Quick Thoughts: Ohio State Defeats Sparty

Ohio State blasted Michigan State Saturday night on the road to the tune of 49-37, in a game that was nowhere near as close as the score indicates. The Buckeyes dominated offensively, and got enough stops defensively to come away with a statement win. Who stood out in the win?

- First off, although there were far more points scored in this game than I imagined, this was pretty much what I wrote about all week, so no surprise at all with the win. The last time I was this confident of Ohio State winning a big game was the national championship tilt against LSU, but why go there? When Michigan State recovered the kickoff and looked to go up 14, I texted Derek Young that OSU had the better team, that a score wouldn't matter, and that's true. A touchdown there would not have mattered. Ohio State was going to score what they had to score, and they were going to hold Michigan State to whatever they needed.

- I wrote earlier that this game came down to Urban Meyer vs. Mark Dantonio more than Ohio State vs. Michigan State, and that's still how I see it today. This was a coaching battle, and the battle was having your team prepared to win, mentally and physically. Urban Meyer gets this win. Of course, every player, every coach and every support person performed at an A+ level, but the credit goes to the top.

- Don't think for a second Meyer hadn't heard the whispers that maybe the old boy had lost a few feet off the fastball, and the Mack Brown syndrome was right around the corner. This was one of the biggest games in Urban Meyer's career, and while he might never admit it, he simply HAD to win this game. And he did. CONVINCINGLY.

- I hate to name individual players, because every single one did their job, from Devin Smith through Stephen Collier and Brionte Dunn. That game was won on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and we all got to see the results on Saturday. Michigan State is a good team, a darn good team, and you can't crush a team like that on the road without every single member of the program buying in early in the week.

- Ohio State passed two tests last night that can prove to be springboards to national prominence if it's a permanent deal, and not a one-time showing. The first point was to play physical, ultra-physical, and the Buckeyes did that. They pounded the bully, and made him taste his own blood. Make no mistake that was an azzz-whipping. The spread offense is fine, as long as you're not Oregon where you fold every time you get punched in the mouth. Blitzing and playing man coverage is great, but you'd better be dominating up front or all that brings are big plays against you. Ohio State dominated the Michigan State defensive line, and beat them up. Props to the Buckeye offensive line, for the best showing of the Meyer era up front. And Ed Warriner is bow-down-to worthy.

- The second point is that in today's game, when things get tight and games get close, you MUST be able to throw the football. Last night, Ohio State threw when they wanted to, but also threw when they NEEDED to. Haven't seen a lot of that in three years under this regime, but last night's passing game is exactly what you need to beat Alabama or Florida State. Don't want to start the QB debate, but J.T. Barrett gives Ohio State the chance to take down the big boys throwing the football. He's going to win a Heisman Trophy before he leaves, and he could end up the greatest quarterback in Ohio State history. He is a QUARTERBACK that's a decent athlete, rather than an athlete trying to play quarterback. In the end, he's going to be better than Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor or Braxton Miller, and Barrett gives you a chance against the SEC. Just my opinion, and I know he's had some bad moments, but for my money you live with them and watch him grow. He gives you the chance others don't.

- Some people might look at the stats and conclude Ohio State wasn't very good defensively, and that would be incorrect. Stats are not real big in my game, and I know people get hung up on them, but to me stats are usually not what people should focus on and why they're wrong so much. The defense got the lead, and made Michigan State burn up the clock trying to win. The yardage means nothing to me, because when the game was on the line the defense made stops. That's how you win titles, and I don't care where they're ranked. Can you stop people when the game is on the line? Last year? No. This year? Getting better. Don't look at Connor Cook's final stats, rather look back at the crunch time when he was like 8-20, and couldn't match Barrett score for score. I like where this defense is headed, and they are still very young.

- To me, Devin Smith was the best player on the field and he set the tone early on that he would not be stopped. He made Barrett's life easier by getting open and making tough catches. Devin taking the top off the defense opens things up for everyone else, and I felt establishing Smith early just allowed everything else to work. Defensing the field from 40-yards in is much different than playing a team in a phone booth, which is what happened last year. I wrote that Ohio State's wideouts had a big advantage over the Spartan DB's, and that really showed. Once the line gave Barrett time, the entire playbook was on the menu.

- Doran Grant kept Tony Lippett is check and that was more than huge. He caught a few balls, but was a non-factor. Devin Smith blowing away Tony Lippett is probably the game-changer, in a nutshell. While Lippett got some garbage-time stats, Devin got prime-time numbers. Meyer would have signed up for these numbers on Tuesday, while Dantonio would have known he was dead with these figures.

- Where does Ohio State go from here? You hate to evaluate teams after their worst loss, or their best win, so I'm not ready to put them in my top-four right now. They entered the discussion last night for me, and they need to keep winning. Was last night who Ohio State is? Or a one-time, ultimate performance? A letdown loss to Minnesota and the love-fest turns sour really quick. I had them for two losses, maybe three, and I'm certainly ready to admit defeat in that thought. They need to keep winning, simply put. I've never wavered that if they won out after Virginia Tech they would make the playoffs, although I did not think they would do that. I now think they "might" be able to do that, but it's not a guarantee.


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