Ohio State Football: Breaking Down Buckeyes and Michigan State
After two weeks of college football, Ohio State and Michigan State appear to be the best teams in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes and the Spartans have gone 2-0, and they are both coming off dominant performances as Top 15 teams in the AP poll.
So, as they are arguably the top teams in the Legends and Leaders divisions, let's take a look at each squad's strengths and weaknesses.
You have to start with sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller when discussing Ohio State's strengths this season.
Miller, in his first year starting, has been a fantastic dual threat for the Buckeyes. In two games, Miller has gone 32-of-48 for 362 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while rushing for 302 yards and four touchdowns.
The rush defense has also been solid, albeit against mediocre opponents. The Buckeyes have allowed just 2.4 yards per carry and zero touchdowns through two games.
Ohio State also has to be happy with the production in the receiving corps so far. Junior Philly Brown and sophomore Devin Smith have totaled 135 yards and 88 yards respectively through the air. Each has scored a touchdown.
For a team that boasts what was supposed to be an impressive defensive line this season, the Buckeyes simply haven't produced in that area.
Head coach Urban Meyer has expressed concern with the pressure Ohio State has brought so far. The team has three sacks through two games, despite playing overmatched opponents.
The running-back situation at Columbus is murky at best. Projected starter Jordan Hall suffered a freak accident in June, keeping him out of the first two games, and true freshman Warren Ball underwent foot surgery in the offseason.
Junior Carlos Hyde has emerged as the starter in Hall's absence, but he rushed for just 27 yards on seven carries against UCF last week and suffered a knee sprain. He is now on the disabled list.
That leaves Ohio State with freshman Bri'onte Dunn and sophomore Rod Smith.
You have to talk about Le'Veon Bell first and foremost when you talk about Michigan State's strengths.
After rushing for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, the junior has already rushed for 280 yards and four touchdowns this year, adding seven receptions for 55 yards. That included a 210-yard, two-touchdown performance against then-No. 24 Boise State to start the season.
After struggling against Boise State, junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell played well against Central Michigan, going 20-of-31 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He's going to go through his growing pains, but he's led the Spartans to two straight victories to start the season.
The receiving corps has been solid, with Bennie Fowler (135 yards, one touchdown) and Dion Sims (113 yards, one touchdown) leading the way.
The defense has also been strong against the rush (allowing 2.4 yards per carry) and the pass (171 passing yards allowed per game, zero touchdowns, three interceptions).
Like Ohio State, Michigan State's supposedly promising defensive line has been inadequate, collecting just one sack in two games.
The pressure has been there at times, but the fact of the matter is that the Spartans aren't getting to the quarterback enough. The talent is there; they just need to execute.
As much as Maxwell played well against Central Michigan, he also struggled in his first true test, against Boise State, going 22-of-38 for 248 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
He needs to make sure he takes care of the ball against better opponents.
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