The final stats weren't pretty, much like they were Sept. 17 after OSU's 24-6 loss at Miami (Fla.). Against the Spartans, the Buckeyes were held to 35 net rushing yards and went 59 minutes and 50 seconds without scoring a point, a mere 10 seconds from being shut out at home for the first time since 1982. The passing game wasn't much better. Quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman combined to complete 12 of 25 passes for 143 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
"It really frustrates me," sophomore tailback Carlos Hyde said. "I know our guys are good and capable of scoring points. It's just frustrating that we couldn't score."
Hyde carried the ball five times for 33 yards, second most on the team behind Jordan Hall and his 45 yards on 18 carries. Both struggled to find traction against Michigan State's defense, and the Spartans further limited OSU's rushing totals by sackings Buckeye quarterback s Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman a combined nine times. The QBs lost a total of 43 yards.
The Spartans, much like Toledo did earlier in the season when it held OSU to 112 rushing yards, often times stacked the box and brought blitzes that stopped rushing attacks before rushers could get going.
Hall and Hyde both had opinions on what the Buckeyes could do to make teams pay for blitzing and not respecting the OSU passing game.
"We just have to find a way to get the ball off fast, hit quick routes," Hall said. "I don't think that we did that today, and I think that's what we should do when they do (focus on stopping the run and blitzing)."
Hall was then asked if OSU did that enough against the Spartans.
"Obviously not," he said. "They had a lot of sacks."
Hyde noticed that a lot of the blitzes were coming off the edge of the line. He wanted Ohio State to stick with the rush and try to gash the Spartans with isolation plays.
"I felt like we should have just hit them up the middle," Hyde said. "We had to do something else, but hey, we've just got to get better."
The bigger problem facing the Ohio State offense is arguably the struggles with the passing game. Miller struggled in his second collegiate start, completing 5 of 10 passes for 56 yards. He was sacked four times. Bauserman relieved Miler in the second half and only fared a little better. He did throw the Buckeyes' only touchdown pass, a 33-yard connection to freshman Evan Spencer with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Bauserman completed only 7 of 14 passes and was sacked five times.
The offensive line did not have its best game, either. The quarterbacks were sacked nine times and pressured several other times. Sophomore guard Jack Mewhort said the blame goes on the linemen.
"That's something you never want your quarterback to feel," Mewhort said of the pressure. "That comes back to us. We have to go back and see where the leaks are."
Senior center Mike Brewster said he wanted to start looking at film as soon as possible.
"It seemed like they were coming off the edge sometimes and sometimes having (linebackers) coming up the middle," Brewster said. "It seemed like they were switching it up. I'm kind of anxious to see where the guys were coming from on the different protections."
The offense will get a boost next weekend at Nebraska by the returns of tailback Boom Herron, left tackle Mike Adams and wide receiver DeVier Posey. The three seniors completed a five-game NCAA suspension by sitting out the MSU game.
"We've just got to keep working," Brewster said. "It's not a team of quitters. We're not going to quit. We didn't quit today. We kept fighting, as ugly as it looked at times. We're going to get our guys back and we're going to keep moving forward."