In their best offensive performance to date, the Michigan State offense, behind a dominating…
Spartan Ground Game Stalls
The Spartans failed to establish a running game against Ohio State, but with the Buckeyes controlling their own offensive line of scrimmage, it might not have mattered.
OSU racked up 228 yards rushing compared to MSU's 59.
Chris Wells was the workhorse on the day for the Bucks with 234 yards on 31 carries.
Those kind of numbers usually appear on the Spartan's side of the box score too; however, Javon Ringer, normally a big play machine on Saturdays, was limited to just 51 yards on 16 carries.
"We weren't able to establish the run, and that's probably the most frustrating thing," offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said. "They're pretty darn good. Our bread and butter is the run and then we take our chances over the top. They blitzed us early in the game and we just didn't get into an offensive rhythm. We have to work to get better."
But big plays over the top or breakaway runs by Ringer were not the only things missing from the Spartan's arsenal. Treadwell would have taken anything.
"Obviously it's a bonus when Javon (Ringer) breaks it out forty or fifty-yards like he's done at times," Treadwell said. "(But) we'll take a four or five-yard gain."
Even those were few and far between as the Buckeye defense, playing in their aggressive 4-3 defense, often with safety help to stop the run, bottled-up the Spartans and held them to 2.1 yards per carry.
"We couldn't move the ball on offense because they made us one-dimensional," coach Mark Dantonio said, explaining that he was proud of his Spartans for battling a national championship-caliber defense. "(They're) as good a (defensive) team we've played all season."
James Laurinaitis, OSU's standout MIKE linebacker, paced the Buckeye's with 12 tackles and one sack. The play and speed of the Ohio State defense, however, were not the only factors in the reduced production on offense.
"The thing you can't do against a great defense is shoot yourself in the foot. We came out in one drive, got a deep pass over the middle, then we got a penalty," Treadwell said.
The Spartans could have felt like they were looking in a mirror, having the kind of success they usually have against opponents thrown back in their collective faces. But they battled on and kept things close with the defense assisting the offense on two turnover touchdowns.
"At some point we're going to do it both ways," Treadwell said about the Spartan offense and defense.
For now Michigan State will take solace in knowing that on the road, against as talented a team as there is in college football, they not only came to play, but they kept it close — even under difficult circumstances.
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