5-0 is a good feeling, and a win in a place like East Lansing is a tremendous accomplishment for a team as young as this. I don't know that you can call it a signature win for Urban Meyer's career, but you can call it a signature win for the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes. They overcame a tough MSU defense and their own turnovers, and still came out on top.
That was a tough win for OSU yesterday, and with the uneven start over the first four games, I think it's safe to say Ohio State won a fair amount of respect with their 17-16 win. Respect, just a little bit...
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care of TCB
Sock it it to me sock it to me. Rinse. Repeat.
Your SMR, after the jump. Wait, with the new format, there is no jump. SMR of Respect, next sentence.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Reid Fragel, RT: William Gholston is one of the best defensive ends in America. Run to his side, and that's where three yard losses are born. He eats quarterbacks for lunch, and gives offensive coordinators nightmares. Going into the game, I really thought OSU would give Fragel a lot of help on Gholston with an extra tight end, but they didn't. Because Fragel pretty much kicked Gholston's ass all day long. Really, the only time I saw the camera on Gholston was when he
got knocked out by his own player 'had the wind knocked out of him' when he went to tackle Braxton Miller, and he laid motionless on the field for a minute. Very scary moment, and I'm glad he's okay, but I can't remember his name being called at all the rest of the day. That was one hell of an individual effort by Fragel.
Bradley Roby, CB: Roby didn't have a pick, but I thought he had a heck of a ball game. He was solid in coverage on a day when the OSU secondary wasn't that great, he broke up some passes with big hits, and was tremendous in run support, helping limit Le'Veon Bell to only 45 yards rushing on the day. He also blocked a punt on special teams, which gave OSU a golden scoring opportunity late in the first half.
Braxton Miller, QB: Did anyone else get the feeling that at some point during the game, Meyer said 'screw it, we're just going to put the ball in Miller's hands and see where it takes us'? I got that feeling, as Miller just seemed to take over the game both running and passing. Yeah, he had a fumble and a pick. but he made some huge plays against Sparty, and his long TD pass to Devin Smith was arguably the best long ball of his young career.
The Linebackers: Etienne Sabino, Storm Klein, and Ryan Shazier all played pretty good football on Saturday. They bottled up Bell and made Andrew Maxwell throw the ball. At times they still seem to go for the strip as opposed to making the tackle (see: ridiculous touchdown catch and run by Keith Mumphrey) but the OSU tackling was noticeably better on Saturday, and that's attributed largely to the play of the linebackers on Saturday.
Corey 'Philly' Brown and Devin Smith, WR: The wide receivers were going to be key Saturday, and both Brown and Smith made big plays at critical times. Every time Phill Brown caught a pass, it seemed to be for a big, drive sustaining first down, and Smith had the huge TD play that put the Buckeyes in the lead for good.
The Defensive Secondary, minus Roby: When I did the keys to the game, I felt that if the Buckeyes could force Andrew Maxwell to throw the ball, he wouldn't respond and would cough up the ball. I was called out in the comments section, and the commentariat was right After watching Maxwell, he's not the problem with the MSU passing game, it's his receivers. Had the Sparty receivers held on to three or four more passes, Maxwell has over 300 yards and MSU more than likely wins the game. There were far too many big plays given up at inopportune times, but fortunately, the Buckeyes still prevailed.
Buy: The Improved Tackling. Ohio State was noticeably better tackling Saturday, and Le'Veon Bell was bottled up all day. When he got to the line, I can't remember him breaking a tackle after initial contact and getting to the second level all afternoon. From the defensive linemen, to the linebackers, to the secondary, this was the most fundamentally sound defensive effort Ohio State has played under Urban Meyer.
Sell: The Tackling On Keith Mumphrey's TD. That should've been an 8 or 10 yard gain, tops. It still would've been a first down, but at one point there were four guys trying to strip Mumphrey of the ball and forgot to tackle. Mumphrey didn't forget to run, and he didn't stop until he was in the end zone and gave MSU the lead. It seemed at the time like it was a game changing moment, but luckily, OSU's offense answered the bell.
Buy: The Improved Special Teams Play: Drew Basil was solid in the kicking game, the kick coverage unit was okay, but gave up a couple decent returns, and the punt return team had a huge block late in the second quarter. It was the best special teams effort under Meyer, and a solid effort overall.
Sell: Not Taking Advantage Of The Blocked Punt: It's 7-3 OSU, just over 2 minutes to go, and Bradley Roby makes a huge play, giving the Buckeyes a golden opportunity to really put themselves in the Driver's Seat. At a minimum, they are three Tresselball plays from a field goal, but on second down Miller fumbled the ball. MSU recovered, half over, opportunity missed.
Buy: Miller's Gutty Performance. Braxton Miller had an up and down game, made some big plays, and had a couple of big turnovers. But in the fourth quarter, when OSU needed big plays, first downs, and a clock killing drive to end the game, Miller (along with Carlos Hyde) delivered.
Sell: Miller's Turnovers. They came at critical times and could've very well turned the outcome of the game. His fumble that was initially called down could've very easily been returned for a touchdown, and that would've been crippling. Miller's talent is ridiculous, but he is still only a sophomore, and as much as hew runs the offense, he'll have to find a way to minimize turnovers.
5 games, 5 wins. They haven't all been pretty, and a couple have been unnecessarily close, but they've all been wins. And make no mistake, yesterday's win was a statement win for this team. They went into Spartan Stadium, physically dominated what many people think are the best team in the conference, turned the ball over three times, and still won.