Game Data: Ohio State at Michigan State

We take a look at the pertinent game data, depth charts, more notables and one man's predictions for Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan State game in East Lansing (noon, ESPN).

Game Data

* Date, Time: Sat., Nov. 6; noon (Eastern)

* Location: Spartan Stadium

* TV: ESPN; Announcers: Mark Jones, Bob Davie, Holly Rowe.

* 2004 Records, Rankings: Ohio State, 5-3 overall, 2-3 Big Ten, unranked; Michigan State, 4-4 overall, 3-2 Big Ten, unranked.

* Coaches: Ohio State, Jim Tressel (fourth year at OSU, 37-10; 19th year overall, 172-67-2; vs. Michigan State, 1-0); Michigan State, John L. Smith (second year at MSU, 12-9; 16th year overall, 122-69; vs. Ohio State, 0-1).

* Series History: Ohio State leads 22-12, including 10-5 in East Lansing. (OSU won 33-23 in Columbus last year.).

* Michigan State Schedule: Sept. 4, at Rutgers, L 19-14; Sept. 11, Central Michigan, W 24-7; Sept. 18, Notre Dame, L 31-24; Sept. 25, at Indiana, W 30-20; Oct. 2, at Iowa, L 38-16; Oct. 9, Illinois, W 38-25; Oct. 16, Minnesota, W 51-17; Oct. 30, at Michigan, L 45-37 (3 OT); Nov. 6, Ohio State; Nov. 13, Wisconsin; Nov. 20, at Penn State; Dec. 4, at Hawaii.

* Michigan State Key Players: QB Damon Dowdell (30 of 52 passing, 342 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), RB DeAndra Cobb (63 carries, 472 yards, 3 TDs), RB Jason Teague (97 carries, 422 yards, 4 TDs), WR Matt Trannon (26 catches, 305 yards, 1 TD), FL Jerramy Scott (26 catches, 274 yards, 1 TD), MLB Ronald Stanley (82 tackles, 7 TFLs), SS Eric Smith (76 tackles), FS Jason Harmon (76 tackles, 3 INTs).

* Michigan State Fast Facts: Location: East Lansing, Mich.; Enrollment, 44,542; Nickname, Spartans; Colors, Green and White; Stadium, Spartan Stadium (surface, grass; capacity, 72,027).

Depth Charts

Ohio State Offense

SE 8 Roy Hall, 6-3, 228. So.

18 Devon Lyons, 6-4, 214, Fr.

LT 77 Rob Sims, 6-4, 310, Jr.

71 Steve Rehring, 6-8, 315, Fr.

LG 50 Doug Datish, 6-5, 295, So.

59 John Conroy, 6-3, 295, Jr.

C 55 Nick Mangold, 6-4, 290, Jr.

73 Steve Winner, 6-6, 290, Jr.

RG 52 Mike Kne, 6-4, 303, Sr.

72 T.J. Downing, 6-5, 305, So.

RT 74 Kirk Barton, 6-6, 305, Fr.

68 Tim Schafer, 6-5, 290, So.

TE 80 Ryan Hamby, 6-5, 250, Jr.

81 R.J. Coleman, 6-5, 295, So.

FL 4 Santonio Holmes, 5-11, 185, So.

7 Ted Ginn Jr., 6-0, 170, Fr.

QB 10 Troy Smith, 6-1, 215, So.

12 Justin Zwick, 6-4, 225, So.

17 Todd Boeckman, 6-5, 235, Fr.

TB 28 Maurice Hall, 5-10, 205, Sr.

25 Antonio Pittman, 5-11, 190, Fr.

FB 43 Brandon Schnittker, 6-2, 250, Jr.

49 Dionte Johnson, 6-0, 220, Fr.

K 85 Mike Nugent, 5-10, 180, Sr.

23 Josh Huston, 6-1, 195, Sr.

Ohio State Defense

DE 75 Simon Fraser, 6-6, 280, Sr.

99 Jay Richardson, 6-6, 270, So.

DT 94 Marcus Green, 6-3, 290, Jr.

97 David Patterson, 6-3, 285, So.

DT 90 Quinn Pitcock, 6-3, 295, So.

98 Joel Penton, 6-5, 275, So.

DE 57 Mike Kudla, 6-3, 265, Jr.

50 Vernon Gholston, 6-4, 250, Fr.

SLB 42 Bobby Carpenter, 6-3, 255, Jr.

17 Marcus Freeman, 6-2, 230, Fr.

MLB 51 Anthony Schlegel, 6-2, 245, Jr.

