No. 10 Michigan St. shocks No. 2 Ohio St. 34-24
Urban Meyer started Saturday by whooping it up with his players
on the sideline.
He ended it by rubbing his eyes and carefully examining a stat
sheet that explained why No. 2 Ohio State would not be playing for
the national championship.
After Ohio State took its only lead late in the third quarter,
the Buckeyes’ defense gave up 17 straight points, the offense
couldn’t convert on third or fourth-down and No. 10 Michigan State
pulled off a 34-24 upset that shook up the BCS world yet again.
”I really wanted these guys to experience something special,
and we are,” Meyer said. ”I imagine there’s a chance we’ll get
invited to a great bowl game, and if we do, they’re going to get a
very good Buckeye football team that’s going to stick together and
try to win a game. If you’re asking me to measure the levels of
hurt, I’m not sure I can do that.”
There were all sorts of unusual problems Saturday night.
Ohio State’s tough run defense allowed its first 100-yard runner
of the season. The offense scored just half of its 48.2 point
average and converted just 1 of 10 third-down chances, and facing
fourth-and-2 late in the fourth quarter, Braxton Miller, picked up
only one yard.
It was a crushing blow after going 24-0 under Meyer and playing
their way back from probation into national championship
Now the Buckeyes (12-1) will have to settle for something short
of their fourth BCS title game.
”It’s going to haunt all of us, I imagine, for a little
while,” Meyer said. ”But that’s part of the game.”
The Buckeyes’ loss could haunt the Big Ten, too.
While the Spartans (12-1) are still likely to book their first
Rose Bowl trip since the 1987 season, something they may have done
even with a loss, Michigan State’s victory put Auburn, who the
Buckeyes were rooting for last week against Alabama, in the title
game against Florida State.
It was a game that almost defied logic.
Ohio State came into the game with the nation’s longest winning
streak (24), had not lost under Meyer in two seasons and had one of
the nation’s most productive offenses and underrated defenses.
Michigan State turned the conventional wisdom upside down by
scoring the first 17 points. Then the nation’s stingiest defense
gave up the next 24 points as Miller, Carlos Hyde & Co. took
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook responded to the challenge by
driving the Spartans for a field goal, hooking up with the wide
open Josiah Price in the flat of the end zone and then burned 3 1/2
critical minutes on the clinching drive, capped by Jeremy
Langford’s sealing 26-yard TD run.
Cook finished 24 of 40 for a career-high 304 yards and three
scores. Langford ran 24 times for 128 yards, becoming the first
player this season to top 100 yards against the Buckeyes this
For Michigan State, it was a milestone night. It won its 12th
game for the first time in school history, completed a perfect
conference season and extended its own winning streak to nine –
something it had not done since starting 1966 at 9-0.
Most important, the players got to hold the roses for the first
time since 1987 and the celebration began even before the final
seconds ticked off the clock.
”We’re going to live this one for a while, live it for a
month,” coach Mark Dantonio said. ”But it’s important that we
finish what we started and that will end with a bowl game.”
Miller did what he could to rally the Buckeyes, finishing 8 of
21 for 101 yards with one touchdown pass. He also ran 21 times for
142 yards and two scores, while Carlos Hyde ran 18 times for 118
yards. Both joined the Buckeyes’ 3,000-yard club, becoming the
seventh and eight players of the school’s exclusive group.
Starting right guard Marcus Hall, who Meyer said would not start
after last week’s fight at Michigan, did not play. Meyer said he
made that decision earlier this week.
But it was the stinging loss that really hurt.
”Things happen in games, don’t really go your way,” Miller
said. ”You’ve got to come back and fix the mistakes.”
The Buckeyes did that late in the first half when they closed to
17-10 at halftime. Miller opened the second half with an 8-yard TD
run to tie and then gave Ohio State the 24-17 lead with a 6-yard
run with 5:36 left in the third.
Michigan State answered with Michael Geiger’s 44-yard field
goal, which barely dropped over the crossbar, to make it 24-20 and
Cook hooked up with a wide-open Price in the flat to make it 27-24
before Langford sealed it with his TD run with 2:16 left, which
prompted Dantonio to lobby for the Spartans to be playing in the
title game Jan. 6.
”I can tell you this, we beat the No. 2 team,” Dantonio said.
”We’re 12-1 so why not us? Why not us? I’ll vote us No. 2.”