Ohio State’s defense gets back to basics in rout of Michigan State

Ohio State’s Damon Arnette celebrates after recovering a fumble against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
Caption
Ohio State’s Damon Arnette celebrates after recovering a fumble against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Buckeyes record six sacks in 48-3 win

Michigan State offensive lineman David Beedle demolished Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Sam Hubbard, a man used to dealing such blows, with a blind-sided block Saturday.

“I got hit pretty good,” Hubbard said. “It happens in this game. I popped right back up, but I’m pretty sore.”

That was one of the few blows the No. 12 Spartans (7-3, 5-2) struck during a 48-3 loss at Ohio Stadium. The No. 13 Buckeyes (8-2, 6-1) dominated every phase of the game. This was the most lopsided game in the history of the season.

GAME STORY: Buckeyes hammer Michigan State

Perhaps most surprisingly, an Ohio State defense that allowed 487 yards in a 55-24 loss the previous week at Iowa surrendered 195 yards in this game.

“I think we got more back to the basics of playing base defense and playing man for man and stopping the line of scrimmage,” Hubbard said. “We were maybe doing a little too much (last week), trying to be a little too fancy. The coaches did a good job of correcting us. Obviously, we played great up front. I’m proud of the defensive line and linebackers for stepping up.”

The Buckeyes played without two starting linebackers. Dante Booker and Jerome Baker missed the game with head injuries.

Tuf Borland and Malik Harrison earned starts in their place Borland led the Buckeyes with 11 tackles and two tackles for a loss. Harrison had six tackles, including a sack.

Chris Worley, the only regular starting linebacker to play, counseled the two newcomers to the lineup.

“He’s always talking to us whether that is on the field or off of it,” Harrison said. “He just tells us to be calm out there and that the game is just like practice.”

Hubbard credited an intense focus in the week of practice before the game for the improved play.

“Same type of plays we’ve been running since camp,” Hubbard said. “Nothing special. Just hard-nosed football.”

RELATED: Photos from first half

Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke topped 400 yards passing in the two previous games against Northwestern and Penn State. He threw six touchdowns in those games.

Against Ohio State, Lewerke completed 18 of 36 passes for 131 yards. He threw two interceptions to Damon Webb and Damon Arnette. The Buckeyes sacked him three times.

“I knew we could take advantage of their weak spots on the offensive line,” Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa said. “It was big to put him in pressure situations and make him run, because he loves to roll out.”

Ohio State also sacked Michigan State backup quarterback Messiah deWeaver three times in four plays on Michigan State's final possession. This was the college debut for deWeaver, a redshirt freshman who was one of the top quarterback prospects in the country in the class of 2016.

ARCHDEACON: Price a cornerstone for Ohio State

All in all, this was a dominant performance by Ohio State’s defense, and it’s hard to predict what it will do in the final two weeks of the regular season against Illinois and Michigan. The Iowa offense that ran over Ohio State in Iowa City gained a total of 66 yards Saturday in a 38-14 loss at Wisconsin.

“I think it was just all-around focus,” Hubbard said. “There were guys playing for each other. There was no talk about anything but we want to win this game. There was literally nothing else but that. That’s all that mattered to us. That’s what we did.”


SATURDAY’S GAME

Illinois at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

About the Author

ajc.com