Football

Ohio State Pummeling of Michigan State Shows What Could Have Been

COLUMBUS — Sometimes the student becomes the teacher.

After being taught a lesson by Iowa last week, No. 13 Ohio State studied its notes, prepared and then administered a similar beatdown to 12th-ranked Michigan State in Ohio Stadium Saturday.

It wasn’t even midway through the second quarter when the Buckeyes had more than 300 total yards and 35 points on the board. Running back Mike Weber had touchdown runs of 47 and 82 yards, quarterback J.T. Barrett had two rushing scores for 4 yards each, and freshman phenom J.K. Dobbins scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass. By then it was over and not even halftime.

Ohio State (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) dismantled the Spartans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) 48-3, effectively took control of the Big Ten East, and showed everyone why it was a surprising 17-point favorite.

The Buckeyes also showed everyone what could have been if they didn’t blow their national title hopes last week at Iowa.

Head coach Urban Meyer went back to the ground game against Michigan in 2015 after the Spartans ended Ohio State’s playoff chances. After Iowa did the same, Meyer again reinstated his team’s identity on the ground.

For weeks, fans had called for Dobbins to have more touches and for Ohio State to run the ball more. In the first half alone, Dobbins had 10 carries and the Buckeyes ran the ball 26 times compared to nine passes. Last week he had just six carries.

Dobbins and Weber combined for 27 carries Saturday, compared to 11 against Iowa.

“I feel like after a loss you want to get back to what you’re good at and establishing the run game,” Barrett said. “So just getting back to who you are, whether it be fundamentals or even when it comes to offensively and defensively making calls and things like that.”

Ohio State’s offense, which gained 512 yards by the end of the third quarter, was just that much better Saturday because it established a ground attack from the beginning. A ground attack that gained 321 yards on 36 carries on the legs of Dobbins, Weber and Barrett against the nation’s third-best rush defense.

Like the offense, the Ohio State defense was that much better this week than last week from the first snap.

Sophomore linebacker Malik Harrison and sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa sacked Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke on the first drive to set the tone for the game. Even when Lewerke wasn’t on the ground, he was being pressured and had to scramble outside the pocket, throwing inaccurately on the run.

Given the inability of Ohio State’s defensive line to put any pressure on Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley last week, and the passing defense allowing multiple chunk plays, Lewerke’s two consecutive 400-yard passing games was possibly going to be extended to three.

Lewerke completed 18-of-36 passes for 181 yards and threw two interceptions, however. The OSU defensive line played like it was supposed to, as one of the best units in the country, and the secondary did its job. Ohio State allowed 195 total yards.

“I knew last week we kind of laid an egg,” Bosa said. “Came out flat and the attitude was completely different this week and I knew that this wasn’t going to be close. We were going to come out strong.”

But, it still doesn’t matter. Iowa spoiled the end goal and Ohio State let it happen.

Sure, Ohio State can still win the Big Ten championship, which should be a celebrated accomplishment for a football team. Yet, reigning atop the country is different than reigning your conference.

“When you see everybody click on all cylinders and then you think about how we played the previous weeks when we lost,” Bosa said, “it’s tough to think about and it’s frustrating, but you gotta keep going.”

Saturday was a good victory for Ohio State. Michigan State is a formidable opponent and the Buckeyes dominated. Weber said the focus all week was getting back to square one and the team’s true identity. However, the team should have never had to do that. It should have never lost to Iowa.

In the end, Ohio State might win the Big Ten title, but the notes the Buckeyes will take from the Michigan State game compared to the ones recorded from the Iowa game will reflect an opportunity missed.

The team that beat Michigan State should’ve always been the teacher, and never the student.

 

9 Responses

  1. If Wisconsin loses in the Big Ten title game, a 2 loss team will definitely make it in this year. Osu needs to win out and do it in a way that shows we are clearly the best team in the Big Ten. If that happens and the committee sticks to their precedent of choosing what they view as the best team in 4 or the 5 power conferences, OSU can slip into the playoffs at #4. (A choice between OSU and USC if they win out) Alabama cannot lose for us to be in. If they were to lose, the committee would establish a new precedent by taking two teams from one conference.

