Defense is always the less impressive thing, but Ohio State came into the Big Ten championship game with some pretty impressive offensive numbers to back them up, not to mention a 24-0 record over the last two years. The end result? Michigan State, their first top 10 opponent in that time span, were simply too good, and while the Spartans head over to the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes saw their national championship dreams destroyed, now left to hope their get an at-large BCS invite.
Michigan State surprised by allowing Connor Cook to stand in the pocket and wait for the hit. Cook surprised everyone by being good enough to find open men against Ohio State’s weakness, their secondary, finishing with 304 yards and three passing touchdowns, leading to a 34-24 win, in a game filled with twists and momentum changes.
Michigan State were the first to show their fangs, scoring the first 17 points of the game. They simply slowed the Ohio State passing game to a halt, Braxton Miller finishing with 8-of-21 for 101 yards and a touchdown pass. He was able to find Devin Smith, his best receiver, only once for an 11-yard gain. Only after realizing that without some scrambles this is going to end in disaster did the Buckeyes wake up from the fear that was gripping them.
Miller ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns, while Carlos Hyde added 118 yards on 18 carries. Ohio State scored 24 consecutive points to enter the late stages of the third quarter with a commanding 24-17 lead, and Michigan State narrowed it down by three points with a field goal. The fourth quarter? All Michigan State, turning on the magic once again. It began with a touchdown pass from Cook to Josiah Price, but the best was yet to come.
Ohio State managed to block a punt and get the ball on the Michigan State 47. The momentum was shifting again. However, Braxton Miller was stopped on a 4th and 2, which put the pressure back on the Ohio State defense, not used to seeing their offense drop so many chances. Michigan State ran all over the Buckeyes to seal the win.
Some might say this win is bad for the Big Ten, denying it a chance to play for the national title and the automatic two-BCS bowls. Now, Ohio State have to wait for a call that gets them an at-large bid, but you won’t find anyone in East Lansing or most of the Big Ten too sad about it. After two 12-0 regular seasons, Ohio State crumbled against their biggest challenge, proving Urban Meyer still has some work to do before emulating his Florida formula.
I think we heard people talk bad about us all year. This wasn’t the first week where we heard people say negative things about us as an offense or as a football team. I think we were underdogs in the majority of the games we played this year. It really didn’t affect us. We’re going to live this one for a while, live it for a month. But it’s important that we finish what we started and that will end with a bowl game.