As the temperatures drop, the games get more heated… and nowhere saw this more true than in the Midwest, where three games with title implications found themselves coming down to the final seconds.
You read that right. The midwest- “flyover country” and “battleground states”. We’ll get to the events in Louisiana and Los Angeles in a bit, but there was a 25 minute period on Saturday that saw the eyes of college football fans tuned to the states of Indiana and Michigan.
First, the Battle in the B1G Legends Division saw either a “Sparty NO!!” moment or the referees stealing yet another game from Dantonio’s team, depending on your perspective and your proximity to LeVeon Bell. Nebraska managed a last second touchdown after two huge mental errors/penalties against the Spartans- first, Taylor Martinez was intercepted on the two yard line as the Huskers were threatening to score; the INT was taken back for an apparent score, but a personal foul well away from the play ended up costing MSU the score (they would get no points from the turnover). As Nebraska mounted a late drive for what would prove to be the go ahead score, a pass into the endzone was called Spartan interference,allowing Martinez to throw the game winner on the next play.
Not only did the win keep the Huskers in the drivers seat for their trip to Indy, but it also helped keep Michigan one game behind for that same opportunity- in spite of their “Denardless” win against Minnesota. Devan Gardner was more than adequate to beat the Gophers and maintain the Little Brown Jug for another year- as someone commented, Michigan’s QB turned WR turned QB outperformed Minnesota’s QB turned WR turned QB turned WR. Here’s hoping that TTUN’s RB masquerading as a QB doesn’t have any permanent damage to the nerves in his puntin’ arm.
After the Nebraska win, most of us clicked over to the Leaders’ game of the week, where we watched Indiana continue their storybook season… if you like storybooks where the protagonist essentially backs into something amazing out of default. In spite of James’ Vandenberg’s mom’s son having a pretty decent day, B1G coach of the year Kirk Ferentz’ team fell just short after holding a 14-10 lead at the break. IU punted back to Iowa with 18 seconds left on the clock, but the last Hawkeyes plays were not able to get the job done, given that the “interesting” B1G refs were in East Lansing this week. And so, should the Hoosiers beat Wisconsin this week (in what’s sure to be a trap game), they are headed to Indianapolis for a chance to play for all the Roses.
At this point, most of America was looking to kill time before the Alabama/LSU game kicked off, only to have their friends text them that the Pitt/Notre Dame game was headed to overtime. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Panthers held a 20-6 lead; when that scrolled across the ticker, I commented to my wife that Notre Dame would win, since the game was being played in South Bend. The Irish scored 17 points in the final period, and we headed to overtime.
After exchanging field goals, Notre Dame’s Cierre Wood fumbled on his way into the end zone and Pitt recovered. And, this time the officials made the right call and gave Pitt the ball. The Panthers chose to run three straight plays to set up the field goal, but on third down chose not to center the ball on the field of play. You can guess what happened next- the field go was wide right; kicked from the right hash, it never wavered from it’s initial trajectory. It was, unless you’re Brian Kelly, an exciting moment.
Ah, but we can’t have “the luck of the Irish” without a little controversy; this one emerging after the fact. On the missed field goal, Notre Dame had two players on the field with the same number, which should have resulted in Pitt having an automatic first down. It’s not as if the officials might have seen this before, or that Notre Dame might have been aware that they should address this issue… nonetheless, a Pitt Field Goal led to a Notre Dame touchdown and the undefeated season continued.
There are a lot of folks who are comparing this year’s Irish season to the 2002 Ohio State champions… good enough offense, but an outstanding defense and a little luck from a resurgent program. Here’s the problem with that analogy… it doesn’t take into account the obnoxiousness that Irish fans bring due to their perceived “special” place in the “annals of college football history”. For a point of reference, this week’s offering by MSPaint maestro ThuJone might help clarify the issue just a bit… warning, most of his stuff is hilariously not safe for work. Read More
I think the answer is quite simply “yes, yes we were”.
