Michigan State Spartans Game Preview Notes for Game 6 vs. #3 Ohio State Buckeyes

6 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS• 9 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS • 2015 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF • 26 AP TOP-25 FINISHES

• MSUSPARTANS.COM • @MSU_FOOTBALL

GAME 6

MICHIGAN STATE (2-3) VS.
NO. 4 OHIO STATE (4-0)

Date………………………………………Saturday, Dec. 5
Kickoff ……………………………………12:06 p.m. EST
Location……………………………East Lansing, Mich.
Stadium ………………….. Spartan Stadium (75,005)
Surface ……………………………………. Natural Grass
TV………………………………………………………….ABC
Web/Mobile……….WatchESPN/ESPN Mobile app
Live Stats…………………………….msuspartans.com
Tickets…………………………………………. No public sale
All-Time Series…………………….OSU leads, 33-15
Series in East Lansing …………..OSU leads, 17-5
Last Meeting……………… OSU 34, MSU 10 (2019)
Current Series Streak………….. 4 by OSU (2016-)

MICHIGAN STATE COACH

Head Coach
Mel Tucker
MSU Record
2-3 (first season)
Overall Record
7-10 (second season)
Record vs. OSU
0-0

OHIO STATE HEAD COACH

Head Coach
Ryan Day
OSU Record
20-1(second season)
Overall Record
20-1(second season)
Record vs. MSU
1-0

FIRST-AND-10 –
• Fresh off a 29-20 win over No. 8 Northwestern last Saturday at home, Michigan State will face another Top
10 team this Saturday, Dec. 5 in Spartan Stadium as it hosts No. 4 Ohio State at noon. The game will be
televised nationally on ABC with Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Dan Orlovsky (analyst) and Quint Kessenich
(sidelines) on the call. MSU improved to 2-3 with the victory over the previously undefeated Wildcats, while
OSU did not play at Illinois due to COVID-19 precautions within the Buckeye program. Ohio State (No. 4 CFP,
No. 3 AP, No. 4 Coaches) has had two games canceled this season due to COVID-19 concerns (Maryland,
Illinois), while MSU has had one (Maryland).

• Saturday’s game is the 49th meeting between Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes lead the alltime series, 33-15, including a 17-5 record in East Lansing. MSU is looking for its first win over Ohio State
in Spartan Stadium since 1999 (OSU on seven-game winning streak in East Lansing).

• Saturday marks just the second December home game in MSU history (Dec. 1, 2001, vs. Missouri; game
was rescheduled due to 9/11). In addition, the Spartans have only played five regular-season games in
December in program history (Dec. 3, 1927, at North Carolina State; Dec. 8, 1934, at Texas A&M; Dec. 4,
1993, vs. Wisconsin in Tokyo, Japan; Dec. 1, 2001, vs. Missouri; Dec. 4, 2004, at Hawai’i).

• The Spartans have defeated the Buckeyes three times since 2011, the most of any team in the Big Ten.
Michael Geiger hit a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 9 Michigan State a 17-14 victory over No.
2 Ohio State in 2015 in Columbus en route to winning the Big Ten Championship, while also snapping the
Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak. The Spartans held the Buckeyes to 132 yards of total offense in that
game, the fewest ever by an Urban Meyer-coached team. In the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game, No. 10
MSU snapped No. 2 Ohio State’s school-record 24-game winning streak with a 34-24 win as the Spartans
clinched their first Rose Bowl berth in 26 years. MSU also beat the Buckeyes in 2011, 10-7, in Ohio Stadium.

• The Spartans have defeated Ohio State 10 times when the Buckeyes entered the game ranked in the AP
Top 25, including five times when the Buckeyes were ranked in the top five (No. 5 in 1972, No. 1 in 1974,
No. 1 in 1998, No. 2 in 2013, No. 2 in 2015) and seven in the top 10 (previous five games listed plus No. 7
in 1951 and No. 9 in 1971).

