How Ohio State Can Reclaim Big Ten from Michigan State

The road to the Big Ten Championship goes through East Lansing, Mich., on November 8, as the Ohio State Buckeyes travel north to play the Spartans in what is now a divisional contest.
For the Buckeyes, winning the division hinges on stopping Connor Cook and developing the passing game to exploit mismatches against the Michigan State defense.

A season ago, Sparty stood between the Buckeyes and an eventual BCS National Championship Game berth, but Urban Meyer’s team simply could not dispose of the well-coached Spartans.

In 2014, the playoff berth and simply getting a shot at playing in the Big Ten Championship Game will require beating Mark Dantonio’s team on its home turf.

While folks will talk home and away games, Michigan rebuilding and the new division split, the fact is Michigan State is the strongest contender to the Big Ten throne that does not wear scarlet and gray.

All hype aside, on the field, even as the Spartans replace several key pieces, the 2014 Michigan State team will be a handful for the Buckeyes.

It starts with Cook. An afterthought to start 2013, the rising junior returns as one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Cook proved to be a smart ballplayer who found areas to exploit and then delivered accurate footballs so that his receivers could go make plays.

To combat Cook, who showed marked improvement in every game he played in 2013, the Buckeyes have to improve in pass coverage.

That means not blowing Cover 2 as Ohio State did in the Big Ten…

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