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No. 13 Ohio State crushes No. 12 Michigan State
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A week after a humbling beatdown, Ohio State rebounded in resounding fashion.
The 13th-ranked Buckeyes dominated from the opening kickoff Saturday, scoring on five of its first six possessions and bludgeoning No. 12 Michigan State in a 48-3 victory at Ohio Stadium.
The win put the Buckeyes (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten East Division title and a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game next month with two regular-season games remaining.
In a polar opposite performance from its stunning 55-24 dismantling by Iowa, Ohio State raced to a 35-0 lead midway through the second quarter and controlled the game on both sides of the ball against Michigan State.
The bounce-back win won’t erase the sting of the stumble the previous Saturday, but it is somewhat soothing considering the criticism coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes endured in the week leading up to this game.
“The browbeatings that take place and all these things, you need these kinds of things. You need a great performance,” Meyer said. “And they had a great performance.”
Sophomore running back Mike Weber broke long runs of 47 yards and 82 yards for touchdowns, and quarterback J.T. Barrett ran for a touchdown and threw for one in a dominant opening half that ended with the Buckeyes up 35-3.
Ohio State returned to running the ball this week after its play calling was questioned following last week’s loss, specifically the lack of carries for standout freshman running back J.K. Dobbins.
The Buckeyes turned to Dobbins early and often against Michigan State, and he finished with 18 carries for 124 yards. Weber was even more productive in limited touches, with his big plays boosting his rushing total to 162 yards on nine carries.
“We went into the week going hard about running the ball,” Weber said. “The coaches did a good job saying we were just going to pound the ball and it worked out for us.”
Ohio State gained 335 of their 524 total yards on the ground.
“Yeah, there was a mandate to make sure those guys touch the ball,” Meyer said. “The flow of the game also dictated that we were controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides. What happened in other games is when you get behind or it just doesn’t dictate it that way. But that was a mandate for me and it was, once again mandates are easy. The execution was outstanding.”
Ohio State continued to pile on points in the second half. Barrett threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Binjamin Victor on the third play of the third quarter and from that point the only thing left undecided was the final score.
After Barrett threw four interceptions at Iowa, the senior had a better day, completing 14 of 21 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We can’t go back in the past, of course,” Barrett said. “We try to move on, learn from things, learn from losses. That’s what we did today. We grew from it being able to perform the way we did today.”
Michigan State (7-3, 5-2) was riding high after pulling out a last-second win at home over Penn State a week earlier and rising in the College Football Playoff rankings, but the Spartans had nothing to offer the Buckeyes from the outset.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for just 131 yards and was sacked three times after passing for more 400 or more in each of the previous two games. Michigan State was held to 195 total yards and only avoided a shutout with a 37-yard field goal by Matt Coghlin on the final play of the first half.
“It was a disappointing outcome, obviously,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “When you look at the football game, the other side of the field got a wave of momentum going and things just didn’t go right. We didn’t separate with our receivers. We didn’t throw the ball accurately. We couldn’t protect the quarterback. We couldn’t run the football.
“Defensively, we didn’t tackle well. We didn’t pressure their quarterback enough and couldn’t stop the run. Consequently, a meltdown happens.”
Any Ohio State hangover left over from the pounding at Iowa the previous week quickly disappeared.
On the Buckeyes’ first possession, Weber burst through the middle of the Spartans’ defense for a 47-yard run that make it 7-0 with 8:14 remaining in the first quarter.
Ohio State kept it on the ground and Barrett reached the end zone on two 4-yard runs, the first near the end of the first quarter and the second early in the second quarter that gave the Buckeyes a 21-0 lead.
Barrett threw his first touchdown pass of the game, an 8-yarder to Dobbins that expanded Ohio State’s lead to a commanding 28-0 with 9:21 left in the second quarter.
Weber turned the game into a runaway when he burst untouched up the middle for an 82-yard touchdown run and a 35-0 bulge with 6:27 left in the opening half.
“We have to play better. We have to step up to the stage when it’s there,” Lewerke said. “There was a chance here for us to go to the Big Ten Championship, so we just needed to step up and play better than we did.”
NOTES: Ohio State LBs Jerome Baker and Dante Booker missed the game with injuries. Baker was tied for the team lead in tackles with 44. Booker has 31 tackles. ... For the second straight week, an Ohio State player was ejected for targeting. DT Dre’Mont Jones was flagged for hitting Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke in the second quarter. DE Joey Bosa was disqualified at Iowa a week ago. ... Michigan State and Ohio State have been ranked in the AP Top 25 in six of the last eight meetings. ... Michigan State LB Chris Frey played high school football at Upper Arlington, a stone’s throw from the Ohio State campus. ... Ohio State C Billy Price set a school record with his 51st start. The previous mark was held by Luke Fickell. ... Buckeyes QB J.T. Barrett moved into second place in Big Ten career all-purpose yards, passing Minnesota’s Adam Weber.