Well, that wasn’t fun.
The Michigan State Spartans headed into this week looking at one of the biggest games in recent memory in a top-10 matchup against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game didn’t quite work out the way MSU fans hoped it would, as the Buckeyes throttled the Spartans from start to finish, winning the game by a final score of 56-7.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud had a day that more than likely placed him at the forefront of the Heisman conversation, finishing with 432 yards and six touchdowns on 32-for-35 passing, most of which occurred in the first half. Stroud distributed the ball amongst his various weapons on offense, with multiple Buckeye wide receivers finishing the day with over 100 yards, including Chris Olave (seven catches, 140 yards, two touchdowns), Garrett Wilson (seven catches, 126 yards, two touchdowns), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (10 catches, 105 yards, one touchdown).
Payton Thorne did not have his best day under center, finishing the day 14-for-36 with 158 yards and one score. Elijah Collins led the team in rushing with three carries for 29 yards on a day when Kenneth Walker III had just six carries for 25 yards. Tre Mosley led the team in receiving yards, making one catch for 46 yards. True freshman Keon Coleman caught the only touchdown score of the day for MSU, the first of his career.
The Buckeyes dominated from the start, driving 86 yards down the field on the opening drive and finishing with a 23-yard touchdown catch by Olave to put Ohio State up 7-0.
The Spartans would gain a first down on a 16-yard pass to Tyler Hunt during their opening drive, but they were forced to punt shortly thereafter. The Buckeyes made quick work of the Spartan defense on their ensuing drive, going 88 yards down the field in just four plays, capping off the drive with a 77-yard strike to Garrett Wilson, who outran multiple Spartan defenders on his way to the end zone to make it 14-0.
The Spartans responded with a solid drive, moving the ball down the field in a 13-play drive, but unfortunately the drive was capped by a missed 46-yard field goal by Matt Coghlin.
Ohio State once again made quick work of the Spartan secondary, driving down the field in just four plays once again, this time finishing the drive with a 43-yard TD pass to Olave, which gave him the record for the most touchdown receptions in school history (35). Noah Ruggles put the extra point through the uprights to make it 21-0 in favor of the Buckeyes.
Michigan State got a first down on its ensuing drive, but unfortunately this was followed by a fumble by Jordon Simmons, which was recovered by the Buckeyes on the MSU 44-yard-line.
This should come as no surprise at this point, but Ohio State was able to score on the following drive. The Buckeyes did take a different approach to this scoring drive, taking six plays to go 44 yards, finishing the drive with a four-yard touchdown reception by Julian Fleming to make the score 28-0.
The Spartans unfortunately would go three-and-out on their following drive, which was promptly followed by another methodical drive by the Buckeyes, highlighted by a 27-yard pass to Olave to the Michigan State one-yard-line. Miyan Williams finished the drive by plunging into the end zone to put Ohio State up 35-0.
To finish the half, the Buckeyes scored two more unanswered touchdowns, one with a 12-yard pass to Wilson and the other with a five-yard pass to Smith-Njigba to make it 49-0 Ohio State at the half.
The second half was filled with much less action, as the Spartans punted on their first two possessions and the Buckeyes missed a field goal on their first possession of the half.
On Ohio State’s second possession of the second half, the Buckeyes replaced Stroud with freshman Kyle McCord, who the Spartans intercepted on his first pass attempt of the day, with redshirt sophomore Justin White returning the ball to the Michigan State 49-yard-line.
The Spartans responded to the interception by getting points on the board for the first time, with Thorne hitting Coleman for a 12-yard touchdown to make it 49-7.
The two teams then exchanged punts, followed by the Buckeyes scoring the final touchdown of the day after a 16-play drive capped by a one-yard plunge by Master Teague III into the end zone to make it 56-7 in favor of Ohio State.
The Buckeyes finished the game with 655 total yards of offense, including 449 yards passing and 206 yards rushing, compared to just 224 total yards for Michigan State. The Spartans threw for 158 yards and rushed for 66 yards on the day. Ohio State had 36 first downs compared to just 12 for Michigan State, and the Buckeyes also dominated the time-of-possession battle 37:58 to 22:02.
This was certainly a disappointing day for Spartans fans following the team’s substantial bounce-back victory over Maryland last week. The defense looked improved following the debacle against Purdue the previous week, but when you face a team with the kind of offensive firepower Ohio State possesses, your defense has to play absolutely perfect. The defense played significantly less than perfect, but the offense did not step up the way it needed to either.
Overall, this was an incredibly disheartening loss for a team entering the game with a 9-1 record, but the Spartans have to move on quickly if they want to keep their chances of a double-digit win regular season and a New-Years Six’s bowl game alive next week against Penn State.