Debriefing: Michigan State

By Michael Citro on December 8, 2013 at 10:30a
Factory of sadness.

Ohio State and Michigan State met in Indianapolis with the Big Ten title on the line and for the Buckeyes it was a chance to win and get to the national championship game. It was a billed as a battle between the league’s best offense against the top defense in the conference.

But coming out of the Michigan game, there were plenty of questions resurfacing about the Buckeye defense after it yielded more than 600 yards against a team that had struggled for a month. Luke Fickell’s defense would be facing an efficient offense led by steady Connor Cook and workhorse running back Jeremy Langford.

Could Ohio State keep the offense rolling against the nation’s top defense? Would the Buckeye defense fix its issues in just a week and rise to the occasion? Could Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller find success where so many players failed? Would the good guys keep the SEC out of the title game?

Kind of, no, mostly yes, and sadly no.

Ohio State’s winning streak ends at 24 games and there will be no happy ending in Pasadena in Urban Meyer’s second year. Here are your talking points of infinite sadness:

Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)

Michigan State came out and scored the first 17 points before Ohio State settled down and started playing. Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller led the Buckeyes to 24 straight points, but Sparty went on a 90-yard drive to retake the lead and then the Buckeyes stopped giving it to Hyde for no apparent reason and completely ignored the pass until they had no choice. Both Hyde and Miller went over 100 rushing yards but a failure to convert late third downs or play any semblance of defense whatsoever doomed Ohio State to a 34-24 loss.

Talk before the game

Talk in the aftermath

Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)

Miller ran 21 times for a game high 142 yards (6.8 YPA) and two touchdowns, mostly during the second and third quarters, in which Ohio State actually played like Ohio State. Miller completed only 8/21 for 101 yards, including a 20-yard score to Philly Brown. But his receivers didn’t help him much. Brown dropped a deep ball that was in his hands, although the defender was on him. Evan Spencer also dropped a critical would-be first down that forced the Buckeyes to punt. 

Snot Knocker of the Game

There were a lot of pretty good hits in this game, but one doesn’t really stand out to me, either because I was too nervous to pay close attention or one simply didn't rise above the others. I'll go with Ryan Shazier slamming Langford on a wheel route for pass interference on the opening drive. It was completely unnecessary, as the pass had little chance of being successful, but the ref threw the flag and an eventual field goal drive continued. MSU led by just three with a few minutes remaining, when Langford added a 26-yard TD in the final minutes, so it was kind of a big penalty. And, being stupid and unnecessary, it was representative of the night overall.

Did you see that?! (Play of the game)

Ohio State was lethargic on offense and the defense had gotten torched twice for long pass plays. Things were going poorly. Then Miller went Xbox on a second-and-eight play, running for 48 yards and just plain clowning defenders, before getting tangled up in Spencer’s legs as the receiver was trying to block the last defender. That play woke Ohio State up and the Buckeyes scored a touchdown three plays later.

When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)

You can take your pick of any number of defensive breakdowns or stupid pass interference penalties. I’ll go with this one: Michigan State faced a crucial third-and-eight at the Ohio State nine, trailing 24-20. Cook dropped back to pass and nobody bothered to cover Josiah Price, who caught the go-ahead touchdown. C.J. Barnett was in the general area, but only just.

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game

Every commercial break. Without coaching, Tressel has a lot of free time on his hands. He has never been exposed to so much advertising in his life, so he’s more susceptible than most of us, who have become immune. By the middle of the third quarter, Tressel had maxed out his Black Visa card and had set up at least three new mobile phone accounts with Sprint. Now the Tressels are completely broke. Thanks, FOX.

What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter

First: Why are we playing so stupidly?

Second: Back in the game.

Third: The defense is scaring me but it’s good to be leading after that start.

Fourth: Man, what was that fourth quarter? Where was Hyde? I don’t even…damn.

It was over when

Michigan State’s Langford had been mostly bottled up all night. But when he busted straight up the gut on second-and-two for a 26-yard touchdown, it was time to turn out the lights.

The regular season is over and everything is terrible. But at some point the Buckeyes will scrape themselves up off the carpet and try to get ready for a bowl game — very likely an Orange Bowl berth, which isn’t a bad consolation prize, really. When going to the Orange Bowl is a bad thing, you've got #BuckeyeNationProblems.


Comments Show All Comments

Whosisbrew's picture

Urban Meyer's second year coaching this team, and he only now lost his first game. Think about that. It's bitter, and it sucks, and I feel your pain for sure. But Urban will have better teams than this one in the future. That ain't only awesome, it's downright scary.

Dublin68's picture

Braxton Miller says he plans to return for his senior season according to FoxSportsOH

4thandinches's picture

He would be a damn fool to think he could go pro right now. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

KevinJ's picture

I don't know if I can watch another game on Fox, the frequency commercial breaks were ridiculous!

BuckeyeinExile's picture

Both in our game and the Bedlam game the feed itself was jittery and gave me a headache just watching.

Grey Ghost's picture

The commercials broke any type of rhythm the Bucks were able to establish.  

NapervilleBuck's picture

Yeah, that's why we lost.
Sorry but tired of the grasping at excuses.  If we run Hyde, we win.  Makes up for everything else period.

Phoenix824's picture

Way to many commercials even my 15 year old daughter who does not watch football noticed it

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

Next year should be a fun year to watch new developing players and some new blood. 4/5 of the o line will be gone. Hyde/Hall gone, Bryant/Barnett gone, Roby to the draft. I'm excited to see more urban Meyer recruits take the field next year

BuckeyeinExile's picture

I'd say 3/5 of the line, Elflein is a gamer!

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

You're absolutely correct. And not to mention, we've got a Boren waiting in the wings. Jacoby will probably start at center. So make it 2/5? Lock and reload! 

