Spartans were in the game…but then the wheels came off

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The Buckeyes were favored to beat the Spartans by 20 points last Saturday, but after 4 possessions in the 1st Qtr, including the fact the Buckeyes were the beneficiaries of two critical Spartans Turnovers on the Spartans side of the field, the Buckeyes only managed net 16 yards and a Field Goal for a miniscule 3-0 lead.

On 4 consecutive possessions in the 1st Qtr, the Spartans Defense yielded (-16)…+7…0…and + 25 yards, for net 16 Yards, and that’s noteworthy because the Buckeyes were averaging nearly 540 yards per game, or 135 Yards per Qtr, and yet the Spartans yielded just 16 Yards and 3 points in the 1st Qtr.

It looked like the Spartans were in the game!

But football games are 4 Quarters and 60 minutes, and in the 2nd Qtr alone, the Buckeyes rolled up 281 Yards, and 24 points, scoring on every possession and enjoying a 27-10 lead at halftime. And when the stadium clock ticked Zero, the Buckeyes posted a 34-10 victory by way of compiling 529 Yards, including 323 Yards Rushing and 206 Yards Passing.

For the Spartans, Brian Lewerke played well but not heroic, completing 20 of 38 passes (53%) for 218 Yards, and 1 Touchdown but he didn’t get much support from the Spartans Running game, inasmuch as the Spartans gained just 67 Yards Rushing net, compared to 323 Yards Rushing for the Buckeyes.

Elijah Collins had just 12 Rushing attempts for the Spartans.

Overall, the Spartans had just 27 running attempts, acompanied by 38 passing attempts, and 27 running attempts simply isn’t enough when playing a high powered Offense like the Buckeyes. As we know, running the football helps manage the clock, shortens the game and keeps the football out of the hands of an explosive Offense like the Buckeyes. Sometimes an Offense has to force the issue, even if Rushing yards are coming grudgingly.

By comparison, the Buckeyes attempted 49 running plays to just 27 for the Spartans.

The Spartans only converted 4 of 13, 3rd Down attempts…a dismal 31%…and that’s a manifestation of getting “behind the chains” and not being able to run with efficiency. Consequently, the Spartans only controlled the football for 28 minutes, while the Buckeyes converted 8 of 15, 3rd Down attempts, (53%) and controlled the clock for more than 31 minutes.

Here we go again:

Problematically, after 6 football games, the Spartans Rushing Offense ranks #100 when measured against 129 Division 1 schools, and keep in mind, last season the Spartans Rushing Offense finished the season ranked a dismal #114, at just 125 Yards per game and that was an historic low.

So, somehow, someway, the Spartans must fix their Rushing Offense if they hope to compete, and it’s uncertain if Rushing inefficiency is due to lack of talent along the Offensive Line, or due to coaching or technique issues (or both) but what is certain is the fact the Offensive Line is unable to consistently control the Line of Scrimmage…and that’s a problem.

And for the fifth consecutive season the Rushing Offense has fallen considerably short of 200 Yards Rushing per game, averaging just 150 Yards per game since 2015, and that’s a recipe for falling into the middle of the pack and below.

Another road trip…this time Wisconsin:

The Spartans Offense is going from the frying pan into the fire.

Prior to last Saturday, the Buckeyes were ranked #2 Total Defense when measured against 129 Division 1 schools, yielding a tick shy of 225 Yards per game and the Spartans only managed 10 points. Now the Spartans face the Wisconsin Badgers and the Badgers are absolutely dominating the Defensive Line of Scrimmage and yielding less than 6 points per game. Take a look:

  • Total Defense: #1…yielding 178 Yards per game
  • Passing Defense #1…yielding 131 Yards per game
  • Scoring Defense #1…yielding 5.8 Points per game
  • 3rd Down Conversion Defense #1…yielding 16% conversions
  • Rushing Defense #2…yielding 48 Yards per game

The Badgers also rank #1 in Turnover Margin +1.4…and #1 Time of Possession, 37 minutes and change.

When we look forward to Saturday, the Badgers Rushing Defense is yielding just 48 Yards per game…and that spells Big problems for the Spartans Rushing Offense based upon what we have learned through the first 6 games.

Moreover, to put Wisconsin’s Defensive stats into perspective, the Badgers have beaten South Florida, Central Michigan, and Kent State by a cumulative score of 158-0, and the Badgers Defense has yielded just 29 points all season, 14 points to Michigan, and 15 points to Northwestern.

At the bottom line, after just 6 games, Ohio State has distinguished themselves as head and shoulders above the rest of the Big Ten, and now the Spartans must prove they can compete with the “rest of the best”, and it starts with Wisconsin.

We’ll see…