MSU-OSU grades: Spartans win in the trenches
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Michigan State’s 17-14 win over Ohio State on Saturday:
Michigan State Spartans
– It wasn’t pretty by any means for the duo of Tyler O’Connor (+0.2) and Damion Terry (-2.5). The play calling was ultra conservative, and with good reason; both looked completely out of their depth trying to push the ball downfield.
– Hats off to the Michigan State offensive line for collecting this W. They were facing one of the top defensive fronts in the country and put on a clinic. The most impressive thing to me was how they avoided negative runs so well. They ran a very diverse mix of zone and gap schemes that really confused the Ohio State linebackers, and had them on their heels the whole game. The left side of Jack Conklin (+2.5 run blocking) and Brian Allen (+2.6 run blocking) were the most formidable of the bunch.
– Not enough can be said for the job that the Michigan State linebackers did on Saturday. Their play recognition as a whole was top notch, and they completely outperformed their more highly-touted Buckeye counterparts. Jon Reschke (+4.5), in particular, played almost the entire game at or on the Ohio State side of the line of scrimmage. They were clearly going to make J.T. Barrett (-2.9) beat them with his arm, and the results speak for themselves.
MLB Jon Reschke (+4.5)
LT Jack Conklin (+3.8)
C Jack Allen (+3.2)
S Montae Nicholson (+2.5)
LB Riley Bullough (+1.8)
LB Darien Harris (+1.8)
Ohio State Buckeyes
– J.T. Barrett (-2.9) had every opportunity to make a name for himself on Saturday—and completely crumbled under the pressure. His biggest issue that we kept talking about heading into the game—downfield passing—was the difference in this one. Barrett completed one pass targeted 10+ yards down the field, and his overthrown post route to Braxton Miller late in the second quarter was an enormous missed opportunity. All Barrett had to do was put it in the vicinity, and it was a cake-walk touchdown, but he didn’t come close.
– The Spartans did their best to neutralize the Ohio State pass rush with roll outs and play action, and it worked to perfection. Joey Bosa (-1.2) was held to only four pressures and multiple offsides penalties, and no other defender had more than two total pressures. They were supposed to have a sizable advantage of a Michigan State offensive line that had struggled at times this season, but it didn’t play out like that.
— Maybe the most disappointing of all the poor performances from the Buckeyes was the play of the offensive line. It was the line that carried them to a championship last year, dominating much better fronts than the Spartans’ along the way. On Saturday, though, their push was lackluster at best. I could count the amount of truly dominant blocks on one hand and that’s not usually a good thing in college. Left guard Billy Price (-2.2) was the worst offender, but even their supposed star left tackle Taylor Decker (-0.3) underperformed.
DT Adolphus Washington (+2.7)
RT Chase Farris (+2.2)
CB Gareon Conley (+1.8)
DE Tyquan Lewis (+1.0)
S Tyvis Powell (+0.9)