Big Ten Takes Center Stage in Crossroads of America

By Kyle Rowland on December 2, 2013 at 9:15a
44 Comments
Urban Meyer's SEC pedigree has him prepared for a "brutal" week.

The clash at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night truly will be between the Big Ten’s best. Ohio State and Michigan State each sport perfect 8-0 records, while the Buckeyes fashion the conference’s top total offense, rushing offense and passing offense, and the Spartans feature the best total defense rushing defense and passing defense.

Something’s gotta give in a titanic matchup not just for the Big Ten but for both teams. At stake for No. 2 Ohio State is the national championship. For 10th-ranked Michigan State, an outright conference championship – its first since 1987 – and a berth in the Rose Bowl for the first time in more than a quarter century.

The third installment of the Big Ten Championship Game is exactly what league brass had in mind when they expanded during the summer of 2010. A nation full of college football fans will flip their TVs to Fox at 8 p.m. to watch the Midwest showcase its brand of football. Suddenly, the days of being mocked could be in the rearview mirror.

On Sunday, Urban Meyer, a winner of two national championships in the SEC, said the Big Ten wasn’t far behind the league that’s won an unprecedented seven consecutive national championships. If Meyer’s team – and Florida State – wins this week, he will extinguish the league’s string of success that he started back in 2006.

The Ohio State-Michigan State game is drawing so much attention that College GameDay will air live from Indianapolis. Even after a monumental task last week for the Buckeyes, a thrilling 42-41 win in Ann Arbor, this week is even more important. For anything other than the Michigan game to be the most significant game in a potential championship season is foreign to all who dress in scarlet and gray.

“Surprisingly, I don’t think it will be difficult at all,” said senior center Corey Linsley when asked about how arduous the back-to-back games would be emotionally and physically.

Said senior captain C.J. Barnett: “We’re all young guys. We’ll be all right.”

He does not share the same opinion of his head coach. Meyer dealt with playing Florida State and the SEC West champion in consecutive weeks on three occasions and called it “brutal.” This is the first time since 1942 that Ohio State will face someone after Michigan in a game that is not a bowl. That year, the Buckeyes beat Iowa Pre-Flight in the finale and won the national championship. Might history repeat itself some 70 years hence?

“I don’t want to say it’s awful, but you talk about blowing out your staff and our players and then finals week,” Meyer said. “But we know what’s coming. You have to be so disciplined in the way you practice, and I'm going to warn our coaches and warn myself about sleep and taking care of yourself.”

“There’s no shortcutting Michigan State’s defense.” - Urban Meyer 

What Ohio State will find as a bigger roadblock than rest is the opponent across the way, the message Meyer said he delivered to the Buckeyes Sunday afternoon. If not for an anemic offense and early season question marks at quarterbacks, Michigan State could also be playing for a later than usual trip to Pasadena.

The Spartans went through the Legends Division like a meat grinder being paired with a slice of bologna. They became the first team to win all eight conference games by more than 10 points, and Michigan State won its division by a whopping three games. An 11-point win over Minnesota last week was the closest margin of victory.

Quarterback Connor Cook has steadily progressed throughout the season, completing 58 percent of his passes for more than 2,100 yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. Running back Jeremy Langford is also part of the recent uptick on offense. He’s over 1,200 yards rushing for the season, averaging five yards per carry. They might not be Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, but Michigan State’s backfield duo shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“It’s all confidence,” Cook said about the surge in production. “We’ve just found ourselves as an offense.”

The identity of the 2013 Spartans doesn’t stray far from the 2001-10 Ohio State Buckeyes. Dantonioball is the new Tresselball. The former Ohio State defensive coordinator has modeled Michigan State to fit the Buckeyes of the early 2000s. A quarterback that can manage the game and not make many mistakes, capitalize and be opportunistic when turnovers arise and, most importantly, play an aggressive style of defense that befuddles opponents.

“We've got to move the ball against a great defense. That's my focus,” Meyer said. “The bottom line is, Ohio State is not even in any [BCS] conversations unless we can figure out how to move the ball against the No. 1 defense in America.”

In the Buckeyes’ 17-16 win in East Lansing during the 2012 season, they produced 383 yards of offense – 315 belonging to Miller. But the latest version of the Ohio State offense doesn’t even resemble what it exhibited in September of 2012. It’s like comparing a 1984 Ford Pinto to a new Corvette.

“They’re a great team,” Michigan State linebacker Denicos Allen said. “They move the ball, they have a good offense, explosive. We have an explosive defense. I always wanted that matchup. That’s what everybody on this defense wanted, what everybody on this team wanted.”

Wish granted. But it could be a case of be careful what you wish for. Ohio State is averaging nearly 50 points and 530 yards of total offense per game. If not for three-game absences in September, both Miller and Hyde could be on their way to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Can Michigan State’s defense really stop or slow down such a potent attack? After all, that first national title won by the SEC showed what Meyer can do against a team with the makeup of the Spartans. Michigan State is allowing 238 yards and 12 points per game.

