Last year, the football contest between the Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes quickly turned into defensive struggle, with neither team able to get much going on the offensive side of the ball. Michigan State ended up coming out on top, traveling into to Columbus, downing the Buckeyes 10-7, dominating them on defense, where they recorded 9 sacks.
A lot of hype was built up around this years’ game between the 20th ranked Spartans and the 14th ranked Buckeyes. ESPN College Gameday came into East Lansing to see the two ranked opponents square off against each-other in their respective B1G conference openers.
Spirited students arrived just north of Beaumont Tower, where the telecast of the show took place, as early as 5AM to get a good spot to take part in College Gameday. Thousands turned out to see what it was all about.
“I got there a little after 5AM,” freshman Michigan State student Doug Halmi said. “I woke my roommate up to see if he wanted to go, but he didn’t think he could make it happen.”
When the game finally kicked off at 3:30, Ohio State went 75 yards on the opening drive to quickly take a 7-0 lead. After that, Michigan State countered with a 34 yard Dan Conroy field goal to cut the Ohio State lead to four.
However, after that, this years’ game began to resemble last years’, as once again, neither team could get anything going on offense. The rest of the half featured two Ohio State turnovers and a missed 42 yard field goal by Dan Conroy at the end of the half that would prove to be costly at the end of the day. The game went into halftime with Ohio State leading 7-3.
In the second half, both teams’ offenses picked up a bit when both teams traded field goals on their opening drives.
After that, Michigan State drove down the field and quarterback Andrew Maxwell hooked with wide receiver Keith Mumphrey on a play-action pass in which Mumphrey broke multiple tackles en route to a 29 yard touchdown. The play gave Michigan State their first lead of the game, 13-10.
“It was an exceptional effort and that’s the way you’ve got to play. I thought it was a tremendous finish to the run and he wasn’t going to be denied,” Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushnar said of Mumphrey’s run.
Nevertheless, on the next drive, Ohio State quarterback, Braxton Miller, found Devin Smith downfield for a 63 yard pass to go back on top 17-13.
Possibly one of the more crucial moments in the game came with about 12 minutes left in the fourth. On an Ohio State drive, Braxton Miller scrambled for a first down but fumbled at the end of the play. Michigan State defensive back Kurtis Drummond recovered the fumble and ran the other way, appearing to have an open path to the end zone and a Michigan State lead.
Unfortunately, the referees, who note, aren’t replacement refs, mistakenly blew the play dead, calling Miller down before he fumbled the ball.
“I was thinking pick it up and run, I was trying to make a play,” Drummond said. “They started blowing the whistle and I started running. That’s how it ended I guess. It looked like a fumble from where I was at.”
The play went under review and was overturned but Michigan State took over at their own 32 instead of having the chance of returning the fumble for a touchdown. Michigan State would go on to kick another field goal on the drive, cutting the Ohio State lead to one.
However, the lead would stay like that for the remainder of the game as Michigan State failed to do anything with the ball and Ohio State ran the clock out at the end of the game escape with a 17-16 victory.
Although he turned the ball over three times, Braxton Miller gave the Michigan State defense fits, eluding tackles left and right, out-gaining the entire Michigan State offense by himself.
“He’s a good football player,” Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. “Number 5 changed the game.”
For Michigan State (3-2), the loss likely means that they will fall out of the top 25.
If the Spartans want to turn their season around, their offense is going to have to be more consistent. This week, their star player, Le’veon Bell rushed for only 45 yards on 17 carries. Something that can’t happen if they want to contend for a B1G championship.
They can get their season back on track though next Saturday when they travel to take on the Indiana Hoosiers (2-2). The Spartans have dominated the series between the two schools lately and won last years’ meeting 55-3.
Nevertheless, the defense and kicking field goals can only carry the team so far when the offense fails to have much of anything week after week. If the season is going to be turned around, it will have to begin now.