(Photo courtesy Ohio State Athletic Department, game information courtesy Ohio State Athletic Dept, Cleveland.com, ESPN)
This game was quite the contrast to the previous week’s embarrassment against Iowa. The Buckeyes were sharp, focused and aggressive. The Spartans were the listless team and their play was further exacerbated by playing against a pissed-off Ohio State team. Unfortunate scheduling for Michigan State, there. The 48-3 beat-down by a more familiar-looking Ohio State team.
In contrast to the Iowa game land of confusion, the Buckeyes were fully prepared for this game. The secondary provided excellent coverage, all Spartan receivers were accounted for and the Ohio State front seven played 3-dimensional chess by taking away the running dimension of MSU’s offense.
Another game, another +500 yard, +40 point output. It looked like the coaching staff got back to basics with called run plays for the running backs and a serviceable passing game to complement it.
The offensive line was more aggressive and sure of itself in executing the running game. They fired off the ball with more authority than they did last week and did a great job executing combination blocks; see Mike Weber’s 2 TD runs.
If the offense’s intent was to get J.K. Dobbins more ‘touches’, it certainly worked. Against Iowa, J.K. had 6 carries for 51 yards. Against MSU, he had 18 carries for 124 yards. He was also targeted 7 times as a receiver.
Mike Weber (5 carries, 27 yards vs Iowa) had 9 carries for 162 yards and two looonnng touchdowns. He was the beneficiary of aggressive, crisp offensive line play, but Mike also showed he has some impressive straightaway speed. He may not have the shake-n-bake of Dobbins, but he can put some speed on the field.
As I mention, below in the ‘Other’ section, the Buckeyes clearly lost the time-of-possession battle, 35:25. This can be explained. In their last two scoring drives in the 2nd quarter and their touchdown drive to open the 3rd quarter, Ohio State ran 7 plays for 179 yards in 2:01 and scored 3 touchdowns. It’s a challenge to get your offense into any rhythm when you can’t keep them on the field. 😉
Barrett’s passing game was pretty ‘meh’, I thought. Of his 14 completions, 7 were for less than 10 yards and another 5 were between 1- 20 yards. When he did go downfield (3 times, IIRC) the resulted in 2 pass interference calls on Johnie Dixon’s defender and a beautiful 48 yard strike to Binjimen Victor. So, good things can happen when you stretch the field.
Barrett was a bit off on his interceptions. On his 1st INT he threw behind the receiver. On his second, he threw “under” his receiver. It was a corner fade to Victor and JT threw it too low, allowing the defender to male a play on it. His corner fade to Victor that Binjimen failed to catch should also have been thrown higher.
This was a total defensive domination. After a half-assed effort against Iowa, they truly exerted their will over Michigan State. They held the Spartans to 64 yards rushing and a total offense of 195 yards. Going into the game, MSU averaged over 150 yards rushing and 390 yards total offense per game. Quite a difference.
The defense had its way with an overmatched MSU offensive line. The accounted for 6 sacks for 57 yards, constantly pressured whichever Spartan QB was in the game and held running back LJ Scott to 30 yards on 8 carries. Scott gained 20 yards on his initial game, then really struggled.
This was an excellent game by OSU’s back seven defenders. Their coverage was tight and aggressive and just as importantly, they were very aware of where the ball was to break up passes. The secondary had 3 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions. A quick review of the match indicates that a lot of Lewerke’s incompletions were high/wide due to Ohio State pass rush pressure.
In his previous two games, Spartan QB Brian Lewerke had totaled 845 yards passing. Against Ohio State, he managed 131 yards, 2 INTs and 2 sacks.
The kickoff team had a pretty good afternoon. Freshman Blake Haubeil had a good afternoon of placement and his team mates did a great job in coverage. Of Blake’s 9 kickoffs, 7 were in play, 1 was a touch-back and 1 was out of bounds. With the 7 in play and the touch-back, MSU was limited to starting their drives, on average, inside the 25 yard line. Blake’s final kickoff went out of bounds. His leg may have been fatigued at that point.
Place kicker Sean Nuernberger was 2-2 on field goals and 6-6 on extra points. Another day of perfection for the placement unit.
Punter Drue Chrisman and his mates had an easy, productive day. He punted only twice, averaging 48.5 yards per punt. The Spartans returned no punts.
The sharpness of this team was reflected in penalties; there were only two penalties accepted for 27 yards.
Interestingly, Ohio State got “hammered” in ‘time of possession’. Michigan State had the ball for almost 35 minutes, compared to Ohio State’s 25 minutes. As I mention above in the Offense section, this probably isn’t a big deal.
Ohio State hosts Illinois (2-8, 0-7) this coming Saturday. The battle for the Illibuck kicks off at 3:30 pm ET. This is Ohio State’s last home game of the season. If you still have leaves to rake, you’ll have plenty of time. You can also watch the game on ABC (check local listings) and/or listen to it on 97.1.