Ever since Coach Meyer began his coaching career at Ohio State, Coach Dantonio was always that thorn in his side. Year after year, the Spartans find a way to be uber competitive against the Buckeyes, and they have certainly played spoiler in contests against the Meyer and company. Head to head? Meyer and Dantonio are tied with two wins each. An even 2-2 record that has created a rivalry against the entire state that sits up north. This rivalry has decided the BIG 10 East representative the last couple of seasons and even if the Spartans are 3-7, don’t expect them to lie down and take a beating. For some reason, they almost always are motivated by their Head Coach, a former Ohio State Assistant Coach. He will look to once again, ruin the Buckeyes hopes and dreams as the Buckeyes travel to East Lansing to face a struggling Michigan State team on their own home turf.
This was Coach Meyer’s first taste of defeat at the hands of Michigan State in the BIG 10 Championship Game and it still hurts. This was the beginning of the rivalry as Michigan State went on to play in the Rose Bowl representing the conference at the end of the year. The Buckeyes didn’t miss out that much because they went on to face a potent Clemson offense to end the season, but caught a loss as Braxton Miller injured his shoulder during the game. Coach Meyer’s only two game losing streak. Think about that for a second. The losses to Michigan State and then Clemson was his first consecutive game loses in his now five-year tenure at Ohio State. Since then Meyer has not lost two consecutive games or two games in a season (KNOCK ON WOOD!). Coach Meyer is 59-5 over his coaching stint at Ohio State. He has a National Championship and has fielded highly competitive teams.
Here was another loss at the hands of Michigan State. As the Spartans knocked in a last-minute field goal to upset the Buckeyes who had championship aspirations. This time they fell to a kicker and a team filled with Ohioan outcasts that resented the fact that they were overlooked by the Scarlet and Gray when they were high school prospects. This game is fueled by pure emotion as the Buckeyes can’t sign every Ohio prospect. They are delighted to play spoiler every time these two teams play each other. This has lead to the Ohio State coaching staff fabricating a code word that aggravates the Buckeyes because they heard it constantly. “GO GREEN” constantly being said, day in and day out would become a nuisance and it would make me angry too. This game will be about getting the win. The Buckeyes are focused on Michigan State. This will be another classic, but with a variety of new players on both ends.
The Slobs will dictate how the game goes. They have to establish themselves against a stout, but young Spartan Defensive Line. Last year, the Slobs were getting manhandled by the Spartans and they pretty much shut down the Buckeyes Offense. That and the lack of Elliott touches was puzzling as it resulted in a close loss for the Buckeyes. The whole Offensive Line will be the focus and the key to winning the game. You have to win in the trenches and as long as I have been watching this series, whoever controls the trenches usually wins the game. This will be the best time to earn their keep as this line is much younger than the TTUN’s Defensive Line. So, if they want to continue building the confidence and momentum, they should find a way to dominate or there might be another meme coming for Coach Meyer. Buckeye target, Josh King anchors the Spartan Defensive Line along with a host of experienced Linebackers like Andrew Dowell, Riley Bullough and Chris Frey. This will be a tough task to contain them because they are good in both passing defense and they excel at rushing the passer.
Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel are a pair of playmakers that Coach Meyer needs for this game. They need to thrive and make plays to keep the potent offense afloat and dangerous as usual. Weber needs to win on the ground and on dump-off passes and Samuel needs to find a way to break a big one on the “No Fly Zone” remnants. Again, this defense is young, but their strength lies in their pass rush. They have returned more than enough of their Linebackers from last year and they will look to repeat the trend from last year. Not only do Weber and Samuel have to succeed, Zone 6 members need to find a way to separate from the Defensive Backs to make plays. They flat out need to get open. They showed some improvement against Nebraska and Maryland so I hope they show more signs of life to help the Buckeyes’ cause.
There will be a steady dose of J.T. Barrett during the game. He will receive a ton of reps to develop himself into a more prolific offensive weapon. He rarely has to run lately, but if he needs to, I don’t see him hesitating to extend drives and keep the offense humming. Barrett has been more dependent on his arm and with the season quickly coming to a close, he will look to improve his skills. Last week, he threw for nearly 253 yards, for 2 touchdowns and ran for 47 for another 2 scores. Balance, is the name of the game with this young Buckeye team and with youth at just about every position, I feel the need to take a huge step forward or another level, is needed to come close to their or to exceed their true potential. J.T. Barrett will have to manage the game and play a perfect game. His Offensive Line would also need to block for their Quarterback for him to succeed.
Lastly, the Silver Bullets and the Scarlet Curtain need to show up for this contest. I am hoping the Defensive Line can hold up and dominate the Spartan Offensive Line. The Linebackers need to clog the run and pass lanes and just flat out wreck havoc and cause chaos. The Scarlet Curtain need to cover those short drag routes because I have a funny feeling that they will try to use some plays that Wisconsin used against the Buckeyes. They will need to play a perfect game and Michigan State’s prized recruit and former Buckeye target, Donnie Corley is becoming a rising star in the Spartan passing attack. Another Buckeye target, LJ Scott is also rising and he has become the workhorse of the running game. Tyler O’Connor is the starting Quarterback but Damion Terry is still there as well, so expect both Quarterbacks to get some playing time to confuse the defense. R.J. Shelton also returns as he looks to make plays against the opposing teams’ defense. We will see if they are up to the task as this will be another good one and another close game.
I want to believe that the Buckeyes come into East Lansing and blow the doors off from the get-go, but I will stick to my conservative roots and predict a close one.
Buckeyes over Spartans 35-24.