Scouting Report and Prediction: MSU vs. the Ohio State

A look at this week’s opponent…

This is a sort of family reunion with so many ties for both teams.  The Buckeyes had huge expectations before their entire end of last season and off-season troubles.  The Buckeyes want to get a big win under their very interim head coach and the Spartans need this win on the road to keep any hopes of a special season. 

When MSU has the ball…

MSU loves the running game.  The Spartans want to pound-green-pound and I have expounded on this ad nauseum.  I had two Ohio State beat writers on my radio show this week who know the Buckeyes inside and out and both told me that the Ohio State staff and the fans are afraid of the Spartans going to the air with Cousins and his weapons.

Jeff Rapp, one of the writers, went so far as saying, “If MSU goes to the air and forces the Buckeyes out of the box to stop the run the game is over.”  So with all of that, will they?  Will MSU use the pass to open the run or will they stick to the run?

OSU will load the box.  They have seen how to beat MSU and the staff knows Dantonio well.  So there are three questions when MSU has the ball:

1)      Will MSU pass to run?

2)      Will MSU get stopped with their pound-green-pound attack?

3)      Will MSU have success with pound-green-pound?

 

I can’t imagine the MSU staff when OSU loads the box not going to a pass to run attack.  I was stunned that they haven’t used it in their previous losses so I think you will see more passing early.

 

When MSU is on defense…

The Spartans are salivating at a freshman QB and receivers that are young not like the stars of the Buckeyes in the past.  Look for MSU to pressure the youngster, by keeping outside contain by moving their DE’s out to a more of nine technique contain and force OSU to beat them in the air. 

 

I do not believe that OSU can beat MSU in the air.  Look for the Spartans number one in the country defense to bring pressure from their front four and various blitzes from all over the field.  Young Mr. Braxton Miller will see Spartans in his nightmares as he will be the beef hanging in the freezer with the Spartans playing Rocky.

Intangibles…

The Spartans have connections to the Buckeyes and the Buckeye state all over the field from the coaches to players.  Kirk Cousins has been pressing and frankly night playing like a fifth year, multi-year starter.  Some of that has been on the line and some on him.  This staff has been out coached in their last three losses.

Does Cousins relax and the Spartans take it to the Buckeyes?  They are young and the last thing the Spartans need is to give the Buckeyes some early momentum which has killed them in the last three losses.

MSU needs to come out, settle the nerves, and play well, not blowout OSU.  They can’t give them momentum.  This team isn’t in panic mode, but they are feeling the pressure.  Does that pressure propel them forward or do they collapse?

Prediction… 

I said all off-season that the Spartans come into Columbus; a team minus a hall of fame coach, multiple players, and loaded with talent.  If MSU can’t win there this year, then when?  Does the added pressure help or hurt?

I believe in this staff and players.  I was not shocked by the Irish loss (although I did think MSU would win), but I was stunned how it happened.  Everyone has bad days and I think MSU uses the pass more to run (not as much as I want) and do win this game.

Make it MSU 24 and the Ohio State 16.