“There’s no shortcutting Michigan State’s defense,” Meyer said.

On Saturday night, that same notion and level of respect could return to the Big Ten.

44 Comments

Comments

Thunderbrow's picture

I don't give a damn for the WHOLE state of Michigan.

I mean everyone heals people, comforts people, learns from you, learns from me, whatever.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Beat Sparty and we're in the big dance!!!  Gotta love our chances against the Walrus!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

WolverineKiller's picture

I thought the same thing with our matchup against Borges and he called the game of his life and we didn't execute.  Praying our Defense gets ironed out and we throw them some wrinkles of our own on offense.

ChazBuckeye's picture

Thank you for pointing this out.  I was about to do the same thing until I saw your reply.  I think WAY TOO many OSU fans are taking this as just another game.  Glad to see you're not!

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Boxley's picture

Amen my broethers, everyone was predicting a double digit beat down of Scum and,,,,,,, well, we all know how that worked out.Sparty is better than Scum by a lot, but at least they do not have home field advantage.
This will be our toughest game of the year, just as it was last year.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

216ToThe614's picture

Max Bullough vs. Carlos Hyde. As Urban would say, "two sledgehammers going at it"

Pick up your feet, turn your corners square! And DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!
WB

Buckeye419er's picture

The unstoppable force vs the immovable object. This is truly a clash of the titans.

Hovenaut's picture

All focus on Saturday, and nothing beyond.
B1G moment for the B1G conference.

"Success - it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Doc's picture

Should be a great game.  Hopefully the Buckeyes, and my heart, make it through.

"Say my name."

Baroclinicity's picture

You're not kidding.

Hovenaut's picture

Ditto that.
I've already made pre-arrangements with Elizabeth, just in case.
 

"Success - it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

GoBucksToledo's picture

Could be the Big One!

Boxley's picture

My stomach is still upset, and has mad  me irregular. I may not feel like myself unitl next Sunday, if the the tOSU football gods prevail, if they don't.................
Oh, gotta head back to the porcelain throne again, just from typing that................
 

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

llong83's picture

Im over here dying reading this comment!! lmao...well played sir

Buckeyes...or Nothing

osubuck57's picture

Be careful what you wish for Denicos Allen!! LIke his confidence though. Should be a tough fought game by both teams. Just don't believe they're defense can shut down our offense for 4 quarters of football. We will see.

SCOTTC.

BoFuquel's picture

A can of corn, our good defense will slaughter their poor offense. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

741's picture

Very excited to be attending this game!

CGroverL's picture

Show up big in Indianapolis, my brother. Root us on to a convincing win by 3 scores....we may just need it to secure a spot in a game we shouldn't even mention. Being that I was born in Dayton (just like Brady Hoke-YUCK) and moved to Florida at age 7 (I'm 40 now), I have never seen a Buckeye game in person. I envy you and hope that my cheers are channeled through you as our beloved Buckeyes win their first Big Ten championship game. 
Good luck to you, represent our beloved Buckeyes, and root "El Guapo" on to another 200+ yard rushing performance. God Bless and Go Buckeyes!!!

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

headina's picture

Same here. Pumped. I pulled the trigger early assuming they would make it so I could get face value. Any idea if it is/will sell out. It's been partially empty the last 2 years. Tickets were going for $4 the first year. 

GO BUCKS

741's picture

Based upon what I saw on Ticketmaster last week (i.e., only singles available), and the fact my allocation as an OSU football season ticket holder was filled last night at the cheaper price point (I got $90 seats, instead of the $185 seats that were allocated first to folks with higer priority than I have) I am almost positive this game will be sold out.
Someone told me this morning the cheapest seats on Stubhub are going for $100 or so.
(My brother bought public sale tickets on Ticketmaster about 3 weeks ago for $73 with fee included.)

okiebuck's picture

As the son of a coach, that little voice in my head always reminds me that "defense wins championships". That means we Buckeyes, really need to see a return of; wait for it.....
THE SILVER BULLETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Strap it on boys and run to the ball, wrap up and play to the whistle!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

causeicouldntgo43's picture

I like our chances against the Walrus..........

yrro's picture

It feels so, so strange to be on the other side of this narrative.

00Buck's picture

1984 FORD PINTO  ???   WHERE CAN I FIND IT !!  SEE NOW YOU GONE AND MADE ME EXCITED  ...........  DAMN JUST WHEN I GOT INTO THE HANG OF THINGS........

Upon this Rock, I build my house....and Let no man put asunder

billy04's picture

Ford stopped producing the Pinto in 1980 thanks to the car's tendency to catch fire on a whim, kinda like Bollman.
Is it me, or did Al Borges have his Bollman moment on Saturday - dragging his fan base through 11 weeks of offensive offense and then dropping an incredible game plan in for The Game? Bollman seemed to be great in the Michigan games, but a real sh!tshow the rest of the season.
 

