The Michigan State football team took on reigning Big Ten Champions Ohio State in a frigid rivalry showdown on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium, eventually losing to the Buckeyes 26-6.
The cold proved to be a factor early and brought with it some early problems for both teams. On its opening drive, Ohio State punted for just four yards. On the ensuing MSU drive the Spartans fumbled twice and, even though they recovered both, the drive was effectively killed.
The Spartan defense, on the other hand, once again, got out to a strong start holding the Buckeyes to just 28 total yards in the first quarter.
The majority of the second quarter was a punting competition between OSU punter Drue Chrisman and MSU punters Bryce Baringer and William Przystup. Through the half, the two teams punted for over 300 yards.
Meanwhile, scoring attempts fell short for the majority of the half. Spartan kicker Matt Coghlin missed 51-yard field goal at the start of the quarter. Later, Buckeye kicker Blake Haubeil missed a 44-yard field goal that would’ve given Ohio State the lead with just under seven minutes left in the half. Ohio State ended the scoring drought with an 11-play 55-yard scoring drive that ended with a one-yard shuffle pass from Dwayne Haskins to wide receiver Parris Campbell.
On the final drive of the half, quarterback Rocky Lombardi entered the game in relief of a struggling Brian Lewerke and led the Spartans on a seven-play 49-yard drive that led to a 44-yard Coghlin field goal cutting the Buckeye lead to four at the half.
The scoring drought returned in the third quarter until Lombardi kick-started an MSU scoring drive with a 47-yard rush to put the Spartans just outside of scoring-range. That drive ended with a 38-yard Coghlin field goal to cut the Buckeyes lead to one.
Though Ohio State’s offense stalled multiple times, the Buckeyes special teams play ensured that the Spartans were always pinned deep in their own territory. Ohio State’s strategy eventually took a toll on Michigan State, ultimately giving up an intentional safety in an effort to get better field position for the defense.
The fourth quarter could best be described as a series of unfortunate events for Michigan State. Pinned in its own end zone, MSU botched a jet sweep play resulting in a fumble recovered by Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones for a touchdown. The following Spartan drive saw another fumble, this time on a hand-off exchange between Lombardi and running back La’Darius Jefferson, recovered by Ohio State. Ohio State went on to score a field goal giving them a 19-6 lead with just over 12 minutes to play.
Lewerke re-entered the game in the fourth and still struggled to get anything going. With a little over five minutes left in the game, Lewerke threw an interception that sealed the Spartans fate.
Ohio State would score another touchdown with a little over a minute on the clock, making the final score 26-6. With the win, Ohio State remains at second place in the Big Ten East meanwhile MSU remains third.
Ohio State finished the game with 227 yards through the air and one passing touchdown. On the ground Mike Weber led the way for the Buckeyes’ rushing attack, running for 107 out of OSU’s 154 yards on the ground. Weber also scored the late TD.
For the Spartans, the offense struggled for another week. Despite being on the bench for some time, Lewerke led the Spartan passing attack with 128 yards and an interception. Lombardi threw for 92 yards. On the ground, Lombardi led the rushing attack with 59 yards on three carries.
In the postgame presser, Mark Dantonio announced that the team is planning to redshirt injured running back LJ Scott.
Next week the Spartans travel to Lincoln to face a struggling Nebraska. Meanwhile, Ohio State will travel to Maryland to face the fourth place Terrapins.