Forget Iowa

This might be the biggest challenge. The 31-point loss to Iowa essentially ended Ohio State’s playoff hopes, but it also had to dent the Buckeyes’ confidence. They had not been dominated like that on both sides of the ball in coach Urban Meyer’s six seasons, let alone by an unranked team. Now comes a resurgent Michigan State. A spot in the Big Ten title game is pretty much on the line. Is that enough to motivate the Buckeyes when their bigger goals are gone?

Join the conversation at and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra 

Feed Dobbins

This is not a new entry in this space, but it bears repeating. J.K. Dobbins is averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He got six carries last week. The freshman has not had more than 14 carries since the opener against Indiana. It’s not as if other aspects of his game are a liability. It’s fine to give J.T. Barrett and Mike Weber carries. But Dobbins has to get more.

Win the red zone

Michigan State has struggled inside the 20 on both sides of the ball. The Spartans rank tied for 86th on offense and 114th on defense. Ohio State was unable to stop Iowa last week near the goal line, and that has to change. The Buckeyes have been good but not great in the red zone, ranking 43rd on offense and 34th on defense.

Fix the pass defense

Michigan State is not the run-first team it traditionally has been; quarterback Brian Lewerke has lit up Northwestern and Penn State the past two weeks. Ohio State’s pass defense was exposed by Iowa last week, particularly in defending the tight ends. Ohio State must do a better job pressuring Lewerke than it did Nate Stanley a week ago, and Lewerke is niftier afoot than the Iowa quarterback is.