Ohio State-Michigan State | Scarlet & Gray Matter

Ray Stein The Columbus Dispatch

Ray Stein’s observations about Saturday's game:

The game at hand

Short-attention-span synopsis: Nobody said football is supposed to be pretty. Welcome back, defense. Tresselball lives. Playoff hopes survive another week — that’s a good thing, right?

Pregame buzz: An Ohio State team that has scuffled since a comeback win at Penn State — seems like ages ago, doesn’t it? — desperately needed a strong swimming performance if it had any hopes of avoiding an Edmund Fitzgerald of a season. First up in the stretch run was a Michigan State team that has given the Buckeyes fits like no other team in Urban Meyer’s tenure.

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Worth the trip? The first sign that a Buckeye party is about to break out on the road is when the fourth quarter arrives and the home fans start realizing there are a lot more things they can be doing than watching their team get kicked around. That laundry’s not going to fold itself, you know. So they politely slip out and the traveling horde in scarlet, feeling their oats, begin chanting O-H-I-O, just to see if it will take hold. And it does. And that’s sort of how it went down for the OSU fans who froze their fannies for that one moment.

Spread the wealth? Well, what do you know? The Buckeyes covered as favorite, a first since they waltzed down the Tulane highway. Of course, that 3½-point spread was very much in jeopardy when Ohio State was outscored 3-2 in the third quarter and led only 9-6 in the final 15 minutes. But three Michigan State turnovers led to 17 fourth-quarter points for OSU and allowed chalk to finally hold.

This week in vanity plates: DAT UGLY

The View

• How the team sees it: Let’s not focus on the fact that we nearly fell off the roof. Instead, let’s appreciate that the gutters are cleaned of leaves for another week.

How the playoff committee will see it: When everyone on your offense and defense is playing at the same level as your punter, we’ll talk.

How Buckeye Nation sees it: Michigan is so deep in our heads that we ought to charge rent. And we STILL might not score a point against them.

Urban Dictionary

• What he said: “Just outstanding. Just keep hitting the nail as hard as you can.”

What it means: “And if you happen to hit your thumb instead of the nail with the hammer, well, shake it off.”

They said it

• Your turn/the channel: Imperfections be damned, Fox is all-in on Ohio State football, sending a crew to cover a Buckeyes game for the fourth time in six weeks. For the occasion of this re-enactment of World War I-style trench warfare, Fox sent its A-team announcers — Gus Johnson, bringing the energy a bit more this time around, and analyst Joel Klatt. There were moments when it felt like the broadcasters were putting lipstick on an unruly pig, which also aptly describes what seemed to be happening on the field at times. Klatt was most guilty of unnecessary hyperbole — a real trick when Gus is your partner — by first calling Dwayne Haskins Jr. a Heisman candidate and then comparing him with Tom Brady. Easy, fella.

Numbers for dummies

7: Ohio State’s winning streak in East Lansing, dating to 1999

25-3: Ohio State’s record under Urban Meyer in Big Ten road games

4: Yards of Drue Chrisman’s first punt

5: Subsequent punts by Chrisman that were downed inside the MSU 10-yard line

9: Average starting position, in yard lines, for Michigan State in the second half

120: Net rushing yards for the Buckeyes, including 104 by Mike Weber

290: Combined rushing yards for Weber (162) and J.K. Dobbins (128) against Michigan State last season

8, 72.6: Average number of penalties and yards, respectively, committed by Ohio State this season

4, 30: Penalties and yards against Michigan State

On tap

It’s a two-week M&M run for Ohio State, but only next Saturday at Maryland figures to be a tasty treat for the Buckeyes. The Terrapins have taken to skydiving without a parachute after an offseason heatstroke tragedy led to an in-season public relations disaster that eventually and properly cost DJ Durkin his job as coach. Maryland can’t wait to put this season in its rearview mirror.

Tweethearts

Best responses to the game on Twitter:

@plumber576: This game is so Big Ten the only thing it’s missing is a foot of snow.

@SMRadin: I’ve seen better played fourth grade flag football games

@CamRam808: Almost thought I slept through Saturday and accidentally turned on a Bills-Raiders game.

@MistaCarter89: Impatiently waiting for the Ohio State defense and offense to both be playing good during the same game

@JonBauer7576: This offensive line lives up to its name. #offensive

@ktyler7205: Joel Kmart just called this a “high powered offense” and clearly revealed he’s sneakily watching the WVU game in the booth and got confused

Horseshoe haiku

An alternate world:

Buckeyes fans clamor for their

Punter: Do your thing!

rstein@dispatch.com

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