Go1Bucks's picture

Considering we played his defense for ten years, we should be able to plan for his schemes.  This is all on Meyer to approach with loads of knowledge on our side.
Interesting to think this game is all about the Buckeyes, past and present.  Will be a great game, loss is not acceptable, and I hope our boys keep their mind in the game.
go Bucks!

"I will pound you and pound you, until you quit." -Woody

Thunderbrow's picture

So, does Urban put a call in to Jimmy T? Does he answer?

I mean everyone heals people, comforts people, learns from you, learns from me, whatever.

cinserious's picture

*knock,knock,knock* Jimmy John's...

"Get him a body bag, Yeah!"

OSUBias's picture

We actually played his defense for 3 years, 10 years ago. He was only our DC from 2001-2003 and after that we most definitely started playing less aggressive schemes.

Slider...you stink

Jonnferrell's picture

This is BiG--literally.  As crappy as the BiG championship game was last year, this one is off the charts.  So much is riding on this game for both teams, and the different dynamics--old coaches vs new coaches--it's crazy.  This may be the biggest Big 10 game of all time.  

"I'm still hungry." --Brady Hoke

bucks15's picture

I'm excited as anyone, but lets not forget #1 Ohio State vs. #2 Michigan in 2006.  It was called Game of the Century for a reason....

OSUBias's picture

On what planet are we the number 1 passing offense in the B1G? Assume we're talking about QB rating and not yardage, completion percentage, TD's, etc?

Slider...you stink

will0327's picture

1 more win 

OUR HONOR DEFENDED .....

buckeye85's picture

I mean, UM had a top 10 rushing defense coming into Saturday as did Iowa when we played them earlier in the year and not only did the Buckeyes gash them, they did it when both teams KNEW that we were going to be running the ball.  The 2nd half of the game in AA featured a team that made no secret of the fact that they had all but abandoned the pass and UM couldn't do a thing about it.  MSU has a good defense, but they couldn't stop our run game last year either. 
I have a very hard time envisioning a game where one of our best Olines in memory with 4 seniors and a senior bulldozer HB that can make people miss and outrun DB's paired with an improved and healthy Miller gets stopped, especially with all the other bells and whistles that have been added to this offense. 
If MSU plays man and blitzes they are basically one missed tackle away from Miller breaking contain and going for 20+ yds.  If OSU runs the ball well and forces MSU to play tight and focus on the run, they are going to get caught on PA just like UM did when Heuerman(sp?) scored that TD.  UM's LB's were so focused on the run that they all came up 5 yards before they realized what was going on.
On the flip side, their offense plays right into what we do best and that is stop the run.  If this team was capable of slowing down Wisky, they should be able to get stops on MSU.  I actually feel like this might be a better matchup then the one we just had with UM.

Thunderbrow's picture

Absolutely. And don't forget that this game will be in a dome, which won't give either team an advantage, per se, but there won't be any bad weather to put the passing game at a disadvantage.

I mean everyone heals people, comforts people, learns from you, learns from me, whatever.

llong83's picture

I dont know...was it more of us abandoning the passing game?? Or the fact that the run game was soooooooo successful? They couldnt stop us, at all. No different than Stanford running it down Oregons throat for 4 qtrs...they just didnt do it with a QB and shotgun so it looked different or more dominating, i guess. I'll go with the latter though, and just say they run game was so dominant, there was no reason to pass...

Buckeyes...or Nothing

buckeye85's picture

I think it was a combo, they knew the passing game would be open but elected to keep in on the ground.  They knew they could run it at will and probably decided not to take any risks throwing it down the field. 

Basso Profondo's picture

Luckily since CBS has the rights to the SEC Championship we will get Gameday.  We need a lot of focus on this match-up and more importantly for it to play out like a "big time" game.  The nation will be watching, let's start that B1G renaissance. 

ChazBuckeye's picture

Love seeing the confidence but hope the team is a bit more grounded and realistic than some of our fans.  Seeing the two and three score win comments takes me back to my prediction of 56-10 over TTUN. Perhaps just win is a more appropriate prediction...just saying.  

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Adambob's picture

Spartans...  We'll put their name to the test
 

Frankly Scarlet's picture

How can you not love what Dantonio has built in East Lansing? I remember when he was hired, JT said, "Well, the neighborhood just got a lot tougher." Yep.

 
"Buclkle your chinstrap, we're gonna grind meat!" - Woody Hayes  
 

rhutchjr's picture

 I was actually expecting more offense at the end of GAME but we seemed to go to sleep. Thank you "football GOD" for the last play of that game. We can't afford to go to sleep against MSU at any time.  GO BUCKS 100%

Toledo, a good place to be FROM