EAST LANSING, Michigan — Ohio State got into a punting battle with Michigan State on Saturday before finally pulling away towards the end of the game to secure a Top-25 victory by a score of 26-6.
Ohio State won the opening coin toss and elected to defer so Michigan State received to start the game.
There was plenty of action on just the first few plays as Ohio State was assessed a sideline warning and Michigan State went for it on 4th and short at their own 34 but managed to pick up the first down as quarterback Brian Lewerke barely crossed the first down line.
That’s as much progress as the Spartans would make on their opening drive as a false start and a near interception by Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette led to a punt by Michigan State.
Ohio State’s opening drive was about as bad as you could imagine. The first play was a handoff to running back Mike Weber for a loss of a yard. On second down, they threw it to Weber behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of two more yards. Then, after failing to pick up the first down on 3rd & 13, punter Drue Chrisman shanked his punt for a net punt of just four yards.
Despite Michigan State starting their second possession at the OSU 35, the Spartans had a slew of penalties and miscues which led to a punt from the OSU 34 to the OSU 11.
Ohio State then finally picked up their first first down of the game on their second drive on a 9-yard gain by J.K. Dobbins and then a 2-yard run by Dobbins. Ohio State would not make any more progress on the drive and the Buckeyes would be forced to punt yet again.
However, Ohio State would hold Michigan State to yet another three-and-out and the Buckeyes quickly got back the ball at their own 10.
Ohio State would punt for the third time in as many drives after getting thoroughly worked by Michigan State’s defensive line and only gaining a net total of nine yards after Dwayne Haskins was sacked.
Michigan State would get the ball back and drive all the way to the OSU 33 before being held to fourth down to end the scoreless first quarter.
Michigan State opened up the second quarter with a 51-yard field goal attempt which came short and wide left to leave these teams scoreless into the second quarter.
Ohio State and Michigan State would continue their punting battle into the second quarter as both teams ended up punting on their ensuing drives.
Ohio State finally managed to find some sort of life on their fifth drive of the game as they picked up a first down after an offsides by Michigan State and then found freshman wide receiver Chris Olave for gains of 25 and 16 yards to help bring Ohio State into the red zone. The Buckeyes’ red zone struggles picked up where they left off against Purdue as Ohio State failed to convert as kicker Blake Haubiel missed a 44-yard field goal attempt after the offense failed to find the end zone.
Luckily for Ohio State, Michigan State failed to get anything going on their following drive as they picked up just two yards before punting on a three-and-out.
Ohio State finally managed to put together a scoring drive on their following possession as they drove down into the red zone. The Buckeyes then put in backup quarterback Tate Martell on first and goal for a five-yard run. Dwayne Haskins then returned at QB and on third down, wide receiver Parris Campbell scored a touchdown on a reverse to give Ohio State a 7-0 lead with only 1:29 left in the first half.
Michigan State decided to shake things up on their final drive of the first half as they replaced quarterback Brian Lewerke with Rocky Lombari, who came in and led Michigan State to their first points of the game as the Spartans drove 55 yards down the field and kicked a 44-yard field goal to cut the Ohio State lead to 7-3 with 30 seconds left in the half.
Ohio State would regain possession and take a knee to carry a 7-3 lead into halftime.
Ohio State opened the second half with possession and running back Mike Weber wasted no time in ripping off runs of 6 and 18 yards. Ohio State would stumble after they crossed into Michigan State territory though and would end up punting away, downing the Spartans at their own 5.
Punting ended up paying off for Ohio State as they held Michigan State to yet another three-and-out on the Spartans’ first possession of the second half and regained possession at their own 41.
Despite the great field position, Ohio State would pick up just 26 yards on the drive and elected to punt from the MSU 33 for just 27 yards down to the MSU 6.
Michigan State then drove 74 yards on eight plays down to the OSU 20 before sputtering out offensively and having to settle for a 38-yard field goal, which cut the Ohio State lead to 7-6 with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State’s best offensive production on their ensuing drive came on runs of 6 and 11 yards by Mike Weber and the Buckeyes would be forced to punt after picking up only 19 net yards on the drive.
Michigan State would punt for the seventh time of the game on their ensuing drive after a couple of overthrown passes by Rocky Lombardi led to MSU kicking away.
Ohio State had a big play of 21 yards on a catch by wide receiver Terry McLaurin on the ensuing drive but that’s the most offense the Buckeyes would muster on the drive as they ended up punting away once more, downing the punt at the MSU 1.
Michigan State wouldn’t pick up a single yard on the following drive and be forced to punt once more, but a snap out of the back of the end zone on the punt led to a safety, giving Ohio State a 9-6 lead and the ball back with 42 seconds left in the third quarter and Ohio State would gain just two yards before the end of the quarter.
Ohio State would end up having a three-and-out on the drive and punting away, downing the ball at the MSU 2.
Ohio State finally scored another touchdown after a fumble by Michigan State in the end zone was recovered by defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones to give Ohio State a 16-6 lead with 14:03 left in the game.
Michigan State would fumble once again on their next possession as Ohio State would recover the ball at the MSU 15.
Ohio State failed to score a touchdown, even though they started the drive in the red zone, as the Buckeyes settled for a 35-yard field goal to increase their lead to 19-6 with 12:22 left in the game.
Michigan State would be held to yet another three-and-out thanks to a sack by linebacker Tuf Borland and a pair of incomplete passes by quarterback Brian Lewerke as Ohio State would get the ball back at their own 49.
The drive would end in a fumble by Ohio State inside the red zone to give Michigan State possession at their own 13.
MSU quarterback then threw an interception on the following drive to give Ohio State the ball back at the MSU 42.
Ohio State then capitalized with a touchdown by Mike Weber to extend their lead to 26-6 with only 1:12 left in the game.
Michigan State would turn it over on downs in what would be their final possession of the game and Ohio State would kneel it out to secure a 26-6 victory.
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