Michigan State survived a scare from Indiana last week, and now the real grind starts. The Spartans play their next three games against teams currently ranked in the top-12 of the AP Poll, with the first two of those three contests on the road. Up first is Ohio State at the Shoe. Let’s get to know the fourth ranked Buckeyes.
School: The Ohio State University
Conference: Big Ten (East Division)
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Head Coach: Ryan Day (1st season, 8-0 overall)
Record: 5-0 (2-0 in Big Ten)
Mascot: Brutus Buckeye
All-Time Series (Modern): Ohio State leads 32-14
Ryan Day faces MSU as the head coach at OSU for the first time. Day was a perfect 3-0 last year during Urban Meyer’s suspension, and is off to a blistering 5-0 start this season.
When both teams are ranked, as is the case this week, Ohio State holds a 13-6 overall lead. The Buckeyes have won the last three games, with MSU unable to score a touchdown in each of the last two contests.
This is not going to be an encouraging section for MSU fans, as OSU has pretty much dominated both sides of the ball so far this year.
The Buckeyes are the number three scoring offense, averaging 52.4 points per game this season. In fact OSU has won four straight games by at least 40 points, tied for the longest streak by any Big Ten team since the end of World War I.
On the ground, the Bucks are seventh in the nation averaging 281.60 yards per game. They are sixth overall at 6.10 yards per carry. This will certainly test MSU’s number four ranked rush defense (2nd in yards per carry).
Through the air the Buckeyes are 55th in the country averaging 254 yards per game. However, they are 13th in yards per pass at 9.5 yards per attempt and fifth in passer rating. They have 19 touchdowns through the air without being picked off, one of nine teams yet to throw an interception.
On defense Ohio State is fourth in the nation in scoring allowing just 8.6 points per game.
They are 15th in rush defense, allowing 85 yards per game, and ninth in yards per carry at just 2.36 yards per rush.
The passing defense is also very good. OSU is sixth overall allowing 138.8 yards per game, 5.1 yards per attempt, and a 92.58 passer rating. They have allowed only two passing touchdowns while intercepting seven passes.
Also of note, the Buckeyes are tied for second in the country with 24 sacks, averaging 4.8 per game.
Both MSU and OSU are plus-six in turnovers, having both forced 10 total takeaways while giving it away four times apiece. All of the Buckeye turnovers are on lost fumbles.
Players to Watch
Justin Fields is your quarterback for OSU. The transfer from Georgia has been spectacular thus far, completing almost 70% of his passes at 9.4 yards per attempt, with 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
He also has 222 rushing yards on 46 carries (4.83 yards per attempt) and seven touchdowns. So yeah he’s a legit dual threat guy that can do pretty much everything.
At running back J.K. Dobbins is back and even better than he was last year. Dobbins has 654 yards rushing already, averaging 7.11 yards per carry. He has found the endzone five times.
Master Teague III (which was also the name of my karate sensei in grade school) is the team’s second leading rusher, and is averaging 6.27 yards per carry and has three touchdowns.
Neither of them are big threats in the passing game, as they have combined for seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown through five games.
The Buckeyes do deploy a barrage of receivers though, with four players registering double-digit receptions, and three of those with at least 15 grabs.
K.J. Hill is your leader in catches with 20, and is third on the team in yards. He also is tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns.
Binjimen Victor leads the team in yards (269) and yards per catch (17.93), and Chris Olave has 16 receptions for 258 yards and four TD’s.
On defense, the name to know is Chase Young, who leads the nation with eight sacks and is fourth with 8.5 tackles for loss. Young led OSU with 9.5 sacks and 14.5 TFL last year.
Seniors Jordan Fuller (DB) and Malik Harrison (LB) lead the Bucks with 25 total tackles. Fuller also has an interception to his name, while Harrison is second on the team with eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Junior defensive back Jeff Okudah has three interceptions on the year, which ties him for the most in the country.