BuckeyeinExile's picture

Hats off to Sparty, they definately played a good game and that defense it legit. This was their year for sure. They are losing most of there defense to graduation this year but we'll have to deal with Calhoun for another season. 
I know everybody is as sick as I am of the 1998 comparisons, however one point not mentioned is that Joe Montgomery was running possessed that night, yet Cooper stopped feeding him the football, much in the same way with Hyde last night. I am not complaining - I certainly am not a coach and will therefore not be a armchair or computer coach - just making an observation.
We have a young defense with some amazing up and coming talent - we get our whole dline back and some new blood in the secondary. Anybody not inspired by Joey Bosa needs their head checked.
The pressure is off now, lets recuperate and take care of business against Clemson.

Clinger76's picture

I was expecting XBRAX to come back after that performance fell short!
Glad to see it, For sure.

"If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats, But if you take no risks, you will earn no victories."

Aesculus.'s picture

Mark it.
Nov. 8 - at Michigan State

Firedup's picture

What we learned Braxton Miller is a glorified RB playing QB.  6 of 15 last week, 8 of 21 this week.  That's not elite and doesn't win big games.  

"Making the Great State of Ohio Proud!" UFM

NapervilleBuck's picture

He had more than a couple of really good passes dropped tonight and played some really good defensive backs.  Can't put it on his throwing.

ScarletGray43157's picture

Miller has the instincts of a runner and not a passer.  He does miss seeing open receivers on a regular basis.  He does not, apparently, think like  a QB first, especially when under pressure.  He was making what appeared to be a conscious effort to overcome this earlier in the season, but didn't show this in the B1G CG.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

4thandinches's picture

Completely agree. There is only so much coaching you can give to a kid to make him a 'passer.' As far as I'm concerned Miller has reached that point. Let's just accept that he is a great runner and not a great passer and design the play calling after that theory. Any improvement he makes as a passer into next year will be very minimal. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Michael Citro's picture

You realize he was connecting on 70% of his passes for most of the year, right? I think with all the running in the last quarter of the season, his mechanics broke down a bit. But I'm not going to fault him for drops last night (Philly, Spencer) or the perfectly thrown ball where Dennard interfered with Devin Smith.

Grey Ghost's picture

Next year should be interesting to say the least.  With the new divisions, we will see Sparty every year.

Ethos's picture

now on to rooting for some big10 success this bowl season

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Doc's picture

I can't believe we lost to a Walrus. Sparty played a great game, and we did not. Urban I think it is time for some reflection and a little house cleaning :(, this defense needs work. 

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

ScarletGray43157's picture

Pass defense exposed, with the added weakness of the loss of Roby down the stretch of the game.  A few big plays made the difference in the game.
We'll never know for sure, but I have to think that FSU would have liked the matchup with their QB and receivers against OSU on pass plays.  
MSU won't get the national credit that it should for their overall defense, which is way above average.   They lived up to their stats.  MSU's rushing offense is below average, and their pass offense is average at best.  
The Meyer Era has started well even with this loss.  Now we will see if this team can pick itself up and get a win in whichever bowl game they go to.  In the meantime, keep brining in top notch recruits and working to improve and the outcome over the long run will be excellent.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

DJ Byrnes's picture

hashsashakashj it still hurts im a browns fan why does this still hurt asdjklsadkjl

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

JODO8411's picture

What was with the time out to, "think about it", on fourth and one"? The "thinking", caused a timeout during a very critical point in the game and gave their defense a breather and time to think about it as well. THEN....Don't run Hyde! Instead, run a quarterback design run to the short side of the field. They new it was a 50/50 chance of whom was getting the ball. Should have brought Wilson or Hall in to make them start thinking and guessing. Pass interference penalties and lack of execution, especially in the fourth quarter, cost that game. 

GregB's picture

Gotta say, I love Urban and am glad he is here, but for those who wanted to say all those years ago that Urban or someone else would have been more creative and used his talent better than JT did during much of his tenure,  I didnt see it this year for the most part. Where were the different formations and personnel groups to keep the defenses off guard?  Where was Dontre on offense? (maybe he's not what we hoped.....yet).   Where were the screens other than to WR?  This was supposed to be something Urban excelled at, using all his personnel and keeping Ds guessing. The only guessing they had to do was is Brax going L or R?  
Now, maybe we dont have the horses we hoped and Hyde and Brax were the only ones he trusted in crunch time but thats on him and the coaches too.
Urbans offense is JTs offense with the QB five yards back.  Thats it.   Thats not a knock per se but this myth that Urban has some sort of voodoo offensive skills that make defending him impossible just doesnt seem factual.  Hyde and Brax are absolute studs but an offense needs more than that against a good/great D.  

4thandinches's picture

To be the devils advocate, we did score a TD on that same exact play earlier. But I agree, bad call choice. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Urban Ohio's picture

It all boiled down to North, South vs. East, West. As long as we were going N,S, we were dominating. Those stupid passes to the sideline and trying to run around the end killed us.

Newcomerstown Trojans between Woody and Beaver.

4thandinches's picture

I hope this loss ignites the Buckeyes to play better, especially into next year, as we saw with MSUs loss to ND this year. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

SunRa's picture

I think deep down, we all realize that it's the defense that is keeping this team from being elite. Though until this loss, the argument against the '12 and '13 silver bullets never really kept much momentum.  Meyer's handling of the defensive coaching situation is crucial to our success for the next few years. It will be interesting, for sure.
Having said all that, I do think it's clear that the characteristics of an Urban Myer "coached" defense are starting to show, and will only improve -- Namely, disruptive stud D-lineman, and underclassmen that are big play makers.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Future still looks so bright I'm not takin' off these sunglasses.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

d gordon a's picture

who is the back-up to Boren next year?