Broken Hearted Buckeyes

INDIANAPOLIS -Michigan State scored the first 17 points and the last 17 points in Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship game, handing Ohio State a stunning 34-24 setback that not only ended the Buckeyes 24-game winning streak under coach Urban Meyer but knocked OSU out of the national championship game.

Michigan State took the opening kickoff and immediately took it to the Buckeyes defense, driving from their own 30 to the OSU 23 before settling for a 40-yard field goal by Michael Geiger. The Spartans used 14 plays and ate up 6 minutes and 29 seconds in taking a 3-0 lead.

The rest of the first quarter was little more than a puntfest as OSU managed just one first down on its two possessions in the opening stanza while Michigan State’s second possession of the game resulted in just one first down. The quarter ended with Michigan State’s Nick Hill getting caught behind the line of scrimmage for a 4-yard loss at the Spartan 28.

Thus, MSU began the second quarter clinging to a 3-0 lead and facing a second and 14 situation 72 yards away from paydirt. That’s when Michigan State stunned the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium when Spartans quarterback Connor Cook hit Keith Mumphery for a 72-yard touchdown and a 10-0 MSU lead.

All of a sudden, Ohio State and its fans realized it was in a fight to maintain its school record 24-game winning streak and to hold on to its spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

Things got worse for the Buckeyes before they got any better. After OSU was forced to punt on its first possession of the second quarter, Michigan State needed just five plays to drive 66 yards, with Cook hitting Tony Lippett for the final 33 stripes. It was 17-0 Spartans with 9:01 left before intermission.

OSU didn’t panic. Instead, the Buckeyes went on an 84-yard march of their own, thanks mainly to a 48-yard run by quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller also finished the drive, hitting Philly Brown with a 20-yard TD to light up Ohio State’s side of the scoreboard and cut its deficit to 17-7 with 6:26 to play in the first half.

It looked like that was going to be the halftime score when OSU got the ball back at its own 36 just 1:23 before intermission. But a 15-yard Miller run and a 36-yard pass to Jeff Heuerman gave the Buckeyes the ball at the Michigan State 11 with just enough time for a 28-yard Drew Basil field goal as the clock expired. OSU had fought back from a 17-0 deficit to trail by just one score.

That score came on the opening drive of the second half as OSU received the kickoff and needed just seven plays to march 75 yards for a game-tying score that came on an 8-yard run by Miller with 12:21 left in the third quarter.

Ohio State wasn’t just dominating on offense. Its defense also held Michigan State without a first down on its first two third-quarter possessions. Following the second stop, OSU got a short field, taking the punt at the Spartan 44 and needed just four running plays before Miller scored from 6 yards out with 5:36 left in the quarter. For the first time in the game, OSU had the lead, 24-17.

Michigan State finally showed a little life on its next possession, getting to the OSU 27 and setting up a 44-yard Geiger field goal that cut its deficit to 24-20 heading to the final quarter.

Ohio State had to punt on the first play of the stanza, pinning Michigan State at its own 10. But the Spartans marched 90 yards with Jeremy Langford scoring on a 2-yard run with 11:41 to play for a 27-24 Michigan State lead.

Try as OSU might, it couldn’t generate any offense in the final stanza. Rather, it was Michigan State that scored the biggest TD of the game, on a 26-yard run by Jeremy Langford with 2:16 to play. It was 34-24 and the Spartan fans in the stands began celebrating.

Statistically, