Ohio State-Michigan State grades: No passing games to speak of in Buckeye win

The highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from Ohio State's win over Michigan State.

| 3 weeks ago
(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Ohio State-Michigan State grades: No passing games to speak of in Buckeye win


Ohio State Buckeyes 17, Michigan State Spartans 16

Here are the top takeaways for Ohio State’s 17-16 win over Michigan State.

Ohio State

Quarterback grade: J.T. Barrett, 69.6

Barrett struggles throwing the ball, moves the ball on the ground

It was another classic game in this the “Year of the Running Quarterback” as Barrett posted a 55.9 passing grade but made up for it with a 92.6 effort on the ground. He was clearly affected by the wind, with passes floating all over the place and one throw that was dangerously close to a disastrous turnover, but the Buckeyes relied on him heavily to make good decisions in their run/pass option game and he came through with 122 yards on 20 carries. Even on a day where he finished 10-for-22 for 86 yards, Barrett showed that he can still provide enough value in the run game to keep Ohio State in games.

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Top offensive grades

C Pat Elflein, 79.3
RG Billy Price, 78.5
LT Jamarco Jones, 74.5
OT Michael Jordan, 69.8
QB J.T. Barrett, 69.6

Offensive line paves the way for strong running game

With little passing game to speak of, this game was all about the offensive line’s work in the run game. Center Pat Elflein created good movement – though he did get slapped with three penalties – while RB Billy Price rarely lost any of his run blocks. True freshman Michael Jordan shed no tears this week with one of his best run-blocking efforts of his young career. Running back Mike Weber was the beneficiary, rushing for 124 yards on 14 carries, including eight missed tackles forced, though he did have a fumble that dragged down the overall grade. 81 of his 124 yards came before contact, further proof that the offensive line had a strong game.

Top defensive grades

CB Chris Worley, 82.0
LB Raekwon McMillan, 81.4
CB Denzel Ward, 80.3
ED Sam Hubbard, 80.3
ED Nick Bosa, 79.9

Defense allows little through the air

After allowing a 64-yard touchdown on a screen pass on the second play of the game, Ohio State’s passing defense only allowed 63 yards on Michigan State’s next 20 attempts (3.2 yards/attempt). Slot corner Chris Worley had a big interception on one of his two targets while CBs Denzel Ward, Damon Webb, and Gareon Conley combined to allow three catches on 12 targets including two pass breakups and an interception. The Buckeyes’ pass rush also showed up with defensive ends Tyquan Lewis finished with four pressures, including a strip sack that nearly sealed the game, and DE Jalyn Holmes finished with four pressures of his own. After the slow start, it was a strong effort from the Ohio State defense.

Michigan State

Quarterback grade: Tyler O’Connor, 42.7

O’Connor struggled mightily passing the ball as he completed only 2-of-11 passes on throws beyond the line of scrimmage. He had four completions and 84 yards on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, but Michigan State had zero pass game to speak of if screen are eliminated. The wind was a factor, but there’s not much to say beyond that as O’Connor was inaccurate all afternoon and his two interceptions were underthrown while also doubling as bad decisions.

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Top offensive grades

RB L.J. Scott, 84.7
WR Donnie Corley, 69.3
LG Brian Allen, 63.8
WR Monty Madaris, 52.1
WR R.J. Shelton, 51.2

Scott the lone bright spot on offense

RB L.J. Scott did his part with 160 yards on 19 carries and another 76 yards on his two catches. He used his speed to get to the edge of the Ohio State defense to create big plays, often outside of the flow of the running scheme. Many of his big plays came due to mishaps on defense for Ohio State rather than great run-blocking up front as few offensive linemen graded well for the Spartans. LG Brian Allen had the top grade among the front five while WR Donnie Corley caught his two targets for 23 yards on a day to forget for the Michigan State offense.

Top defensive grades

ED Dillon Alexander, 76.4
DI Raequan Williams, 74.8
CB Darian Hicks, 70.4
CB Justin Layne, 69.0
ED Demetrius Cooper, 66.7

Defense keeps game close but loses battle in the trenches

While it may seem like a strong defensive effort given the scoreboard, Michigan State was moved at the line of scrimmage and they finished with 12 missed tackles on only 55 opportunities. Dillon Alexander made a couple of nice plays in the run game while DI Raequan Williams had a QB hit, two hurries and two batted passes to lead the pass rush. Beyond that, Ohio State rushed for 259 yards on 38 carries (6.8 yards/attempt) as they generally had their way with the Spartans up front.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Ohio State CB Chris Worley

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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