If MSU does go with a ground-and-pound approach, it'll present a vastly different approach than anything the Cowboys see in the Big 12 at a time when the OSU defense is trying to establish its own new identity as an aggressive attacking unit under first-year coordinator Glenn Spencer.
“We want to prove that our defense is dominant every Saturday, not just against an SEC opponent,” said Cowboys linebacker Shaun Lewis.
The Bulldogs defense plans to similarly turn up the heat under Geoff Collins, who like Spencer has been elevated into the coordinator post.
“A lot of juice,” promised Bulldogs linebacker Bernardrick McKinney. “It's going to be a lot of new things we didn't do last year. A lot more mayhem — more sacs, interceptions as a group.”
They, too, will be tested outside of their SEC comfort zone, facing a Cowboys offense that returns eight starters and pushes pace to the limit.
“We pretty much have to do what we know how to do,” said OSU running back Jeremy Smith, “which is move the ball fast. I think that if we can get them tired, then it will be a good game for us.”
It'll be a good start for one team.
And it's a start that could heavily influence each squad's finish.