COLUMBUS – Ohio State checked a new box in its 34-10 win over Michigan State on Saturday night.
The No. 4 Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) had sailed through their first five games without facing much, if any, adversity.
They faced some of it early on Saturday night and responded in a big way.
Ohio State started slowly and left some opportunities unused early in the game but made up for it in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes’ offense was frustrated on every level – running, passing and blocking – early and totaled only 16 yards total offense in the first quarter.
Also, Michigan State lost fumbles twice in its first four plays but Ohio State could convert those mistakes into only three points. Blake Haubeil missed a 37-yard field goal after the first fumble, then came back to hit a 39-yard field goal after the second one.
The second quarter was a completely different story, though. OSU rolled up 296 yards of offense in that quarter and scored all four times it had the ball to take a 27-10 halftime lead.
“We got off schedule a little bit. We knew it was going to be hard to run against these guys, it always is,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “We hit a big third-down conversion to K.J. Hill in the second quarter and then we got into a rhythm. And I think we wore them down a little in the second quarter.
“We did face adversity (in the first quarter) and it was not a good quarter of football on offense. When you’re playing against a team like Michigan State things like that are going to happen. We had to respond and I thought we did,” he said.
In the end, OSU rolled up 529 yards total offense, 323 of it on rushing plays. J.K. Dobbins ran for 172 yards on 24 carries and Master Teague had 90 yards on 14 carries. Justin Fields was 17 of 25 for 206 yards passing and rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries.
Fields threw a touchdown pass and ran for a touchdown but had his first interception of the season and also lost a fumble.
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke was 20 of 38 for 218 yards and a touchdown. The No. 25 Spartans (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) finished with only 67 yards rushing.
A 60-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Binjimen Victor with 12:12 left in the first half put Ohio State up 10-0 after a 5 play, 86-yard drive. It was the longest scoring play Michigan State had given up this season at that point, but Ohio State would top that a few minutes later.
Michigan State responded to Victor’s touchdown with a 5 play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Lewerke to Darrell Stewart to cut the lead to 10-7 with 10:36 left in the opening half.
After that, it was almost all Ohio State in the first half and beyond.
Fields found tight end Luke Farrell with a 21-yard touchdown pass for a 17-7 lead with 8:09 left in the first half. That score came at the end of a 7 play, 75-yard drive.
Matt Coghlin’s 39-yard field goal reduced the lead to 17-10 with 3:36 left in the first half before Ohio State put 10 points on the scoreboard in the last 2:24 of the half.
J.K. Dobbins’ 67-yard touchdown run gave Ohio State a 24-10 lead, then Haubeil kicked a 43-yard field goal with five seconds left in the first half to make it 27-10.
“That was a home run hit that really changed the game,” Day said about Dobbins’ touchdown.
Fields’ 1-yard touchdown run at the end of an 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter was the only scoring by either team in the second half.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said, “We needed to play mistake free football but we were unable to do that. We had to play at our best, which I don’t think we did. Also you have to give Ohio State credit. They’re a very explosive team.”