Buckeyes beat Spartans in showdown, 49-37

Published 1:10 am Sunday, November 9, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — J.T. Barrett threw for three touchdowns and ran for two in a sensational performance, and No. 13 Ohio State scored almost at will against Michigan State’s vaunted defense, beating the seventh-ranked Spartans 49-37 on Saturday night.

With one overwhelming offensive display, the Buckeyes (8-1, 5-0) re-established themselves as the Big Ten’s dominant team under Urban Meyer, avenged their loss to Michigan State in last year’s conference title game, and boosted their case for a berth in college football’s four-team playoff.

Ohio State came into the game ranked No. 14 by the playoff committee. The Spartans (7-2, 4-1) were No. 8 and will almost surely drop out of contention.

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Barrett, who became the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes before the season because Braxton Miller needed shoulder surgery, went 16 of 26 for 300 yards.

Ohio State’s first drive of the game ended in a missed field goal, and another early possession fell apart because of penalties. Aside from that, the Buckeyes scored a touchdown every time they had the ball until they punted in the final minute of the game. Ohio State rolled up 568 yards of offense against a Michigan State defense that was one of the nation’s best a year ago and had been good enough to keep the Spartans in the playoff conversation heading into this showdown in East Lansing.

It was by any measure one of the biggest home games in Michigan State history, but Barrett and the Buckeyes turned it into a scarlet and gray party, overcoming a pair of first-half turnovers on special teams and taking a 28-21 lead into halftime. When the Spartans had to settle for a field goal to start the third quarter, that was the opening Ohio State needed. Michigan State simply couldn’t stop the Buckeyes from scoring touchdowns, and now Ohio State is in control atop the Big Ten’s East Division.

Ohio State is 21-0 in Big Ten regular-season games under Meyer. Last year’s loss to Michigan State in the league title game was a blemish, but the Buckeyes certainly did what they could to make up for that, handing the Spartans their first loss to a conference opponent since 2012.

Michigan State led 21-14 when Ohio State’s Dontre Wilson fumbled a kickoff, giving the Spartans a chance to extend their lead in the second quarter. But a holding penalty wiped out a Michigan State touchdown, and the Spartans eventually missed a field goal.

On Ohio State’s next offensive play, Barrett found Michael Thomas for a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown that tied it at 21. Then Barrett threw a 44-yard TD pass to Devin Smith to put the Buckeyes ahead with 56 seconds left in the half.

After a Michigan State field goal to start the third quarter, Ohio State marched 67 yards in 13 plays, and Ezekiel Elliott’s 1-yard touchdown run made it 35-24. Barrett found Wilson for a 7-yard TD early in the fourth to give the Buckeyes an 18-point lead.

Jeremy Langford ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns for Michigan State, which gained 536 yards and did not have a turnover but still couldn’t keep up.