Tuesday, December 17

Buckeyes taste defeat for first time in two years, fall to Michigan St in B1G Championship

Well, I haven’t had to do this in a while. Ohio St’s 34-24 loss to Michigan St in the Big Ten Championship was painful, and frankly reliving it here on FCF isn’t exactly high on my priority list, so don’t expect much from this piece. With the standards as high as they are in Columbus, every loss is tough to swallow, but when it happens for the first time in two years and keeps you out of the National Championship is has some extra sting to it.

Game Recap
The Spartan defense came into the game as one of the best in the nation, and held its ground early, forcing the Buckeyes to punt on each of their first four possessions. MSU quarterback Connor Cook connected on two long scoring passes, and Ohio St found themselves in a very unfamiliar position, giving up the game’s first 17 points.

I stayed relatively calm at this point (although much more nervous than I was going in), knowing that Ohio St had plenty of firepower to get right back in it. Braxton Miller and company must have been feeling the same way, and Brax’s TD pass to Philly Brown got the Bucks on the scoreboard. A Drew Basil FG as time expired cut the lead to a very reasonable 17-10 at halftime.

The Buckeyes received the second half kickoff and marched right down the field, tying the game on a Miller run. A C.J. Barnett interception caused the first turnover of the game, and each defense held serve for much of the third quarter. That was, until Braxton’s second rushing touchdown of the half gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game at 24-17.

Now this was the point where I got really complacent, and I wonder if that was the case with the guys on the field as well. Even though I was well aware it was only a one-score game, the fact that OSU just rattled off 24 unanswered points made it seem like any other blowout we’ve played in for most of year. The problem here, of course, was that Michigan St was not exactly the caliber opponent that Ohio St was used to facing this season.

The Spartans came back with a long field goal followed by another Cook TD pass to put Michigan St back on top, 27-24. The play of the game came with about six minutes left to play, with the Buckeyes facing a 4th and 2 from the MSU 39-yard line. The Michigan St D proved their prowess one final time, stuffing Miller on a designed run and taking over on downs. A lot of people had complaints about the play-call, but I think it was the right move. They were stuffing the middle all night long, I agree that the best option was to send Braxton to the outside and try to get him into open space.

Ohio St’s defense was not up to the challenge of getting the Spartans off the field, and Jeremy Langford’s 26-yard touchdown run sealed the Buckeyes’ fate.

Up Next: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson (10-2), 1/3, 8:30, ESPN
It is going to be very difficult to come back from a loss like this. After two seasons of thinking only about a 2013 National Championship game, a date with Clemson in the Orange Bowl doesn’t seem like a very big deal. The good news is that Urban Meyer got his team to play hard in 12 “meaningless” games last season, so I have full faith that he can get his boys up for this one.

On another positive note - these two teams couldn’t have more opposite track records in big games in recent years. Ohio St has won their last two BCS Bowl games, defeating Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl and Oregon in 2010’s Rose, not to mention their domination of the school up north over the past decade. Clemson on the other hand, was routed in their lone BCS berth in 2011 when West Virginia dropped 70 on them in the Orange Bowl, in addition to their embarrassment at the hands of Florida St this season.

Expect a TON of points to be put up by both sides in this one. Urban Meyer owns a 7-1 career record in Bowl games, and I wouldn’t start betting against him now.
Prediction: Ohio St 45 Clemson 35


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