  2. If Wisconsin loses in the Big Ten title game, a 2 loss team will definitely make it in this year. Osu needs to win out and do it in a way that shows we are clearly the best team in the Big Ten. If that happens and the committee sticks to their precedent of choosing what they view as the best team in 4 or the 5 power conferences, OSU can slip into the playoffs at #4. (OSU versus USC if they win out) Alabama cannot lose for us to be in. If they were to lose, the committee would establish a new precedent by taking two teams from one conference.

  3. This is a perceptive and revealing article, Jacob. Today OSU totally dismantled the nation’s #3 run defense and played a complete game defensively against a higher ranked opponent, yet last week looked totally disjointed and lifeless against a clearly inferior one (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know they beat OSU- Iowa is also 6-4 and got creamed yesterday).
    It would behoove the coaching staff to mind JT Barret’s words quoted above- “you go back to what you’re good at…the run game”. The players themselves know that the offensive philosophy that’s been crammed down their throats isn’t the best choice for this team- its time for the coaches to acknowledge it too. They’d better fine tune next week against Illinois, paying special attention to run blocking and establishing field position through true running backs, as well as competent special teams play. (It wouldn’t hurt for the coaches to think real hard about the 2 LBs who replaced starters and looked REALLY good, but they probably won’t do that- the excuse will be that the “timing” for replacing starters isn’t right or some such nonsense). When they go to UM, they will be facing a team that has absolutely nothing to lose, in a game in which momentum means everything. The coaching staff now clearly knows what gives THIS team- the 2017 edition of the Buckeyes- the best chance to win. The question is, can they swallow their pride and call it accordingly?

  4. Unreal 3rd ranked rush defense and we destroy them with the run. What makes this even more unreal is the first half where we score 35 points we only attempted 3 passes that were thrown more than 5 yards vertically and 1 of those is intercepted and MSU flagged on the other two for pass interference.

    Never seen Mike Weber run this well or this fast before at OSU. Looked like a totally different guy.

    Our pass coverage was excellent against a team coming off back to back 400 yard games. I hope Arnett is okay.

    I admit freely I do not understand our team this year, but the Michigan and hopefully Big Ten Championship game should be interesting.

  5. It’s not just the loss to Iowa that bothers me, but the way that we lost. Getting beat in all facets of the game. I never thought this team was a National Championship contender because it doesn’t have the star playmakers (other than Dobbins) of past teams. Yet looking at the teams in contention I think OSU could hang with them if they played like they did against MSU.

  6. GO BUCKS BABY!!! WE ARE STILL IN THE HUNT BABY!!!!! OUR BUCKEYES ARE STILL IN THIS!!!!!! WE BEAT AN UNDEFEATED WISCONSIN IN THE BIG CHAMPIONSHIP AND WE ARE PUNCHING OUR TICKETS FOR THE PLAYOFFS……..And from what I saw today, we can beat any team in the country. GO BUCKS!!!! SEASON RESURRECTED!!

  7. Call me naive, but I really think OSU has an outside legit shot at the playoff still with Washington, , Georgia and ND all losing–and losing bad….we should pass tcu and washington, along with msu and possibly usc (we should).so the if game…which is not impossible by any means…if OSU wins out and looks good doing it against scUM and a hopefully then unbeaten Wisconsin team….if alabama beats auburn then georgia…that leaves 1 sec team to make it..nd is out with 2 losses and no conference title and that georgia loss doesnt look as special now, plus osu beat msu even more handily than nd did–nd gave up almost 500 yards to msu…..the miami/clemson winner is in….and probably oklahoma at this point..it’s best now to “root” for them to win big 12 instead of a 2 loss tcu beating them in title game..the pac 12 is rightfully out i believe…which would leave the wisconsin/OSu winner..yes there are a few “ifs”..but nothing too unrealistic…OSU just needs to play with this same chip on their shoulder and gameplan/coach like they did this week…and they might just end up in the playoff..the inconsistency needs to be gone for good so time will tell….imagine if OSU gets to play punk mayfield n Ok again….first..beat illinois, then scUM, the WISc.

    1. Todd- sure, the things you pointed out could happen. There is still a LOT of football to be played. The biggest help for OSU at this point is that the quality of college ball seems down. In essence, the playoff will likely involve a 2 loss team this year for the first time (when all is said and done), and OSU can be in that mix if they play like they are capable in the remaining games.

  8. I don’t understand the love affair that Meyer has with JT and trying to make him be the star. It’s unquestionable now that the slobber-fest he has for him cost this team.

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