Jack Conklin knew when Michigan State had Ohio State beat
On the surface, it appeared like a classic, grind-it-out B1G clash.
Michigan State and Ohio State’s November showdown was billed as the game of the year and as it played out, that proved to be true. The Spartans didn’t lead until Michael Geiger booted a game-winning, 41-yard field goal in cold, wet conditions.
While the thriller kept viewers on the edge of their seats, Michigan State had an earlier sign that the game was theirs for the taking.
“The key turning point in that game was when we came out at halftime — it was really cold — and we came out running around stretching and we look over to their sideline and they’re all huddled around their heaters,” MSU offensive tackle Jack Conklin said on Fox Sports’ ‘The Audible’ podcast. “It was actually that moment. A lot of guys said it after the game that was the moment that we were like ‘We’re gonna win this game.’
“It just didn’t seem like they were in it as emotionally as we were.”
It’s ironic that Conklin’s comments came out the same day J.T. Barrett admitted that Ohio State’s 2015 squad lost its hunger. The Buckeyes had already won a national title and with nine future underclassmen off to the NFL draft, that assessment was a fair one.
Still, the Spartans had to find ways to score against a unit led by future pros across the board and without their starting quarterback.
“Obviously they were a great team. They were one of the best D-lines we played against in my time there,” Conklin said. “I think maybe partially because Connor (Cook) wasn’t playing, they thought they had the game in the bag.”
As it turns out, Michigan State’s confidence was put to better use.
Conklin might not have been a four or a five-star recruit like the Ohio State players he squared off with, but he figures to be drafted in the first round among them. He, Cook and Shilique Calhoun weren’t highly coveted recruits yet all could be selected in the first two rounds after historic careers at MSU.
That mentality, Conklin said, was what kept them from falling apart in Columbus.
“Nobody is gonna break us in a game,” Conklin said. “We pride ourselves on being the toughest team in America.”