It's Urbanball vs. Tresselball for B1G Supremacy

By Michael Citro on December 5, 2013 at 1:00p
Yes, Carlos Hyde is just as devastating in punt coverage.

Craig Krenzel takes the snap from Alex Stepanovich and hands to freshman sensation Maurice Clarett. Following a Shane Olivea block, Clarett plows ahead off right tackle for four yards before being stopped by…Ryan Shazier and C.J. Barnett?

Yeah, that’s what it’s going to be like this Saturday night.

Ohio State worlds will collide when Mark Dantonio brings his brand of Tresselball into Indianapolis to face Urban Meyer’s power spread.  Michigan State has borrowed heavily from Jim Tressel’s Winner’s Manual since Dantonio took over in East Lansing in 2007, and that philosophy is paying dividends in this latest era of Spartan football.

Dantonio, the architect of Ohio State’s championship defense in 2002, again has his team playing lights-out on that side of the ball in 2013. The Spartans boast the nation’s best defense and therefore the biggest obstacle Meyer’s offense will face this season.

In fact, this Spartans team looks eerily similar to that 2002 Ohio State squad, minus an early season loss to Notre Dame. Michigan State plays tough, hard-nosed football on both sides of the line of scrimmage. They swarm and attack on defense and take care of the football on offense. They have an efficient quarterback who finds ways to make enough plays and rarely turns the ball over, and a workhorse running back.

Sound familiar?

Tresselball, with the occasional riverboat gambler play mixed in (Little Giants, anyone?), is what the Ohio State defense will face in Indianapolis, because Dantonio learned well under the sweater vest-clad master.

Dantonio even added Jim Bollman to his staff this year. Bollman was the offensive line coach on that 2002 National Championship squad. Today, he is Michigan State’s offensive coordinator. We’ve had a lot of fun at his expense, but Bollman’s offense has blossomed this year in East Lansing. Sparty is averaging 31.2 points per game over the last five contests.

Bollman’s offense features running back Jeremy Langford, who has rushed for 1,210 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 119 receiving yards and one TD reception. Compare that with Clarett’s 2002 campaign: 1,237 yards rushing with 18 scores and 104 yards and two touchdowns receiving.

The similarities continue on offense. Connor Cook has thrown for 2,119 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Spartans in 2013. Krenzel tossed for 2,110 yards and 12 scores in 2002. Krenzel ran for 368 yards and three touchdowns to Cook’s 91 yards and one score. Tony Lippett’s receiving stats (35 catches for 454 yards) bear striking resemblance to Chris Gamble’s 2002 marks (31/499), but this year’s Sparty has no match for Michael Jenkins (61/1,076 with six TDs).

Warrior poet Craig Krenzel.Krenzel's teams set the blueprint for the current Spartans.

Like that 2002 team, Michigan State’s current squad boasts a punishing defense. It has allowed no more than 28 points against all season, and has held 10 of its 12 opponents under 20 points. While it’s true that it has not yet seen an offense like Ohio State’s, it’s still very impressive that it has kept half its opponents out of the end zone.

Six Michigan State defenders made the coaches’ first- and second-team all-conference squads and five made it to the media’s All-B1G team. It’s a defense that compares well with that 2002 Ohio State squad. Shalique Calhoun is their Will Smith; Max Bullough their Matt Wilhelm; Darqueze Dennard their Gamble (on defense, anyway).

Braxton Miller takes the snap out of the pistol and gives to Carlos Hyde. El Guapo blasts through a hole created by Jeff Heuerman and Jack Mewhort for a gain of five before Matt Wilhelm slams him to the turf.

You’ll want to prepare yourself for the cognitive dissonance of cheering for Urban Meyer’s speed against the Tresselball you supported for a decade. Meyer, so far, has been unable to replicate the defenses he had during his most successful seasons in Florida. But his current offense is doing things that eclipse even what his national championship teams were able to pull off. Part of that is the magic of Miller and part is having a charging rhino of a tailback in Hyde.

With Michigan State’s offense on the upswing and the unpredictability of Ohio State’s defense, it could come down to whether Meyer’s offensive attack can score more against the Spartans than any previous offense in 2013. The Buckeyes may very well need to score more than 30 to win for the second week in a row.

Tom Herman’s group has shown the ability to do that (scoring 31 and 34 against the defenses that most closely resemble Michigan State’s — Wisconsin and Iowa, respectively), but Ohio State must be sound both in the passing and running game and avoid the turnovers of the past few games to be successful.

Field position will also be important. Andy Groom was a wizard at pinning teams deep in 2002, much like Michigan State’s All-Big Ten punter Mike Sadler.  Cameron Johnston has also been good at that this season, and in fact it might be the punt teams that ultimately decide a close game. What’s more Tresselball than that?

So don’t adjust your set on Saturday. The team in green may be playing the style of football you’re used to, but just like in the old movies, the good guys will be wearing white.


