The Ted Nugent Show was unbelievable in first quarter action Saturday afternoon. Between Ted Ginn Jr.'s reverse and punt return and Mike Nugent's 52-yard field goal and four kickoffs into the endzone, it appeared we were going to have the game "run-ruled" by halftime. As it turned out, Michigan State climbed back into it, but the Buckeyes responded when they had to.
The Buckeyes won on the road. The Buckeyes won a game decided in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes got a late first down when they had to. The Buckeyes came up with a big turnover when they had to. The Buckeyes are bowl eligible, which puts me in new spirits from a few weeks ago.
We certainly weren't flawless on third downs, but neither was MSU. I have said it before and I will say it again, you need to get revved up for those "Money Downs." Scholarships are earned on third downs. For instance, MSU's first scoring drive was made possible by third & 6, third & 4, and third and 7 conversions. Turnovers and offensive and defensive third down success often dictate the outcome. You have to convert and you have to keep the opponent from converting. Thank goodness we stepped up on third downs defensively and held Rayner to four field goals and an extra point instead of five extra points.
Speaking of Rayner, have two better kickers taken the field on even a Sunday afternoon this year? Wow! Don't try that at home kids. It is not as easy as they made it look.
Indiana was something to build on. Penn State was something to build on. The same is true for our trip to East Lansing. I think the defense played with more emotion, especially on third downs. The defense made plays and held a very good MSU offense to one touchdown. Offensively, we found a new superstar in Ginn (before Ginn was only classified as a "weapon"). The beauty of Ginn's play is how it affects his teammates. Smith and Holmes and Ross and Hall and others will start saying, "I want to do some of that." It is exciting to the fans, but it also exciting to the team. It elevates everyone's play. Big plays are contagious.
The confidence in Smith grew. We had 21 pass attempts, but we had far more pass plays called only to see Smith tuck it or get sacked. It would be REAL nice to get Pittman back in the lineup. Hopefully, his injury or tardiness or whatever is keeping him off the field improves. We need his pop the next two weeks. The big plays on offense were great to see. While we would like to see more, it still gives us a taste. We've all called for the coaches to open up the offense more. Maybe it is the players that need to open up the offense more? Make plays.
Ted Ginn, Jr. - It is not that he looks so fast out there, it is that everyone else just looks so slow. I love watching that long-striding speed. I love the way he runs upfield instead of starting and stopping while he travels east and west. He was scholarshipped to run, not dance.
A.J. Hawk - I admit I lack creativity with the Buckeye Leaves sometimes, but the football gods would punish me if A.J. didn't get one. He gets one even without the late interception although that pick was special. OSU or Centerville coaches can't take credit for that one. That was just backyard football instincts.
Ashton Youboty - Great tackling.
Troy Smith - How does that game turn out if we have a few interceptions?