Buckeyes matchups vs. Michigan State


OSU #16 J.T. Barrett tries get around the corner as Mich St. #43 Ed Davis tries to make the stop in the first quarter at Spartan Stadium November 8, 2014


QUARTERBACKS

With J.T. Barrett – who threw for 300 yards against Michigan State last season — settled in as Ohio State’s quarterback, the big quarterback question this week is if MSU’s Connor Cook is healthy.

Cook (2,482 yards, 21 touchdowns, 4 interceptions) injured his right shoulder early in a 24-7 win over Maryland last week and sat out the entire second half. He was ineffective (6 of 20 for 77 yards) before Lima Central Catholic graduate Tyler O’Connor came in for the final two quarters.

Advantage: Michigan State

RUNNING BACKS

Ezekiel Elliott’s 1,425 yards rushing in 10 games would rank twelfth all-time for a season at Ohio State. He has a minimum of three games still to play this season. Elliott rushed for 1,878 yards last season. OSU needs big games from him down the stretch and he needs those games to contend for the Heisman Trophy.

Freshman L.J. Scott (519 yards, 9 TDs) is MSU’s leader but has struggled recently. Sophomore Gerald Holmes rushed for 83 yards against Maryland. Redshirt freshman Madre London has gained 405 yards.

Advantage: Ohio State

RECEIVERS

Michael Thomas (45 catches, 651 yards, 8 TDs) gave Ohio State the lead for good against Michigan State last year with a 79-yard touchdown catch late in the first half.

For MSU, Aaron Burbridge (65 catches, 1,021 yards, 6 TDs) is the go to receiver. R.J. Shelton (34 catches), Macgarrett Kings (32 catches) and tight end Josiah Price (5 touchdowns) give Cook a variety of targets.

Advantage: Michigan State

OFFENSIVE LINE

OSU’s run blocking is solid but its pass protection needs some work. Barrett was under pressure much of OSU’s 28-3 win over Illinois last Saturday.

Michigan State has started five different combinations on its offensive line because of injuries but the season-opening lineup has been back for the last two games. Center Jack Allen was first-team All-Big Ten last season and tackle Jack Conklin was second team.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE LINE

Ohio State has not allowed a rushing touchdown in its last four games and has held its last two opponents to 53 yards rushing combined. Defensive end Joey Bosa has been dominant the last two or three games.

MSU’s defensive end Shilique Calhoun (8.5 sacks) has been first-team All-Big Ten twice. Malik McDowell had 4.5 tackles for losses against Maryland.

Advantage: Ohio State

LINEBACKERS

OSU linebackers Raekwon McMillan, Joshua Perry and Darron Lee are first, second and fifth on the team in tackles and like the defensive line have been strong recently.

For Michigan State, Riley Bullough is the team leader with 79 tackles and has had interceptions in the last two games.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Connor Cook threw for 358 yards in Ohio State’s 49-37 win last year and he passed for 304 yards when MSU upset Ohio State in the 2013 Big Ten championship game, so it could be a busy day for the Buckeyes’ defensive backs.

MSU starting cornerback Darian Hicks could return after missing three games because of a concussion. The Spartans’ starting safeties are both freshmen.

Advantage: Ohio State

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ohio State’s field goal woes continued last week when Sean Nuernberger won the starting kicker’s job and then missed a 24-yard field goal. Michigan State’s Michael Geiger is 8 of 12 but hasn’t missed in his last four games.

Advantage: Michigan State

OSU #16 J.T. Barrett tries get around the corner as Mich St. #43 Ed Davis tries to make the stop in the first quarter at Spartan Stadium November 8, 2014
http://galioninquirer.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_JTMSU.jpgOSU #16 J.T. Barrett tries get around the corner as Mich St. #43 Ed Davis tries to make the stop in the first quarter at Spartan Stadium November 8, 2014

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