Grinz On Green Blog
Oct. 2, 2011
By Steve Grinczel, Online Columnist
COLUMBUS, Ohio - After studying every play and charting every route, Ohio State fully understood the bond between Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham and still couldn't stop the Michigan State passing combination Saturday afternoon in Ohio Stadium.
Cousins' brilliant 33-yard pass and Cunningham's spectacular catch in the back of the end zone provided MSU with a 7-0 first-quarter lead that served as the foundation for the Spartans' 10-7 victory.
Cunningham ended up with nine catches for 154 yards, including 52 on a play in the third quarter. Cunningham picked up several of his yards on slant-in routes over the middle.
"He had tough receptions," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "He had them over the middle while getting hit. He had strong-handed receptions - plays where that ball stuck there and he was hit immediately."
Cousins completed 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in difficult swirling conditions.
"I thought Cousins was on, big-time," Dantonio said. "That ball was humming out there. He was throwing strikes."
The scoring play on the Cousins-to-Cunningham Connection was a thing of beauty.
After rolling to his right, Cousins picked up a little extra time to look downfield when tight end Garrett Celek flattened Buckeyes defensive tackle Adam Bellamy with a ferocious block.
Cousins delivered the ball back toward the goal post, where Cunningham was working for position against two defensive backs. Had Cousins underthrown the ball even by a fraction, it probably would have been intercepted or knocked down.
"That was a broken play," Cousins said. "(Cunningham) isn't supposed to be anywhere near where he caught it. He should be basically standing on the sidelines, and he caught it underneath the field-goal post.
"That was an improvising thing and it shows why he's a great player. I would say he wasn't wide open. I threw it up and basically trusted a guy with a lot of ability to go up and get it."
Cunningham, of nearby Westerville, Ohio, went up against cornerback Travis Howard and shagged the ball as easily as if he was playing catch in the back yard.
"I looked back and (Cousins) was rolling out," Cunningham said. "So I was just trying to get open and try to make a play. He threw the ball up and trusted me, and I just went and made a play on the ball."
The synergy that exists within CCC "is crazy," said running back Le'Veon Bell.
"B.J. is an amazing player," Bell said. "He's the best receiver in the nation to me. He makes every catch. On that touchdown pass, B.J. wasn't even open and Kirk just gave him a shot and B.J. went up and got it.
"They've been playing with each other for years, so I'm sure they've got a little something going on between them out there."
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