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Ohio State gets back on the right track, runs past Michigan State, 48-3

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Huge rushes by Mike Weber in the first half put the Buckeyes up for good.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that the Ohio State Buckeyes are back.

Urban Meyer’s crew seemed to turn the page following last week’s loss to Iowa on the road, and came back with a furious vengeance against the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday afternoon inside Ohio Stadium. Behind 500-plus total offensive yards, the Buckeyes trounced the Spartans, 48-3, in front of 107,011 in attendance.

Mike Weber led the OSU rushing effort, going off for 162 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. Both of Weber’s TDs came off chunk carries: his first carry of the game was a 47-yard score, and in the second quarter, he took off for an 82-yard TD.

J.K. Dobbins got more than the six carries he had last week. Actually, he got a lot more carries than last week—three-times more in fact. Eighteen carries for 124 yards was what he ended with against the Spartans.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett got back into a groove before being pulled for Dwayne Haskins in the fourth quarter. Barrett went 14-of-21 passing, and lobbed 183 yards and two TDs. The Buckeye signal-caller also threw two interceptions, too.

Ohio State’s defense throttled Brian Lewerke and the Spartan offense. For the entire game, OSU registered six sacks, and held MSU to 195 total yards. Lewerke, who had 400-yard passing performances in the last two weeks against Northwestern and Penn State, struggled to find receivers. He ended the afternoon 18-of-36 throwing, and only picked up 131 passing yards. Like Barrett, Lewerke threw two picks.

The 45-point win deviates from the close contests we’re accustomed to seeing between the two schools in the Meyer-Mark Dantonio era. This win was historic, as it marks the biggest win Ohio State has ever captured over Michigan State, breaking a 42-point win from 1979.

Ohio State now controls their destiny in the Big Ten East, as they are now the outright leader. The Buckeyes improved to 8-2 on the season, and play their final home game next Saturday against Illinois.

Here’s the play-by-play recap of the game:

On the opening kickoff, Blake Haubeil nearly kicked the ball out of bounds, however, the ball bounced it’s way into the near corner of the endzone—claiming the touchback. Michigan State picked up a solid 20 yards via an L.J. Scott carry on the second play of their drive. Filling in at one of the spots left by the injured linebacking duo of Dante Booker and Jerome Baker, Malik Harrison rushed up the gap and brought down Lewerke for a sack. Facing a fourth-and-2, the Big Ten’s version of the Mad Hatter, Mark Dantonio, went for the first down, utilizing a Lewerke sneak up the middle. After getting the first down, the Buckeye defense clamped down, securing another sack, courtesy of Nick Bosa, and ultimately forced a Spartan punt.

Starting their first drive from their own 14, J.T. Barrett picked up 11 yards on an options keep; a screen play to Dobbins out wide for seven yards. The no-huddle offense kept up the tempo, as on the next play, Dobbins rushed for 15 yards up the middle. Sensing the La Grange, Texas native having momentum, another rush was dialed up to him—again for seven yards. Working back to the passing game, an airmailed screen to Dobbins brought up a third-and-short scenario from the MSU 47. Mike Weber made his first appearance of the day, and made it memorable: he went right up the middle, and was practically untouched by Spartan defenders as he sprinted all the way for a touchdown.

It took six plays to march 86 yards, and was done in only 1:19. Ohio State jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 8:10 left in the first quarter.

Sparty’s second drive was met with a Buckeye defense that was determined to avenge last week’s poor performance against Iowa. Scott picked up two yards on a rush toward the right tackle, but that was about it. Two Lewerke incompletions and a false start capped off the three and out, and Michigan State was forced to punt again. Punter Jake Hartbarger didn’t get a solid kick—it went about 40 yards in the air—but it did bounce it’s way to complete a 54-yard punt.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Ohio State
Uh, hold the line...please: Lewerke was pressured for virtually the whole game, and was sacked 3 times.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

With the ball on the OSU 29, the Buckeyes’ looked to get back to their scoring ways. That’s a good belief to have, but that went out the window after a snap to Barrett, who was in the shotgun formation, sailed over his head, setting the Bucks back 17 yards. Fast forward two plays later, and the Scarlet and Gray nearly had their punt blocked; a roughing the kicker penalty was called on the Spartans, much to the slightly morose crowd.

Lewerke continued to throw toward Buckeye defensive backs rather than to his own receivers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Another three and out was conceived, giving the home team the ball for their third drive of the quarter.

Thanks to a 25-yard reception by Parris Campbell, the offense kept up the tempo on the Spartans. Dobbins was given the rock four times on the drive, and picked up 20 total yards. Barrett-designed keeps pushed the Buckeyes back into the land of touchdowns, as the final play of the drive was a Barrett scamper into the South end zone from 4 yards out.

