COLUMBUS – For a brief few minutes in the third quarter Michigan State had top-ranked Ohio State on the ropes, but with the end of the third quarter went the Spartans momentum along with it, as the Buckeyes rolled to a 24-14 victory.
After two defensive touchdowns for MSU in one minute, an interception by Otis Wiley and a fumble recovery by SirDarean Adams, OSU coughed up the ball again in their very next play from scrimmage.
Wiley tried to scoop the ball up, which was inside the Ohio State 15-yard line, but instead bobbled the ball and lost it, eventually being recovered back by the Buckeyes.
"We did fight back, and that is what I was very proud of, we didn't cash it in," said coach Mark Dantonio. "I wished we would have had that third turnover because we would have been inside their 20 going in."
Although Ohio State ended up punting on the ensuing drive, the Spartans knew they missed a golden opportunity to rally back within three points with a touchdown in Ohio State's redzone.
"I tried to make another play, I was trying to get it but I missed," said Wiley. "I wish I would have fallen on it and the outcome of the game would have been totally different, I believe that."
Instead, Ohio State ran eight minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter while up 24-14. Michigan State put a drive together late in the fourth but only managed a 43-yard field goal by Brett Swenson.
The Spartans did not get the ball back after that score as the Buckeyes ran off the last 3:38 of the game behind running back Chris Wells, who ran for 221 yards and a touchdown in the game.
"The momentum was swinging our way, I wish we would have jumped on it, but there's no telling what would of happened, our offense could have fumbled again on the next drive," said defensive end Justin Kershaw, who is a Columbus native.
After a dismal first half with Ohio State leading 17-0 at half, Michigan State didn't show life until the Wiley interception with 3:52 left in the third.
The play really sparked the Spartan bench while making the Buckeye's crack in their bid for a shutout.
The Buckeye's bobbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff as their players suddenly seemed human.
Just four plays later, defensive tackle Jonal Saint-Dic caused a Big Ten record eighth fumble on the season and Adams ran it 24 yards for the score.
After only giving up an average of six points per game this season, Ohio State gave up 14 in one minute of play. They felt the heat coming and suddenly saw the game coming down to the wire.
"We're not playing for moral victories but we saw where our heart was, and our guys really stepped up in the second half and I'm really proud of that. We will take this into Iowa next week," said Kershaw.
But as they have done all season, the Buckeye defense pulled out the victory, stopping the MSU offense all day and only allowing 185 yards of offense.
"We had to prove ourselves on defense when the score was 24-17," said OSU defensive tackle Dexter Larimore. "Our secondary was great, our linebackers were great, and our front was great. We had 11 guys who can make plays, and I think we showed that today."
Despite the strong defensive play, the 17 points given up is the most by Ohio State this season.
"We showed a lot of character out there today," said Dantonio. "Our guys hung together and kept playing hard even though we were down big. It's a great feeling coaching that kind of athlete and that is the kind of attitude we want to create around this program."
Michigan State now falls to 1-3 in Big Ten play, 5-3 overall and travel to Iowa next week.
Late Push Not Enough; MSU Falls 24-17
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