Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie, on Ohio State…”You know you’re playing the best, and that’s how it’s been the past few years…You’ve seen Ohio State be successful year in, year out. They’ve got a great program down there. It’s another challenge for us….You want to be the best, you want to be a champion? You gotta beat those guys.”
Forget Michigan, the measuring stick for @MSU_Football under Mark Dantonio has been, and will continue to be, Ohio State.
That measuring stick is mighty tall this season. https://t.co/heqzkXkuP7
— Freep Sports (@freepsports) September 30, 2019
The seasons have passed by, but the memories are still vivid to me. 1998. 2013. 2015. All seasons when Ohio State was seemingly superior to Michigan State, but somehow, someway, the Spartans were able to ruin Ohio State’s season.
Even though this year seems different, with a tremendously talented and varied Ohio State offense…Even with a vastly improved Ohio State defense…I have my concerns. The above article cites how Mark Dantonio uses Ohio State as the benchmark by which he compares Michigan State.
In an interview with The Sporting News, Mark Dantonio stated, “You’ve got to be able to stop the run. In ’15 we did. In ’17 we did not. Then you have to limit their explosive plays. Then, you have to come up with some turnovers and be opportunistic on offense and very good on special teams.” With those objectives listed, below are three areas I will be focusing upon as Ohio State takes on Michigan State for a national television audience on ABC at 7:30pm EST, under the lights in Ohio Stadium.
1. Michigan State’s Run Defense vs. Ohio State’s Rushing Offense – With a traditional 4-3 defensive alignment, look for Michigan State defensive coordinator Mike Tressel to crowd the line of scrimmage, trying to negate J.K. Dobbins and the running game. The Spartans are stifling to their opponents’ running game, limiting them to around 56 yards a game. I said the other night on The Silver Bullets Podcast with Michael Citro (@Mike36fan) that J.K. Dobbins may need an ice bath after this one, as Michigan State may be gang-tackling him throughout the game.
2. Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes vs. Ohio State’s Offensive Line – While Ohio State’s Chase Young has been receiving ample praise for his play this season, and rightfully so, Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes is one of the best defensive ends in The B1G. Michigan State has been able to sack opposing quarterbacks about 3 times per game this season. Will Michigan State move Willekes around, to try and get the best favorable matchup in obvious passing situations?
3. Michigan State’s Xavier Henderson – A sophomore cornerback out of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Henderson is one of the 28 Ohioans on Michigan State’s roster that Mark Dantonio was able to lure up to East Lansing. Granted, Henderson did not have a scholarship offer from Ohio State, and that is another psychological angle that Dantonio will be taking before the Spartans take the field against Ohio State. Look for Mark Dantonio to move Henderson around in the secondary, as Henderson is probably the best player in the Michigan State secondary.