Comments Show All Comments

Riggins's picture

I'd prefer Urbanball vs. Walrusball

darkhorse3d's picture

If that Bollman offense beats us there's a lot of people around here going to eat a lot of crow lol. I'll be one of them because I don't fear the walrus.

Seattle Linga's picture

In 2002 I was nervous before every B1G game as I knew the outcome was going to come down to the last possession - or at least that's what I thought. 
Jealous of the successful spread offenses and concerned when we played them. 
Now being on this side, I am a lot more relaxed offensively but still a lot of nervous energy because of the defense. 
If we bring our "A" game........we should win going away because offensively, we cannot be stopped. 

Matt M.'s picture

#34 ejected for going full-on mack truck.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Just what I was about to say.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

teddyballgame's picture

Brian Kelly is a big fan of Marcus Hyde.

nfischer's picture

I must be the only one who caught this. 

OSUBias's picture

Are we going back to normal away jerseys or storm troopering again?

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Furious George 27's picture

They have worn the alternate jerseys for big games.... Wouldn't mind the white jersey with grey alternate pants.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

Buckeye1004's picture

The anticipation is killing me.....I can't wait....
Let's get it on!
Go Buckeyes!

Hovenaut's picture

I'm going to be confused from all this, until the first broadcast showing of Bollman in Sparty attire.

Barnsey69's picture

I love this piece, exactly what I was thinking, however I do not have the journalistic expertise to express myself as eloquently as Mr. Citro. We all know football is a game of match-ups, and I don't think Sparty wins their match-ups overall on the field. The Buckeyes defense has been solid if not spectacular, and I think they get to Conner and make enough plays to get the win. Sparty will limit our offense, but if Nebraska can run for 182, I don't see why we can't do the same. Definitely need to stretch the field early and see what happens. AND give Dontre "Balboa" Wilson the damn ball!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

Furious George 27's picture

Nebraska also had their 2nd and 3rd string QB starting for them and both are bad.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

Barnsey69's picture

Even better, didn't know that...thanks!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

Jason Gruber's picture

I miss those dominant defenses. 

"You win with people." Woody Hayes

"If winning isn't everything, why do we keep score?" Vince Lombardi

"¯\_(ツ)_/¯" Joey Bosa

Doc's picture

Not to be an ass, but the last time it was Urbanball vs. Tresselball we got obliterated.  Granted his team had a better defense than we do now.  Losing to a Walrus would be embarrassing as hell.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Denny's picture

Not to be an ass, but the last time it was Urbanball vs. Tresselball we were Tresselball.


Doc's picture

Yeah Denny, kinda what I'm saying.  I'm glad this time we are Urbanball.  I'm just wishing our defense was a little less swiss cheesy

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

andretolstoy's picture

Nike unveils a new indoor - tropic jersey that Ohio State will be featuring for the BIG Championship game

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

HA! I actually like the alternate uniforms- especially the helmets, but your mockery is simply too wonderful to be ignored.
+1, good sir. +1, indeed. 

andretolstoy's picture

Yes. I totally love this rendition of the Buckeye Leaf above. Recruits will love it!

rekrul's picture

I keep wondering if we will have a certain edge on his offensive play calling outside of what can be seen on film because of him coaching at tOSU.

Out Work, Out Think, Out Play!!!

AC1972's picture

I'll take urbanball over tresselball, 41-14.

Sorry, had to!

InvertMyVeer's picture

Still stings...

Football is complicated...

Seth4Bucks's picture

Must resist temptation to DV that score . . . ohh the pain it hurts.

Sean N's picture

I don't think we'd even have to go to the replay booth to see an ejection from that GIF at the top.  Hit 'em low on saturday, boys.

SteveyWonder's picture

Really tho? Look at it again, he aimed squarely at the ball and hit it directly... do we really need to pussify football more than we already have?

The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture 2011

mtharp's picture

does dantonio know about the "Annexation of Puerto Rico"?

PAWEST1202's picture

Fumbleruski! If Curtis Grant sticks his tackles like The Icebox then it will be a long day for Jeremy Langford.
Upvote if i could for the Little Giants reference

PAWEST1202's picture

Fumbleruski! If Curtis Grant sticks his tackles like The Icebox then it will be a long day for Jeremy Langford.
Upvote if i could for the Little Giants reference

Boxley's picture

We barely got past Scum, MSU obliterated Scum, do not underestimate the Walrus...........
But, seriously, MSU is a better team the Scum, I just hope the Corch and the team do not take them for granted.

"...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

m4's picture

Coach Bollman is the co offensive coordinator/ tight ends coach and coach Treadwell is the offensive coordinator.

