Free Press sports columnist Jeff Seidel answers three questions after Ohio State’s 26-6 victory over Michigan State, Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
Who was the big winner in Spartan Stadium on Saturday?
Actually, it was the Michigan Wolverines.
If Michigan State had upset the Buckeyes, it would have dropped No. 8 Ohio State in the polls.
And it would be better for Michigan to face a highly-ranked Ohio State team in its regular-season finale for another quality win, in the Wolverines’ hopes of getting into the College Football Playoff.
In another twist, the Spartans’ defense showed the Wolverines how to play against Ohio State.
The Spartans totally shut down the Buckeyes. Ohio State averaged just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground.
Did the Spartans blow an opportunity against Ohio State?
After Brian Lewerke struggled, it’s understandable to wonder what would have happened if Rocky Lombardi would have started this game.
Because the defense played well enough to win.
Kenny Willekes was everywhere. Getting pressure. Stuffing the run. In the first half alone, he had seven tackles and three tackles for a loss, including a sack.
“Defense played outstanding, like they have all year,” quarterback Brian Lewerke said. “They kept us in the game. Honestly, the way the defense was playing, we should have been up.”
But once again, the Spartans couldn’t run the ball.
MSU ran the ball just 18 times, and two of those were Lombardi runs on one drive.
“I thought it was pretty embarrassing overall by the offense today,” Lewerke said. “We couldn’t run the ball. We couldn’t pass the ball. We had a lot of turnovers.”
Why did MSU go for the safety?
Ohio State was holding a 7-6 lead. The Spartans took a safety, snapping the ball out of the end zone.
Dantonio was trying to flip the field and MSU was down to its fourth-string punter.
“William Pryzstup is his name in case anyone wants to know, but William’s never punted before until this game,” Dantonio said, “and it felt like coming off the goal line with only 10 yards between the snap and the punter, there’s an opportunity for the punt to be blocked and it’s still a one field goal game, and I felt like our defense was playing well enough.”
But the move was questionable, to say the least. Then, it backfired horribly when Cole Hahn kicked the ball out of bounds and Ohio State took over on the 50.
To make it worse, after MSU’s defense held, after another great Ohio State punt, the Spartans were back in the same spot, but three points behind.
Then, it spun out of control.
The Spartans botched the snap on a receiver in motion. Ohio State recovered for the touchdown and the Buckeyes had a 16-6 lead.
On MSU’s next offensive play, they botched an option and fumbled.
Before you knew it, Ohio State had a 19-6 lead.
And the Spartans are left with nothing but disappointment.
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Contact Jeff Seidel: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.