Ohio State has a challenge this week. The Buckeyes travel to take on Michigan State. While the Spartans haven’t had the year the fans in East Lansing hoped for — 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten — any struggles haven’t been because of the defense.
Michigan State’s defense ranks 22nd in the country and third in the Big Ten, allowing just 325.1 total yards per game. The Spartans have been the best team in the nation against the run and are only allowing 19 points per game. They like to do a lot of different things up front to try and confuse the offense.
On Saturday, dealing with that defense, and ideally cutting through it, falls on Dwayne Haskins. The Buckeye quarterback has been phenomenal in his first year as a starter and has the Scarlet and Gray as the country’s third-best passing attack. But Ohio State hasn’t seen a defense like MSU’s.
So to get some advice on how to handle the Spartans, Haskins turned to an unlikely source for information.
“I watched like five games already since Sunday for Michigan State,” Haskins said on Tuesday night. “I talked to Shea Patterson, he played them earlier in the year, and just trying to figure out what they do defensively.”
A Buckeye quarterback getting advice from a Michigan quarterback? How does that happen?
“I’ve known Shea since I was in eighth grade,” Haskins explained. “We played in an all-star game together, Elite 11, all that type of stuff. So I just hit him up asking how they play defensively. He just gave me some tips for going into this week.”
Like Haskins, Patterson is in his first year as the starter for the Wolverines. The junior transferred from Ole Miss this offseason and was granted immediate eligibility. Patterson has been a big reason why Michigan is ranked in the top five and is in serious contention for the team’s first Big Ten title and College Football Playoff trip under head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Obviously the rivalry between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines is well documented, but these two quarterbacks — from Maryland and Louisiana — aren’t letting that stand in the way of their friendship. So what advice did Patterson give to Haskins after Michigan beat the Spartans 21-7 a few weeks back?
“Just to play really hard,” Haskins said. “They’re going to bring a lot of different stuff. Watch their film. A lot of empty stuff. They brought six-man pressure to five-man protection. So we’re just going to figure out what we need to do as far as the game plan goes and I’m going to get myself together for different types of pressure and looks I get this week.”
What’s interesting about this is an Ohio State win won’t do much to help the Wolverines. If Michigan State can beat the Buckeyes, it makes Michigan’s path to the Big Ten Title Game that much easier, needing just two more wins in the final three games to clinch. Also, the Maize and Blue don’t need the Scarlet and Gray to be a top-10 when the two meet on Nov. 24 as Michigan has already put itself in position to make the Playoff.
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While Haskins and Patterson may be friends, the Ohio State quarterback said there was some smack talk between the two when Patterson elected to transfer to Michigan. And don’t worry Buckeye fans, Haskins won’t be opening up the lines of communication once we get close to The Game.
“Yeah, I’m not going to talk to him that week,” he said.