East Lansing, Mich.— Another week, another nationally televised game for the Michigan State Spartans.
As the Big Ten season kicks-off this weekend, the 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans will host the 14th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
This game will mark the Spartans third nationally televised game at home this season, with the first two coming against Boise St. and Notre Dame.
The Spartans and Buckeyes defenses will be facing two dangerous, but yet different, running attacks this Saturday.
Ohio State’s 229.3 rushing yards per game average places them at 24th in the country, and quarterback Braxton Miller leads that attack with 441 yards on the season.
Miller has a total of 1,195 yards this year with 14 touchdowns, seven passing and seven running, to go along with that. The Ohio State quarterback is one of the frontrunners for the Heisman, and he has made tremendous strides under new head coach Urban Meyer.
Michigan State ranks 55th in the nation running the ball with an average of 176.3 per game. Michigan State’s cornerstone on offense is running back Le’Veon Bell, who is the third leading rusher in the country with 610 yards on the season.
Bell has been a work-horse for the Spartans, as he touches the ball 32 times a game on average. However, the success of Bell has also shown the weaknesses of the Spartans.
Bell has been so productive this season because of the inexperienced passing attack of the Spartans. The Spartans motto this season has been, “When in doubt, hand the ball to Le’Veon,” and I honestly don’t blame them.
Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell will be starting in his first Big Ten game, and coming into this game, Maxwell has had a shaky start to the season.
Maxwell has thrown for 859 yards on the season with three touchdowns and three interceptions. His main target thus far has been tight end Dion Sims who happens to be the only bright spot in the passing game.
The young receivers of the Michigan State offense have struggled with consistency in the early stages of the season, and that has caused a major setback in the development of the passing game. Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett, and Keith Mumphrey have been the receivers with the most opportunities to standout at the receiver position, but all three have failed to take total control.
Don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes load the box against the Spartans and make Maxwell beat them with his arm. Bell has proved over-and-over that he can carry the load for Michigan State, but this Saturday Maxwell and the receivers will have to take that responsibility because the Ohio State defense is going to test them early.
The Michigan State defense started off the season without giving up an offensive touchdown in their first two games. Since then, the Spartans have given up three in their past two games, two of which came against Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson.
The Spartans defense struggled to get pressure against the mobile Notre Dame quarterback because the pocket was moving constantly. OSU will more than likely use the same concept on Saturday which will give Miller much more time to throw or run if executed properly.
The best thing for the Spartans defense to do is not get too anxious to hit Miller. If the Spartans defense plays with patience , and contain the outsides, they should be fine.