The performance of the Ohio State Buckeyes‘ defense has been a question all year. It was hard to tell whether they were going to be good or bad in a given week.
This past Saturday, they needed to be more than good as they were meeting the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten Championship game. The offense of the Spartans isn’t nearly as good as their No. 1 defense, but they have seemed to improve every week since they decided on Connor Cook as their quarterback.
Their top defense slowed down Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, though both still rushed for over 100 yards, plus two rushing touchdowns for Miller. The Buckeyes could’ve won the game under the direction of Miller had it not been for a disappointing defensive performance, much like that of the performance against the Michigan Wolverines the week before.
Miller, Hyde and the Ohio State offense took command towards the end of the second quarter into the third, going on a 24-0 scoring run after falling behind the Spartans 17-0. It looked as if Miller was going to lead them to a win, but the costly defensive mistakes shifted momentum the Spartans’ way, and Miller was unable to put anything together in the fourth quarter.
Early pass interference calls on the Buckeyes led to points for the Spartans. In fact, two pass interference calls on the Buckeyes came on Michigan State’s opening drive, both on third downs, allowing the Spartans to convert and continue their drive. The Spartans’ opening drive only ended up in a field goal, but it seemed to give them some momentum.
Another pass interference call on the Buckeyes early in the fourth quarter led to a touchdown for the Spartans when a wide-open Josiah Price caught a pass from Cook in the end zone to take the lead. The 10-point loss by the Buckeyes could’ve been prevented if they hadn’t committed those pass interference penalties. The two drives they committed those penalties in resulted in a total of 10 points for the Spartans.
The struggles that the Ohio State defense has faced all season finally caught up with them, and it cost them greatly. It cost them an undefeated season, a 25-game winning streak and a trip to the BCS National Championship. Miller likely could’ve led them to a win had it not been for the defensive mistakes that shifted the momentum the Spartans’ way.
The Spartans are headed to their first Rose Bowl since the 1987 season, and the Buckeyes? Well, they are headed to the Orange Bowl to face the Clemson Tigers.