Ohio State vs Michigan State Preview

Date & Time: Saturday November 8, 2014 8:14pm EST

Where: Spartan Nation; East Lansing, Michigan

TV: ABC Nationally: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox will be the announcing crew

Series Record: OSU leads 28-14, Buckeyes lead 14-5 in East Lansing

Initial Thoughts

How many in Buckeye Nation have had this Saturday’s match-up circled since the Big Ten Championship Game? So much of a bad taste still left in my mouth as a fan I can’t imagine what it’s like for the players to have their national title hopes dashed away by Sparty. I still see Urban sitting on the golf cart eating pizza looking sad and lonely. While I try to move on from that sad emotional scar lets talk about how bad the Big Ten is this year. The conference has five teams in the top ten of the nation in defense and seven in top twenty five. SEC has one in top ten and six in top twenty five and one of those lost to Indiana but I digress. Saturday’s game will feature two teams that are the heavy hitters of the conference currently and this has the looks and feel of a heavyweight fight which means the four letter network will be bringing their College Gameday to East Lansing and during the game subject us to the constant talk of the SEC. I suggest if you are going to be making a drinking game of this one that you do it from the confines of your home and don’t drink and drive because you will not be able to walk if you consume an alcoholic beverage every time they mention the SEC.

Let’s Discuss Michigan State

The reigning Big Ten Champs and Rose Bowl Champions are off to a 7-1 start, their lone loss coming from their week two trip to Eugene, Oregon. Sparty was holding tough with the Ducks having the lead starting the third quarter but gave up some big plays and fell down the stretch. Currently the Spartans are ranked eighth in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Only other ranked team they have played is Nebraska which they barely escaped after having a comfortable lead. Michigan State allowed the Cornhuskers get back into the game in the fourth quarter after being up 27-3. Sparty allowed three touchdowns and needed an interception with thirty seconds left near the endzone to seal their win.

Michigan State as always are a stingy bunch on opposing running backs and its still hard to throw on them but not as hard as last year. Last season the knock on Michigan State was that their offense was struggling, that was being fixed as the season wore on and definitely isn’t an issue this season as they are an explosive offensive unit averaging 515.5 yards and 40.8 points per game.

When Ohio State is on Offense

There is so much to discuss here. From offensive coordinator Tom Herman and his play calls to J.T. Barrett and the offensive line play against tough defenses. Granted Virginia Tech was second game of season and Urban Meyer said the coaching staff wasn’t prepared for what the Hokies brought but then some similarities happened against Penn State. The offensive line needs to have the game of their life protecting Barrett and giving him some time and Herman needs to use and abuse the tight ends. The Buckeyes have tremendous depth of offensive weapons with Devin Smith, Michael Thomas, Evan Spencer, Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, Nick Vannett, and Jeff Heuerman that have to touch the ball to spread the field. Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel will need to have running lanes and most likely make something out of nothing. The Buckeyes rushing attack is averaging 5.7 yards a carry at 277 a game. Ohio State has the talent to take it to Sparty the only question is have they matured enough to put it all together to have that perfect game against a top team.

When Michigan State is on Offense

The Spartans have given the keys to junior quarterback Connor Cook last season and haven’t looked back. The Ohio product is having a stellar year throwing for over 1800 yards, 17 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions. His offensive line has done a great job protecting him, only been sacked five times so far this season. You can say the knock on Cook is that he’s not very mobile, the most rushing attempts hes made was against Purdue with seven and had 34 yards. Looks as if he averages about three rushes per game to help pick up crucial first downs. Spartans have some wide receivers like Tony Lippett who has 889 yards already this season. Others like TE Josiah Price (258), Aaron Burbridge (192), Keith Mumphery (151), Maacgarrett King Jr (150), AJ Troup (113), R.J. Shelton (102), TE Jamal Lyles (46). Sparty has a good rushing attack with Jeremy Langford who is averaging 5.3 ypg and has 841 yards in eight games also Nick Hill is averaging 6.1 ypg and has 482 on the ground. Michigan State has a very stout offense probably why they are just like Ohio State as a high ranking offense in the nation.

When Ohio State is on Defense

Lets start with the defensive line. Joey Bosa is going to demand a lot of attention so hopefully that will open up some thing for Bennett, Washington, and Miller to try to get to Cook to disrupt his timing. The Buckeyes rushing defense is giving up 118.6 yards a game this season but in conference play that number comes down to a staggering 84.2. A lot of the rushing yards they gave up were against Navy so thats why the number is so high but they have adjusted and the defensive line along with the linebackers have done an excellent job adjusting and returning to form of stopping the run which will be a tall order Saturday. The secondary is going to have to come up big especially Doran Grant who most likey will be lined up opposite Tony Lippert the Spartans best wide receiver. Armani Reeves the nickle back looks like he will be out so Cam Burrows or Damon Webb could replace him and will need to step up. The Buckeyes defense will need to keep playing aggressive and force turnovers like they have been doing but also they will need to keep everything in front of them and not get beat over the top. They have been gelling well together and growing as a group and hopefully that continues in East Lansing and makes it a long night for Connor Cook and company.

When Michigan State is on Defense

Like Ohio State the Spatans have a defensive end that is just as nasty. Junior Shilique Calhoun is going to command a lot of attention as he is a player that creates a lot of havoc allowing other members along the defensive line to make their moves to Barrett. They have been just as stingy against the run allowing 94.4 yards on the ground but that average actually goes up in conference play to 112.5 a game. As always defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has his defense playing physical and tight. their secondary still has talent with the likes of safety Kurtis Drummond and cornerback Trae Waynes who are a part of a group that only allow 184 yards a game through the air. Naturally Mark Dantonio has done a great job along with his coaching staff recruiting and coaching bring out the best in their players to have the Spartans on the top of the conference.

Bottom Line

This is going to be a slug fest. Currently there are two teams in the Big Ten and then there are the other twelve. Not only is this the rematch of the conference championship game of last season but many feel that this is the basically the conference championship game for this season. This is a statement game for the Buckeyes, you want to be taken for real you must walk out of East Lansing with the win. Revenge is on the minds of many of the Buckeyes but honestly that should pass real quick and just stay focused with the Spartans. The Buckeyes could come out fast and shock Michigan State and that would be a great thing or they could take some shots in the mouth and give Sparty some shots back and stay in striking range. Michigan State has shown in at least three games this season that you can make a run at them in the fourth quarter. Could it have been an isolated incidents when three teams made comebacks in the fourth quarter? One of them (Oregon) winning one while Nebraska and Purdue threw interceptions at the very end to seal the win for Spartan Nation. My biggest concern is that Michigan State is coming off a bye week giving them an extra week to prepare for the Buckeyes. Thanks Big Ten.

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