"If Urban Meyer was at Ohio State when Tyvis was in high school, Tyvis would not be at Ohio State. He's not a five star guy ... If Urban Meyer were at Ohio State, Tyvis Powell would be a Michigan State Spartan."
When Tyvis Powell committed to the Buckeyes just two days after Jim Tressel resigned, the commitment didn't exactly register much in terms of recruiting waves. Urban Meyer honored the commitment of Powell once he took over in Columbus, even though Powell isn't exactly the type of recruit Meyer usually targets. Since 2011 Ohio State has gained the commitment of 52 recruits that have been rated at four stars or better. It doesn't hurt that when trying to earn the commitment of top recruits that Meyer can flash his championship rings and talk of the chance for playing for the marquee team in the Big Ten conference.
But do recruiting stars always translate into wins? During the same period Michigan State has received commitments from only 13 recruits that were rated with four stars or more. Michigan State has compiled a 38-11 record during that time while Ohio State has a 38-10 record. Mark D'Antonio and the Spartans take on recruits that can't quite fit into Ohio State's plan and has created a good track record of maximizing the performance of those recruits. D'Antonio finds players that might not have as much buzz around them but work hard and buy into the system that D'Antonio has created in East Lansing. While the less-heralded recruits of Michigan State took the last matchup with Meyer's Ohio State stars in the Big Ten Championship Game in December, Saturday night will provide another opportunity to see if the Spartans can strike again and take down the Buckeyes.
"I think we're having to manufacture our yards in different ways. But the core beliefs, spreading the field horizontally and vertically and playing most of the game in 11 personnel with one tight end and tailback I think that's always going to be the case around here."
Last year it was heavy dosages of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde for Ohio State opponents, but this year has seen a lot more Buckeyes getting into the mix on the offensive side of the football. There hasn't been a huge difference in the stats from last year compared to this year. While the offense took a couple games to gain some momentum, when the Buckeyes are hitting at full speed they are a tough team to stop. Quarterback J.T. Barrett might not have quite the seem explosiveness on the ground that Miller did, he is averaging 57 more yards of total offense per game so far this season. Often times Barrett has the awareness that when something isn't there on first down, Barrett will take to the ground and put the Buckeyes in a manageable second down situation.
Not only is Barrett running the ball for the Buckeyes, but there are a number of other offensive players that Ohio State has used throughout the year that have the ability to rush the football, keeping opposing defenses off-guard. Whether it be Dontre Wilson or Jalin Marshall in the wildcat or jet sweep, but also Curtis Samuel showed some of his explosive ability to pair with the tough running of Ezekiel Elliott. The offense hasn't been completely flawless this year though, with a recurring issue seeming to be short-yardage situations on third and fourth down. Last year Carlos Hyde excelled in falling forward to pickup first downs in those situations, but this year the Buckeyes are still trying to find something that works on a regular basis there. Even with how prolific the Buckeye offense has been this year, when all cylinders are hitting they are one of the toughest teams to beat in the country.
"These are the games that you get excited for. When I came to Ohio State, I knew I wanted to play in a game like this one."
While Joshua Perry may be considered a recruit from Central Ohio, there was a time when he lived close to the Ohio/Michigan border. From 2000-2003, Perry and his family lived in the Toledo suburb of Holland, so Saturday night's game will take on a little extra meaning for the linebacker. With the Big Ten East title seemingly on the line in the colossal matchup between the Buckeyes and Spartans, the junior linebacker is hoping to build on the breakout season that he has put together so far. Perry was the driving force of the Ohio State defense in the Penn State game, registering 18 tackles, and so far this season he has accounted for 70 tackles.
The road hasn't always been easy for Perry and his family, but they have seemed to find a home in central Ohio. While Jim Perry was a sales rep for R.J. Reynolds, the family moved around a lot in Joshua's childhood before settling on Galena as home for the family. Not only is Joshua a student at Ohio State, but his younger brother Jahred is a freshman at the university, and is excelling in the TOPS program for students with disabilities. The relationship between Joshua and Jahred, who suffers from Asperger Syndrome, is a special one, as Joshua has been Jahred's "shepherd" as their father describes the relationship. While Jahred might be watching on television on Saturday night, he'll for sure be rooting along Joshua and the rest of the Buckeye defense on with every play as Ohio State tries to down Michigan State.
"As an athlete I feel like Miller was better, but ... Barrett fits in that offense better and he can control the game better."
When Braxton Miller went down to injury prior to the season, there was a thought that redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett could help the Buckeyes be successful, but there weren't many that thought he would find this much success so early. With a matchup in East Lansing with Michigan State on deck for Saturday night, the hopes of the Buckeyes will ride on just how effective Barrett can be in the hostile environment. The quarterback from Texas has already had his taste of tough road crowds where he willed the Buckeyes to victory in Happy Valley, despite suffering a knee injury in the first half.
Barrett currently leads the Big Ten in total offense with 294 yards per game, while also leading the nation by throwing touchdown passes on 11.1% of his passes. The quarterback also has a level head on his shoulders which allows him not to be flustered by the pressure that will undoubtedly greet him and the Buckeyes when they kickoff at Spartan Stadium. While Ohio State has taken "baby steps" to bring him along and get him comfortable in the offense, that was all to ready their field general for Saturday night's colossal contest which will see the winner be in the driver's seat in the Big Ten East.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- Love your plastic bags? NFL Blitz being made in this day and age? No chance of it.
- This is a new way to try and avoid a DWI.
- Maybe next time take the cookie dough with you.
- Everyone likes tacos and soon there will be a new taco joint in the Short North.