- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A glance at the Ohio State players named to preseason watch lists and how they performed in a 17-16 win over Michigan State to open Big Ten play on Saturday:
QB Braxton Miller, So. (Maxwell, O'Brien): The Buckeyes again needed him to shoulder the load as a runner, and Miller complied with 136 yards on 23 carries against a defense that came into the game leading the conference in rushing defense. With the game on the line, though, he made his biggest impact as a passer with a perfect strike to Devin Smith for a go-ahead, 63-yard touchdown.
DE John Simon, Sr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott IMPACT): The big plays aren't exactly coming in bunches, but the veteran is still showing up in opposing backfields and creating difficulty for quarterbacks. Simon finished with four tackles, including one for a loss, but the Spartans still had to account for the threat he posed at end.
DT Johnathan Hankins, Jr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Outland): The shift to playing a more traditional offense lowered his individual numbers, but Hankins might have actually had a bigger impact than he did during his two-week tackling binge. He finished the game with just three assists, but his push on the interior at tackle produced countless opportunities for other Buckeyes.
WR Corey "Philly" Brown, Jr. (Biletnikoff): Nobody had produced as many catches in a game for the program in 15 years, putting Brown in lofty company. His 12 receptions were just two off the school record David Boston set in 1997 -- and two shy of the total Brown posted all of last season while leading the Buckeyes.
TE Jake Stoneburner, Sr. (Mackey): Shut out in receptions for the second week in a row, Stoneburner channeled his energy into blocking on the perimeter for a rushing attack that was able to find success against the stingy Spartans. Through five games, he still ranks third on the team in catches despite the recent drought.
SS C.J. Barnett, Jr. (Thorpe): An ankle injury kept the veteran on the shelf for the second game in a row. His status was upgraded by coach Urban Meyer to probable for the top-25 showdown this week against Nebraska, and the Buckeyes could use him in the secondary against the league's best total offense.
K Drew Basil, Jr. (Groza): Opportunities to score points remain few and far between for Basil, but he converted on his second chance of the season with a 26-yard field goal against the Spartans. Still a longshot to factor in the awards race with so few kicks on his resume this season.
LB Etienne Sabino, Sr. (Butkus): Seemingly getting more and more comfortable with his expanded role as a senior, Sabino turned in one of the best outings of his career against the Spartans with eight tackles, two hits on the quarterback, a sack and a pass broken up. His leadership was already invaluable, but now Sabino is adding production on top of that.
RB Jordan Hall, Sr. (Walker): After returning from injury with two productive games, Hall appears likely to head back to the sideline for a week after suffering a partial tear of his posterior cruciate ligament in the win over the Spartans. Before leaving the game, Hall carried six times for 26 yards and put the Buckeyes on the scoreboard with a 1-yard touchdown dive.
4dDan Murphy and Austin Ward