• Michigan State is one of three FBS teams this season, joining Alabama and Georgia, to record two wins
over AP Top 15 teams (No. 13 Michigan on Oct. 31, No. 11 Northwestern on Nov. 28).

2020 SPARTAN FOOTBALL GAME NOTES

• Senior linebacker Antjuan Simmons was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after helping
MSU limit Northwestern to 20 points and 63 yards rushing in the win over the No. 8 Wildcats. Simmons
recorded 13 tackles, including two for losses (5 yards) and a 4-yard sack. He ranks second in the Big Ten
in tackles, averaging 10.6 per game (53 total), and tied for fifth in tackles for loss (6.5).

• Redshirt junior defensive back Shakur Brown is tied for first in the FBS with five interceptions, including
four in the last two games (two each vs. Indiana and Northwestern). Brown, who has started two games
at nickelback and three games at cornerback this season, also has a team-high four pass break-ups this
season to rank second in the Big Ten in passes defended (nine total: five interceptions, four pass break-ups).

• Redshirt senior kicker Matt Coghlin was named the Big Ten Special Teams Co-Player of the Week for his
performance in the triumph over No. 8 Northwestern. Coghlin was 3-of-4 on field goals against the Wildcats,
including the game-winner from 48 yards out with 3:35 left in the game that put MSU on top, 23-20, in the
eventual 29-20 win. Coghlin also connected from 44 yards and 22 yards in the game. This marks the third
time in his career Coghlin has earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors (2017 vs. Penn
State, 2018 vs. Indiana). He also has four game-winning field goals in his career (2017 vs. Penn State,
2019 vs. Indiana and Maryland).

• Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jalen Nailor leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in the FBS with his 23.7-
yard average per reception. Nailor has four catches for 50-plus yards this season, including a 75-yard TD
reception vs. Northwestern. Overall, he leads the team with 379 receiving yards on 16 catches (75.8 ypg).

MEL TUCKER ERA BEGINS IN 2020 –
• A new era of Spartan football begins in 2020 as Mel Tucker starts his head coaching tenure in East Lansing.
Tucker, a 23-year coaching veteran with championship experience, was named Michigan State University’s
25th head football coach on Feb. 12 following Mark Dantonio’s retirement on Feb. 4.

• Tucker’s resume, which began as a graduate assistant at Michigan State under Nick Saban, has an impressive track record of success. The journey that has led him back to East Lansing includes a head coaching
position at Colorado (2019), five seasons as a defensive coach in the Southeastern Conference (2000;
2015-18), 10 seasons in the NFL (2005-14), and four seasons at Ohio State (2001-04). He was a defensive
coordinator in the NFL for seven seasons and 11 seasons overall in his coaching career.

• In 147 games as a full-time coach in the FBS, Tucker’s teams have collected a 108-39 (.735) record, including 10 postseason bowl games (2000 Peach, 2002 Outback, 2003 Fiesta/BCS National Championship,
2004 Fiesta, 2004 Alamo, 2015 Cotton/CFP Semifinal, 2016 CFP/National Championship, 2016 Liberty,
2018 Rose/CFP Semifinal, 2018 CFP/National Championship), three conference championships, three
national championship games and two national championships (2002 with Ohio State, 2015 with Alabama).

• Tucker coached 160 games in the National Football League (64 with Cleveland, 64 with Jacksonville, 32
with Chicago).

• Four of Tucker’s seven wins as a head coach in his first two seasons have come against AP Top 25 opponents (No. 11 Northwestern and No. 13 Michigan at MSU; No. 25 Nebraska and No. 24 Arizona State at
Colorado). Tucker is 4-3 overall against AP Top 25 opponents (2-2 at Colorado; 2-1 at MSU). He became
the first Spartan head coach to defeat a ranked team (No. 8 Northwestern) in his first home win.

• Officials from the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl announced on
Dec. 1 that Mel Tucker was selected as The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week following MSU’s win over No.
8 Northwestern. The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week award honors a football coach who led his team to a
significant victory during the previous week, while also embodying the award’s three pillars of scholarship,
leadership and integrity.

