Kenneth Walker III, CJ Stroud Looking for More Heisman Moments in Michigan State vs. Ohio State
Getty Images. Pictured: CJ Stroud (left) and Kenneth Walker III (right).
- Saturday's Michigan State vs. Ohio State game is more than a huge affair for the Big Ten East.
- The game also has major Heisman Trophy implications for Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III and Ohio State's CJ Stroud.
- Alex Hinton breaks down what this means for Saturday and the Heisman odds below.
There will be Big Ten Championship implications on the line when Michigan State and Ohio State face off in Columbus on Saturday. The Spartans and Buckeyes are both 9-1, but the Buckeyes are undefeated in Big Ten play.
Ohio State enters the week as heavy favorites, but if MSU pulls the upset, it will have the inside track in the Big Ten East with a win over Michigan already under its belt. If Michigan beats Maryland Saturday, Ohio State will clinch the Big Ten East with a win over Michigan next week.
But bowls and championships aren’t the only things on the line.
Saturday’s battle will also have major implications on the Heisman Trophy race. Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III are in the top three in Heisman Trophy odds.
On FanDuel, Stroud has surpassed Alabama quarterback Bryce Young as the betting favorite at +150. Stroud has the second-lowest odds on BetMGM (+225) and DraftKings (+200). Walker sits third at all three books — +450 on FanDuel, +350 on BetMGM, and +300 on DraftKings.
Saturday will be an opportunity for Walker and Stroud to put up big numbers given the defense each will be facing. Ohio State ranks 14th in rushing yards allowed per game (107.3). However, since facing Oregon in Week 2, six of the Buckeyes’ last eight games have come against teams ranked 83rd or lower in rushing. Oregon ran for 269 yards against the Buckeyes.
Michigan State’s best chance of winning on Saturday will be to run Walker a ton and keep its porous pass defense off the field.
The Spartans, meanwhile, rank 130th in passing yards allowed (329.4) and 100th in Passing Success Rate. Stroud is coming off a 368-yard, five-touchdown performance against Purdue.
For the season, he’s racked up 3,036 yards passing, 30 touchdown passes, and five interceptions while completing 68.8% of his passes. Stroud ranks 11th in completion percentage, fifth in touchdown passes, and first in QBR.
While Stroud’s stats are very impressive, he hasn’t had his Heisman moment yet. Walker has both the numbers and a Heisman moment to back up his Heisman position.
The Spartans back leads the country with 1,473 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
However, it was against Michigan that Walker put the Spartans on his back. He ran for 197 yards on 23 attempts and accounted for all five MSU touchdowns in the 37-33 victory.
It’s possible that Stroud has his Heisman moment on Saturday or allows Walker III to steal the show.
Either way, the winner will have the opportunity to deliver more big moments. If the winning side on Saturday takes care of business next week, it will be playing in the Big Ten Championship and likely against Wisconsin.
For Walker, that means three games against Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. If he averages 176 yards in those three games, he will reach 2,000 yards before the Heisman ceremony.
Stroud would have three games against Michigan State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Michigan and Wisconsin sit top-10 in both points allowed and passing yards allowed.
Wisconsin is second against the run and the pass, so Walker and Stroud would both have the opportunity to impress against an elite defense right before the Heisman votes are cast.
The added game would also allow each to pile up more stats, and it never hurts to stand out on Championship Saturday and leave a lasting impression. That could be even more important this year since Young will likely be going against Georgia’s defense.
It’s safe to say that there’s a lot on the line in Saturday’s game — both individually and for the team.
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