COLUMBUS, Ohio — There are a lot of familiar faces on the field, which should help in preparing for the personnel. The schemes are likely to be pretty similar also, since the sidelines are going to be to stocked with the same people as well.
And mixed in among all the game tapes of Michigan State this season, the Ohio State coaches would be silly not to take a look back at what the same opponent tried to do against them a year ago in the never-ending search for an edge.
+ EnlargeAP Photo/Jeff HaynesCarlos Hyde and Braxton Miller have both improved greatly since last season’s Big Ten-opening win over Michigan State.But the film of one of the most competitive matchups the Buckeyes have faced since Urban Meyer took over the program and launched a 24-game winning streak has to be taken with a grain of salt. As they plan for success against the No. 10 Spartans once again ahead of Saturday’s Big Ten championship in Indianapolis, in some ways what worked and what sputtered last season is irrelevant given how far the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes have come since then. “We’re a lot different,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “The numbers on the jersey and the names on the back might be the same at a lot of positions, but we’re better.
“So schematically, I think it helps a little bit. But I think the ways that if you were a defensive coordinator that you would have attacked us last year might be a hair different this year because of some of the things that we’ve improved upon and the ways that we have gotten better. Especially individually, across the board we have improved.”
That’s most clear in the Ohio State backfield, which heading into last season’s Big Ten opener on the road at Spartan Stadium didn’t even feature Carlos Hyde as a starter.
Eventually he would take over for an injured Jordan Hall in that game and never look back, but back then Hyde certainly wasn’t the destructive force he’s become as a senior. Against the Spartans a year ago, he rushed just 11 times for 49 yards — a far cry from the 156 yards per contest he’s averaging in Big Ten games this season.
Braxton Miller was already putting his multipurpose skills on display, throwing a gorgeous game-winning touchdown pass to Devin Smith and rushing for 136 yards in last year’s 17-16 win over the Spartans.
Continue reading this article at ESPN: Planning for success: Ohio State