Ohio State defeated Michigan State 52-12 in their first game since the nail biter against Indiana.
The Buckeyes scored on their first drive, and were in control from start to finish.
Leading up to the game, there was some debate whether Ohio State just needed to beat Michigan State, or whether the Buckeyes needed style points. Either way, the College Football Playoff committee should look at this game favorably, as the Buckeyes won by 30 points.
The final game of the regular season might fall through, but Ohio State took care of the things they could control. They needed to beat Michigan State no matter what, and they did so convincingly.
Offense, defense, and special teams came together for a complete victory. After Ohio State took down Michigan State, the quest for the playoff is back on track.
Ohio State Defeats Michigan State 52-12
Ohio State was able to play, but were still far from full strength. Several players and one coach were still in COVID-19 protocol and unable to make the trip to East Lansing.
First and foremost, head coach Ryan Day was forced to stay in Columbus
Assistant head coach and defensive line coach Larry Johnson took the helm and earned his first win. The former head coach of TC Williams High School (the school featured in Remember the Titans) became the first African-American head coach in Ohio State history.
There was no better way to make a head coaching debut than with a 30-point win.
In addition to Day, the offensive line went without left tackle Thayer Munford, center Josh Myers, and right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere. Harry Miller moved from left guard to center, so right guard Wyatt Davis was the only opening day starter on the offensive line playing his regular position.
Miller struggled on the first drive at center. Nearly all of his snaps were off target and he missed some of his blocking assignments. The inaccurate snaps threw off the timing of the offense, but Ohio State overcame the issues and scored a touchdown on their opening drive.
As the game progressed, Miller got more comfortable and settled in. Ironically, the first bad snap that resulted in negative yards came from the Michigan State center.
Miller’s issues didn’t totally disappear, though, and a bad snap cost the Buckeyes a safety in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
Other than the quarterback/center exchanges, Ohio State’s absences were hardly noticeable.
Ohio State’s quarterback took over the game and the biggest difference maker for the Buckeyes.
Justin Fields was 17 for 24 passing, with 199 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 13 times for 104 yards, a career high, and two touchdowns.
Many of Fields’ rushes came when the snap was sloppy, and he turned potential disasters into positive gains.
Fields’ decision making, leadership, and work ethic were on full display. One of his best plays was when he ran all the way downfield and threw a block on Trey Sermon‘s 64-yard touchdown run.
This was a statement about how he would respond to disappointment. After playing the worst game of his college career in his last game, he put together a gem.
Chris Olave and Trey Sermon
Today was his day, as he had 10 receptions for 139 yards and a beautiful 41-yard touchdown. The rest of the team only had 60 receiving yards.
Sermon is the team’s second leading rusher behind Master Teague this season, but this was his Buckeye breakout game. On 10 rushes, Sermon had 112 yards on the ground, including a career-long 64-yard touchdown. Even without the long run, Sermon averaged 5.3 yard per carry.
The Buckeye defense was exposed against Indiana in their last game, but they turned things around for this game.
Even though Michigan State had the lowest scoring defense in the conference entering this game, Ohio State’s defense still performed well. There were fewer missed tackles, no deep balls, and four takeaways. The defense looked improved in every way.
The highlight of the day on defense was Haskell Garrett‘s tipped ball that resulted in an interception in the end zone. Garrett has been a pleasant surprise, and the pick-six was icing on the cake of his magical season.