It’s difficult to say how much the weather affected the offenses in yesterday’s MSU-OSU showdown in Columbus. There were several fumbles early on, including on snaps that went between Cousins’ legs and through the hands of MSU’s punter. But the offenses continued to struggle even though the weather seemed to improve by the mid-to-late second quarter. With that qualifier, here is what I took from MSU’s performance:
Offensively, their line was underwhelming, but not as bad as I expected. The Spartans were able to consistently gain yards on the ground, and while Cousins was pressured often, the line did a reasonable job of giving him time. Bell and Baker did not have huge games, but like always they ran hard and consistently fell forward, picking up what yards were available. In the receiving corps., BJ Cunningham dominated—and it was a good thing for Sparty that he did, because all of their other receivers were practically non-existent. Cousins managed the game well but the OSU pressure did force him into some bad throws and even some uncharacteristically poor decisions (He was intercepted once in the end zone and I recall OSU defenders dropping two other INTs). In typical Spartan fashion, penalties and turnovers killed multiple Spartan drives or they would have easily scored 20+ points.
The OSU offense was so incompetent it was difficult to tell how much was the product of good Spartan defense and how much was just the Suckeyes sucking. William Gholston (Grr.) destroyed OSU with multiple sacks; Bullough and Worthy also played well. However, they really didn’t need to worry about the pass all game.
Based on this game alone, it looks like the keys to beating MSU are (i) get pressure on Cousins, (ii) contain Cunningham, and (iii) use draws & screens to slow down the Spartan pass rush. Oh yeah, and (iv) run the ball, like the winner of that game always does.