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Is there a Bigger Game than this?

Sep 30, 2011 Adam Ruff | View Comments

If there’s a bigger game on Michigan State’s remaining schedule than this weekend’s tilt with Ohio State, please fill me in.

Yes, the subsequent schedule of top-20 opponents in Michigan, Wisconsin, and a road tilt at Nebraska loom large in the month of October. And yes, each one is big in its own right. (Maybe “big” isn’t quite the correct term for it. I’ve heard people call it the “Murderer’s Row Schedule” and the “Ides of October”)

But in my mind this game isn’t just important for Michigan State. It’s more than that because of the chain reaction effect it could have on the rest of the season. With a win, the Spartans can say, “You know what, despite our deficiencies on special teams thus far and the lack of continuity along the o-line, we’ve come together, improved and won a big game.”

Also, do you know what a win would do for the confidence of a team and a program that in recent years has struggled to play well in some of its bigger road games? Even more, how about a win at Ohio State? It hasn’t been done since 1998, and remains the loan team in conference – aside from Nebraska – that this Dantonio-led program has not beaten.

However, with the 24 players on the Spartan roster who hail from Ohio, MSU is equipped to knock off this perennial conference giant. In previous years the Spartans have had plenty of guys from the State of Ohio. But they haven’t had nearly the quantity of quality players they do now.

On the two deep, out of B.J. Cunningham, Le’Veon Bell, Garrett Celek, Johnny Adams, Denicos Allen, Kurtis Drummond, Marcus Rush, and Jerel Worthy, there isn’t a single guy who couldn’t play for Ohio State. And that’s before I mention the other young players who are certain to make big contributions at MSU in the very near future.

That’s the difference between the present MSU program and the MSU of the past. It’s exactly why this game becomes even more important than simply their win loss record. It’s a huge game on so many levels.

I believe the Spartans are ready to take that next step. After all, they’re finally equipped to do so.

BUCKEYE BITES

3-1 RECORD
Game 1: W vs Akron 42-0
Game 2: W vs Toledo 27-22
Game 3: L at Miami 24-6
Game 4: W vs Colorado 37-17

Coach: Luke Fickell (3-1 overall)
-1st year as an interim Collegiate Head Coach, taking over for Jim Tressel after his resignation/firing
-23rd Head Coach in the history of Ohio State football
-Fickell played nose tackle and started every game(50) of his college football career at Ohio State.

Quarterback: Braxton Miller (Fr., 6-3, 210)
-2011 Totals: 15-29, 235 yards, 3 TD, 1INT
30 car., 135 yards, 0TD
-1 career start

Leading Rusher: Jordan Hall (Jr., 5-9, 195)
-2011 Totals: 32 car., 171 yards, 1 TD
-354 all-purpose yards. 177 ypg. (Also a Kick and Punt Return Specialist)

Leading Rusher: Carlos Hyde (SR., 6-0, 238)
-2011 Totals: 57 car., 263 yards, 3 TD, 65.5 ypg
6 rec., 51 yards

Leading Receiver: Devin Smith (Fr., 6-3, 190)
-2011 Totals: 8 rec., 183 yds., 3 TD

Top Tackler: LB Andrew Sweat (Sr., 6-2, 238)
-2011 Totals: 24 Tkl., 3.5 tfl, 1 INT
-85 career Tackles. 7.5 career tackles for loss
-3 career Interceptions

OHIO STATE BY THE NUMBERS

-Red Zone Efficincy: 14-for-17 (82.3%), including 10 touchdowns
-Ranks 91st in the NCAA and 12th in the Big Ten in total offense (340.75 ypg)
-Ranks 16th in the NCAA and 4th in the Big Ten in total defense (276.25 ypg)
-In their last 82 games (dating back to 2005), the Buckeyes have only all 11, 100 yard rushers.
-Ohio State has allowed fewer than 10 points in a game 30 times the start of the 2006 season.


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