Ohio State grade card: Buckeyes respond to challenge


A grade card on Ohio State’s 26-6 win at Michigan State, which kept the Buckeyes in the hunt for the Big Ten East Division championship:

OFFENSE: C+

It took Ohio State’s offense three quarters to get going but it finished on a high note by scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Mike Weber ran for 104 yards against a defense that was giving up 71.7 yards a game. Weber got 101 of those yards in the second half. As a team, OSU got 106 of its 120 rushing yards in the last two quarters.

Michigan State is probably checking if Weber is out of eligibility after this season. He ran for 182 yards last year against a Spartans defense that was No. 3 nationally against the run.

Dwayne Haskins threw for 227 yards and one touchdown. He said the wind was not a big problem but there were three or four times in the first half when he overthrew receivers pretty significantly.

The much-awaited Tate Martell solution in short yardage situations was tried in two red zone situations with mixed results. Once he gained five yards to the 1-yard line. Another time a bad snap by Michael Jordan resulted in a loose ball that Michigan State recovered.

DEFENSE: B+

Ohio State didn’t allow a touchdown, held Michigan State to 274 yards total offense, limited its quarterbacks to 18 of 48 passing, stopped the Spartans on 14 of 16 third-down situations, forced three turnovers in the second half and scored a touchdown.

It had to be the best the much-criticized OSU defense has felt about itself in quite a while.

Dre’Mont Jones had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, a pass break-up and two quarterback hurries in his best game since early in the season. Brendon White got his first start at safety and had five tackles. Maybe most importantly, the tackling was better.

The defense stepped up immediately when Michigan State got the ball on Ohio State’s 35-yard line after a 4-yard punt and it turned the Spartans away without getting any points.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

Punter Drue Chrisman has had a lot of good days as a Buckeye but nothing to match what he did on Saturday.

When neither team could get anything going offensively until the fourth quarter in a game of field position, Chrisman continually put Michigan State in a bad position with five second-half punts that were downed or went out of bounds inside the 6-yard line.

Terry McLaurin kept two of those from going into the end zone for a touchback and Johnnie Dixon grabbed another before it got to the end zone.

Blake Haubeil made a 35-yard field goal and missed from 44 yards.

OVERALL: B

Ohio State rose to the occasion against Michigan State when its season could have taken a wrong turn for a second year in a row.

OSU’s offense averaged 4.1 yards per play, its lowest of the season, but that was more a validation of MSU’s defensive reputation than an indictment of the Buckeyes offensive efforts.

OSU was the first team to hold Michigan State without a touchdown at home since Wisconsin did it on Sept. 24, 2016.

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