Traveling to East Lansing, Michigan, facing a team that has given it trouble in the past, No. 10 Ohio State got through its November game against No. 18 Michigan State, defeating the Spartans 26-6 on Saturday.
Here are three things Ohio State can take from this game into its next matchup against Maryland on Nov. 17.
Defensive line steps up
After the Buckeyes’ win against Michigan State, junior defensive end Jonathon Cooper said every game against the Spartans, no matter the rank of the teams involved, is two things: tough and physical.
The Spartans came in with a reputation to uphold, carrying the No. 1 rush defense in the country. But the Ohio State rush defense showed what it could do.
The Buckeyes allowed 54 yards on 18 carries, with opposing backs averaging three yards per carry.
But the majority of those rushing yards came on one single play. Michigan State redshirt freshman quarterback Rocky Lombardi recorded one 47-yard rush in the third quarter. Other than that, the Buckeye defensive front was stifling, allowing seven yards on 17 carries, including one yard for sophomore running back and leading rusher Connor Heyward.
Ohio State also provided a consistent pressure in the backfield, getting both to Lombardi and redshirt junior quarterback Brian Lewerke in the backfield. Despite only recording two tackles for loss and no sacks, the Ohio State defensive line recorded six quarterback hits, including three by sophomore defensive end Chase Young. These quarterback rushes led to rushed throws by both quarterbacks, creating turnovers, including an interception by redshirt freshman safety Shaun Wade.
Haskins continues to struggle
Playing in the middle of mid-20s weather with consistent wind, redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins feels like he did relatively well, other than a deep threat to redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
“The deep ball I had to Terry, I let that one go,” Haskins said. “I probably should have taken a little bit off of that one, but otherwise than that, I was pretty accurate all day.”
Haskins was accurate in terms of a normal quarterback. However, with the numbers he has put up this season, it still was a bit of a down game for the redshirt sophomore.
Completing 68.3 percent of his passes this season, Haskins completed 61.5 percent of his throws on Saturday, the third-lowest percentage in a game for him this season. He also recorded the fewest passing yards in a single game this season, throwing for 227 yards, with his longest going for 25 yards.
Haskins’ only touchdown pass against Michigan State was on a 1-yard shovel pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Parris Campbell for the first score of the game.
Yes, Haskins missed redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon twice because of drops, but the quarterback did not show that same electricity he has brought to games in the past. People can blame the weather, can blame the play-calling with the focus on the running game, especially after finding success with it last week against Nebraska.
However, despite what Haskins said postgame, his stats show another down game for the quarterback.
Ohio State secondary continues familiar narrative
This might sound familiar. One Michigan State wide receiver, sophomore Cody White, brought in eight of his 14 targets for a season high 115 yards, the second highest total of his career. White led the team in targets, recording five more than the second-most.
The Spartans focused on one receiver, in a similar way to what Purdue did with freshman Rondale Moore or Nebraska did split between senior Stanley Morgan Jr. and sophomore JD Spielman.
The Ohio State secondary did find success against both Lewerke and Lombardi, allowing 37.5 percent of their passes to be complete, with the help of a consistently rushing defensive line.
The secondary broke up seven passes as a team on Saturday. Junior linebacker Malik Harrison and sophomore cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, who returned from injury on Saturday, recorded two. Redshirt junior cornerback Damon Arnette also recorded one on a nice one-on-one coverage play in the first quarter.
But the narrative continues. An opposing quarterback finds a favorite receiver to target against Ohio State with the Buckeyes’ secondary having trouble stopping him.