Michigan State had the game against Ohio State marked on their calendar all season has the most important game for them if they wanted to be considered for playoff contention. Both teams had a good chance of being undefeated when they met and if it wasn’t for an unfortunate missed call against Nebraska, Michigan State would have been undefeated.
Even though we as spectators and/or media don’t always get what we want, doesn’t mean the game we have looked forward to isn’t just as important. The implications were still very high for playoff contention for both teams.
Sparty was a surprising 14-point underdog and given virtually no chance to go into Columbus to beat the Buckeyes. With the Buckeyes not playing to their potential thus far this season and MSU with all the motivation to not only spoil the party for Ohio State; but find their way back in the playoff talk again, Michigan State was more than hopeful that they could pull of the win.
With starting quarterback Connor Cook questionable before the game, Spartans’ Head Coach Mark D’Antionio decided before kickoff that Cook would not play. Backups Tyler O’Connor and Damien Terry would have to face the ruckus Columbus crowd and play in a swirling windy, rainy game.
Practically gift wrapping 14 points for the Buckeyes off of turnovers in their own territory; the Spartans showed a lot of grit by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Doubling up the Buckeyes in total offense with the Spartans going for 294 yards (91 passing,203 rushing), while the Buckeyes could only produce 132 yards (46 passing,86 rushing).
Frustrating the Buckeyes and taking them away from what they do best which is having J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott control the running game. But the Spartans’ defensive front didn’t allow the combo to break free corral the run game to perfectly. Much to the chagrin of Elliott who made his frustration known following the game, complaining about the play calling and lack of touches.
With a season low 12 carries, Elliott’s 100-yard game streak came to an end at 15 only rushing for 33 yards against the Spartan defense.
Not trying to do too much with backup quarterbacks and considering the bad weather Michigan State ran the ball by committee. Carrying the load was Gerald Holmes and L.J. Scott rushing the ball 27 times for 123 yards, and Tyler O’Connor had some significant runs with his 25 yards on eight carries. They were timely on key downs down the stretch.
It was a defensive battle that would see which offense would step up and impose some will to find a way to give their team a chance. They fell in the lap of backup quarterback O’Connor and running back L.J. Scott for Michigan State. Taking advantage of getting the ball in plus territory at eh OSU 48 yard line the Spartans ran with Scott and O’Connor picking up 19 yards with a 6-yard reception to Aaron Burbridge mixed in there the Spartans gave their kicker Michael Geiger the opportunity to spoil the playoff hopes for the Buckeyes.
With just three seconds left, the junior kicker squeezed a 41-yarder by the right upright to win the game for the Spartans 17-14.