Ohio State-Michigan State takeaways: Kyle McCord, Buckeyes get complete game they needed

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Ohio State wasted no time putting Michigan State away on Saturday. The No. 1 Buckeyes scored on their first three drives and cruised to a 38-3 win over Michigan State.

It was a needed drama-free win for the Buckeyes (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) after rival Michigan beat Penn State in a top-10 matchup earlier in the day. Though all of the outside eyes are looking ahead to the Nov. 25 game in Ann Arbor, Ohio State has stayed focused on the day-to-day work. It showed on Saturday.

Here are a few takeaways from the Buckeyes’ best performance to date.

Ohio State needed a game like this

The Buckeyes dominated from the opening snap and put together the complete game Ryan Day has been looking for.

They scored on six of their seven offensive drives when the starters were in. They finished with 530 yards of total offense and an average of eight yards per play after leading 35-3 at halftime.

Michigan State (3-7, 1-6) isn’t a good football team. In fact, it came into the game with the worst scoring offense in the Big Ten and one of the worst defenses. Still, it was an impressive showing for an Ohio State offense that has been inconsistent and struggled to put together complete games. It was a needed confidence boost for quarterback Kyle McCord and company.

The defense was what you’d expect, even with three starters out due to injuries in linebacker Tommy Eichenberg and safeties Josh Proctor and Lathan Ransom. Ohio State gave up just three points and held the Spartans to 182 yards of total offense. For as bad as Michigan State has been this season, only Michigan also held the Spartans under 200 yards.

Ohio State has one more tune-up before going to Ann Arbor for The Game, as it will host Minnesota at 4 p.m. ET next Saturday. Once again, it will be a big favorite, especially after the Gophers lost to Purdue 49-30. The Buckeyes will want to duplicate this performance next week and head to Ann Arbor playing their best football.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though. For the time being, appreciate that the Buckeyes seemed to get a lot of things right on Saturday.

Harrison continues to dismantle Spartans

Every Ohio State opponent will be glad to see Marvin Harrison Jr. go to the NFL next year, and few will be as happy as Michigan State.

Harrison had 168 total yards with 149 yards receiving and rushing, giving him a season high in yards from scrimmage. He also had a season-high three touchdowns. But this wasn’t a one-year thing for Harrison against Michigan State. The star receiver had 131 receiving yards and three touchdowns last year in East Lansing. In two years, Harrison has 299 total yards and six touchdowns against the Spartans.

He’s the best receiver in the country, and he added to his Heisman Trophy resume with the strong performance on Saturday.

There was nothing Michigan State could do against Harrison, but that’s become the norm for him. He now has 1,063 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns this season, making him the first receiver in program history to eclipse 1,000 yards twice.

He has two regular-season games left and a potential Big Ten title game, but New York already seems to be calling Harrison’s name. He should at least be a Heisman finalist.

McCord was dialed in

McCord has struggled with consistency this season, even against inferior opponents. It’s part of the growing pains as a first-year starter.

He didn’t have any problems on Saturday.

McCord was locked in from the start and never missed a beat. He finished the day completing 24-of-31 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns. He did everything Day asked of him. He was on time with his underneath throws, kept the Buckeyes on schedule with his accuracy and had good footwork in the pocket. He also delivered some downfield throws like the 57-yard pass to Harrison.

This is a confidence-building performance for McCord, which is what Ohio State needs.

The entire country just watched Michigan dominate Penn State quarterback Drew Allar with its constant pressure and aggressiveness in the secondary. If Ohio State is going to beat Minnesota and Michigan, it needs a confident McCord.

He doesn’t need to complete 77 percent of his passes and have a career day each game, but the confidence he showed Saturday will help the offense.

(Photo of Marvin Harrison Jr.: Jason Mowry / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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