No. 4 Ohio State overcomes slow start, rolls in victory over No. 25 MSU

Kenny+Willekes+lines+up+against+Ohio+State+during+the+regular+season.+Credit%3A+Alex+McRae+%2F+WDBM

Alex McRae

Kenny Willekes lines up against Ohio State during the regular season. Credit: Alex McRae / WDBM

Eric Bach, Sports Broadcast Director

COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 25 ranked Michigan State came into Columbus on Saturday night with a lot a stake. The prime time lights were on, and it was No. 4 ranked Ohio State’s homecoming. The Buckeyes were facing their best competition of the season, and the Spartans were trying to prove they still belong with the big boys in the Big Ten East.

The Spartans went all in, and even after a slow offensive start for Ohio State – 16 total offensive yards in the first quarter – the Buckeye offense came alive in the second, helping wrap up a homecoming night 34-10 victory for OSU.

“Motivation, that’s all it is,” said Darrell Stewart. “We shot ourselves in the foot.”

MSU opened the game with two fumbles on their first two offensive drives.

“We did some good things to try and get back into it,” said Mark Dantonio after the loss. “But I don’t think anyone plays the blame game in that (MSU’s) locker room.”

Ohio State got out to the lead early, after badly hooking a 37-yard field goal attempt after the first Spartan fumble, OSU kicker Blake Haubeil nailed a 39-yard attempt to put OSU up 3-0 with 8:04 left in the first. 

After the Spartan defense only allowed a combined three points off the two early turnovers, the offense began to punch back, even after giving up a 60-yard catch and run touchdown to Binjimen Victor in the opening three minutes of the second quarter.

That punch came in the form of a five-play, 75-yard drive that lasted less than two minutes. A 13-yard run by Brian Lewerke, a 23-yard scamper by Elijah Collins and a 19-yard catch by Matt Seybert were all key plays. Stewart then finished off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown catch in the middle of the endzone.

The score put MSU down three points, trailing 10-7 with 10:36 left in the first half.

And then, the OSU offense really woke up.

Shortly after that MSU drive, OSU’s Luke Farrell came down with a 21-yard touchdown catch. MSU countered with a Matt Coghlin 39-yard field goal, but then J.K. Dobbins rattled off a 67-yard touchdown run, weaving in and out of what would be MSU tacklers on his way to the end zone. 

Just as MSU thought they were back in the game, it was swiftly taken back away from them as OSU took a 17-point lead into the break, 27-10.

It’s often said that in football, the fourth quarter determines the outcome of the game. But tonight, a second quarter that saw 27 total points between the two teams was the difference. 

Ohio State moves to 6-0 with the victory and MSU suffers their second loss of the season and moves to 4-2 on the year.

“They’re a really good team,” Lewerke said postgame.

Offense, defense struggle down the stretch

In a game where the offense was going to be asked to put the ball in the end zone as much as it could, the Spartan defense faltered just as much. 

MSU’s normally vaunted run defense gave up 172 yards to Dobbins in the game. 

“Again, J.K. Dobbins is a good running back, he’s physical, he’s durable,” Dantonio said. “Somebody said he got a little slower when he went to 215 (pounds), I didn’t see that. Guess that’s not verified … cash that in as a rumor.”

On the other side, two turnovers on the first two opening drives of the game put a visibly tired defense back out on the field against a dominant run game and dual-threat quarterback.

Lewerke made throw after throw in the first half, going 11-of-19 and only taking one sack. A 13-yard third down and long pass to Trent Gillison was a reminder of the quarterback’s brilliance from earlier in his career. 

In the second half, the wheels began to fall off. MSU was shut out in the second half, and only gained 107 total yards after halftime. 

Ohio State finished off the scoring in the game with a one yard rushing score by Fields after Dobbins’ thought-to-be touchdown was called back in the third quarter.

Up next: Spartans travel to Madison

It certainly doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans moving forward, they have to travel to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 PM. You can listen live to the game on Impact 89FM at 3:15 PM. 

“Getting back to it,” said Stewart on playing Wisconsin the week after the loss. “That’s all it is … that loss was nobody else but us.”

“No turnovers, no penalties, just big explosive plays.” Stewart said on how the team can get back to it with Wisconsin awaiting the team.

The Badgers were off this week, but in their last game, they defeated Michigan 35-14 at home. MSU last played Wisconsin in East Lansing in 2016, losing that game 30-6.

You can follow Eric Bach on Twitter @ebach21.

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