Ray Stein’s observations about Saturday’s game:
The game at hand
• Short-attention-span synopsis: Sparta-cuss? Not this time. Home sweet home, even if it was black as night. Bin Victor on fire: drop, then roll. Does OSU’s offense make Michigan State green with envy?
• Pregame buzz: All season long, college football observers have been ascribing tests for Ohio State. Cincinnati? Test: 11 wins last year, Luke Fickell return. Indiana? Test: first road game. Miami? No, recess. Nebraska? Test: first difficult road game. The Buckeyes aced them all. But Michigan State? Finally, a real test: The best defense Ohio State has seen thus far — and maybe all year — and also a team with a history of causing OSU heartburn.
• The $147 question: After three home games that provided less dramatic tension than hungry lions prowling the 100-yard savanna seeking fattened-up, couch-potato zebras, the home folks finally got to see some exciting football. Well, exciting in the sense that it wasn’t time to head to the cars when the halftime show had wrapped up.
• Spread the wealth? The Buckeyes are getting a lot of love in the gambling world, and why not? In the past four weeks, they have been as sure a thing as a steamroller against an ant hill. The Spartans managed to play OSU within 40 points, but did not have the offensive answers to cover the 20-point spread.
• This week in classic film: A scene from Stripes, reimagined:
Michigan State football team: “The name’s Michigan State. But everybody calls me Spartans. Any of you guys call me Sparty, and I’ll kill you. And I don’t like nobody touching my stuff. You keep your meathooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I’ll kill you.”
Ohio State football team: “Lighten up, Sparty.”
• History lesson: Gather ’round, you scarlet snowflakes who think OSU’s misery against Michigan State begins in 2013 in Indy and ends in ’15 in the Horseshoe with Zeke’s fresh, unused legs. Actually, the Spartans have been a Big Ten problem child for more than 50 years, and they count five victories over Ohio State when the Buckeyes were ranked in the top five. Twice, in fact, OSU was No. 1 and had national-title hopes dashed by Michigan State. The most recent occasion was 1998, when Ohio State let a 24-9 second-half lead slip away in a 28-24 loss that left Neutron Man (ask your father) in tears. A generation before, in 1974, was even more painful for Buckeyes fans. Let’s just say that some fans of a certain age can recall their friends throwing a pillow at the television and breaking the rabbit ears (ask your grandfather) as Levi Jackson ran 88 yards for the winning touchdown.
• This week in vanity plates: DRK ARTS
• How the team sees it: It’s great to be 6-0, it’s great that we’re on this roll. But nothing is sweeter than having next week off to let the body heal.
• How the pollsters will see it: You’re kind of making us believers, obviously, if we jumped you ahead of an SEC team last week.
• How Buckeye Nation sees it: Oh goodness, what a flawless performance. They really are the best band in the land, aren’t they? And the football team did good, too.
Hey, what Day did say?
• What he said: “Yeah, that was a home run hit right there that I think really changed the game,” discussing J.K. Dobbins’ 67-yard TD run in the second quarter to give OSU a 24-10 lead.
• What it means: “Before that we had swung at a couple of pitches in the dirt, we had fouled off a few, we had tapped back to the mound, we’d hit into a 6-4-3 double play — can I stop with the baseball analogies already?”
They said it
• Your turn/the channel: ABC’s prime-time team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit were back on the Buckeyes' bandwagon, this time getting a competitive game to present instead of a walkover such as last week in Nebraska. It was a pretty standard broadcast, as such things go; they hit the high points. Among the revelatory moments was video of coach Ryan Day in practice last week, correctly predicting how Michigan State would rush Fields to open the gates for his touchdown pass to Binjimen Victor.
• Pregame chatter: Central Ohio’s favorite restaurateur was not at his hash-slinging post on Friday, instead spending his evening at a pro wrestling event in Los Angeles and preparing for Saturday’s pregame show on Fox. In that role, as always, Urban Meyer is an understated revelation. He doesn’t talk just to talk, but when he does speak, it’s usually on-point and edifying. Meyer’s best moment Saturday came when he was asked his opinion on the young season’s best first-year coach. He mentioned North Carolina’s Mack Brown and Colorado’s Mel Tucker before declaring that “Ryan Day has done an excellent job turning around Ohio State.” The set broke up. Meyer was smirk-smiling as he said it, as he should have been.
Numbers for dummies
172: Ohio State’s advantage in first-half scoring this season (200-28)
2: Rank of K.J. Hill on OSU’s career receptions list after catching seven against Michigan State. He passed Michael Jenkins and Cris Carter and now trails only David Boston for first place.
13-0: Ohio State’s record when Dobbins rushes for 100 or more yards
16: Yards for Ohio State in the first quarter
296: Yards for OSU in the second quarter
5: Wins by Michigan State against Ohio State when OSU is ranked in the top five (1972, ’74, ’98, 2013, ’15)
15-6: OSU’s record vs. the Spartans when both teams are ranked
9: Sacks by Chase Young this season
55.8: Average yards rushing allowed by Michigan State entering the game
323: Yards rushing for the Buckeyes on Saturday
Whoever put together this Ohio State football schedule should get a buckeye leaf or two adhered to their computer. The Buckeyes will enjoy their first off week (bonus grammar lesson, kids: these aren’t “byes”) after a six-game run that culminated against Michigan State, one of the more physical tests the team will face all year. Now OSU gets 13 days to regroup and heal before another prime-time roadie (a Friday no less — ugh) at Northwestern and then must take on another giant slab of Big Ten concrete, home against Wisconsin. After that, another off week. Smart scheduling.
Best responses to the game on Twitter:
@JonBauer7576: #Buckeyes look like a different team tonight … and that’s not a good thing.
@BigTayn77: Didn’t realize OSU was blacking out their playbook too
@jleegill: Things I learned in 1st quarter, Sparty better than anyone Buckeyes have played so far and Home Depot delivers
@Sickroy6: I think Dobbins just earned his sock and will be set free after the game. #ThisIsAHarryPotterTweet
@RS1071: Y’all was worried
Buckeyes stub their toes
in the dark night, then flip the
switch and whip Spartans