A QUICK GLANCE AT NO. 3/4 OHIO STATE (4-0, 4-0 B1G) –
• The No. 3/4 Buckeyes bring a 4-0 record into Saturday’s matchup with Michigan State in Spartan Stadium.
Ohio State’s game last week at Illinois was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions within the Buckeye
program.
• In its last action, OSU held off No. 9 Indiana, 42-35, on Nov. 21. The Buckeyes pulled away from a 7-7
first quarter tie and bolted out to a 28-7 halftime lead with three second stanza scores, and stretched the
advantage to 35-7 early in the third quarter. However, Indiana scored four touchdowns in the second half to
close to 42-35 with over 10 minutes to play in the game, but couldn’t get any closer. The Ohio State offense
amassed 607 yards on 307 rushing and 300 passing with three rushing scores and two passing TDs, to go
with one defensive TD on an interception, despite yielding 490 yards of total offense to Indiana, overcoming
491 yards passing by stifling the Hoosiers on the ground, limiting them to -1 rushing yards.
• QB Justin Fields leads the FBS in completion percentage at 79.6 (90-of-113), with 1,208 yards, with 13 TDs and three INTs. Fields also tops the Big Ten and ranks fourth in FBS in passing efficiency (202.1) and
is tops in the conference and 12th in the country in passing yards per game (302.0), as well as first in the
league and 12th in the nation in completions per game (22.5), while ranking second in the Big Ten and 33rd
in FBS in passing TDs (13).
• Master Teague III is second in the Big Ten and 29th in FBS in rushing yards per game (95.0) on 73 carries for 380 yards (5.2 ypc), ranking fourth in the conference with six rushing TDs. Garrett Wilson leads
the Big Ten and ranks sixth in FBS in receiving yards per game (128.2), while ranking second in the league
and 11th in the nation in receptions per game (7.8), with 31 receptions for 513 yards, ranking seventh in the
conference in yards per reception (16.5).
• Pete Werner leads the OSU defense with 24 tackles (11 solo, 13 assists), including 2.5 tackles for loss
and 1.0 sack. Tommy Togiai has a team-best 3.0 TFLs with all 3.0 being sacks.

MSU/OHIO STATE SERIES NOTES –
• Saturday’s game is the 49th meeting between Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes lead the alltime series, 33-15, including a 17-5 record in East Lansing. MSU is looking for its first win over Ohio State
in Spartan Stadium since 1999 (OSU on seven-game winning streak in East Lansing).
• The Spartans have defeated the Buckeyes three times since 2011, the most of any team in the Big Ten.
Michael Geiger hit a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 9 Michigan State a 17-14 victory over No.
2 Ohio State in 2015 in Columbus en route to winning the Big Ten Championship, while also snapping the
Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak. The Spartans held the Buckeyes to 132 yards of total offense in that
game, the fewest ever by an Urban Meyer-coached team. In the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game, No. 10
MSU snapped No. 2 Ohio State’s school-record 24-game winning streak with a 34-24 win as the Spartans
clinched their first Rose Bowl berth in 26 years. MSU also beat the Buckeyes in 2011, 10-7, in Ohio Stadium.
• The Spartans have defeated Ohio State 10 times when the Buckeyes entered the game ranked in the AP
Top 25, including five times when the Buckeyes were ranked in the top five (No. 5 in 1972, No. 1 in 1974,
No. 1 in 1998, No. 2 in 2013, No. 2 in 2015) and seven in the top 10 (previous five games listed plus No. 7
in 1951 and No. 9 in 1971).
• Mel Tucker was a graduate assistant on Nick Saban’s staff during MSU’s win at No. 1 Ohio State in 1998.
Michigan State’s wins over AP-ranked Ohio State teams:
Date Result Site
Oct. 6, 1951 No. 1 Michigan State 24, No. 7 Ohio State 20 Columbus
Nov. 7, 1952 No. 5 Michigan State 28, No. 16 Ohio State 23 Columbus
Nov. 6, 1971 Michigan State 17, No. 9 Ohio State 10 Columbus
Nov. 11, 1972 Michigan State 19, No. 5 Ohio State 12 East Lansing
Nov. 9, 1974 Michigan State 16, No. 1 Ohio State 13 East Lansing
Oct. 31, 1987 No. 20 Michigan State 13, No. 15 Ohio State 7 Columbus
Nov. 7, 1998 Michigan State 28, No. 1 Ohio State 24 Columbus
Nov. 6, 1999 No. 19 Michigan State 23, No. 20 Ohio State 7 East Lansing
Dec. 7, 2013 No. 10 Michigan State 34, No. 2 Ohio State 24 Indianapolis
Nov. 21, 2015 No. 9 Michigan State 17, No. 2 Ohio State 14 Columbus

