COLUMBUS –It was at night but it certainly wasn’t a nightmare.
Ohio State’s 34-10 win over Michigan State on Saturday night might have exorcised some of the bad memories OSU fans had from past games against the Spartans. It also indicated the Buckeyes are in the national championship race to stay, barring a collapse in one of their remaining games or an exceptional effort by a future opponent.
Michigan State crushed Ohio State’s hopes of a national championship twice in the Urban Meyer era, in 2015 and 2013, and another time when John Cooper was coach in 1998. So many Ohio State fans approach any game against the Spartans with a little nervousness.
This season was no exception. Almost everything had gone right for the No. 4 Buckeyes this season. And, defensively at least, Michigan State was obviously the toughest challenge the Buckeyes had faced so far this season in their first five games.
A slow start all around by Ohio State added to the nervousness. But the final three quarters of this showdown under the lights at Ohio Stadium looked a lot like the rest of the season, with OSU dictating the action for the most part.
And this time it happened against an ancient nemesis and a team that viewed itself at a contender for the Big Ten East Division championship.
FAST STARTS: Ohio State has outscored its opponents 200 to 28 in the first half in its first six games this season.
FIRST OF THE SEASON: Tight end Luke Farrell’s 21-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his first of the season and the second of his Ohio State career.
IN A TIE WITH COOP: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has 111 wins at MSU, which is a Michigan State record. It is also the same number of wins John Cooper had in his 14 seasons at Ohio State, which ranks No. 12 all-time in the Big Ten.
OHIO TALENT: Michigan State has 28 players from Ohio high schools on its roster. Sixty-four of the players on Ohio State’s roster are from Ohio.
TRANSFER PORTAL: A year ago Connor Heyward was Michigan State’s leading rusher with 529 yards and five touchdowns. When this season began he was the Spartans’ No. 1 running back. But when freshman Elijah Collins emerged as MSU’s top running back, Heyward’s role was reduced to that of a third-down back in passing situations.
So, Heyward has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal. He would have two years of eligibility after a transfer.
Heyward is the brother of former Ohio State defensive lineman Cam Heyward, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the son of former NFL running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward