Final Breakdown: Ohio State vs. Michigan State

Normally in this space, we provide some statistical analysis that illustrates why the Ohio State game that day turned out the way it did. Don’t worry…you’ll still get that.
However, today’s victory for the Buckeyes goes far beyond numbers. It was all about heart, and believing in themselves, which is something that the 2011 team never quite grasped.
OSU won 17-16 in East Lansing, the first time since a 21-20 win over Penn State in 2003 that the Buckeyes were victorious in a one-point game.
It was a defensive battle, which should come as no surprise. Last year in Columbus, Michigan State won a 10-7 decision, although the Spartans dominated the action in that game. The Buckeyes had 39 rushing attempts last year, gaining just 34 yards, and Braxton Miller accounted for just 29 yards of total offense.
Flip the calendar ahead 12 months, and the Bucks netted 383 yards of offense, with 315 of it (179 passing, 138 rushing) from the talents of OSU’s sophomore signal caller. Miller was effective throwing the ball, completing 16 of 23 passes. The only downside, were turnovers. Miller threw one interception, while fumbling the ball twice. All three miscues came in Spartan territory.
More importantly, Miller established himself further as a “gamer”. He battled through those injuries and mistakes, while leading his team to a conference win on the road against a very good defense.
After catching just 14 passes for the entire 2011 season, wide receiver Corey Brown hauled in 12 today alone, tied for the fourth-most in a single game by an Ohio State player. He totaled 84 yards receiving for the game.
The Buckeyes 383 yards of offense was nearly 150 yards more than Michigan State’s average coming in, which was sixth-best in the FBS.
One of the more astonishing stats from this game was OSU picking up 14 first downs on runs, while the host Spartans had zero.
On third-down conversions, the Bucks were a modest 6-13, while Sparty struggled, converting only 4 of 15.
The much-maligned Ohio State defense deserves a lot of credit. Yes, Michigan State passed for 269 yards, but only reached the end zone once. Reynoldsburg native Le’Veon Bell came in the NCAA’s third-leading rusher, but was held to 45 yards on the ground (17 carries). He did catch 8 passes out of the back-field, adding 58 yards to his all-purpose total.
Quarterback Andrew Maxwell hadn’t had much success so far in 2012 throwing the ball, and dropped passes were a big reason for that. There was some more of that today (and some hard hits from the OSU secondary to knock balls out), but the Spartans found something in their passing game. Maxwell completed 22 of 42 for 269 yards and a score.
Despite committing a couple of costly penalties, Bradley Roby was everywhere in his return from a shoulder injury. The redshirt Sophomore corner had a team-best 9 tackles to go with two pass break-ups. He also blocked a Michigan State punt in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes will now try to carry this momentum over to the Big Ten home opener next week when Nebraska makes its first appearance in Columbus since 1956. The Huskers will be the visitors for just the fourth ever home night conference game in Ohio State history.
We’ll wrap up our Buckeye GameDay coverage tonight on 10TV HD News at 7pm and 11pm, and on Wall to Wall Sports at 11:35pm. Former Buckeye Roy Hall will join Dom Tiberi in studio, while Beau Bishop and David Wilkinson will have reports from East Lansing.