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Today is Thursday, Nov. 17, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call.
Michigan State is extremely dangerous
Ohio State is taking things one game at a time, and that one game this week is Michigan State. After losing to the Spartans at home last season to ruin their chances at a Big Ten championship and a coveted spot in the College Football Playoff, the Buckeyes, despite their No. 2 ranking, are taking this game very seriously.
“They are extremely dangerous,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “I know their personnel and we recruited a lot of those guys. I think they are as well-coached as any team in the country.”
Michigan State has had a rough year. The Spartans have only one conference win, last week’s 49-0 shellacking of Rutgers. Facing a team with an overall record of 3-7, it could be easy for players to overlook this game and look to the matchup against No. 3 Michigan the week after. But that’s not the case. According to Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, every player in the OSU locker room is focused on this week — and for good reason.
“I haven’t heard any of the guys around the locker room talk about the game next week,” Hooker said. “Everybody is more worried about the game this week because, like I said, we lost this game last year. We didn’t lose to The Team Up North last year. I feel like it would be best for everybody just to worry about this week and take it one week at a time, and I feel like we will finish strong.”
As for that No. 2 ranking, it is not something that Meyer is focusing on, especially on Saturday.
“People respect our work,” Meyer said. “That’s it. Move on and play the best we can.”
Matta: ‘We’re at a two’
The Ohio State basketball team is undefeated going into Thursday’s matchup against Providence. Based on coach Thad Matta’s reaction after its win against North Carolina Central on Monday, it’s easy to see Matta hasn’t been impressed so far.
“I told the guys, for a home opener, I don’t think we played at the level that I wanted us to play,” Matta said.
The Buckeyes had multiple double-digit leads in their 69-63 win, including a 10-point lead with 1:52 remaining in the game, that they could not maintain. Also, the Buckeyes, yet again, struggled from the free throw line, shooting 47.8 percent (11-for-23).
They also had only two players, Jae’Sean Tate and Micah Potter, who had more than 10 points in the win. Senior Marc Loving, one of the leaders on this team, had a rough day as well, going 1-for-6 from the field with five turnovers in only 17 minutes of play because of foul trouble.
The focus for this team is clear going forward.
“The focus is on just trying to get better, trying to get guys to play their best basketball, and do it collectively,” Matta said. “We’ve shown some signs, at times, to do some pretty good things, but it’s been more about us and trying to get that flow of who we are.”
Luckily for Ohio State, according to Matta, no team is great this early inthe season. He just wants them to get better.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) November 16, 2016
“Right now, on a scale of one to 10, I think we are at a two,” Matta said. “But, I don’t think there is a coach in the country that thinks their team is higher than a three right now. That’s OK as long as we continue to make the strides toward getting better.”
A look at Michigan State’s passing game
Despite their record, the Michigan State offense, as a whole, is nothing to mess with. Co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano thinks along the same lines as Meyer.
“Offensively, I see a team that has quality skilled players,” Schiano said. “They’ve been beat up a bit on the offensive line. They are a dangerous offensive football team. You look at them, even with all of the injuries they have had, they are in the middle of the pack or higher in every offensive category, so it’s a productive offense and one that we really need to play well against to have success.”
The Spartans passing offense is No. 7 in the Big Ten, averaging 230.7 yards per game with 18 passing touchdowns this season.
Leading the way is senior quarterback Tyler O’Connor. Taking over for the beloved Connor Cook, the Lima, Ohio native is having a relatively good season.O’Connor has a completion rate at 61.5 percent and has thrown 17 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions, with three of those coming against a tough Wisconsin defense. Averaging 8.1 yards per completion, O’Connor has thrown for over 200 yards in five of his nine games this season.
Funner Fact: Tyler O’Connor has a higher QB rating and YPA than Connor Cook did last year.
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) November 14, 2016
Senior R.J. Shelton is the Spartans’ leading receiver with 47 catches for 710 yards. However, the receiver who might get even more attention is dynamic freshman wide receiver Donnie Corley, who averages 14.7 yards per catch and has three touchdowns this year.
Corley was a recruit that Meyer wanted very badly, He has had four games with more than 50 receiving yards and had two straight games — against Notre Dame and Wisconsin — where he had 88 and 84 receiving yards, respectively. Ohio State safety Malik Hooker said that it will be very tough to guard this dynamic freshman.
“He’s definitely a good receiver,” Hooker said. “He’s one of the playmakers on offense and he’s capable of having a breakout play every time he touches the ball, so we have to keep our eye on him throughout the game.”
It doesn’t end there for Spartan pass weapons. Tight end Josiah Price has been a scoring machine this season. He has five touchdowns, including two last week against Rutgers.
With all of these threats from Michigan State, it looks like the Ohio State secondary will have a very busy afternoon on Saturday.
Before Zeke was Zeke
Think back, OK? Back to before Ezekiel Elliott helped lead Ohio State to a national championship in 2014 and before he was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Because before Elliott was leading the NFL in rushing while becoming a full-fledged MVP candidate in his rookie season, he was turning heads as a high school athlete.
Just not in the sport you may think, though. He was also a basketballl stud.
Is there anything that this man can’t do?