October 12, 2006

Tale of the tape: Michigan State

It's time to take a look at this week's match-ups, where we break down which team has an advantage on both sides of the running game, the passing game and in the trenches. Not only do we let you know who has the upper hand in each area, we rate it on a one- to five-star level, with one start being a slight edge and five stars being an overwhelming advantage.


Ohio State DBs

Michigan St. QBs/WRs/TEs

The Ohio State secondary has been solid this season ranking second in the Big Ten allowing only 182.7 yards per game. Malcolm Jenkins, Brandon Mitchell and Antonio Smith have all been strong performers while Jamario O'Neal has filled in nicely for the injured Anderson Russell.


Even with the injury to Matt Trannon and the suspensions to the Spartan tight ends it is hard to bet against Drew Stanton. The senior signal caller is a fierce warrior who is accurate and mobile. The complexion of the game could be different if Stanton had a full compliment of receivers to throw to but Kerry Reed will play and is as dangerous as they come.

Ohio State LBs

Michigan St. RBs

After a relatively quiet outing against Bowling Green the Buckeye linebackers will be back in the crosshairs trying to shutdown the Spartan run game. James Laurinaitis continues to grab the headlines but the entire two-deep of linebackers deserves a lot of credit this season replacing three future NFLers.


The Michigan State running game took a major hit when Javon Ringer was lost for the season. Drew Stanton leads the Spartans in running the ball but behind him is bruiser Jehuu Caulcrick who weighs in at 6-foot, 260-pounds. Will the big back be able to carry the ball enough times to be a factor or will backup A.J. Jimmerson have to get into the act as well against an Ohio State run defense that has given up only one touchdown this season.
Ohio State DL

Michigan St. OL

The Ohio State defensive line will be without David Patterson this week but Joel Penton is a three year letter winner and fifth year senior. Vernon Gholston has been unstoppable as of late while Quinn Pitcock is on track to All-America honors. Will the Buckeyes be able to generate a pass rush with only four or will the team have to blitz Stanton to get pressure?


For the past couple of seasons the Michigan State offensive line has been underrated. The line is young on the right side with a pair of sophomores, Roland Martin and Jesse Miller. Kyle Cook is the lone senior at the center position and it will be key for him to anchor a line that could see a lot of pressure if the Ohio State defensive coordinators send the house.

Ohio State QBs/WRs/TEs

Michigan St. DBs

Troy Smith has proven week in and week out that he is one of the top players in the country and with one of the deepest receiver corps in the nation it could be a long day for the MSU secondary if Troy is hot in East Lansing. Coming off of a 17-20 outing against Bowling Green, Smith has shown pinpoint accuracy in distributing the ball to Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, and the rest of the offense.


The Michigan State pass defense has allowed a league worst 15 touchdown passes through the air this season. If the Spartans are unable to get a pass rush on Smith it won't matter who is in coverage because the Heisman front-runner will pick apart the secondary one pass at a time. Cornerback Demond Williams leads MSU with two interceptions but the secondary will need to try and force a couple of turnovers as an equalizer.

Ohio State RBs

Michigan St. LBs

Antonio Pittman has scored touchdowns in his last 11 games for the Buckeyes. With all of the notoriety that other members of the offensive squad has received it is hard to believe a stat like that has gone relatively unnoticed. Between Pittman and Chris Wells the Buckeyes should look to try and run sustained drives to take the Spartan crowd out of the game and work clock.


The Spartan linebackers are not overly tall just averaging around 6-foot-1 but they are big weighing in at an average of 238 pounds. Which linebacker will step up and come up with the big play against the Ohio State running game? If nobody is able to make that big play from the linebackers the game could get ugly, fast.

Ohio State OL

Michigan St. DL

Kirk Barton returns to the lineup this week after a foot procedure limited his minutes against Bowling Green. The line has not played their best game yet but has shown series where they have started to put it all together. Doug Datish and T.J. Downing both lead a deep line that rotates several players into battle.

Michigan State's defensive line has speed and strength behind defensive tackle Clifton Ryan. The Spartans have had a great week of practice but have not shown all season that they have been able to rush the passer. Between that and Sparty's average run defense it is hard to give them the edge.

Ohio State Special Teams

Michigan St. Special Teams

The Ohio State special teams did not get much of an opportunity to raise their ranking against Bowling Green. The Falcons kicked away from Ted Ginn Jr. most of the day on punts and Aaron Pettrey didn't get the opportunity to attempt a field goal. A.J. Trapasso continues a good season with more than a 42 yard average.

The Spartans hold the edge in special teams because of punter Brandon Fields. Fields leads the league with better than a 46 yard average on punts and freshman kicker Brett Swenson has been relatively solid connecting on seven of nine field goal attempts.

More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!