East Lansing, Mich.
Quick Recap: Ohio State overcame early mistakes to go on a 28-3 run and ran the Spartans’ defense off the field. Michigan State three times scored early TDs and led 21-14 before the Buckeyes took over, with J.T. Barrett hitting touchdown passes of 79 yards to Mike Thomas and 44 yards to Devin Smith to give the Buckeyes a 28-21 lead at halftime. An Ezekiel Elliott TD run and a pass from Barrett to Dontre Wilson ended the run, and OSU scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions to pull away. MSU’s defense entered with a reputation as one of the best in the nation but the Buckeyes piled up 568 total yards in what was a dominating performance. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 154 yards and two TDs while Barrett accounted for 386 yards and four touchdowns, while Michael Bennett had four tackles, two TFL and a sack while also forcing a fumble in a big performance.
Urban Said: “I want to give the fans here a little shout out. This is a great environment to come watch a game. I told Coach Dantonio they've got a great team. Great opportunity for two good football teams to go play and I'm very proud of our guys. A young team grew up tonight. I told them in there that the future is extremely bright here at Ohio State. A bunch of young players out there playing that acted like older players. Really, really proud of them.
“We had to answer each of one of their hits and we did. J.T., boy is he playing well. He was 16-of-26, 300 yards throwing and very accurate on the deep balls. Also Devin Smith, that's his best game that we've had in the past three years. He's one of the best, if not the best, deep ball players we've ever had. He tracks the ball very well. Once again, we answered their hit when we had to.”
Play of the Game: On the first play after Ohio State’s defense made its biggest stand of the game – keeping Michigan State scoreless after a fumbled kickoff by Wilson – the Buckeyes tied the game at 21 late in the second quarter on a 79-yard pass from Barrett to Thomas. The wideout ran a simple slant against press coverage, broke a tackle from the corner and was gone, a gamebreaking play that put momentum on Ohio State’s side for good.
Player of the Game: A number of players deserved notice but it couldn’t be anyone but Barrett, who showed himself as a legitimate Heisman candidate by throwing for 300 yards on the nose and running for 86 more with two touchdowns apiece. Barrett helped the team overcome its early mistakes with standout play including his pinpoint touchdown passes to Thomas, Smith and Barrett that buried the Spartans.
What Was Accomplished: Ohio State got revenge for the Big Ten Championship Game loss a season ago with the hugely satisfying victory in East Lansing, and the win cemented OSU as a legitimate College Football Playoff contender with the team’s first big victory of the season. The offense, which had big question marks two weeks prior at Penn State, was magnificent, and the Buckeyes showed that they had enough talent to make up for youthful mistakes.