Keep Connor Cook clean: A-
Michigan State did a good job protecting Cook, allowing just one sack. He was hurried four times, but the Spartans limited pressure well and did not allow Ohio State standout Joey Bosa to get loose often. Cook generally had plenty of time to throw and had a career-high 358 yards.
Balanced offense: A-
Michigan State threw for 358 yards and ran for 174 – doing both with relative ease for much of the game. The one thing that seemed to be missing was a vertical offense for the Spartans, who did not look long often.
Safeties tackling: B
The good news for Michigan State: The safeties tackled pretty well. The bad news for Michigan State: The safeties had to make a lot of tackles. Kurtis Drummond and R.J. Williamson had 11 tackles each, leading the team. Cornerback Darian Hicks was next with eight tackles. It was an issue that so many tackles had to be made in the secondary, but for the most part, they brought down the player.
No lapses: B
The offense did seem to disappear for short stretches, at times. The defense was lackluster throughout, but the concerning thing for Michigan State was the penalties. There were plenty of careless plays, so while there were no quarters in which the Spartans vanished, there were some points where they were not playing to a high level.
Play for Saturday only: B+
The Spartans put up more than 500 yards and 37 points. Normally, those would be winning numbers for the Spartans. Cook moved the ball well mostly. Jeremy Langford was effective and broke out on multiple strong runs. Keith Mumphery had a really solid game. Josiah Price was pretty good as well. It was a good overall showing – including the offensive line.
Michigan State allowed five plays of 40 yards or more. It allowed just 11 such plays last season. It was a big play party for Ohio State and that was the key to the game, as Michigan State could just not stop the Buckeyes and did not force a single three-and-out.
Special Teams: B+
Michigan State forced a pair of fumbles on special teams, giving plenty of opportunities early in the game to take control. Michael Geiger missed a field goal for the fifth straight game, which is becoming more and more of a concern. Jalin Marshall also broke out on a solid punt return as MSU missed multiple tackles.