EAST LANSING, Mich. -- What started as a shootout quickly has reverted to a Big Ten slugfest.
Neither Ohio State nor Michigan State has been able to land a knockout blow just yet.
Jordan Hall plunged in for a short touchdown and the Spartans answered with a productive drive that produced a field goal, but since that early success for both programs, it’s been all defense at Spartan Stadium with the Buckeyes leading 7-3 at intermission.
Stat of the half: The Buckeyes are built to stop traditional offensive attacks and big tailbacks, and they proved in the first half by holding Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell to 24 yards on eight carries. The Spartans had some success throwing the ball and twice put together productive drives, but they have only a field goal to show for them and can’t find room to operate on the interior.
Player of the half: Braxton Miller turned in an up-and-down half, but he was still the most productive player on the field.
The sophomore will have to protect the ball better if the Buckeyes are going to maintain their slim lead, but he’s got 65 yards on the ground against the top rushing defense in the Big Ten and he’s completed 8 of his 11 passing attempts for 62 yards.
What’s working for Ohio State: Whether it’s the extra emphasis on tackling in practice or simply facing a more straightforward offense, the Buckeyes are again making it tough to move the football. And when they do give up some yardage on screen passes or plays on the perimeter, Ohio State continues to put a wall up in front of the end zone and limit opponents to field goals.
What’s working for Michigan State: The Spartans are coming after Braxton Miller and forcing him to make decisions both as a passer and a runner, and he’s not always making the correct choice. The Ohio State quarterback has looked hesitant at times in the option game, forced a bad throw into coverage for an interception and also fumbled after inheriting good field position -- all of which is keeping the Spartans in the game.