Know Your Enemy (MSU Edition)

Leading up to the Buckeye’s most anticipated game of the 2015 season so far, I will take a look at the Buckeye’s most competitive match-up over the last 5 years, the Michigan State Spartans.  Below, I will highlight some of the Spartans key players whom Ohio State was at one point recruiting or have ties to the Buckeyes in some way.  During Michigan’s decade of disappointment, the Spartans have stepped up admirably on the recruiting front, often taking the Ohio kids who the Wolverines once thrived on.  With 27 players hailing from the Buckeye state, the showdown in The Shoe on Saturday will be a familiar battle for many of the Spartans.

Connor Cook: Cook is one of those Ohio kids that everyone seems to pass over but turns out to be quite a good player, ala Luke Kuechly.  Cook attended Walsh Jesuit High School and his only big time college offer was from the Spartans.  Cook is the prototype pro-style quarterback.  He has above average arm talent and his downfield accuracy has improved immensely since his early years in East Lansing.  He was known early on as a kid who could make all the throws, including the one that would inevitably cost his team the game.  He has cut down tremendously on his mental mistakes as he’s only thrown four interceptions so far this season.    Cook will undoubtedly be a high draft pick in this Spring’s upcoming NFL draft, and should continue MSU’s string of sneaky NFL quarterback success. (Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins & technically Nick Foles)

Aaron Burbridge:  Received an offer from the Buckeyes, but the Farmington MI product seemed to be destined for Sparty from the early stages of his recruitment.  The Top 100 player never really was a contender to sign with the Buckeyes although he would always include OSU in his list of top schools along with MSU and UM.  As it turns out this was another big win for the Spartans against not only the Buckeyes, but Michigan as well.  The senior leads the B1G in receiving ( 65 rec 1,021 yds 6 tds) and could arguably be the best receiver the Buckeye secondary has faced all season.

LJ Scott:  Scott is a player that many Buckeye fans believed would eventually be a part of the Buckeye’s 2015 recruiting class.  After Scott’s teammate at Hubbard, George Hill pledged to the Buckeyes, most assumed the two close friends would set up a package deal.  Well in a few months that may actually be the case, but Sparty could be the recipient of the dynamic duo.  There’s been some news lately that Hill has been looking to play defensive back, and the Buckeye coaching staff didn’t quite see him in their plans for the secondary, so the two have parted ways.  Scott has received some run during his inaugural season in East Lansing, but has been slowed by injuries as of late.  Still, he has seen more playing time already this year than he would have received in Columbus his freshman season.

Malik McDowell: Most of us remember the McDowell recruiting saga which extended past signing day a few years ago.  Malik wanted to be a Spartan, his mother for some reason or another, was adamant he would never attend MSU – which put the Buckeyes squarely in the thick of things alongside Michigan.  Clearly the son beat out the mother in this debate, and Michigan State couldn’t be happier.  McDowell has developed into a game changer along the defensive line, and is very similar in size and style to Ohio State’s Adolphus Washington.  Malik is coming off an outstanding performance against Maryland where he racked up 8 tackles, 4.5 tfls, .5 sack and a forced fumble, resulting in B1G Defensive Player of the Week Honors.  I would be shocked if that’s the only time we see the sophomore earn that distinction.

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