46 Chad Hoobler, 6-3, 215, Fr.

WLB 47 A.J. Hawk, 6-1, 238, Jr.

1 Thomas Matthews, 6-2, 220, Sr.

CB 26 Ashton Youboty, 6-1, 188, So.

13 Harlen Jacobs, 6-1, 197, Sr.

FS 21 Nate Salley, 6-3, 215, Jr.

32 Brandon Mitchell, 6-3, 205, So.

SS 9 Donte Whitner, 5-11, 200, So.

6 Tyler Everett, 5-11, 196, Jr.

CB 37 Dustin Fox, 6-0, 190, Sr.

29 E.J. Underwood, 6-1, 175, Jr.

P 86 Kyle Turano, 6-0, 205, Sr.

23 Josh Huston, 6-1, 195, Sr.

LS 60 Kyle Andrews, 5-11, 245, Sr.

68 Drew Norman, 6-0, 230, So.

Michigan State Offense

WR 6 Matt Trannon, 6-6, 217, Jr.

18 Terry Love, 5-11, 174, Fr.

LT 72 Stefon Wheeler, 6-5, 330, Jr.

71 Gordon Niebylski, 6-3, 308, Jr.

LG 74 Kyle Cook, 6-3, 303, So.

77 Daniel Zynn, 6-2, 305, So.

C 51 Chris Morris, 6-4, 298, Jr.

54 John Masters, 6-4, 274, Fr.

RG 76 William Whitticker, 6-5, 329, Sr.

75 Pete Clifford, 6-7, 295, Fr.

RT 79 Sean Poole, 6-7, 290, Sr.

66 Mike Gyetvai, 6-7, 298, Fr.

TE 81 Jason Randall, 6-5, 269, Sr.

4 Eric Knott, 6-3, 249, Sr.

QB 7 Damon Dowdell, 6-1, 222, Sr.

9 Stephen Reaves, 6-1, 206, Fr.

FL 32 Jerramy Scott, 5-10, 188, So.

2 Agim Shabaj, 5-10, 195, Jr.

WR 3 Kyle Brown, 6-1, 208, Jr.

10 Aaron Alexander, 6-5, 209, Jr.

TB 20 Jason Teague, 5-9, 193, Jr.

21 DeAndra Cobb, 5-10, 197, Sr.

K 16 Dave Rayner, 6-2, 209, Sr.

Michigan State Defense

DE 59 Clifford Dukes, 6-3, 258, Sr.

40 Michael Blazemore, 6-3, 256, Jr.

DT 91 Kevin Vickerson, 6-4, 295, Sr.

96 Domata Peko, 6-2, 297, Jr.

NG 99 Brandon McKinney, 6-3, 320, Jr.

70 Joe Toth, 6-2, 281, Fr.

DE 92 Clifton Ryan, 6-2, 288, So.

93 Nick Smith, 6-6, 280, Fr.

MLB 44 Ronald Stanley, 6-0, 234, Sr.

52 Eric Andino, 6-4, 230, Fr.

WLB 41 David Herron, 6-1, 251, So.

43 Kaleb Thornhill, 6-1, 232, Fr.

BLB 34 Tyrell Dortch, 5-10, 208, Sr.

27 Sir Darean Adams, 6-0, 223, Fr.

SS 36 Eric Smith, 6-1, 193, Jr.

38 Cole Corey, 5-10, 190, Fr.

CB 31 Jaren Hayes, 5-9, 186, Jr.

12 Ashton Watson, 5-11, 180, Jr.

FS 25 Jason Harmon, 5-11, 202, Sr.

29 Greg Cooper, 5-11, 184, So.

CB 17 Roderick Maples, 5-10, 190, Sr.

39 Miles Williams, 6-1, 191, Fr.

P 8 Brandon Fields, 6-6, 234, So.

Also Notable

* This will be OSU's first trip to East Lansing since 1999, when the Spartans rolled 23-7. That was part of OSU's 6-6 season, the last time the Buckeyes missed postseason play.

Prior to that loss, OSU had won its three previous visits to East Lansing dating to a 20-10 loss in 1988.

* Last year, OSU won 33-23 in Columbus. Craig Krenzel threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns, Lydell Ross rushed for 125 yards and Mike Nugent kicked four field goals for the Buckeyes. MSU quarterback Jeff Smoker was 35 of 55 passing for 351 yards and three touchdowns, but the Spartans netted just 5 yards rushing.

