Ohio State grade card: Buckeyes pass their first road test

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Grading Ohio State’s 49-20 win over Michigan State, which made the Buckeyes 6-0 to start a season for the third time in Ryan Day’s four years as their coach:

OFFENSE: A

Ohio State scored touchdowns on seven of its first eight drives. Three of those drives were longer than 90 yards and only one was shorter than 75 yards.

Watching Ohio State’s offense week after week it might be easy to get jaded about how much talent there is on that unit. How many other teams could leave their No. 1 receiver and their leading rusher at home when they made their first road trip of the season and still score 49 points and roll up 614 yards of total offense?

Michigan State had no answer for OSU’s passing game for the second year in a row. C.J. Stroud completed 21 of 26 passes for 361 yards and six touchdowns Saturday after throwing for 432 yards and six touchdowns against MSU last season in a 56-7 rout.

Marvin Harrison Jr. had seven catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns, which came on a pair of catches that ranged from amazing to unbelievable, and Emeka Egbuka had five catches for 143 yards.

The offensive line was efficient in the running game and the passing game. TreVeyon Henderson ran for 118 yards on 19 carries. Stroud’s interception that became a pick six was a rare win for Michigan State’s defense.

DEFENSE: B

Michigan State struggling to run the ball is nothing new but Ohio State held the Spartans to a season-low seven rushing yards with the longest gain of the game coming on an eight-yard keeper by quarterback Payton Thorne.

In its last four games Michigan State has rushed for a total of 187 yards, which is 50 fewer yards than OSU had Saturday.

It’s no secret Michigan State’s offensive line is a problem area and once the Buckeyes got the lead they teed off on the Spartans’ outmanned line. Defensive tackle Mike Hall had 2.5 of OSU’s four sacks. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg had eight tackles and Lathan Ransom got an interception. Ohio State held Michigan State to -12 yards of total offense in the third quarter before the backups gave up a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

While the defensive line and linebackers have become consistent units there were still some concerns about the Buckeyes’ cornerbacks.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

As it has been most of the season, it was a quiet night for Ohio State’s special teams. Kicker Noah Ruggles handled the extra point kicks flawlessly but did not attempt a field goal for the third time in the last four weeks.

Jesse Mirco averaged 52 yards on three punts, which was better than the 48.9 yards per punt by Michigan State’s Bryce Baringer, who came into the game leading the nation in punting yards per attempt.

About the only flaw to be found here was Jayden Fielding’s kickoff to start the game sailing out of bounds.

OVERALL: A

Playing its first road game after five straight home games seemed to be no problem for the Buckeyes. Next up is a bye week to try to get some key players healthy.

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