SPARTANS FROM THE BUCKEYE STATE –
• Michigan State’s 2020 roster features 27 players from Ohio, the most of any state outside of Michigan.
LAST TIME VS. OHIO STATE (NO. 4 OHIO STATE 34, NO. 25 MSU 10; OCT. 5, 2019) –
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Justin Fields threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, J.K. Dobbins rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown and No. 4 Ohio State overcame a sluggish start to beat No. 25
Michigan State, 34-10, in a night game at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes had to work to figure out Michigan State’s defense to start, after blowing out every opponent
through the first five games. They gained just 16 yards on 16 plays in the first quarter, but got unstuck and
put away the Spartans with big plays.
Dobbins ran the ball 24 times, averaged over 7 yards per carry and had a 67-yard breakaway for a touchdown late in the first half. Fields finished 17 for 25 for 206 yards and threw an interception for the first time
in his first 175 pass attempts as a Buckeye, picked off by Josiah Scott. He also was sacked three times.
Brian Lewerke was 20-for-38 for 218 yards and a touchdown for the Spartans. Darrell Stewart caught the
TD pass, one of his team-leading six receptions for 68 yards. Elijah Collins led the MSU rushing attack with
12 carries for 63 yards.

LAST TIME OUT: MICHIGAN STATE 29, NO. 8 NORTHWESTERN 20
SERIES
• Michigan State defeated No. 8 Northwestern, 29-20, on Saturday, Nov. 28 in Spartan Stadium . . . MSU has
won two in a row over the Wildcats . . . MSU leads the all-time series over NU, 39-20, including a 19-9 record
in East Lansing . . . the game was played without any fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Northwestern entered the game ranked No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings; MSU’s win over the
Wildcats marked its first win over a Top 10 team in the CFP rankings since taking down No. 7 Penn State on
Nov. 4, 2017 . . . NU was ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll and No. 13 in the Amway Coaches Poll.
OFFENSE
• Michigan State rushed for a season-high 195 yards on 47 carries . . . Connor Heyward led the Spartans
on the ground with a season-high 96 yards on a career-high 24 carries.
• Rocky Lombardi was 11-of-27 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns . . . Lombardi completed a 75-
yard touchdown pass to Jalen Nailor in the first quarter, marking the longest pass completion of Lombardi’s
career and also the longest reception of Nailor’s career . . . it marked the longest TD pass for the Spartans
since 2016 against Northwestern (86 yards; Tyler O’Connor to R.J. Shelton) . . . Lombardi also rushed for
a career-high 65 yards on 10 carries, including five for first downs.
• Michigan State won the time of possession battle for the first time this season (32:33 to 27:27).
• MSU was 10-of-21 on third downs in the game.
• Jalen Nailor led all receivers with 99 receiving yards on three catches, including his career-long 75-yard
TD in the second quarter . . . Nailor also led all players with a career-high 120 all-purpose yards, adding a
21-yard kick return in the first quarter.
DEFENSE
• MSU’s defense forced a season-high four takeaways, with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries
. . . the four takeaways topped the previous high this season of three in the season opener vs. Rutgers
(10/24/20), and was the most since forcing five turnovers vs. Michigan on Oct. 7, 2017.
• The Spartan defense limited the Wildcats to just 63 yards rushing, a season-low for MSU and first time holding opposition under 100 yards this season, bettering the previous low of 106 in season opener vs. Rutgers
. . . the 63 yards rushing are the Spartans’ fewest allowed since 36 yards last season vs. Illinois (11/9/19).
• The Spartans’ final fumble recovery came in the end zone on the last play of the game, as Northwestern
