While Ohio State's offense struggled, the defense picked up the slack and gave the Buckeyes a 24-17 victory over Michigan State at Ohio Stadium on Oct. 20, 2007.
The top-ranked Buckeyes built a commanding 24-0 in the third quarter only to see the Spartans score back-to-back defensive touchdowns and make the final score closer than it should have been.
"Well, it was an interesting game we played today," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "Defensively, I thought we played solidly the whole game. Our defense held them to under 200 yards total offense, which is extraordinary for a college football game. Unfortunately, our offense gave up 14 points, which you cannot do if you want to be Big Ten champions."
The final margin was seven points, but the Buckeyes were dominant on the stat sheet. Ohio State doubled Michigan State in first downs (22-9) and total yardage (422-185) and outgained the Spartans on the ground 229-59. Michigan State had entered the game with one of the top rushing attacks in the country behind running backs Jehuu Caulcrick and Javon Ringer. Caulcrick was held to only 9 yards on four carries, and Ringer finished with 49 yards on 18 carries.
Yet it was OSU's Chris "Beanie" Wells that led all rushers. The sophomore tailback dominated the MSU defense. He carried the ball 31 times for 221 yards - both career single-game highs. His 47-yard run on the second play from scrimmage set the tone, leading Ohio State on a 93-yard drive in just more than three minutes. Tight end Jake Ballard capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown reception from Todd Boeckman at the 11:50 mark of the first quarter.
Ryan Pretorius added a 42-yard field goal later in the first quarter before Ohio State extended its lead to 17-0 in the second quarter thanks to a key defensive play by Vernon Gholston and Doug Worthington. Gholston applied pressure to MSU quarterback Brian Hoyer, and when Hoyer tried to throw a short pass to a receiver in the middle of the field, Worthington caught his first career interception and set up the Buckeyes on the Spartan 29.
Six plays later, Ohio State reached the end zone on a 5-yard run by Wells with 10:15 remaining before halftime.
The score stayed that way until halftime, although the Buckeyes did threaten to score again. OSU reached the MSU 19 late in the second quarter before having a 37-yard field goal attempt by Pretorius blocked by Justin Kershaw, a Columbus-area product.
The Buckeyes did capitalize in the first possession following the break. The offense drove 70 yards in only three plays. Boeckman connected with Brian Robiskie for a 50-yard touchdown strike after Robiskie got behind two Spartan defenders.
Ohio State continued to stifle the Spartan offense following the touchdown, but Michigan State got back in the game thanks to some Buckeye miscues on offense. On the fourth play of OSU's next drive, Boeckman threw behind his intended receiver and Otis Wiley intercepted the pass. The Spartan safety picked up blockers and returned the pass for a MSU touchdown with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
Things got worse for Ohio State on its next possession. Just more than a minute after Wiley's score, Michigan State forced another turnover. Defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic sacked Boeckman on the third play of the drive, forcing a fumble that was recovered and returned 25 yards for a touchdown by linebacker SirDarean Adams.
Wells, who recovered his own fumble on OSU's next drive, helped seal the win. Michigan State only had the ball on offense two more times, getting a 43-yard field goal from Brett Swenson with 3:42 left in the game. Wells helped the Buckeyes run out the clock by carrying the ball seven times for 32 yards on Ohio State's final drive.
Boeckman had an up and down afternoon, completing his first 10 passes but only completing 5 of his last 13. He finished 15 for 23 for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
Brian Hartline led the receivers with four receptions for 41 yards. Ballard added three catches for 35 yards and a score, while Robiskie caught two passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.
The Buckeye defense starred once again, led by junior middle linebacker James Laurinaiits with 12 tackles. Junior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins added eight stops, while junior outside linebacker Marcus Freeman netted seven.