Scouting report and prediction for MSU vs. OSU
Let’s me just say this right from the start; if this match-up were played 10 times, OSU would win seven. With that said, as a member of the Spartan Nation I choose to focus on the three wins (I am a glass half-full type of guy when it comes to my Spartans) and here is how Michigan State pulls the upset on Saturday.
Here are the quick FACTS:
- MSU has not faced a defense as good as the one they will face on Saturday.
- OSU has not faced a balanced offense and as good as our beloved Spartans.
- OSU has not faced a team that can get up the field and rush the passer like MSU.
- MSU has not faced a football team that is as sound as OSU.
- OSU has the best special teams in college football.
When you watch the Buckeyes (and I have watched all of their games at least once, most twice or three times) they win by doing all the little things. They have done nothing in those games offensively that make you say WOW! I mean no disrespect; I only state the facts.
The Spartans on defense:
The Spartans will have to force the Buckeyes to pass the ball. OSU has not had to play in a close game in the fourth quarter this season. The only way the Spartans beat the Bucks is to contain their rushing game and put them in spots that they have to throw the ball. If MSU can do that, things will get really interesting. OSU has a good (not great) O line that has not been pressured. MSU has pass rushers that make things happen. I am not convinced (and if you watch their games neither is Tressel) that they can win with the ball in the air. MSU may give up some big plays by putting eight in the box to stop the run. It is abundantly clear that the more the Buckeyes throw the football, the better MSU’s chances become to pull the upset. Ohio State would really like to pound the football and set up play action on third and short / medium. OSU has good receivers, but a QB that is young (experience wise) and makes bad throws and mistakes that others haven’t capitalized upon.
MSU will not stop their running game. The Spartans can only hope to contain OSU’s ground attack and force them to pass on some third and longs. If that happens (and I think it will) then the Spartan’s secondary must rise to the occasion. I use the magic number five again. A combination of five sacks/turnovers will make the Spartans competitive with a chance to win this ball game.
The Spartans on offense:
Our opponent, like most weekends, knows the Spartans can score enough points to win this game. That is a germane thought… remember the Buckeyes don’t have a great offense. I don’t think Michigan State will need to score 40 or 50 to hand OSU a loss. Each week, the Buckeyes have had to game plan for specific offenses. The Buckeyes have not faced a balanced offense with as many multiple packages as the Spartans present and the talent to execute them. I think this is a fact being overlooked by many in the Spartan Nation. For all of the criticism that has been hurled Hoyer’s direction (unfairly so, I might add), he doesn’t turn the ball over and make the crucial mistake that will cost his team the game. MSU can run out of the Power I. They can go four and five receivers wide. They are perhaps one of the most versatile offenses in the nation and that creates huge problems for the Buckeyes. When you watch their games, they move personnel each week based on the scheme of the team they are playing. This isn’t a big secret. The question is, what will OSU do to counter the Spartan’s offense? Does MSU start five wide? Do they go Power I, or Pro Set? Do they use Davis more if the Bucks don’t double-team him as others have? This offense has a pick your poison ability that the talented Buckeyes haven’t faced all year. MSU’s offense may be the best in the conference by season’s end.
I am not disrespecting Ohio State. I am simply saying that they haven’t faced this kind of offensive versatility. The Buckeyes are coached exceptionally well. If MSU catches them out of formation they will have a chance to capitalize with points. It is up to MSU to execute and make the plays.
The game plan is simple… take what OSU gives you. If they load the box… throw the ball. If they back off then run it down their throat. They are talented, but MSU ain’t the ugliest chick at the dance. The Spartans are versatile. OSU has played good running teams and good passing teams, but never a team that has both working so well together.
It is critical when you play a team with a solid defense like the Buckeyes. I am IN NO WAY saying MSU has the talent of Florida, but let’s look back at last year’s NC game. The Gators where the first team the Buckeyes faced that were as versatile as the Buckeyes themselves. They could run. They’d kill you with the short passing game. They’d beat you long with play action and unravel you with a running quarterback. It kept OSU’s defense on their heals. I know for a fact that MSU’s coaches studied the Florida game film extensively this week. Hoyer is not as mobile as Troy Smith I give you that, but he isn’t as slow as me (insert any fat joke) and will not make the mistakes that Smith sometimes did.
Here is a critical point. MSU doesn’t have to have the best players (look at OU vs. Boise State) they have to have the best game plan and articulate it.
The Spartans on special teams:
OSU is the best in the nation nearly every season when it comes to special teams. They are sound everywhere. I really like Terry Love, but his play as a punt returner has been less than stellar. He can afford no mistakes and he has to advance the ball. Swenson has endured a sophomore slump, but is a very good kicker that is due for a big game. This will be Brett’s time to deliver in a very hostile environment.
There are a lot of if’s and even more intangibles that go into this game. Spartan fans want a glimpse of Dantonio’s progress with his first-year Spartans. We need not look any further than Columbus this weekend win or lose. OSU is the prototype. It is exactly what MD is working to build.
This may sound silly, but the offense has proven they can score and be versatile. The defense has to take a huge step this week. I will focus on the three games of ten that MSU would win. If MSU has no stupid penalties that keep the Buckeye’s offense on the field and Hoyer continues to play turnover free, the Spartans win this one 28-27! It can happen. It could happen, and I expect it will!
Remember people, they hate UM as much as we do! You have to respect them for that.