Bullough: "We'll be where we need to be"

Spartans top-ranked defense prepared to square off with biggest test to date.

Throughout the season, Michigan State's defense has been ranked as the nation's top unit, but also has faced questions for the teams it has shut down in the process of being so highly regarded.

On Saturday, the Spartans will have their chance to prove their mettle against one of the most prolific offenses in the nation: Ohio State.

The Buckeyes bring in the pair of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, who have torn through the conference putting up big numbers.

Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said the quarterback/running back pair might be the best he has coached – and that Hyde is playing as good as any tailback he has ever seen.

For the MSU defense, the test is clear and as big as any it has faced this season.

"There are guys on that team that have made outstanding plays and they are sitting here today and they haven't lost a game in two years, and rightfully so," MSU senior linebacker Max Bullough said. "For me to sit here and tell you that they are not the biggest challenge that we have faced so far, or that they are not our biggest test, I'd be lying to you."

Miller and Hyde – both of whom were named first-team All-Big Ten on Monday – are coming off big performances against Michigan. Miller posted 133 yards passing with 153 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while Hyde ran for 226 yards on 27 carries.

Spartans coach Mark Dantonio praised Hyde, who averages more than 140 yards per game – and almost 200 in his past three.

"I don't think there's any question that he's a guy that can break tackles and go the distance, and we've got to be able to control that aspect of their offense," Dantonio said. "You've got to make football teams one-dimensional on defense if you can. Defensively, you have to make them one-dimensional if at all possible."

The Spartans allow just 65 yards rushing per game and have only allowed more than 100 twice – both in the past month.

Bullough said the key to holding the Buckeyes down lies with finishing plays with Miller and playing physically with Hyde, but it's easier said than done.

"It's the old cliché about guys have to be disciplined, guys have to trust that the other guys are doing their job and then you have to make plays," he said. "You have to make plays when the guy is in front of you. …

"The coaches are going to have us in the right positions. We'll make the proper adjustments. We'll be where we need to be."

Last season in the Buckeyes' 17-16 win in East Lansing, MSU allowed 204 yards on the ground. But this isn't the same Michigan State defense – and it's not the same Ohio State offense, which adds the intrigue to Saturday.

"For a defense, to play an offense like that that's so highly-productive and so efficient and can move the ball so well, it's a challenge for us and it's something that we look forward to," Bullough said.


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