The 10th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes all of a sudden have something to prove.
After a devastating upset loss to Purdue on Oct. 20 and a game too close for comfort against Nebraska last week, Ohio State played similar against Michigan State as the Buckeyes weren’t able to capitalize on big plays in what was a low-scoring game until the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes still managed a big 26-6 victory.
Although the Buckeyes never trailed, their lead wasn’t comfortable until the fourth quarter. In fact, the game was scoreless until the final 90 seconds of the first half. Ohio State struck first with a touchdown with 1:29 remaining in the half. Michigan State responded less than a minute later with a 44-yard field goal before adding another in the final minutes of the third quarter.
Despite a sluggish offense, Ohio State walked away with another victory to improve to 9-1, while the Spartans fell to 6-4.
The Buckeyes don’t look like a playoff team
Ohio State entered the season vying for another spot in the College Football Playoffs, but the reality of making it into the final four at the end of the season may be slipping away. The Buckeyes still have only one loss — 49-20 to Purdue last month — but offensively the Buckeyes haven’t been able to capitalize on big plays.
As a result of a few critical mistakes by the Spartans, the Buckeyes still won by 20 points. Ohio State didn’t play as dominant as it looks just based on the score, though. Ohio State certainly has the talent, but it has become a matter of putting it together on the field. The Buckeyes struggled Saturday to run the ball, which was expected as the Spartans have the country’s top rush defense, but 14 yards at the half wasn’t impressive.
Ohio State did come alive in the fourth quarter, scoring three times in the final 15 minutes.
Dwayne Haskins is playing different than earlier in the season
Buckeyes quarterback Haskins has been at the center of Heisman Trophy conversations, though it could be interesting to see where the conversation goes as the season continues. Haskins had an underwhelming performance against the Spartans, completing 24 of 39 passes for 227 yards.
Part of Haskins’ struggles with production Saturday could be attributed to the offensive line as he seemed to be constantly under pressure and there was no rushing room. Additionally, Haskins couldn’t connect on several of the throws he has made in the past because of pressure against the Spartans. Some of that, though, could have been a result of the Spartans’ strong defense.
Spartans’ defense kept them in the game, offense made big mistakes
The main reason Michigan State stayed in the game for as long as it did (MSU was down only 9-6 heading into the fourth) was because of its defense. The Spartans held the Buckeyes scoreless until late in the second quarter.
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The Spartans might have been able to hold on longer if it weren’t for critical mistakes made by their offense. Michigan State also was held scoreless until the last 30 seconds of the second quarter. As a result, backup quarterback Rocky Lombardi was sent in to replace starter Brian Lewerke. Combined, Lombardi and Lewerke were 18-of-44 passing for 220 yards.
Ohio State capitalized on a few of Michigan State’s critical errors down the stretch. The Spartans had three turnovers, two fumbles and one interception.
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