was trying to lateral on the final play, with redshirt sophomore cornerback Kalon Gervin recovering the
fumble in the end zone for the touchdown . . . Gervin recovered his first career fumble recovery with the
score on the final play . . . the final fumble recovery for a touchdown marked the second straight season
that MSU had a fumble recovery for a TD on the final play of the game, after also doing so last season vs.
Indiana (9/28/19), when Michael Dowell recovered a fumble on a trick play gone awry in the end zone as
time expired in the 40-31 victory for MSU.
• Senior linebacker Antjuan Simmons logged a game-high 13 tackles, one shy of his career-best set last
game vs. Indiana (11/14/20) . . . the 13 stops is the fourth game this season in double-figures . . . he also had
2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack . . . Simmons now has 6.5 TFLs on the season, with a least 0.5 TFL in four of
the five games this season . . . Simmons now leads MSU with 53 tackles on the season (22 solo, 31 assists).
• Redshirt junior cornerback Shakur Brown’s two interceptions vs. Northwestern give him four picks in the
last two games with two oskies vs. Indiana . . . Brown now has a team-leading five interceptions on the
season, which now shares the Big Ten lead with Saturday’s counterpart, Brandon Joseph of Northwestern
. . . the two interceptions also gives Brown nine passes defended (five interceptions, four pass break-ups)
in the five games this season, as part of 15 career passes defended (nine pass break-ups, six interceptions) in last 10 games played . . . Brown is now second in the Big Ten with nine passes defended, behind
another of Saturday’s counterparts, Greg Newsome II, whose two pass break-ups in the game give him 10
passes defended.
• Redshirt senior defensive tackle Naquan Jones posted a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss Saturday, topping
his previous high of 2.0 vs. Maryland (11/3/18) . . . Jones now has 3.5 TFLs this season and 11.5 for his
career . . . with six total tackles Saturday, Jones also matched his career-best of six vs. Maryland (11/3/18).

• Redshirt senior defensive end Drew Beesley logged a career-best 2.0 sacks, topping his previous high of
1.0 sacks done twice, previously vs. Rutgers (10/24/20) . . . Beesley now has three sacks this season and
4.5 for his career . . . the 2.0 TFLs give Beesley 4.5 tackles for loss on the season and 10.5 for his career.
• Redshirt junior linebacker Noah Harvey posted eight stops, his third game this season with eight or more
tackles.
• Redshirt sophomore linebacker Chase Kline registered a career-high eight tackles, bettering his previous
high for the fourth straight game, topping his high of six stops last game vs. Indiana.
SPECIAL TEAMS
• Redshirt senior placekicker Matt Coghlin was 3-of-4 on field goals, making from 22, 44 and 48 yards,
while missing from 49 yards . . . the three field goals marked his third multi-field goal outing this season . .
. he has made at least one FG of 40+ yards in all three games with a field goal . . . Coghlin is now 7-of-10
on the season.
• Coghlin’s 48-yarder came with 3:35 left in the game and was his fourth game-winning field goal of his
career, joining a 34-yarder as time expired vs. Penn State in 2017, a 21-yarder with 0:05 left vs. Indiana in
2019 and a 33-yarder vs. Maryland with 2:14 remaining in 2019 . . . all four of Coghlin’s game-winning field
goals have come in home games at Spartan Stadium.
• Graduate transfer punter Mitchell Crawford matched his MSU career-high punting outing with four punts,
with season highs of 153 yards and a 38.2 yards per punt average . . . Crawford had a long of 44 yards,
with one inside the 20.

GAME PREVIEW COURTESY MICHIGAN STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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