Can Michigan State Stop Ohio State’s Explosive Rushing Attack?

By Jenna Aquino
Bradley Leeb – USA Today Sports

This has been the big question all season and the matchup that many are interested to see. Can the Michigan State Spartans’ top defense stop the explosive rushing attack of the Ohio State Buckeyes?

The two teams did not meet in the regular season but will meet on Saturday in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship game to answer that burning question. Ohio State’s rushing attack is more of a threat than their passing attack, and the Michigan State defense will need to figure out how to stop them. That may be a difficult task for the No. 1 defense in the country since the Ohio State offense is the best they’ve faced all season and includes the dual running threat of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. Both have the ability to find holes and turn small gains into large ones.

Until now, the best defense the Buckeyes have faced this season is that of the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin’s defense is currently No. 6 in the country and gave up 390 total yards to the Buckeyes, including 192 yards rushing. Ohio State had more of a balanced offensive attack in that game as they passed for a few more yards than they ran. However, this was Miller’s first game back after missing the previous two games with a sprained knee and it seemed as if they wanted him to take it easy, not run too much, and avoid further aggravating his injury. He still ran for 83 yards on that bad knee. Miller is even more of a threat to run now and has run for around 150 yards in each of the Buckeyes’ last three games. He could surpass 1,000 rushing yards this season with another 100-plus yard performance against the Spartans. That’s very impressive for a quarterback and would give Ohio State two 1,000-yard rushers in their backfield.

The first running back to top 100 yards against the Michigan State defense was the Nebraska CornhuskersAmeer Abdullah just two weeks ago. Ohio State’s Hyde is certainly aware of this, and he is very likely to be another that could achieve this feat against the Michigan State defense. He has rushed for over 100 yards in the Buckeyes’ last seven games, including two 200-plus performances, one of which came just this past week against the Michigan Wolverines. He was suspended for the first three games of the season and was able to reach the 1,000-yard mark in just eight games. He is averaging 7.8 yards per carry and has 14 rushing touchdowns. Compared to Abdullah, he had 246 more yards on 20 fewer carries in eight conference games.

The Buckeyes are second in the nation in yards per game on the ground with 321.3 while Michigan State allows an average of just 64.8 yards per game. However, they have not faced an offense yet that is as good as Ohio State’s or one that has such an explosive rushing attack. It will certainly be a great matchup that will finally answer that big question.

Stopping the explosiveness of both Miller and Hyde is a difficult feat for any defense, even the No. 1 defense in the country. It is difficult to contain both of them, but if the Spartans’ defense is successful in doing so then there is a good chance they will win the game.

Jenna Aquino is a Big Ten Football writer for Follow her on Twitter, “Like” her on Facebook, add her to your network on Google, or reach her by e-mail at

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