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Game Day Observations: Ohio State Defense vs. Michigan State

Ohio State's defense absolutely rose to the challenge with the nation watching closely on Saturday.

With the weight of the world (okay, maybe just the season and national championship hopes) resting largely on their shoulders, the Ohio State defense got off to an incredible start. While the offense was forced to play a ton of inexperience up front, the Silver Bullets took pride in setting the tone for the day.

And man did they deliver.

The best play of the day came when Haskell Garrett tipped to himself Rocky Lombardi's third down pass in the end zone for a pick-6. The Buckeye defense was absolutely suffocating in the first half and no player in college football has been through as much adversity as Garrett in the last few months. He's having a terrific season, but his first career interception and first career touchdown are quite the exclamation point.

Ohio State Missing Several Key Players at Michigan State

Ohio State's defense couldn't have had a better start to the game. A 3-and-out to open the game thanks to a great tackle from Tommy Togiai was a great way to start the game. It never got better in the first half MSU managed 12 rushing yards, 80 yards of total offense on 29 plays in the first half. They failed to convert any of their third down tries, punted six times, threw an interception literally in the end zone and lost a fumble on a fourth down conversion attempt.

Pete Werner played a terrific first half at linebacker, including a dynamite tackle to force a fourth down and Spartan punt. 

Tyreke Smith came up with a sack on a great speed rush and his hit unfortunately knocked Spartan QB Rocky Lombardi out of the game. Zach Harrison and Jerron Cage came up with a combo sack on a third down to stop Michigan State's first drive of the second half.

The Spartans finally got on the board after a 55-yard pass to Jayden Reed, followed by a quarterback zone-read keeper from Payton Thorne from 20 yards out. It was the first big play the Buckeyes allowed all day. In fact, nearly half of Michigan State's total offense for the entire day to that point came on those two plays.

The defense softened a little bit in the second half, but Ohio State was never in danger of losing the game. After Chris Olave fumbled away a tough hit, Shaun Wade came in for the Buckeyes third takeaway of the game. Marcus Hooker also broke up a touchdown pass in the early fourth quarter.

The Buckeye defense will continue to be the focal point of this team as they push toward a national championship. The offense has proven it's as good as any in the country. Today's performance was overall very, very good for a unit that needed a big response after the Indiana game two weeks ago.

Michigan State went just 3 of 17 on third down, and mustered only 261 yards of offense the entire day. That included MSU wideout Jayden Reed posting 55 of those yards on one long passing play in the second half.

Buckeye linebacker Pete Werner had eight tackles to lead the unit while Marcus Williamson made six, including four solo. Dallas Gant and Justin Hilliard both added five stops.

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Ohio State Offensive Takeaways vs. MSU

Ryan Day Post-Game Comments vs. MSU

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Ohio State vs. Michigan State First Half Notebook

Ohio State's Best Path to the College Football Playoff


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