Michigan State football RB Kenneth Walker III's Heisman Trophy hunt takes a big hit

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Here are the Michigan State football players who helped or hurt their stock in the Spartans’ 56-7 loss at Ohio State on Saturday:

Three up

Sat., Nov. 20, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety Darius Snow (23) tackles Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) during the third quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium.
Sat., Nov. 20, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety Darius Snow (23) tackles Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) during the third quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium.

S Darius Snow: Back in the home state of his father, Eric, and uncle, Percy, the sophomore turned up with big hits and a career-high 16 tackles against the Buckeyes. It continues to be a season of emergence for Snow, who leaped junior Michael Dowell to start at nickel back and took over Saturday in the second half for strong safety Xavier Henderson, who suffered a shoulder injury. Snow only trails Henderson with 79 tackles.

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P Bryce Baringer: Baringer’s journey has been a unique story since he emerged as an emergency walk-on who took over punting duties, was left off the roster the next year and returned to become the starter. On a day he was one of MSU’s game day captains, the senior continued his strong season by averaging 49.7 yards on his nine attempts including five inside the 20 and punts of 74 and 61 yards and three others 50 or longer. Baringer ranks third in the Football Bowl Subdivision with a 49.4-yard average

Sat., Nov. 20, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Keon Coleman (0) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium.
Sat., Nov. 20, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Keon Coleman (0) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium.

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WR Keon Coleman: It was a coming out party for the freshman receiver, an electric athlete who also plans to play basketball after the season. Coleman caught his first touchdown pass on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Payton Thorne and finished with season-bests of three catches for 27 yards. With top wideouts Jalen Nailor (right hand) and Jayden Reed (right foot) banged up, it could be a chance for Coleman to step into a larger play-making role against Penn State.

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Three down

Ohio State defensive back Cameron Brown, bottom, and defensive back Bryson Shaw, center, tackle Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio State defensive back Cameron Brown, bottom, and defensive back Bryson Shaw, center, tackle Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.

RB Kenneth Walker III: Walker’s Heisman Trophy candidacy took a significant hit as he ran for a season-low 25 yards on six carries, and he only had one other touch on a 4-yard catch plus one other target in the passing game. The junior appeared to be hobbled with a nagging ankle injury, did not play after halftime and remains a question mark going into Saturday’s regular-season finale.

Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton: The learning and adjusting to Hazelton’s 4-2-5 defense remains slow growth. MSU gave up 108 points and 1,176 yards — 528 of them on the ground, 648 through the air — the past two seasons against Ohio State. While the Buckeyes do to many teams, opponents have been doing similar things often to the Spartans. Through 18 games under Tucker, also a defensive coach by trade, Hazelton’s defenses allow an average of 437.4 yards and 29.3 points a game.

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Chris Olave of the Ohio State Buckeyes catches a pass for a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.
Chris Olave of the Ohio State Buckeyes catches a pass for a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.

S Angelo Grose/Xavier Henderson: MSU’s veterans in the middle of the secondary struggled all afternoon in coverage. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud split Grose and Henderson for two long touchdowns on post passes, and he threw another to a wide-open receiver after pre-snap communication issues between the Spartans’ safeties that led to them colliding and tripping over one another.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III's Heisman hunt takes hit