Ohio State’s demolition of No. 7 Michigan State was still in progress Saturday when Ryan Day’s attention started to shift seven days and 185 miles away.
Michigan week has begun.
“We’ve got everything riding on this thing coming up right around the corner,” the Buckeyes’ coach said. “I’ve gotta tell you, the game wasn’t over yet and I was already thinking about it.”
No matter the circumstances, Ohio State vs. The Team Whose Name Shan’t Be Said is huge. Those on both sides take pride in claiming it’s the best rivalry in sports.
Much more than bragging rights is at stake this year. The winner goes to the Big Ten championship game and has the inside track for a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Both teams are peaking. No. 6 Michigan blasted Maryland 59-18 in its tuneup Saturday. No. 4 Ohio State roared to a 49-0 halftime lead in its 56-7 victory over the Spartans.
For the Buckeyes (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten), it was the most complete game of the season. The offense scored on its first seven possessions, six on C.J. Stroud touchdown passes as the redshirt freshman made a strong case to be the Heisman Trophy favorite.
“C.J. is one of a kind,” said senior Chris Olave, who caught two touchdown passes to break David Boston’s OSU record for career receiving TDs with 35. “His talent is off the charts. I'm proud of him, and I can't wait to see him keep going.”
At one point, Stroud completed 17 straight passes on his way to a 32-of-35 performance before sitting for most of the second half.
“I think his anticipation is off the charts,” Day said. “I think he sees things really, really well. I think his touch is excellent. When he needs to put a little extra on it, he does. He's accurate downfield. He doesn't make the guys work for the ball.”
The Buckeyes’ offense has looked unstoppable much of the year. Ohio State leads the country in scoring (47.2 points per game) and total offense (559.9 yards per game, 30 more than any other team).
The defense, though, was equally impressive Saturday. That was particularly encouraging considering the way Purdue moved the ball in last week’s 59-31 OSU victory.
The tone was set on Michigan State’s first snap. Defensive tackle Haskell Garrett led a swarm of Buckeyes who engulfed Michigan State star running back Kenneth Walker III for a 2-yard loss. Walker would gain only 25 yards in six carries as his Heisman chances went pfft.
Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne was held under 50% passing for the first time this year. He completed only 14 of 36 attempts for 158 yards while under consistent pressure, particularly from defensive ends Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith.
"You can see our capability," Day said. "When we're playing really good football and clean football, we certainly have a high ceiling, and we're still striving towards greatness."
The victory no doubt impressed the College Football Playoff selection committee. It would not be a surprise if Ohio State moves to No. 2 after Alabama struggled to beat Arkansas 42-35 and No. 3 Oregon lost to Utah. Michigan is likely to be No. 5.
For those who’ve been Rip Van Winkling this century, Ohio State has had its way with the Wolverines. Michigan hasn’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2011.
Last year’s game was canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Wolverines. Even Michigan players acknowledged a 2020 game would likely have been ugly.
Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh has chance to fulfill promise
Back then, Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh’s future was tenuous after the 2-4 season. He eventually agreed to a major pay cut in a restructured contract. Harbaugh shuffled his staff, bringing in young, energetic assistant coaches.
At Big Ten media days, Harbaugh vowed to beat Ohio State and win the conference title “or die trying.” Now he’s got his chance to do both.
The Wolverines (10-1, 7-1) have an excellent defense led by star defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Their offense has relied heavily on the run, but the passing game has improved lately.
The opening Las Vegas lines have Ohio State as a touchdown favorite.
“We just been preparing for that team all winter, all summer,” Smith said. “We just have that game always on our mind and in the back of our head. Now it's here. We've just got to do what we've been doing, practice hard and go into that game with a good mindset.”
Since Ohio State’s off week, Day has preached to his team that they would face a challenging six-week stretch with no margin for error. The Buckeyes are through five of those games, but the main event is next week in Ann Arbor.
“Obviously everything gets ramped up this week because of what it is and what's on the line,” Day said. “(It's) all the time, but even more this year.
“We knew it was going to be like this. You have to bring it every week. It's the battle of the fittest.”
The College Football Playoff schedule
Here are the dates to know for the College Football Playoff:
Selection show: Noon Dec. 5 on ESPN
Cotton Bowl: 3:30 or 7:30 p.m., Dec. 31 on ESPN
Orange Bowl: 3:30 or 7:30 p.m., Dec. 31 on ESPN
College Football Playoff national championship game: 8 p.m., Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 on ESPN
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football turns focus to Michigan after crushing Spartans
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/already-thinking-routing-msu-ohio-110048672.html1339