After a run of 23 wins in a row, No. 3 Ohio State came up short in its first matchup against a ranked opponent this season.
The Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) struck first and took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter, but No. 9 Michigan State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) rallied with 10 straight fourth-quarter points on its way to a 17-14 victory. The loss broke a 30-game conference win streak for the Buckeyes as Ohio State managed just 132 yards of total offense on Senior Day at Ohio Stadium.
The game came down to the final play when Michigan State junior kicker Michael Geiger lined up for a 41-yard field goal and split the uprights.
Ohio State sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett completed just nine of 16 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown while carrying the ball 15 times for 44 yards. Junior running back Ezekiel Elliott contributed just 33 yards on the ground as he was limited to just two carries in the second half.
The Spartans were without starting quarterback Connor Cook, but backup Tyler O’Connor filled in with 89 passing yards and a touchdown strike while the Spartans ran for 203 yards on 51 attempts.
How It Happened
The Buckeyes opened the game with the ball, but quickly punted away after Barrett managed nine yards on three straight carries. Michigan State responded with a bit more success on its first drive — picking up one first down — but still ended up punting as well.
The ensuing Ohio State drive resulted in the Buckeyes’ first first down of the day — a 16-yard catch and run from sophomore Jalin Marshall. Continuing with the early offensive struggles Ohio State punted for the second time in as many drives, though, after stalling at the Michigan State 46-yard line.
The Buckeye defense stepped up after the boot, holding the Spartans to just 16 yards on a seven-play drive that took 3:55 off the clock. Sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard ended the drive when he sacked Michigan State quarterback Damion Terry, forcing a fumble that was recovered by senior Adolphus Washington.
Elliott carried the ball eight times on the ensuing 10-play, 32-yard Ohio State drive, and he punctuated the possession with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Buckeyes ahead.
The lasted just under five minutes, though, as O’Connor led a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive that included a key 36-yard pass to Aaron Burbridge on third-and-14 at the Michigan State 36. O’Connor tied the game with a 12-yard scoring toss to Trevon Pendleton with 7:57 to play in the first half.
The rest of the opening period didn’t include a first down for either team, with the Buckeyes’ best chance coming on a deep pass from Barrett to Braxton Miller, but the ball was out of reach for the senior receiver. Michigan State had a shot to go ahead as well, but missed on a 43-yard field goal try after a 5-yard Cameron Johnston punt set the Spartans up at the Ohio State 23-yard line.
The Spartans got the ball to open the final 30 minutes, but didn’t do anything to take advantage. The Buckeyes’ ensuing possession was much of the same, though, as Ohio State went three and out once again after a high pass from Barrett slipped through Marshall’s grasp on third down.
Michigan State converted on third down to start its second series of the half, but came up short on third down three plays later, forcing a punt. Marshall made a diving fair catch at the Ohio State 15-yard line, leaving 85 yards for the Buckeyes, who had gained just 81 total yards up to that point.
Barrett scampered for 10 yards on the first play of the drive, but he came up short of a second first down after carrying the ball on the next three plays, forcing Ohio State into its seventh punt of the night. That punt turned out to be a game changer, in favor of the Buckeyes.
Michigan State’s Macgarrett Kings fumbled the kick and redshirt-freshman Terry McLaurin recovered at the Michigan State 6-yard line. A play later, Barrett hit Marshall for a touchdown, giving the Buckeyes a 14-7 lead with 3:33 on the third-quarter clock.
The Spartans bounced back with an R.J. Shelton rush for 19 yards two plays after the touchdown, then Gerald Holmes added 14 more to get the Spartans into Ohio State territory, but two short runs set the visitors up with third-and-8 heading into the fourth quarter. Sophomore linebacker Raekwon McMillan broke up O’Connor’s pass to force fourth down before junior Joey Bosa was called for offsides for the third time, making it fourth-and-3.
O’Connor picked up the first down on a called quarterback run, pushing the Spartans into the red zone. He converted another first down three plays later, making it first-and-goal at the 7-yard line before Holmes powered down to the 2. After an Ohio State timeout Holmes punched it in to tie the game at 14 with 12:03 to play.
The Buckeyes picked up one first down on the ensuing drive, but came up short on third down moments later before Johnston pinned the Spartans at the Ohio State 4-yard line with eighth punt of the game.
Michigan State freshman running back LJ Scott picked up 20 yards on the first play of the drive to get his team out of the hole, then he added 11 more on the next two plays for another first down. Ohio State forced third-and-8, but sophomore Tyquan Lewis was called for offsides, setting up third-and-2. Sophomore cornerback Gareon Conley broke up the ensuing O’Connor pass, getting the Buckeyes the ball via punt at their own 7-yard line with 5:49 on the clock.
Barrett took a deep shot to junior Michael Thomas on first down, but the pass was nearly intercepted, then he was stopped for a 1-yard gain on second. Miller took a shovel pass on third down but gained just 3 yards, forcing the Buckeyes to punt at their own 11-yard line. Johnston’s kick was tipped, giving the Spartans the ball at the Ohio State 48.
After a 3-yard run and a 6-yard pass, O’Connor pushed through on a quarterback sneak to convert on third down. Three straight carries from Scott gave the Spartans a fresh set of downs with 33 seconds to go, but he gained just two yards on the next to plays, setting Michigan State up for a 41-yard field goal try with 3 seconds on the clock.
Ohio State took a timeout just before the snap, but Geiger still converted to win the game.