We have a lot to discuss. No sense in wasting time with a long introduction, let’s get right down to it. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
Big Ten Championship game
I’m sitting here putting this together and still can’t belive the Buckeyes lost and the way in which it happened. I knew the Spartan defense was good, I just didn’t realize how physical they were. I knew the Silver Bullet defense was much maligned, essentially, all season but they’ve held on long enough to claim wins. Maybe the biggest shocker was that I didn’t think the Spartan offense was good enough to wear them out the Buckeye defense like they did.
Charles Davis pointed out in the late stages of the third quarter that the Buckeye defense, most notably the front four, were giving away all the tell-tale signs of a team getting gassed and worn out. I tried to deny it and hope Davis was wrong, but by the middle portions of the fourth quarter it was apparent that Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett were clearly running on fumes. As a result, Spartan quarterback Connor Cook suddenly had plenty of time to find his receivers and make solid throws.
Even when the Buckeyes brought a linebacker or defensive back on a blitz it was to no avail as the Spartans didn’t have to double team anyone up front and could dedicate a guard or tackle to taking on the blitzer. It was frustrating and discouraging. If there is a strength on the Buckeye defense it is the front four. They got beat on Saturday night. Read More
The Buckeyes and Spartans met in a head to head clash for the Big Ten Championship. In a battle that swung back and forth all night, the Spartans got the upper hand on the Buckeyes, securing the first B1G Championship for the Legends division with the 34-24 win. Braxton Miller was ok today against the stout Spartan defense, throwing 8/21 for 101 yards and a touchdown, while running 21 times for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns. Connor Cook was much more impressive, connecting on 24/40 passes for 304 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.
Carlos Hyde broke 100 yards again, carrying 18 times for 118 yards. Corey “Philly” Brown led the Buckeyes with 5 receptions for 53 yards. Jeremy Langford of MSU was the first back to carry for more than 100 yards against OSU, running 24 times for 124 yards and a touchdown. Keith Mumphery led the Spartans in receiving with 2 catches for 84 yards.
We got a chance to see the Spartan offense take the field first against the much maligned OSU defense. The Bucks did an excellent job of slowing down the MSU offense early, forcing a third and long on the very first possession. A poor play by Doran Grant kept the drive alive on an overthrown ball, and began to give MSU some confidence. On another third and long, Ryan Shazier made contact with Langford with the ball sailing over his head, again extending the drive. MSU wasn’t able to do much more than that, settling for a field goal deep in OSU territory.
Then it was time to see what the MSU defense could do against the high powered Buckeye offense. Carlos Hyde made himself known on the first play, pounding up the middle for seven yards. Unfortunately, a bad snap from the center on 3rd and 3 destablized the offense enough to throw off the timing of the play. Ohio State was forced to punt after a three and out that was obviously self-inflicted.
Michigan State took over again after the punt on their own twenty yard line. Things were beginning to start clicking for the boys in green. The blocking up front was beginning to open holes in the Buckeyes line that Langford could get a head start in. With Langford getting things going, it seemed like MSU was going to score again. A false start followed by a stuffed run on first down put MSU in a hole deep enough that they couldn’t quite dig themselves out of it.
We’ve got a double header coming up for Buckeye Nation!
First up are the OSU Shooty Hoopers, who are set to take on Central Connecticut at 4:30 PM Eastern Time on the Big Ten Network.
Following that game (and a quick dinner) the Buckeyes will face the Michigan State Spartans in the B1G Championship Game. That game is scheduled to kick at 8:17 PM on FOX.
Well we move on from THE game to the B1G game. Let’s see what our staff has in store for us this week:
And The Chase Continues…
The Buckeyes and Spartans faced off in a rubber match in the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament to decide who would face Wisconsin for the Championship. Ohio State pulled away at the end to win 61-58 after a hard fought battle for both teams. Aaron Craft led all scorers with 20 points, and was joined by DeShaun Thomas’s 16 in leading the Buckeyes. Michigan State responded with Derrick Nix (17), Keith Appling (16), and Adreian Payne (12) all scoring in double figures.
Despite starting their previous games sluggishly, both Michigan State and Ohio State came out attacking on defense in this one. Early on, it clearly favored the Spartans, as OSU struggled to find clean looks inside, and DeShaun Thomas couldn’t find his shot from the outside. Eventually, the Bucks began to open it up down low with some great play from Craft and Evan Ravenel. That freed up the shooters on the outside, including LaQuinton Ross continuing his shooting streak from yesterday. Unfortunately, neither team was able to really run away with this one in the first half, and Michigan State went into the locker room with a one point lead after an ill-advised Evan Ravenel final shot.
The back and forth affair continued well into the second half. However, after a first half with functionally no called fouls (OSU had 1 to MSU’s 4) the refs began to call a tighter game in the second. Virtually any contact was whistled, which completely changed the complexion of the game. Not that it was going to stop Aaron Craft from taking over the half on his own. His 17 points through the first 12 minutes of the half was instrumental in keeping the Buckeyes neck and neck with the Spartans. OSU was eventually able to open an 8 point lead late in the half, but it didn’t last long when MSU reset their defense and hit a second-chance trey to close the gap again.
It all came down the final seconds when Michigan State brought the game within one. A flagrant one call on Derrick Nix sent Aaron Craft to the line where he hit one of the two. On the ensuing possession, the Bucks found DeShaun Thomas who sank a critical 18 footer to give OSU the four point lead. MSU was unable to respond with more than a two pointer with only a second left to go.
OSU and MSU are meeting up for the rubber match in the B1G Tournament Semifinals today. This is also a rematch of sorts of last year’s B1G Tournament Championship game that ended up going MSU’s way – the only B1G tournament loss OSU has suffered since before the 2010 season.
Today’s game is scheduled for 4:10 PM EST on CBS. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
The Spartans and Buckeyes played yet another late season game for the ages. Despite not coming down to a last second shot, the Buckeyes still needed to hold on late to secure the 68-60 victory. Aaron Craft put down 21 points and 6 assists, DeShaun Thomas dropped 13 points and 6 rebounds, and Evan Ravenel added ten points of his own. Michigan State freshman Gary Harris led the way for the Spartans with 14 points and 5 rebounds, and was joined in double figures by Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix who both scored 12.
Not surprisingly, the first half was a fast paced affair for both squads. Despite Michigan State’s excellent shooting percentage for the half – just shy of 50% – they weren’t able to open a big lead on the Buckeyes due to turnovers and solid defensive play from the Scarlet and Gray. It all began to unravel at the end of the half, though, as Michigan State took advantage of sloppy decision making from the Bucks to open up a six point lead going into the lockers.
For a brief period, it looked like the Spartans were going to continue the streak from the end of the first half. A quick timeout from Matta allowed the Buckeyes to reset their defense and begin to chip away at the lead. That turned into an OSU lead on a Lenzelle Smith triple with 13 minutes left in the game. That was a part 24-8 run to give the Buckeyes a double digit lead. It was a lead the Buckeyes would not relinquish for the remainder of the game – though not for lack of trying on the Spartan’s part.
After the Minnesota game, we weren’t certain if this team would take the next step. I think it’s safe to say that they’ve now done that. I expect that the Bucks will likely go 2-1 over the next three heading into the Big Ten Tournament, but a win at Indiana could make a huge difference in the outlook for this team this year. We’ll have to see what happens, but things are promising right now.