Key players to watch for in Spartans/Buckeyes showdown

National attention has now turned to the Big Ten again. For the third time, Michigan State is going to be on College Gameday for their year-long anticipated match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The reigning national champs tout some serious talent both on offense and defense while the Spartans are led by a core of solid, experienced players to try and get a win in Columbus. What players in this match-up are the ones to look out for? Below we have a list of the key players to watch in the Big Ten match-up of the season.

 

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Tyquan Lewis

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 6.34.16 PMThe name of the game for Ohio State is pressure, Connor Cook. After last week’s injury struggles, it will be interesting to see the protection schemes and personnel that MSU throws at the dominant Ohio State front four. With Joey Bosa assumedly taking most of the double teams, DL Tyquan Lewis will look to add to his team-leading 6.5 sacks for the 2015 campaign. Michigan State’s effort starts and ends with Cook, and defensive coordinator Luke Fickel will be looking to dial up as much pain and suffering as he can muster on MSU’s QB.

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Connor Cook (obviously)

connor-cookThere’s not much to say about Cook expect for the fact that Michigan State will win solely if Cook has a career day. The defense is simply not good enough to keep Ohio State down and this game should be a serious shoot-out just like last year. If Cook’s injury is past him and he is able to torch the Ohio State secondary, then Michigan State will at least be in a position to win. It is the only way they will be able to, by riding the shoulders of their Senior QB.

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Braxton Miller

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 6.33.20 PMWhat a nightmare Braxton Miller has been for the Spartans over the years. The former Buckeye QB has had his moments this year in his nonquarterbacking role but hasn’t had a breakout game since the opening game vs. Virginia Tech. With a patchwork secondary, there is assuredly going to be a lot of space for Miller to work with. Expect him to be getting at least 10 touches of the football on designed runs, screens, and even an occasional pass to put the Buckeyes in the lead for good in Columbus.

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LJ Scott and Madre London

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 6.36.57 PMBoth of Michigan State’s leading backs are in this slot because of the inevitable play-calling Michigan State will try; establishing the run game in Colombus. Throughout the season, Mark Dantonio‘s offense has been content on draining the life out of each game by running again and again. If Michigan State is going to accomplish a victory they will need to control what they’ve always done so well. Time of possession, which starts with a dominant run game.

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Ezekiel Elliott

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Elliott has been the go-to the player since he started on Ohio State’s roster. He will be facing arguably the best rushing defense he has seen all season in Michigan State. The Spartans are averaging 121.0 rushing yards given up, and have also forced 18 fumbles with nine recoveries. The secondary will be the weak spot of the Spartans D, so if Elliott can break into the second level of the defense, the Spartans will be playing catch up all game. His success on the ground could also open up running lanes for both J. T. Barrett and Braxton Miller as well. Expect Elliott to see substantial action, especially early in the game, to try and break open a vulnerable defense.

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Demetrius Cox 

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J. T. Barrett and CO. will be looking to victimize a Spartan secondary that has had a rough go of it this year. With numerous injuries already, it will be up to who is remaining to at least slow down a very potent Buckeye attack. Cox will need to lead a secondary that will assumedly get more action in this game than any other so far this season. Whether it be motion options, reverses, screens, or deep routes, Ohio State is sure to attack with all of the versatile athletes they have on their deep roster.

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