Ohio State at Michigan State - FINAL THOUGHTS

Ohio State at Michigan State - FINAL THOUGHTS

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Ohio State at Michigan State - FINAL THOUGHTS

Some final thoughts, observations, and perspectives as kickoff approaches for #18 Michigan State and #10 Ohio State at Spartans Stadium on Saturday in the renewal of a rivalry based on respect.

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It would be silly to be pollyannaish about it since it goes without saying that Mark Dantonio and Urban Meyer want to beat each other’s brains out once kickoff arrives.

And it’s not as if the players on these teams are going to sit around Michigan State’s midfield prior to the ball game and sing “Be Not Afraid” with arms draped around one another.

However, while examining the clash that will take place between #18 Michigan State and #10 Ohio State at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, isn’t it nice to know that Ohio State’s players aren’t going to act as if they’re entering a WWE venue and that they don’t see see the entire day as an episode of a Fremantle-produced reality show with Cheech and Chong as the celebrity co-hosts and Vanilla Ice serving as the ringside reporter?

This is a football rivalry, as we’ve noted this week, that dates back to Woody Hayes and Duffy Daugherty and the two programs have had titanic clashes over the last ten years – and we haven’t even touched on what Levi Jackson and Denny Stolz’s Spartans did to Woody in 1974…

Urban Meyer might be stretching the truth when he says hello to people – but he appreciates and respects Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, and the nature of the rivalry between the two schools.

And Ohio State might have a unique relationship with tattoo parlors and so forth but there isn’t a single player on the Buckeye roster that makes anyone with a brain immediately think of Foghorn Leghorn.

(With regard to this apt-Foghorn Leghorn bit that continues – and will continue – to be a staple of SpartansWire, I apologize for absolutely nothing – no exclamation point necessary.)

How about the stakes of this football game that will be played on Saturday?

They exist and they are substantial.

For the Buckeyes, the Big Ten Championship and the College Football Playoff is very much the goal even though they haven’t crafted t-shirts that would sell for at least $9.95 at the t-shirt shop at Six Flags.

For Michigan State, while the chances of a Big Ten Championship are pretty much toast, the Spartans have their sights set on a possible 10-win season (which would be the 7th double-digit win season in 9 years) and a possible trip to the Rose Bowl.

So, yeah – I guess this football game means something even if John U. Bacon isn’t writing a book about it.

In case you missed our game prediction, here it is –

https://spartanswire.com/2018/11/08/ohio-state-at-michigan-state-game-prediction-and-more/

What are some of our final thoughts?

In no particular order…..

BUCKEYE PASS DEFENSE VS BRIAN LEWERKE & SPARTAN RECEIVERS

Ohio State is 85th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 234 yards per game through the air.

Is it possible that Brian Lewerke is able to find his own rhythm with his receivers – injured shoulder and all – against a Buckeye secondary that appears vulnerable?

BUCKEYE PASS RUSH VS SPARTAN OFFENSIVE LINE

Ohio State is tied for 16th in the nation with 3 sacks per game.

The Spartans are allowing 2.2 sacks per game.

Can Michigan State’s offensive line – one that has started to gel a bit in the last phase of this season – protect Lewerke and give him enough time back there?

SPARTAN GROUND GAME VS BUCKEYE RUN DEFENSE

Ohio State is a surprisingly pedestrian 56th in the nation against the rush, giving up 153 yards on the ground per game and Nebraska just rolled up 184 yards at Columbus.

Michigan State is 111th in the nation at 125 yards on the ground per game – lining up to be the lowest rushing output in the Dantonio Era.

However, the Spartans have managed to be productive on the ground of late.

Can that Spartan offensive line manage to put a game together that allows for even a decent ground attack?

More importantly, can the line get enough of a push to allow Michigan State to continue to own the time of possession battle that has been its key to victory this season?

DWAYNE HASKINS VS SPARTAN DEFENSE

Dwayne Haskins is the nation’s #2 quarterback (statistically) with 339 yards of passing offense per game, 32 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions.

However – Haskins isn’t the runner that JT Barrett was.

Haskins isn’t the runner that either Tom Tupa or Mike Tomczak were.

Haskins is a pocket passer and can be disrupted if pressured.

Michigan State’s pass defense is 98th in the nation, allowing 253 yards per game – however, the unit is 14th in the nation with 12 interceptions.

Ohio State has protected Haskins well – averaging only 1.4 sacks per game.

Meanwhile, Michigan State’s defense has surged and is applying pressure and harassment while averaging 2.4 sacks per game led by Kenny Willekes with 7.5 sacks.

BUCKEYE GROUND GAME VS #1 RUSH DEFENSE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The Buckeyes are an unusually middle-of-the-road 56th in the nation in rushing at 178 yards per game.

Ohio State has really relied on Haskins to be productive through the air – and he has been much more than “productive.”

But Jim Karsatos was far better at turning busted plays into positive gainers by escaping the pocket than Dwayne Haskins is.

Michigan State has the #1 defense against the run in the United States of America.

LIMIT BIG PLAYS

Can Michigan State limit Ohio State’s ability to bust out big plays?

Can the Spartans effectively tackle in the open field and keep a 15-yard play from turning into a 45-yard play?

CAN MICHIGAN STATE GET THIS GUY ENOUGH CHANCES TO DEMONSTRATE HIS ASSASSIN ACUMEN?

CAN JOHN U BACON PLEASE TWITTER OUT MORE ABOUT DON CANHAM’S APPROACH TO PR MANAGEMENT AND CAN JOHN U BACON PLEASE WRITE MORE BOOKS ABOUT THE CIRCUS SINCE THE MARKET IS FAR FROM SATURATED?

We all can dream.

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