It all started out according to plan in the first half, the Buckeyes sprinted out to a 17 point lead and held the powerful MSU offense to 72 total yards. Then, within the course of a single minute, mistakes made a game of it when a pass was intercepted for a touchdown and a fumble was returned for a touchdown. Later, the MSU offense showed a little life driving down to OSU territory for a field goal.
Give the Spartan defense credit, they turned up the heat while the OSU offense relaxed in that vital 3rd quarter stretch. Give the OSU defense credit, forcing 5 punts, sacking the QB 4 times, forcing an interception, allowing only a field goal, and limiting MSU to 185 net yards (125 passing and 60 rushing.) The offensive output from MSU was limited to 40% of their average yardage total, 27% of their rushing average, and 8% of their average point total.
- The defense. Wow, what a performance from top to bottom. I’ve questioned the run stopping ability of our defensive line. Consider that question no longer on the table. MSU averaged 243 yards per game coming in. They put up 60 net yards this afternoon.
- The first half offense. Great execution and focus (aside from a few small penalties.) The announcers reached into their distraction bag by the middle of the second quarter.
- Beanie Wells gutting it out with a bum ankle. 31 carries for 223 net yards and a touchdown. Great stats. But his most important contribution was on the final drive of the game.
- The crowd. I watched on TV, but it looked like a great game day atmosphere and the crowd stayed with the team through 3rd quarter adversity.
- The fourth quarter performance. When MSU through a combination of defensive production and a little life from their offense, the team pulled it together. The defense played lights out and the offense behind the offensive line and on the shoulders of Beanie Wells burned the last 3 minutes of the game extinguishing any hope of a MSU win.
- Win and advance. This is the most important good thing, the team won and now advanced. Many teams haven’t been able to weather the storm when adversity struck and ultimately lost (hello Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, USC, et al.)
- Penalities. The Bucks were flagged 7 times for 36 yards. While the yardage wasn’t outrageous, the timing killed a couple of drives. Ben Person accounted for 3 false start penalties alone. Sloppy play and bad mental focus.
- Officiating. Both teams held all day long, there were blatant tackles of defensive players, but they just weren’t being enforced. There was a missed MSU fumble that should have been caught and overruled (yes, I know the play was blown dead – but the runner was still moving forward.) Why have review if you’re not going to fix blown calls?
- Placekicking. Kickoffs were inconsistent (9 mph wind assisted no doubt) and a blocked field goal.
- Third quarter. Once Robiskie scored on the long TD pass, the team packed it in mentally. The last stretch played like that was in the game against Florida in the first quarter…lucky to turn it around I think.
- Punt returns. They’re not a productive as they should be. The 90 yard return for a TD last week was an anomaly. This unit gets enough opportunities and should be piling up the hidden yardage and not allowing the team to be trapped inside the 5 yard line mulitple times.
- Turnovers leading to 14 points. What more do I need to say? Without those, this is a 24-3 game for sure, and more likely 34-3 game.
- Letting up mentally before the clock reads 00:00. This team came out in the third quarter thinking the game was over. It clearly was not. Need 4 quarters of 100% effort, not 3.
In the preview earlier this week, I predicted a comfortable 34-16 win for the Buckeyes. Obviously, I didn’t factor in the Buckeye offense chipping in 14 points for the opposition and thus the prediction was wrong. Conversely, I thought that MSU would move the ball more effectively than other opponents have – until they started reaching in the bag of tricks for high risk/reward plays like multiple half-back passes, they couldn’t move at all. Even after the trickeration came out, the adjustment only seemed to take a few plays. This defense is much better than I’ve given them credit for this year. Again, prediction wrong. I said it would be tight through the first half and that OSU would pull away in the second half. Wrong, OSU was all over them in the first half and let MSU back in the game in the second half. So there you have it, the prognostication collapse. The only way I could have been more wrong is with a MSU win – thankfully, that didn’t happen.
In the final analysis, it was a win. The team is getting better (aside from those 56 seconds in the third quarter) and the team advances. Go Bucks!