Ring the Bell.He wasn’t necessarily worn out, but he was reduced to what will possibly be the least number of yards he’ll gain all year – 17 carries for 45 yards. The Silver Bullets definitely locked down and eliminated him as a viable part of MSU’s gameplan.
Speed it up. They sure did on the first drive. The rest of the game was played a bit slower, probably due to Michigan State’s defense blitzing and disguising what they were doing.
3rd down. Yea, not so much yet. They figured it out at the end of the game, but there’s a reason the recap say “Don’t talk to me about Third and Long”.
XBrax360. Braxton Miller did his thing, but he didn’t take care of the football particularly well. That’s something he needs to work on.
College Gameday. You got your wish, the Buckeyes are now 20-10 when College Gameday visits. (Though, that makes them .667, not .500, just sayin’.)
Under 80. Is 45 yards less than 80? Oh it is? Well then, wish granted!
Hall and Hyde. We saw it early, but unfortunately Hall tweaked his knee. Hopefully we’ll see him back again soon.
Wrap Up. For all but one play, the Buckeye defense did a great job wrapping up. That one play went 29 yards for a touchdown though, so I’m still not happy.
This week THE Buckeyes will take on the other team from up North. For this week’s Across the Web we look to our friends at www.enlightenedspartan.com, who also joined us for last year’s chat. ES took some time from his busy schedule to answer our questions on Sparty.
1. Are MSU Fans excited about William Gholston’s play, or is it more of a “man, I hope he doesn’t kill us with a stupid penalty”?
ES: Gholston is the Spartans’ version of Dirty Harry… he is mean, and with a penchant for taking no prisoners ‘cause he’s THE MAN – but while kicking butt, he’s not thinking about the impact of his actions outside of his own skin. So, we’ll take his two steps forward, knowing we’ll take one step back.
2. What are the odds that MSU drops Notre Dame, following their move to the ACC? Bigger rival- the Irish or the Wolverines?
ES: Part 1, ND: Nil. As expected, the Catholics dropped the Wolvies, because scUM is a far more disinteresting matchup. The Spartans have a much longer history, and more wins in the series, and we’re on the docket for… forever.
Part 2, Rival: Our bigger rival is the Rodents, and that’s tied into our relationship in the Big Ten… speaking of which, the Roadkill was the only Big Ten school to vote against Michigan State joining the conference back in 1949, and we’ve hated that scUM ever since. The ES is permanently irked at having to watch both scUM and the Goddam Catholics get support annually from millions of Trailer Trash who love them yet never even attended college. Read More
On Saturday, Ohio State will do something it has not done yet in the 2012 season–play a game away from Ohio Stadium.
The No. 14 Buckeyes will travel to East Lansing for a date with the No. 20 Michigan State Spartans and if OSU plays like it has in its previous three games, the Buckeyes will be coming back to Columbus with a 4-1 record.
Before the season, when most looked at this game on the schedule, it was more than likely viewed as a defensive struggle. But, the Buckeyes find themselves in unfamiliar territory this season as they rank dead last in the Big Ten in total defense–allowing 394.8 yards per game.
On the other hand, Michigan State’s defense allows just 233.5 yards and 11.8 points per game–both good for No. 1 in the conference. Sparty also has the No. 1 rushing defense in the conference (69.2 ypg).
OSU averages 229.2 yards per game on the ground, so something must give.
If the Buckeyes want a win on Saturday, they must do it with their defense.
Basically, this means 11 sets of eyes must be on Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell at all times. Bell, the conference’s leading rusher at 152.5 ypg, is a workhorse runner who is often called upon to carry the team.
Those missed tackles we have been seeing by Ohio State cannot happen on Saturday. Not if the Buckeyes want to win. They must hit Bell early and gang tackle him. But they simply cannot miss tackles.
