As crazy as this might sound, the defense has been the issue at times for No. 8 Michigan State, despite its 7-1 start to the season.
With Ohio State coming to town with Big Ten East supremacy at stake, the big-play problems that have plagued the Spartans' defense propped up yet again as Buckeyes' freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett led an offensive attack that churned out 568 total yards in their 49-37 victory Saturday night.
Much in the same fashion Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota shredded through the Spartans' defense in a 46-27 Oregon victory on Sept. 6, Barrett accumulated 386 total yards and five touchdowns, two of which went in the direction of Michael Thomas and Devin Smith for 79 and 44 yards, respectively.
The 2014 Michigan State defense wasn't going to be the 2013 Michigan State defense. There were too many personnel losses for that.
The expectation was that Pat Narduzzi's unit would still be a top-10 caliber unit and for the most part it has been that way this year.
But the propensity to give up the big play, a problem that exhibited itself at Oregon, against Wyoming, at Purdue and at Indiana never was fixed as the year went on and Michigan State finally paid the price for it again.
The penalty that negated a Jeremy Langford first-half touchdown run, which would have put Michigan State up 28-14, Michael Geiger's missed field goal as a result of the penalty and a Tony LIppett drop on a third down which eventually led to a Buckeyes touchdown all hurt.
One could argue about Dave Warner's playcalling at times, including a run to Nick Hill on a fourth-and-five that didn't work and led to another Buckeyes touchdown.
The defense, however, deserves the lion's share of the blame because it just couldn't stop Ohio State. It doesn't matter how many points you score on offense if you can't consistently stop the other guys from doing the same.
Pretty simple logic, I know. But it's the truth. It was the truth Sept. 6 in Eugene, Ore. And it's the harsh truth on Nov. 8.
A fourth double-digit winning season in the last five years is still possible for Michigan State. And isn't that something all Michigan State fans would have killed for when Bobby Williams and John L. Smith were patrolling the sidelines?
Just think about that for a little bit...