Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ohio State 49, Michigan State 37

We're in the waning moments of what looks to be a 49-37 loss to Ohio State, provided Urbs doesn't decide to try and punch it in one more time...and that's it: the final score is OSU 49, MSU 37.
I couldn't have been further off on my pick. First of all, it was much higher scoring than I expected. Secondly, I never expected MSU's defense to get torn to shreds in the manner that occurred tonight. J.T. Barrett made none of the freshman mistakes I anticipated, and frankly I've not seen the Spartan defense look this overwhelmed in a long time.
I have to hand it to Urban Meyer, he had the Buckeyes ready and they were the ones who look like they should be a contender for the playoff. Clearly, Ohio State was motivated after last year's disappointment and they showed it.
Postscript: I'm coming to you on Monday, November 10. I've had a day to digest what happened on Saturday night.
The best place to start is with J.T. Barrett. What more could possibly be said about how well he played on Saturday night? He was incredible, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is better than Braxton Miller. He made some unbelievable throws, and is a powerful runner. But most impressive was his unflappability. He played like a four-year veteran, and seemed completely unfazed by the big crowd and the big stage.
Then there is the MSU defense. I was stunned at how porous it looked. This is not the first time this season it has yielded bushels of yards and points. Oregon did it, Purdue improbably did it, and even Indiana had success in the first half on MSU's 56-17 win. Ohio State is now the next to victimize the Spartan defense, with Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, and Devin Smith running roughshod over the MSU defense.
I don't think the defensive problem is in personnel, though it's obvious that MSU's defensive backs this season are not nearly as good as last season's. My football knowledge is not astute enough to know what the solution is, but I have confidence that Pat Narduzzi will figure it out.
Before I spend too much time criticizing the Spartans, I have to single out Jeremy Langford and Macgarrett Kings in particular for how hard they played. Langford ran hard and with controlled aggression the entire game, and Kings had a brilliant run in the fourth quarter in which it looked for all the world like he was about to get caught in the backfield for a loss. Somehow, he managed to fight his way free and ran all the way to the OSU's 1-yard like. Langford then punched it in on the next play to score MSU's final touchdown of the night.
The turning point of the game came late in the first half when an apparent touchdown was taken away on a dicey holding call. That score would have put MSU up 28-14 and given them momentum. Instead, the Spartans had to settle for a Michael Geiger field goal attempt that he missed. OSU took over and soon scored a touchdown (79 yard pass from Barrett to Michael Thomas) to tie the game. The Buckeyes added another touchdown on a perfectly thrown ball from Barrett to Smith. Ohio State took a 28-21 lead into intermission and all the momentum.

Overall though, Ohio State played like the team with the chip on its shoulder. They clearly wanted to make amends for what happened in Indianapolis last season, and played their best game of the season.

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