Michigan State (+2500)

Spread: Ohio State (-31, [-112]), Michigan State (+31, [-108])

Total: 47 points (Over & Under, -110)

Betting trends

  • Historical sports betting data on OddsShark goes back to the late 1990s. This year’s game at Ohio Stadium is the largest spread ever for an OSU-MSU game. This is the fifth straight year the Buckeyes are favored to beat the Spartans by more than 20 points. OSU has covered each of the last four times.
  • The Spartans have not covered in 12 of their last 13 games against teams ranked in the AP top 10. Michigan State never not been this big of an underdog, according to OddsShark.
  • Michigan State is on a seven-game losing streak against Ohio State. During that span, the under has hit in five of those games.

How the Buckeyes can cover

Ohio State has its naysayers after it kept hold of its No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings despite a bad first half against Rutgers. The Buckeyes could feel the time to prove the naysayers wrong is for its only primetime home game of the season.

The offense is essentially back at full strength and playing a Spartans team that has been crushed against top-ranked teams this season. The prime examples are a 41-7 loss to Washington and a 49-0 loss to Michigan, both in East Lansing.

While 31 points is a huge amount to cover and a spread the Buckeyes have covered twice, bettors could feel the Buckeyes have a point to prove and need an end-to-end dominant win to maintain its high ranking. That’s moreso this week with Georgia and Michigan each playing top-10 opposition.

How Michigan State can cover

Bettors will look at a spread that big and feel the Spartans can easily lose by fewer than 31 points. Michigan State has recovered slightly after that 49-point drubbing to Michigan with a 15-point loss at Minnesota and a three-point win over Nebraska last week.

The Spartans’ chances of covering will also go up considerably if the Buckeyes have yet another slow first half. Ohio State has had issues coming out of the gates hot and if that continues, Michigan State bettors can feel confident they won’t get routed.