CGroverL's picture

I read the same thing, even though Bollman seems to be the consensus DC to us Buckeye fans....
It is just like all of us Buckeye fans that are calling for the firing of Luke Fickell as they blame the pass defense problems directly on Fickell (because they think that Fickell is the DC) as Ohio State's defensive coordinator. The problem is that Fickell's job title is LB coach/co-defensive coordinator. On top of that, Everett Withers' job title is assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator.....
Just the way that those job titles SOUND, it seems to me that Fickell has not only Meyer as his boss, he has Withers as his boss as well. It is very possible that Withers is pulling Fick's strings just as Heacock was pulling the string during the Tressel era.
The bottom line for me is that Fickell may not even have gotten the chance to be a TRUE DC. Never has he had the job title of "defensive coordinator" as the prefix "co" has been in front of DC in all EIGHT SEASONS in his career where he has been the "so-called" defensive coordinator.
We all need to face the facts, and the facts that we are shown show definitively that Luke Fickell IS NOT OHIO STATE'S defensive coordinator.....well not the outright DC, anyway. 
My point/points are easy enough to follow: Fick was born a Buckeye, fulfilled his dream to play for Ohio State, and still holds the record for consecutive starts as a Buckeye. Beyond that, Fickell bleeds scarlet and gray more than anyone as all but 3 or 4 seasons of his life have been seasons where he was either a fan (as a youngster), player, grad assistant, special teams coach, LB coach, and NOW (after the interim head coaching year of 2011)is working towards the end of his 8th season as the Bucks' co-defensive coordinator. 
Dantonio with Bollman is disturbing to say the least, but with the Buckeye offense being 100% different from the Dantonio/Bollman years, I see no reason to think that MSU has any advantage in this one game due to the Buckeyes of past. AND....I don't know what to think about this but Michigan State lists Jim Bollman as TE coach/Co-offensive coordinator while they list Dave Warner (seven seasons at MSU with rather impressive numbers for his athletes) as their RB coach/co-offensive coordinator.
So....who is Michigan State's OC and who is Ohio State's DC? 

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



e135800's picture

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.



Idaho Helga's picture

LOL , Let's go crack some eggs! 
(These lyrics are proof the Beatles did lots o' acid)

Calgarybuck's picture

Nice article, but our 2002 team was way more talented at almost every position then this years Michigan State team, Players at every level of the Offense and Defense ended up drafted and their backup's became future stars as well and I just don't see that from this team.

HSBDAWG's picture

We have already seen what happens when you play tressal ball against Urbz that did not go to well we lost in a rout. Even if Ginn does not go down i think they win. The Gators just straight beat us of the ball the whole game that is why Troy was running for his life. watch it and you will see there D line was across the line of scrimmage before our linemen was out of there stances.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Troy could no longer "run" for his life, after he gained 20 pounds on the post Heisman circuit.

OSUNEA1986's picture

This whole article falls into the same category as last week's post about how OSU would beat michigan by 2-3 TD's.
Every team we've played has presented a new offensive scheme. I expect nothing less from MSU. It won't be Tresselball in the same fashion that it wasn't Tresselball in the Rosebowl with Pryor.

Haybucks's picture

No, MSU isn't changing who they are.  None of 3 QBs that might play can run.  Cook and O'Conner don't possess special weapons and Maxwell doesn't own a silver hammer.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Bamabucknut's picture

Michigan State has the # 1 defense in the country. Our performance against  that defense will be very interesting. What really concerns me is the Buckeye..."here have 660 yards of offense and 41 points" defense.

BammBammRiley's picture

I mentioned something of the sorts in another thread but Wilson Plus artificial turf plus Michigan State's focus on number 5 and number 34 equals an unpredictable break out performance by our favorite little shifty speedy tough guy who has the balls to stand up to seven or eight Michigan men (whimps)

BammBamm is my dog, Riley is my 4 yr old daughter, and THE Ohio state Buckeyes complete the three most sacred loves I cherish

Seattle Linga's picture

Hoping for an EZE sighting for all the right reasons in the 4th Q

buckeyedude's picture

How about some Smoove Jazz, as well?



Toilrt Paper's picture

Not me, that would mean Carlos is injured and out of the game. If Hyde needs a blow it will be the FOUR YEARS of experience Jordan Hall.

BeijingBucks's picture

Don "I coulda been a contenda!" Wilson you mean?

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Dillon G's picture

My problem with Bollman is he did not develop offensive linemen. Tresselball would not have seemed so boring if Mike Adams actually ran people over like he was supposed to do.

ABrown07's picture

The second half adjustments Urban and staff make are what will be the most interesting thing to see in my opinion.

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

-Woody Hayes

HSBDAWG's picture

If the corners are out of soft Man coverage then the sack will come. If they set back then they will let the QB get is swag on and we will be in for a fight. The key is keeping that def. for sparty chasing your guys all over the field and let them get worn down then really start to grind the clock. Would not be surprised if they come out and go play action to the tight end for a big gain so that it keeps the extra safety out of the box.

Eph97's picture

To continue the 2002 analogy, lets just hope we are not their Miami!