They knew what was coming – and they could not stop it.
For seven straight plays, OSU quarterback Todd Boeckman took the snap, turned and gave the ball to Chris Wells. The final result was seven carries for a total of 36 yards, but one number was more important: 0:00.
That was the time left on the clock when, after Wells' seven carries and one knee taken by Boeckman, the Buckeyes emerged with a 24-17 victory.
"Of course I wanted the ball," said Wells. "The only thing on my mind was getting the ball and holding on tight to it."
That much was evident as the Buckeyes salted the game away thanks to the powerful running of Wells, who goes by "Beanie.". The Spartans needed to force a punt to get one more crack at the OSU defense.
Hoping for a three-and-out series, the Spartans instead gave up a 12-yard rush up the gut by Wells that set the tone for the final drive. He carried it for two yards over the right guard on the following play, forcing a MSU timeout with 3:02 remaining.
However, Wells gashed the Spartans for a seven-yard gain on second and 8 to set up a third and short situation, which he then converted for a three-yard gain.
With just one timeout left, MSU had to use it one play later when Wells picked up five yards on his next carry, moving the ball to the OSU 45-yard line with 1:49 remaining. All that stood between the Buckeyes and victory was five yards.
It took him two carries of three and four yards, but Wells came through and the Buckeyes improved to 8-0.
"He's unbelievable," Boeckman said. "He's a great back. He can make plays like that happen. He can run over guys, which he did there on that last series. I have all the confidence in the world that he's going to make the plays for us."
Although the game was on the line, junior offensive lineman Steve Rehring said Wells seemed his usual self in the huddle.
"Beanie's the same, no matter if it's the first play of the game or the last play of the game," he said. "Always ready to run, always ready to get the ball, always wanting the ball."
When the dust had settled on his afternoon, Wells had carried the ball 31 times for a career-high 221 yards – the ninth-best game for a tailback in OSU history. After the game, Wells said he did not care about his rushing total and that he could have done better.
"I did OK," he said. "I had an OK day. I didn't do everything that I should've, properly, but it was an OK day. It could've been better."
Part of the reason for his answer lies in his oft-injured left ankle. After injuring it early in training camp, Wells has suffered through an inconsistent season as he has battled the injury. Last week against Kent State, he carried the ball just four times for 17 yards as the Buckeyes won big and Wells was able to rest.
This week, although his performance might indicate otherwise, Wells said he still is not at 100 percent.
"It was so-so," he said of the injury. "There were times when it was pinching a little bit, but I stuck it out today. I don't think that I will be at 100 percent throughout the season with the games that we have and week in and week out.
"It's real frustrating. I want to be 100 percent so bad, but nagging injuries. I just get in there and rehab as much as I can just to get as healthy as I can to go in there and play football and help the team win."
Wells' lone touchdown run of the afternoon went for five yards, but he frequently found open running room through the heart of the MSU defense. On the second play of the game, he took a toss to the right side of the line and bounced outside, running free along the sideline before being pushed out of bounds after a 47-yard gain. One series later, Wells picked up 35 yards after taking a handoff on a counter to the left, spying open space and cutting back upfield before finally being dragged down.
When told his teammate did all that while not feeling 100 percent healthy, junior offensive tackle Alex Boone was stunned.
"I thought he was 100 percent today," he said. "He wasn't? If he's not 100 percent doing that, then I don't know what he is. You'd better look out.
"(At 100 percent), he's like a little demon."