A top-25 matchup in mid-November is a big game, and one in which you expect to have to fight for and work for. A week after getting rolled over by Iowa, the Buckeyes decided that they didn’t want to fight Michigan State for it. Instead they busted out to a 21-0 lead and didn’t stop there, completely dominating the game in every single area. This Ohio State team was in no way the same as last week, looking confident and flexing its offensive and defensive muscles all over Michigan State.
For the Spartans and the Buckeyes, this was a must win game to play for a Big Ten Championship. If everything next week against Illinois goes as expected, this monster win sets OSU up for the trip to Indianapolis, against Wisconsin, to play for the title. Perhaps some madness could make that game even more important with playoff implications flowing out.
That will all depend on which OSU shows up, because this one looks as if they can beat anyone in the country. After playing a game that has no other real comparison outside of 2014’s Big Ten Championship Game, fans have to be feeling much better about the Bucks. If the solid play continues, and the defense continues to look as dominant as they were, it seems the Bucks could be unstoppable.
Blue chip stocks
Mike Weber, RB: Wow. Mike Weber came out with a purpose and had a game that will not soon be forgotten. Throughout his career, one of his main criticisms was that he couldn’t break-through for the Zeke-esque touchdown run. That changed today with not one but two breakaway TD rushes—showing that he is one of the best backs in the game. Weber put the doubters, and people still wondering if he was injured, away with a performance for the ages. Weber made his biggest statement with a 82 yard touchdown run that was simply outrageously good. On only nine carries, Weber put up a ridiculous 162 yards with two touchdowns. He simply could not be stopped.
J.K. Dobbins, RB: Yes, I just listed both Ohio State running backs but after the game they both deserve every bit of recognition. Dobbins earned his spot here not just with a great game, but by passing 1,000 rushing yards on the season. This is even more impressive considering the true freshman only has 137 carries, which averages out to 7.6 yards per attempt. Against Michigan State, Dobbins again had a great game, picking up 124 yards on 18 carries and being the consistent, shifty, and explosive back that he has proven himself to be all season.
Ohio State Special Teams: This might have been the biggest surprise of the day. After weeks and weeks of sloppy kickoffs, bad kickoff coverage, punting mishaps, and everything else under the sun, special teams finally had their game. On seven kick returns, Michigan State averaged just 12.4 yards against a surprisingly good Ohio State special teams. Sean Nuernberger was also 2/2 on field goals and 6/6 on extra points— another good showing from the kicker. On top of Nuernberger, sophomore punter Drue Chrisman had a great, albeit limited, game averaging 48.5 yards on two punts. All in all it was the performance the unit needed to keep building off of and be strong headed into the final few games.
Tuf Borland, LB: With Jerome Baker and Dante Booker out against Michigan State, the Buckeyes needed their young linebackers to step up against the Spartans. Borland proved that once again he was up to the challenge and the redshirt freshman was sensational, flying up and down the field to make plays and capping off an impressive defensive performance. With 11 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss, Borland was invaluable and truly seemed to lead the defense. This was also seen in the Spartan run game, with high powered running back L.J. Scott held to 30 yards on 8 carries the silver bullets, led by Borland, showed that last week was behind them and that they know what to do.
BUY: The Offense. Taking out the second half, where the Buckeyes slowed down somewhat intentionally, the offense was firing on all cylinders. They needed to do well to give the Buckeyes a chance—and they did just that, coming in hungry and blowing the pants off what was supposed to be a very good Spartans defense. Against a team ranked third in the nation against the run, it was a bit surprising to see them run straight through them. While running the ball was the main focus point, J.T. Barrett still made plays in the air, uncorking two touchdown passes.
BUY: The Defense. Playing a ranked opponent that many believe to be just as good as you is a challenge, and then holding that team to just three points is dominating that challenge. With sacks galore, two interceptions, and a fumble recovered, the unit was on lockdown and led the way. After getting absolutely gouged against Iowa, it was refreshing for them to not give up the same big plays, and hopefully for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes they can continue to have the opponents on lockdown.