Buckeye Leaves: Michigan State

Ohio State used an offensive explosion to down Michigan State in Saturday night's huge Big Ten game. So which players most deserved to add the merit stickers to their helmets. BSB has the answer with this week's Buckeye Leaves.

Ohio State romped to victory Saturday night in a showdown game at Michigan State, producing a number of standout performers. Who were our players of the game, though? BSB gives out our Buckeye Leaves.

Ryan Ginn: My Buckeye Leaf goes to none other than redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, whose big throws came early and often. One of the most attention-catching ones came with Ohio State trailing 14-7 early in the second quarter. Facing third-and-23, Barrett dropped an absolute dime into the waiting hands of senior wide receiver Devin Smith, who hauled it in for a 43-yard gain. It clearly set the tone. The next two drives ended in a 79-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas and a 44-yard score to Smith right before halftime. Ohio State never trailed again.

Matthew Hager: There are plenty of players worthy of my Buckeye Leaf this week, but it has to go to Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman. Several fans have complained about the offense this season, but those doubters were silenced after the Buckeyes sliced and diced the Michigan State defense. Truth be told, this Spartan defense is nowhere near as good as last season’s version. Still, the Buckeyes looked dynamic in the passing game and on the ground. Herman will likely be a head coach someday soon, and this game is a big reason why.

Marcus Hartman: It has to be J.T. Barrett. While a lot of guys played major roles in East Lansing, the Buckeyes’ quarterback was the maestro of an offense that laid waste to a proud Michigan State defense. He accounted for five touchdowns, including the two crucial ones late in the second quarter that took the Buckeyes from looking like they might be knocked out to playing from in front. If he had been this accurate against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes would be undefeated. He hit some deep balls they had to have to turn Michigan State’s defensive game plan on its head, and his continued progress could mean that loss to the Hokies is ready to go in the rearview mirror for good.

Jeff Svoboda: I'm gonna go with Devin Smith. No player was more important to the Ohio State cause than the wunderkind J.T. Barrett, but Smith was my player of the game. He's been maligned throughout his Ohio State career for what he isn't by some rather than celebrated for what he is, and what he is is one of the best deep ball players Ohio State and Urban Meyer has ever had. Smith's 44-yard touchdown grab on the stroke of halftime really changed the game and put Ohio State in the driver's seat. But Smith also caught a number of underneath routes early to keep the chains moving and also give Barrett some confidence in his abilities. Smith's six catches for 129 yards led the team and really paced the victory, and he's now alone in third all-time for the most TD receptions in OSU history. To me, that's a Buckeye Leaf.

Blake Williams: I'm going with No. 15 tonight. Ezekiel Elliott had an impressive stat line with 154 yards and two touchdowns, but if anything he was better than that. We had seen the talent the sophomore had in other games this season, but this was the first time I saw him run with that much of an edge. He consistently hit the hole hard and almost always fell forward, carrying defenders at times. He ran well inside and used his speed nicely on the edge. Elliott was such a complete back against the Spartans that he made people forget that Curtis Samuel, last week’s starter, is even on the team.

Who do you think should be so honored? Let us know in the Ask The Insiders forum.

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