High-Octane Ohio State Offense Simply Too Much for Spartans’ Top Defense

COLUMBUS — Ohio State knew coming into Saturday night’s game against Michigan State that they would be facing the Big Ten’s second-best rush defense and the No. 7 total defense in the country. And with that, they knew there would be some new challenges for this team.

Each week the Buckeyes have been presented with new tests that they have been easily passing. This week was their latest test, which saw them facing their first outstanding defense, which also led to their first time facing adversity in a game.

The Buckeyes struggled in the first quarter, but eventually settled, made adjustments, and navigated their way through Michigan State’s pressure on defense. Although this was Ohio State’s lowest-scoring game of the season, they still showed that they were able to get things done offensively when facing one of the best defenses the Big Ten has to offer.

“I think the best part about that is we all kind of got off the field feeling like we can’t wait to get on the field to figure out where we can improve,” head coach Ryan Day said of the team being tested early on.

It wasn’t a pretty first quarter for sophomore quarterback Justin Fields and the rest of the offense. Fields was sacked on the Buckeyes’ first drive for a loss of 18 yards. Following a Spartan turnover on the next possession, the Buckeyes were unable to complete a third-and-long on a drive that resulted in a missed field goal.

Fields was later sacked a third time in the quarter and senior wideout Binjimen Victor dropped a very catchable pass that left Ohio State with no options. The Buckeyes managed just three points and 16 yards of total offense in the game’s first 15 minutes.

“We knew it was going to happen,” Day said. “We did face adversity. It was not a good quarter of football on offense. And, again, when you’re playing against a team like Michigan State, things like that are going to happen. You have to respond and I thought we did.”

In the second quarter, Fields was beginning to flip the switch and get things trending in the right direction. The Buckeyes scored 24 points in the second quarter alone.

Day and his coaching staff found the answers to Michigan State’s questions by making the necessary adjustments from the first quarter and then finally hitting on big plays they showed in the first quarter. That got the offense in a rhythm, and once that started, nobody was going to stop them.

Victor started things off with a 60-yard touchdown reception by Victor off an RPO look. On their next drive, Fields took off on the ground for 35 yards, completed a pass to graduate H-Back K.J. Hill, ran for another 20 yards, and completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Luke Farrell.

Although Michigan State has found a lot of success in their rush defense on the year, the Buckeyes found ways to score on the ground through Fields and junior running back J.K. Dobbins.

By the end of the first half, Ohio State had 312 yards of total offense, with 163 on the ground and 149 in the air. They finished the game with 529 yards of total offense.

“You have to wear them down. And you’ve got to cover them up,” Day said. “The running backs have to turn four-yard runs into six. And then eventually over time, if you can start to run on them, you can maybe start to crack some. And that’s kind of what happened.

“But the key to that is some of those play-action passes. Those kind of got us going a bit. The big one to Bin was huge, and I think that’s some of those ones that we hit on the outside; as we go with tempo it really helped us get into rhythm.”

It wasn’t easy for Ohio State and they certainly made mistakes along the way, but the Buckeyes secured a win and made adjustments on offense against a top defense.

With their performance against Michigan State’s defense, the Buckeyes also demonstrated that their offense can be a huge problem for the best defenses in the country, let alone the other, less-talented defenses they will face down the road.

9 Responses

  1. i’d like to see examples of the ‘quality’ of a play, not the result itself + some adjectives surrounded by my feelings about what just saw.

    for example, i leaped out of my chair when Farrell scored, b/c i’ve been waiting for… years… to see an Ohio St TE break tackles with his ‘size’ i keep hearing about and score. On the replay, i became… ‘sad’ to see no defender got a clear shot at him, so in terms of performance, it was an average, expected play rather than an example of ‘growth’ or ‘excellence’.

    i’m just as excited and happy… and expecting ‘more’ from Farrell, ‘more sooner’ now…. ;-{)}


    P.S. i ‘leaped’ in my own mind; in reality, my body went forward… but not much. ;-{)} More like an “allowing”, than a leaping.

  2. Yes the Buckeyes came back in the second quarter and played tough. Yes we won by 24.
    BUT, this team did not play SMART. It was obvious that the MSU players were taunting Ohio State and our guys fell for it leading to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. This loss of control gave yards to the Spartans and kept drives alive. Finally, in the fourth quarter, a Buckeye defender pulled another Buckeye away from a Spartan player and prevented another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Giving 100% mental effort is as important as 100% physical effort. I am sure the players will get an earful about this issue from their coaches. I hope they take it to heart and exhibit some self control in the remaining games. In a close game, these penalties could really hurt. By the way, I understand that the Spartan players “started it”. However, the second player usually gets the flag. That may be unfair, but it is the reality that ALL players have to deal with.

    1. i live in every-game fear that, for example, Arnette is going to cost us BIG in a key moment in a key game with a stupid, unsportsmanship penalty that he seemingly auditions for countless times a game…and after watching last eve, seems there are others on same watch-list. hope day can get it addressed, but the players themselves keep saying it, though I doubt all really buy in when the woofing starts…

    2. OSU players were trash talking as well. They’ve been doing it all year. Day apparently likes it or he wouldn’t have squashed it by now.

  3. The B1G should investigate the red who called back the pick 6 for betting on the game or something along those lines.

  4. This was finally the game on how we would see how good OSU is. It was good to be punched in the nose, then have to get back to it. Not only did our O have to adjust, but our D gave up some big drives as well, thankfully, it only netted 10 points. The game was never really in doubt, but a rough start meant a much closer game.

    1. Kurt Mews: you have aptly described my continuing condition while on the planet: “Never really”. ;-{)}

      My feelings… just naturally always play havoc with ‘reality’, especially when i say a rep of ‘honest’ before or after i say… some whatever.

  5. Sparty’s D was the second best on the field.

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