Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, December 5, 2013
Adding to the intrigue of the Ohio State vs. Michigan State Big Ten championship game is the fact the teams didn?t play this fall. The Buckeyes cross-division foes in 2013 were Michigan, Iowa and Northwestern. The Spartans played Purdue, Indiana and Illinois.
The last time these teams met was on Sept. 29, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich. It was the Big Ten opener for each team. And, for Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer, it was his first Big Ten game.
Unranked Ohio State was the underdog on that day, knocking off No. 18 Michigan State, 17-16. I was privileged to cover that game for BTN.com.
This was the second-to-last paragraph of my story from Spartan Stadium that day:
?You thinking what I am thinking? You know, that Ohio State could duplicate the feats of the 1993 Auburn Tigers led by first-year coach Terry Bowden-who now ironically coaches in Ohio at Akron. That team was shackled with NCAA probation and ineligible for the SEC title game, a bowl and even from being on TV. Regardless, the Tigers went 11-0 and finished No. 4 in the A.P. poll. This Ohio State team could have a similar destiny.?
The star that day: Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. Despite playing with a tweaked knee, Miller accounted for 315 yards as a sophomore, running 23 times for 136 yards and hitting 16-of-23 passes for 179 yards. Had Miller not committed two turnovers-getting picked at the 17-yard line and fumbling at the 38–in MSU territory, OSU may have won by a wider margin. And the Buckeyes also blocked a Mike Sadler punt.
Workhorse Spartan running back Le?Veon Bell was held to just 45 yards rushing on 17 carries. Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde sat out the second half with a knee injury.
?I know the Big Ten has taken some heat; I thought that was a great game, great atmosphere, bunch of great players on the field,? Meyer said that day. ?We played at the next level and that was good for college football and good for the Big Ten.?
This Saturday?s Buckeyes-Spartans clash should be better, a showcase night for a conference that needs its elite teams to shine.
|About Tom Dienhart
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.
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