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Ohio State football: 5 things to know about the series vs. Michigan State

Ohio State and Michigan State are set to play football for the 47th time Saturday.

Here are five things to know about the series between the Buckeyes and the Spartans.

1. Ohio State has twice as many wins in the series.

The Buckeyes are 31-15 against Michigan State despite losing the first three times the schools played.

After losing to the Spartans in 1912, ’51 and ’53, Ohio State got its first win in the series in 1959 when the 20th-ranked Buckeyes prevailed 30-24 over the Spartans in Columbus.

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Troy native Bob Ferguson ran for 109 yards in that game and scored the eventual winning touchdown on a 55-yard run.

Spartans will tell Buckeyes if their running game is fixed

2. Ohio State has a better record on the road than at home.

The Buckeyes are 15-9 against Michigan State in Columbus, but they are 16-5 in East Lansing.

The latter includes victories in the last six games at Spartan Stadium.

Michigan State’s last home win against Ohio State was a 23-7 domination in 1999.

The Spartans have won in Columbus twice since then — 10-7 in 2011 and 17-14 in 2015.

Jerel Worthy, a defensive tackle from Wayne, and Denicos Allen, a linebacker from Hamilton, were among Michigan State’s standouts in the 2011 game.

3. The higher Ohio State’s ranking, the more likely Michigan State is to win.

Here’s another weird stat: While the Buckeyes are 13-6 when both teams are ranked, the Spartans are 3-1 when both teams are in the top 10.

The last of the latter meetings came in 2015 when No. 9 MSU edge No. 3 Ohio State 17-14 on a last-second field goal.

That result was all the more stunning because the Spartans had to play without injured quarterback Connor Cook.

Ohio State’s offense spun its wheels most of the rainy afternoon with a game plan star running back Ezekiel Elliott famously questioned in the postgame interview room.

4. Three of Ohio State’s most devastating (non-Michigan) losses ever came at the hands of MSU.

The Spartans knocked off undefeated, top-ranked Ohio State in 1974, a game that ended in controversy with Ohio State at the MSU 1-yard line and a pileup preventing the Buckeyes from getting off one last attempt at a touchdown before the clock ran out.

Michigan State did the deed again 24 years later with a 28-24 stunner in Columbus (with former Ohio State assistant Nick Saban in charge of the Spartans) that ultimately cost the Buckeyes a chance to play for the first BCS national championship.

Woody Hayes called the ’74 squad his best team (those Buckeyes later lost the Rose Bowl by a point to USC) — the same could be said of the ’98 team for John Cooper and the ’15 team for Urban Meyer.

5. A lot is usually on the line.

There is little mystery why Ohio State-Michigan State has been a hot series lately: The game has played a major role in determining the Big Ten champion three of the last five years.

In 2013, the Spartans upset the Buckeyes 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game, snapping a 24-game winning streak to begin Meyer’s OSU tenure and knocking the Buckeyes out of the BCS championship game picture.

The Buckeyes got their revenge a year later with a 49-37 win in East Lansing in what was the de facto Big Ten East championship game. That was a key win for Ohio State en route to a national championship.

In 2015, Michigan State’s upset win sent the Spartans to the Big Ten title game and eventually the College Football Playoff while also ending the Buckeyes’ chances of repeating as national champs.

Last season the teams met in the second week of November with both still in the hunt for the East crown, but Ohio State put an end to MSU’s title hopes with a 48-3 destruction.

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