Tyler O’Connor

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No. 2 Ohio State survives scare from Michigan State, stays in line for Playoff

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No. 2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) did just enough to get out of their final road game of the season with a 17-16 win. Michigan State (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten) has been going through a frustrating season but gave Ohio State one of their best efforts of the year in their final home game. Despite riding LJ Scott as much as they could, a failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter allowed Ohio State to get out of Spartan Stadium with a key win to keep their playoff hopes alive with one regular season to go.

Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett rushed for 105 yards and Mike Weber rushed for 111 yards and a score. Running was the key to the game for both teams, as Barrett completed fewer than half of his 22 pass attempts (although one was for a touchdown to Curtis Samuel) and Michigan State’s Tyler O’Connor completed fewer than half of his passes. Spartans running back Scott rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown. Defenses were on point though for both teams, but the Buckeyes won the turnover battle with a late interception on Michigan State’s final offensive possession of the game.

Michigan State scored a late touchdown in the fourth quarter with fewer than five minutes to play, cutting the Buckeye lead to 17-16. Rather than kick the extra point to tie things up, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio gambled (as he had earlier in the game with some tricks up his sleeve) by keeping the offense on the field for a two-point conversion try. With nothing to lose, Dantonio went all in for the lead, but O’Connor’s pass over the middle was picked off in the end zone, securing a narrow lead for Ohio State.

Next up for Ohio State is a regular season finale rivalry game with Michigan. A stake in the Big Ten East Division will be on the line for the noon kickoff, but a win by the Buckeyes next week will not necessarily send them to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. Penn State can still wiggle their way to Indy with an Ohio State next week and their own win against Michigan State next week in State College. Penn State also must beat Rutgers tonight, which is pretty much a 94% certainty if we’re being conservative.

Ohio State Clinches Big Ten East If…

  • Ohio State beats Michigan AND Penn State loses once

A win by Ohio State next week should make for a fun discussion about the Playoff. Assuming Ohio State stays in the top four this week, a win against a highly-ranked Michigan next week should probably wrap up a playoff spot for the Buckeyes despite the possibility of not playing for a conference championship.

Could the program that won the first College Football Playoff national championship set the precedent for a non-division winner to reach the playoff?

Minor war of words between Michigan and MSU continues after game

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After Michigan State walked off the field with yet another loss in Big Ten play, this time against Michigan, Spartans quarterback Tyler O’Connor told the media he was given praise from an unnamed Wolverines defensive linemen. there appears to be a difference n opinion on this story.

According to O’Connor, he was told by a Michigan defensive linemen “You guys might not have won the game, but you guys kicked our ass.” That quote was shared by Luke Srodulski of Land of 10, via Twitter.

Upon catching wind of this quote, Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich laughed at the idea of a Michigan player admitting this to be the case.

Michigan State did come out attacking Michigan on the ground in the first half, and the Spartans did make things mildly interesting late in the game, but there was never much question of which team was kicking which team’s butts in East Lansing on Saturday.

Until next year!

No. 2 Michigan wins in East Lansing for first time since 2007

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No. 2 Michigan (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) overcame an early fight by Michigan State (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) but created some separation in the second half and slammed the door shut on the Spartans in the second half for a 32-23 win. The win keeps Michigan undefeated on the season and on top of the Big Ten East Division and puts the Spartans on very thin ice as it relates to postseason opportunities. It was Michigan’s first win in Spartan Stadium since 2007 and most-lopsided win since 1997 (23-7).

Michigan State’s running game proved to be effective in the first half, but the lack of any threat in the passing game ended up being part of the reason the Spartans could not keep up with Michigan. LJ Scott rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort, but Mark Dantonio‘s game-time decision to go with Tyler O’Connor resulted in a 4-for-10 for 34-yard afternoon, with an interception. Damion Terry and Brian Lewerke would get some time on the field as well, bu the damage was already done by the Wolverines.

Michigan’s offense was just unstoppable, scoring points on all of their first-half possessions to take a commanding 27-10 lead into the halftime break. The box score may not reveal a fantastic performance by Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, but he still passed for over 200 yards and found a way to connect with Amara Darboh for some big gains. Michigan spread the ball around well on the ground too, including De'Veon Smith (2 TDs), Eddie McDoom and even Jabrill Peppers (1 TD, and one two-point conversion fumble returned for two Michigan points). Michigan also just played a cleaner game, with fewer penalties and slightly more success on third down than the Spartans. It all helped put Michigan State’s clock management plan to the scrap heap.

A week after Ohio State slipped up on the road against Penn State, Michigan appeared to leave little doubt who the best team in the Big Ten is as we move into November. It’s the Wolverines right now. Next week Michigan will return to Michigan Stadium and will be a heavy favorite against Maryland. That should leave Michigan at 9-0 heading into the final three games, which will include road trips to Iowa and Ohio State. So there is still work to be done, but Michigan has every reason to feeling confident about their chances right now.

Michigan State is now in serious danger of failing to reach the postseason at all. Today’s loss dropped the Spartans to the six-loss mark, meaning they are just one loss away from being ineligible for postseason play under NCAA rules. Michigan State still has games to play against Ohio State and Penn State in the final two games of the season after getting Illinois and Rutgers in the next two weeks. The last time a power conference champion failed to reach the postseason the following season was in 2010, when Texas took the Big 12 crown and played for the BCS National Championship in 2009 and went just 5-7 the following season. Ironically enough, Texas lost in that championship game to Alabama, the same program that flushed Michigan State right out of the postseason last January.

Michigan State’s QB picture looks fuzzy

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Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio may have bumped the panic button when it comes to his quarterback situation in East Lansing. With Michigan State preparing to play Northwestern, the Spartans have listed three quarterbacks at the top of the depth chart this week, a distinct contrast to Dantonio’s previous show of support for Tyler O’Connor last week.

Of course, three straight losses for a team replacing Connor Cook after making the College Football Playoff and winning the Big Ten can do that to a program. After Michigan State lost on the road at Indiana to fall to 0-2 in Big Ten play, the Spartans were roughed up at home by BYU. Now, O’Connor is listed at the top of the depth chart along with Damion Terry and Brian Lewerke. Terry replaced O’Connor during the loss to BYU last weekend. Lewerke was last seen running the offense late in the game in a blowout loss to Wisconsin.

How the three quarterbacks will be used against Northwestern remains to be seen. Will Dantonio give each player a series to see what they can do? Two series? A quarter? Might they be used depending on the situation? This likely will not be the old Steve Spurrier method of rotating quarterbacks, but it does seem to indicate Michigan State has reopened the quarterback competition just about midway through the season. That is not exactly the ideal situation

Michigan State’s passing offense ranks eighth in the Big Ten with an average of 213.0 yards per game and eight touchdowns to six interceptions.

Mark Dantonio not hitting panic button with QB Tyler O’Connor just yet

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Michigan State quarterback Tyler O’Connor completed 21 of 35 pass attempts for 263 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, but after losing on the road against Indiana a week after the Spartans suffered a home loss against Wisconsin, questions about his status as Michigan State’s quarterback have been asked to head coach Mark Dantonio. For now, at least, Dantonio is not hitting any panic button with O’Connor.

Asked if O’Connor will remain Michigan State’s starting quarterback, Dantonio effectively said yes, although with a possible slight caveat.

Michigan State’s overtime loss was keyed by back-to-back sacks taken by O’Connor against the Hoosiers, which forced Michigan State to attempt a 49-yard field goal on the first overtime possession. The kick by Michael Geiger was no good, and Indiana kicked a game-winning field goal on their ensuing possession.