School: Ohio State University
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Head Coach: Ryan Day (fourth season as OSU head coach, 39-4 record)
Series History: The Spartans and the Buckeyes have met 50 times in their histories, with the Buckeyes leading the series 35-15, while also winning the last six contests against Michigan State.
Michigan State and Ohio State meet in East Lansing this Saturday afternoon for a Big Ten East battle that before the season seemed like both teams would be competing for a Big Ten Championship. Ohio State’s goals and dreams are still ahead of them, while the Spartans are just trying to salvage a bowl spot in the 2022 season.
The Buckeyes have dominated their competition this season, out-scoring opponents 244-74 on the season. Since 2019, with Ryan Day at the helm, the Buckeye offense has been nothing short of elite, but this season the defense looks to have taken the next step in joining the Ohio State offense, which is a nightmare for opposing teams.
My Stat of the Day.....— Jeremiah (@SYRmotsag) October 3, 2022
Two teams are ranked in the Top 10 of both Total Offense and Total Defense.
Ohio State (Off- #3, Def- #10)
Alabama (Off- #4, Def- #5)
Positions/Schemes to Watch
The Vertical Passing game
There’s no secret that Coach Day is a firm believer in creating explosive plays in the vertical passing game. When Day took over the offense in 2018 as offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer, he switched the scheme from a spread option running attack to a vertical explosive passing attack. The first image is an Urban Meyer base play, the second is an example of a vertical passing play from Day.
With this change, Day has created one of the best passing games in the sport, year in and year out. This season, the Buckeyes post the highest scoring offense in the FBS with 48.8 points per game and are averaging over 300 passing yards per game. That number would probably be higher if future first-round pick, and Heisman Trophy candidate C.J. Stroud actually played in the fourth quarter.
Another reason coach Day can afford to run an aggressive offense, is because of the wide receiver play. Former Buckeye legend and current wide receivers coach Brian Hartline has consistently landed elite talent at the wide receiver position, including the likes of Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, and Marvin Harrison Jr., with Olave and Wilson now playing in the NFL. Ohio State truly has an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position and will continue to have this great “problem” as long as Hartline sticks around in Columbus.
Jim Knowles’ attacking defense
After essentially stripping former Ohio State assistant Kerry Coombs as the defensive coordinator last season after a Week Two loss against Oregon, Coach Day knew at the end of the season he’d have to make a home run hire, especially after an ugly loss in the Big House to Michigan. He did exactly that. Day hired former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator and reigning Jim Broyles award winner (top assistant coach in the country), Jim Knowles.
Knowles led the Oklahoma State defense to being one of the top units in the sport, which is very rare to see a Big 12 defense as an elite unit. Knowles brings an aggressive, attacking mindset to the defensive side of the ball.
As illustrated in the images above, Knowles will walk his linebackers up to the line of scrimmage to show pressure and at times you’ll see his defensive backs getting involved in showing pressure as well. So far the Buckeye defense is a top-10 unit in the FBS, and OSU will need to keep that up if the team is going to compete for a national championship in 2022.
I don’t expect this game to be shades of the 1998 upset or 2015 upset. The Buckeyes are 27-point favorites for a reason and if last year was any tell, Day is not afraid to really put it on the Spartans. The Buckeyes can pick the amount of points that they’d like to score in this one, as this contest will not be pretty for Michigan State.