Bell will no doubt have some added motivation, too. A native of Columbus, Bell wasn’t heavily recruited by Ohio State as the Buckeyes landed running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith in the same class. And it is never a good thing when the conference’s best back has any extra motivation.
Last year, the Buckeyes were almost shut out at home by the Spartans. An Evan Spencer touchdown with ten seconds left saved that embarrassment for the Buckeyes, but OSU still fell 10-7.
Under Urban Meyer, though, expect the Buckeyes to put up more than seven points. It’s limiting the Spartans to just ten that will be the main concern.
We know Michigan State’s defense will show up on Saturday. Will Ohio State’s?
If it does not, the Buckeyes will be in for a long trip back to Columbus and Meyer will have experienced his first loss as Ohio State’s head coach.
Well, by this point, I’m pretty certain things like 406 punting yards are pretty entertaining. But that’s only because we all know that at this point laughter is all that is left.
Let’s see how the crew did.
Return Of The Burn. Jake Stoneburner did catch two passes for 8 yards. We even tried to go for him in short yardage routes!
Hungry Hankins. He scooped up a fumble that he may have consumed. Does that count as hungry enough? In fact, the defense as a whole was very impressive, particularly up front. The Buckeyes D-Line completely devastated the MSU running game, leaving them with only 71 total yards.
Defensive Score. And we still don’t have one, though the defense did prevent a couple of scores with their turnovers. There were also two near pick-sixes, but near pick-sixes don’t put points on the board.
Special Teams Savvy. Special Teams was fairly pedestrian today, though Jordan Hall did have a couple of exciting returns to give us decent field position. Not that the offense could do anything with it, of course.
Need I Say More?. Shugarts, as usual, led us off with the false start party. He was, however, not the only one today.
Michael at OHD joins Eric for this postgame show to talk about the 10-7 Tresselball defeat of the Buckeyes by Michigan State. They talk about the issues with both offenses, but most especially Ohio State’s, and the impressive defensive display by the Buckeyes. They also address some of the other issues, including the longevity of Luke Fickell and the rest of the coaching staff, and how much Tressel must have loved the punting stats.
All this and more on this week’s Postgame Show.
The Spartans of Michigan State showed up in Columbus today to tangle with the Buckeyes for the first time since 2008. This game turned out very differently than the previous one as the Spartans took advantage of the pathetic Ohio State offense on the way to an ugly 10-7 win. Neither team was competent in the offensive game at all, but Michigan State’s competence was enough to actually get them on the scoreboard. The OSU defense continued to grow and succeed, even managing to force two turnovers during the game, but their effort was largely wasted because of the offense. For the game, Jordan Hall picked up 91 all-purpose yards as the best offensive presence for the OSU offense on the day.
The Buckeyes began the game with the ball down a couple of men. Corey “Philly” Brown, who was injured several weeks ago against Toledo, continued to sit through this one with his sore ankle. Also, Nathan Williams remained out with his deep bone bruise with no indication of when he might be available to return. Thankfully, though, Jaamal Berry dressed and prepared for this game despite his issues earlier in the week.
The Buckeyes struggled to move the ball in their first drive much like last week. Jordan Hall found little running room against the tough MSU defense, and Jake Stoneburner was unable to gain more than a couple yards on third and seven. On the plus side, though, Stoneburner did catch a short pass early in the game, which is a promising sign considering what we’ve seen the last few saturdays.
Eric and Jim get together to discuss the upcoming game between Ohio State and Michigan State, and reminisce about the Colorado game. They talk about the development of quarterback Braxton Miller, and the superb play of Jordan Hall in all phases of the game. They also mention the ever important Nate Ebner missile and what he means to the kick coverage. Finally, they spend plenty of time talking about Michigan State and their excellent quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
Joining Eric this week for the opponent’s interview is Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal, the local newspaper for the state capital of Michigan. They talk plenty of MSU football, including the issues for the MSU offensive line.
All this and more on this week’s radio hour!
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