* Michigan State dealt OSU two of its biggest upsets in its history. OSU was ranked No. 1 nationally in 1998, when MSU came into Ohio Stadium and shocked the Buckeyes 28-24. The other big upset occurred in 1974, when the Spartans gave OSU its only regular season loss 16-13 in East Lansing. The game was shrouded in controversy over the final play, where OSU appeared to score the winning touchdown. It took the officials – in conference with Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke -- 45 minutes to sort through it and declare MSU the winner.

* MSU's John L. Smith is well acquainted with OSU's Jim Tressel. They were on opposite sides in the 1993 Division I-AA playoffs, where Tressel's YSU team defeated Smith's Idaho squad 35-16. Tressel's Penquins went on to win the national championship that year.

Breaking It Down

* When Ohio State Has The Ball: For the sixth or seventh game in a row, you may want to avert your eyes. Actually, things may lighten up for the OSU offense this week. For starters, Troy Smith should be settling into a groove at quarterback, even if his eight pass attempts last week were about 15 or 20 too few.

The Buckeyes may be getting healthy at the right time. Branden Joe is showing he can get tough yardage when need be and the three-headed monster at tailback (Maurice Hall, Antonio Pittman and the reinstated Lydell Ross) should pay some dividends against MSU's run defense, ranked ninth in the Big Ten at 171.4 yards allowed per game.

Smith will then be on the hook to convert some key third downs, as he did with a nifty throw and run in the latter stages of last week's game against Penn State. MSU gave up 496 yards in the triple overtime loss at Michigan. Can Ohio State even exceed its season average of 294.5 (last in the Big Ten)? Hmmm.

* When Michigan State Has The Ball: Well, quarterback Drew Stanton has been the guy that made the MSU offense hum. He suffered a separated shoulder against Michigan and will not play this week. Former starter Damon Dowdell steps into the opening. He was 8 of 13 passing for 72 yards and also rushed for 32 yards at UM. Moreover, MSU scored 20 of its 37 points with Dowdell on the field, so while he is not as highly regarded as Stanton he can still help them move the chains.

MSU's offense is ranked second in the Big Ten at 453.2 yards per game and second in rushing (232.2). OSU must find a way to get impressive runners DeAndra Cobb (205 yards, two long TDs against Michigan) and Jason Teague (57 yards, one TD last week) stopped. Stanton had 80 yards rushing before he went out, but MSU still ended up with a whopping 368 rushing yards last week. Ouch. Five of OSU's eight opponents have rushed for 150 or more yards, so the Spartans will not be fearing OSU's once vaunted run defense.

The key for Ohio State – in addition to the obvious in stopping the run – will be to make Dowdell make mistakes in the passing game. OSU is beginning to develop a consistent pass rush between play from the front four and well timed blitzes by the linebackers, Anthony Schlegel in particular. OSU must make Dowdell try and beat them through the air. The problem is he will be throwing to a collection of pretty good receivers, most notably Matt Trannon and athletic tight end Eric Knott. The LBs have not looked good in coverage all year, something Knott could expose here.

* How It Will Go: What trend do you want to believe? OSU is 10-2 all-time in November under Tressel with losses to Big Ten champions Illinois in 2001 and Michigan last year. But the Buckeyes have also lost their last three Big Ten road games (Michigan last year and Northwestern and Iowa this year).

You would say that Michigan State would be down in the dumps after its heartbreaking loss at Michigan. The Spartans held a 17-point lead with seven minutes left before going in the tank. But the truth is Smith is a master motivator. He'll bring his young team back from those depths. After all, MSU needs three wins in its last four games to get to 7-5 and qualify for postseason play. With a game against Big Ten leading Wisconsin next week, you know MSU is viewing this as a must-have game.

But the Buckeyes have some momentum with two straight wins, impressive or not impressive over bottom feeders Indiana and Penn State. OSU also needs one more win to punch its postseason ticket. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Buckeyes are going to get that win this weekend. For starters, I think Smith should be more comfortable under center than Dowdell. Whoever makes the fewer mistakes at that position should help his team to the win. MSU may try to negate OSU's special teams advantages in the return game, but it's hard to stop a guy who is in the zone like Ted Ginn Jr. is right now. It would be foolish to bank on another touchdown return, but Ginn and the special teams can at least help shorten the field for Smith and the offense.

I may be flying contrary to the trend that road teams may as well be road kill in the Big Ten this year. But I've got it: Ohio State 27-25

-- Steve Helwagen


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