Well Ohio State finally got a four quarter game. It took a valiant effort from the Buckeye’s offense, but they were ultimately able to keep the Spartans in the game for all four quarters. With the game seemingly over Ohio State’s offense did what Michigan State’s offense could not do, get Spartie some points, 14 in a four minute span to be more precise.
The pollsters will wake up this morning and look at the final score and think they have once again selected the wrong team for the number one ranking, and while that may be true, the score does not accurately reflect what happened at Ohio Stadium today.
Ohio State had their way with the Spartans today and dominated every facet of the game except for the “turnover returned for a touchdown” category. Without those turnovers, the final score is likely thirty something to less than ten.
The Michigan State running attack, the very same one that I was convinced would burn the Buckeyes for a couple of hundred yards, was unable to move the ball in any situation. The Buckeyes held Javon Ringer to 49 yards on 18 carries. Ringer was averaging 7.1 yards per carry coming into this game, but he could not make anything happen today. MSU’s best play today was an option pass play that featured their star receiver, Devin Thomas throwing the ball down field. It was the only point in the game where the Buckeyes defense looked vulnerable.
Brian Hoyer, the Big Ten’s third most efficient passer coming in to the game, was not particularly efficient. He completed just 52% of his pass for a meager 126 yards and an interception. He had time just about every time he dropped back, but Ohio State’s secondary was up to the challenge through the entire game.
Kurt Coleman stepped up and made some big plays downfield and in the backfield, recording a crucial fourth quarter sack, and big play corner Malcolm Jenkins seemed omnipresent not only in coverage but in support of the run as well. It has been a long time since I have seen a team defensive effort this impressive.
Not to be outdone by his teammates on the other side of the ball, Chris Wells put up a career day in spite of that lingering ankle injury that is obviously still bothering him. Wells rushed the ball 31 times for 221 yards including a final drive in which he carried the ball seven consecutive times for 36 yards and three first downs. He and the Ohio State offensive line blew Michigan State off the line with an aggressive dominance that we have not seen prior to today.
It was not all rosy and good for the Buckeyes on the offensive side today. While the offensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage they continuously shot themselves in the foot with procedure penalty after procedure penalty. I am not sure how many they had, but it seemed like fifty.
Maurice Wells continues to under achieve. It is now common knowledge that Antonio Pittman convinced Wells not to transfer out after the championship game; I, like most other Buckeyes fans, wish he had not. Wells had nine carries for 18 yards and one catch for –2 yards. There were several carries where you could have credited a stray blade of grass for the tackle. Wells has been so indecisive that his speed and quickness are not relevant. He has also shown an inability to make the first man in the backfield miss (or break the tackle) and has repeatedly demonstrated that he is not very good in pass protection.
Following Michigan State’s second defensive touchdown in four minutes the game hung in the balance. The momentum had completely swung in Michigan State’s favor and it appeared that they could make a game of this after all. On third and twelve from Ohio State’s twenty, Boeckman dropped back to pass. It was obvious that MSU was sending an all out blitz. Wells’ chose to run past a blitzing inside linebacker to help Jake Ballard pick up the defensive end on the far side. Wells literally ran right past an unblocked blitzer without even touching him. Boeckman went down and the Buckeyes punted, but the defense was up to the task, forcing a punt on the ensuing possession.
It is time to bench Wells, forever.
Grading the Positions:
Quarterback: C. Boeckman started the game impressively, but made his first horrid throw of the season in the third quarter, resulting in an MSU touchdown, and then fumbled on the ensuing possession, resulting in a second MSU touchdown. The fumble was not necessarily Boeckman’s fault as most of MSU’s defensive line came through untouched, but in the end he dropped the ball, literally.
Wide Receivers: A. Is there a better set of hands in the NCAA than Brian Hartline’s? The guy catches everything, all the time.
Beanie: A+, his ankle: B-. Wow. Can you imagine how good he would be if he was healthy? I refuse to let Mo Wells bring Beanie’s grade down anymore, so from here on out they will be graded separately.
Mo Wells: Z-. Z seems a bit light, but my computer does not have an “Omega” key. I have no words to describe his play this week or this season, so I will make one up: Oldbertisucktitude. Wells has become the guy, like Hernandez, who gets playtime when it is least appropriate simply because of his veteran status. It is time to see about making him pay his own tuition. Can he still transfer?
Offensive Line: C-. Yep, the Buckeyes were able to dominate the line of scrimmage for the most part. Chris Wells ran all over the Spartans and the offensive line was instrumental in making that happen. So why the low grade? Well, the Buckeyes played a decent opponent at home, and the offensive line continuously shot the offense in the foot with procedure penalties. You can understand that on the road in a hostile environment, but at home? When the crowd is quiet for you? That just isn’t good enough. Good luck next week in Happy Valley, when Appalachia has a good 12 hours of drinking to get ready to make some noise.
Defense: Everyone gets an A. Wow, seriously, WOW! Even without Todd Denlinger, the Buckeyes were able to shut down the #1 rush attack in the Big Ten and a very good back in Javon Ringer. Hoyer had nothing downfield, and James Laurinaitis’ play has been nothing short of inspired.
Grading the Grader:
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… -Ohio State struggles to move the ball on the ground early. MSU's front seven is actually pretty good, better than they will get credit for. Now the back four? That is another story. “ Ohio State had no trouble moving the ball on the ground or in the air. I was wrong, the running game came to play today (except Mo Wells). F.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if…-Ohio State records three touchdowns in excess of 25 yards. Michigan State's defense takes a lot of chances and the safety play has been suspect.” Ohio State did not get the big TDs, but they did get the big plays, particularly early in the game. C-.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… -Gonna go out on a limb here. I am going to place the over/under on Beanie Wells in game ankle tapings at two. He is currently leading the conference in this category by a staggering margin.” Beanie’s ankle was clearly an issue but he played through it, but it will continue to be a story line this season. I think he got one retape, so the under covered.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if…Big day for Ray Small and Brian Hartline. I look for the Spartans to do everything they can to keep Brian Robiskie from beating them, therefore, I expect lots of touches for Small and Hartline.” Nope, MSU was content to let Brian Robiskie beat them deep down the middle of the field. I fail again. At some point, I am going to be right and someone will devote safety help to him on a consistent basis.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… Michigan State puts up 200 on the ground with big chunks between the tackles. Javon Ringer hits the hole hard and fast and will cause some problems. If he decides to get east-west, well things could go bad for him, but he should see daylight going north-south.” Wow, for the first time in two years here I feel, “Mark May” stupid. Holy crap was I wrong. Ringer almost got halfway to 100 yards. F.
I said to take Spartie and the points and the over, and I was half right. MSU was not able to get any kind of production offensively and the game went under. This Ohio State team has a championship caliber defense. Let’s see if Beanie has a championship caliber ankle. Well, hopefully you didn’t tie those into a parlay.
Props to the Prognosticator of the week: No one. Nobody had MSU and the under let a lone a point differential under 10. We all fail and we all suck.