September 30, 2012
Questions answered in Ohio State's win over MSU
Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham
COLUMBUS, Ohio - After four weeks of ups and downs in out of conference play, the Ohio State football team experienced its greatest high of the season to date when it picked up a 17-16 win over Michigan State in East Lansing yesterday. The victory provided the Buckeyes with both their first road and conference wins of the Urban Meyer era, which is all the more impressive when you consider that it came against the No. 20-ranked team in the country.
Q: Were the Buckeyes ready for Big Ten play?
A: Apparently so. It may have been by the closest margin that a team can win a game by, but any time that you can pick up a victory on the road against a ranked opponent, it's hard to say that a team was prepared for the task at hand. Despite the close margin, the Buckeyes should rise in the polls this week and will remain in the driver's seat of the Big Ten Leader's Division moving forward.
Q: Could Ohio State contain Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell?
A: Surprisingly, yes. After entering Saturday's game ranked last in the Big Ten in total defense, the Ohio State defense held Bell to a season-low 45 yards running the ball. The junior running back, who entered the game as the nation's third leading rusher, did manage to add 58 more yards through the passing game, but even Meyer admitted after the game that if he had known that his defense was going to hold Bell to less than 50 rushing yards on Saturday, he wouldn't have bothered practicing.
Q: How did Braxton Miller bounce back from his UAB performance?
A: It was an up-and-down day for Miller, who accounted for 315 yards of total offense but was also responsible for all three of the Buckeyes' turnovers, but on Saturday, his far outweighed his bad. The sophomore quarterback accumulated 34 of his 136 rushing yards on the day during the Buckeyes' game-opening touchdown drive and also put the ball right on the money for Devin Smith with his 63-yard game winning touchdown pass.
Q: What type of impact did Carlos Hyde make in his return?
A: Returning form an MCL sprain, Hyde only managed 49 yards of rushing against the Spartans, but they may have been his most important 49 yards of the season. With Jordan Hall leaving the game with a knee injury, Hyde provided the all important second rushing option for the Buckeyes behind Miller, and also helped the OSU offense wind down the clock with a 1-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Q: Have the Buckeyes solved their tackling woes?
A: Not completely. The Ohio State defense still had trouble bringing ball-carriers to the ground at times on Saturday, but that's to be expected when one is facing a fellow conference contender. The Buckeyes, however, did improve on their tackling for a third consecutive week, and enough so to hold the 244-pound Bell to his season-low rushing the ball.
Q: Did Meyer have any tricks up his sleeve for conference play?
A: If he does, he's saving them for another opponent. For the most part, the Buckeyes looked a lot like they did during their first four games of the season, although some plans may have been hampered when Hall left the game in the second quarter with his injury. miller routinely looked for Corey Brown (12 receptions) on short passes and Smith (two receptions, 79 yards) on long passes, before taking off with the ball, accumulating 23 rushing attempts.
Q: How did Michigan State Andrew Maxwell look against the Buckeyes?
A: Maxwell attempted 42 passes- the second most that he's attempted all season- part of which was a product of the Spartans trailing for the majority of the game, and part of which was a product of MSU's inefficient run game. The Buckeyes, however, did a good job applying pressure to Maxwell, and only allowed him to complete 22 of his passing attempts.
Q: Could the OSU offensive line handle the Spartans' defense?
A: A year after giving up nine sacks to MSU in the Spartans' 10-7 victory in Columbus, the Buckeyes' offensive line looked much more complete on Saturday, only allowing them to sack Miller once. Right tackle Reid Fragel held his own against NFL draft prospect William Gholston, which marks the second consecutive game that the converted tight end has looked like the offensive lineman that the OSU coaching staff imagined he would be when they switched his position in the offseason.
Q: What kind of difference did Bradley Roby make in his return?
A: The Buckeyes' top corner played well on Saturday, and not just on defense. Roby led the Buckeyes in tackles with nine and also broke up two passes, but perhaps the biggest play of the game came when he gave OSU its first blocked punt of the season in the second quarter. The play was quickly negated by a Miller interception, but it provided Buckeye fans with the "Freak Show" experience that the players have been hyping up since fall camp started.
Q: Who's next?
In what should be an atmosphere that Meyer has already predicted will be "insane," the Buckeyes will host their first night game of the season next Saturday with an 8 p.m. kickoff against No. 21 Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are coming fresh off of a 30-27 come-from-behind win over Wisconsin and will be sporting a 4-1 record when they come to Columbus for the first time since joining the Big Ten.
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