Michigan State didn’t do themselves any favors on the kickoff, as they returned it to their own 5-yard line. Lewerke then sent two passes to Cody White—both incompletions. The 6-foot-3 sophomore QB came back down to Earth in the first 15 minutes in Columbus; he ended the quarter with seven straight incomplete passes.

At the end of the first quarter, Ohio State held a 14-0 lead.

That lead was about to increase. A combination of Sparty coming out flat plus OSU being hell-bent on making up for last week’s shortcomings put the Buckeyes back on track for another scoring drive. Weber got six drives on this series, but the end result was the same: a Barrett keep right into the end zone.

Dobbins and Weber were finally getting rushes, and this stat evoked some emotions of what could’ve been if the RBs were utilized last week in Iowa City:

Uncharastically bad today, Lewerke (and the Spartans) doubled down. Now down 21, the QB rolled out on a third down, and had Buckeye defenders hot on his heels. Lewerke cut up the field and was tackled short of the first down marker, however, he didn’t have the ball; Tyquan Lewis poked the ball out when he wrapped up the Big Ten’s East Lansing signal caller, and Damon Arnette scooped it up. The fumble happened on the MSU 25, and it took just a few plays for Barrett to connect with Dobbins for a 10-yard score.

With 9:05 left before halftime, we were well on our way into blowout territory...

...And by the 6:16 mark, we entered blowout territory.

Sparty kept flailing, and the Buckeyes kept on trouncing. Following a six (!) play drive that went for 12 yards, Michigan State had a small silver lining to be proud of: they snapped their streak of four straight drives that only had three “real” plays. (They had three straight three-and-outs, and then the fumble.)

That silver lining went poof real fast, as on the first play after punting back to OSU, Weber went right up broadway, and took a full sprint 82 yards to the house. He shook off a blocker at the line of scrimmage, and participated in a foot race against would be tacklers.

It seemed that Ohio State was doing everything right. But in the waning minutes of the half, some miscues came up. Dre’Mont Jones hit Lewerke late, and was hit with the targeting ejection. After that Michigan State drive stalled, thanks to an Arnette interception, Ohio State committed their first turnover of the game: a Barrett interception. Bad news came shortly after, though, as Damon Arnette went down with a leg injury. He was carted off the field—so it doesn’t appear to be good.

As halftime finally appeared, the Spartans were able to get on the board with a 37-yard field goal from Matt Coghlin.

On the rushing front, it was a phenomenal half for the Buckeyes. Take a look at these stats:

Ohio State 1st half rushing stats

Player Attempts Yards Touchdowns Average
Player Attempts Yards Touchdowns Average
Mike Weber 8 161 2 20.1
J.K. Dobbins 10 62 0 6.2
J.T. Barrett 7 42 2 6.0

In comparison: Michigan State had 104 total yards.

On top of the 253 rush yards, the Buckeyes had 67 yards of passing from Barrett. Unlike weeks past, OSU only committed one penalty in the first 30 minutes of play.

Lewerke, who entered the game after two straight weeks of 400-plus yard performances, walked into halftime with 49 yards of passing and a pick on 8-of-22 throwing.

Would things start off differently in the second half?

Narrator: No, things would not.

Ohio State jumped out on the scoreboard, again. This time, the way to six points was through the air. Two plays after a Dobbins nine-yard rush and Marcus Baugh completion of zero yards—that actually turned into 15 free yards because of an Andrew Dowell facemask—the Buckeyes found paydirt. Barrett threw up a deep-ball pass to Binjimen Victor, who was able to create separation from his defender as the ball made its way to his hands. Victor hauled in the pass, stepped over his diving defenseman, and waltzed right into the South end zone. Just like that, a 48-yard TD was recorded, capping off a three-play, 72-yard drive.

Unlike OSU, MSU sported a three-and-out on their first second half drive. That drive featured another Lewerke sack, and another Scott rush for a pittance worth of real estate. The Spartans punted the ball back to the Buckeyes, who would then march their way down deep into the red zone.

To get there, the drive was dominated by Dobbins, who broke off a nice 35-yard rush, en route to setting up a Sean Nuernberger FG from 27 yards out. He netted the kick, helping the Buckeyes edge ever so slightly to a 50-point plateau.

9:12 left in the third frame, and Ohio State held onto a sturdy 42-point lead, 45-3. Another field goal by Nuernberger would go in late in the third quarter, and that would wrap up the scoring in Columbus.

The final: Ohio State 48, Michigan State 3.

Next Saturday, Ohio State faces Illinois in a rivalry game for the famed Illibuck Trophy.