Passing Game a Problem For Buckeyes In Loss

Ohio State did major damage to Michigan State's top-ranked rush defense, but the Buckeyes' in ability to get the passing game going ultimately played a large role in the end of their 24-game winning streak.

While the 273 yards Ohio State ran for against the nation's top defense were impressive, the lasting image from the Big Ten Championship Game was Braxton Miller's last four passes of the night hitting the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

Miller, the Buckeyes' junior quarterback who was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Quarterback of the Year for the second consecutive season, completed only 8 of 21 passes for 101 yards. He threw 20-yard touchdown pass to Corey "Philly" Brown and set up a field goal in the second quarter with a 36-yard pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman, and he did not throw an interception.

While he missed on a couple of throws, he also was the victim of a handful of dropped passes and had four broken up by Michigan State defensive backs.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "I thought the ball was on target. I think some of our guys made outstanding plays on some of those balls throughout the game, as they have all year."

To that end, the Spartans were the No. 1 pass efficiency defense in the nation on top of their success against the run.

Cornerback Darqueze Dennard showed why with a pair of pass breakups while safeties Isaiah Lewis and Kurtis Drummond also knocked away potential catches from OSU receivers.

On one drive in the third quarter with the game tied, Drummond knocked away a shot from Miller intended for Brown in the end zone on first down and broke up a potential big play to Devin Smith on third down.

Dennard later hit Evan Spencer to knock a ball loose on a third down in the fourth quarter after the Spartans took a 27-24 lead. Lewis was credited with a breakup when Brown couldn't come up with a deep pass in the first quarter.

"The defense makes it really hard in terms of because of the nature of their safeties and corners, they not only make it hard to run the ball but they make your intermediate a passing game very difficult, too," Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "They kinda force you to take some shots over their head. We hit one and off the to top my head we missed about four or five. That certainly could have been the difference."

Miller's yardage total was the lowest of the season for a full game he played, but Herman was content with how Miller played given the level of competition.

"He completed some really good balls in terms of the touchdown to Philly, the seam to Jeff at the end of the half to set up the field goal, and obviously he ran the ball really really well too. He made a lot of progress," Herman said. "We knew this wasn't going to be a throw for 75-percent kind of game because of the nature of the throws that they force you to attempt but I was proud of him. I was proud of how hard he played."

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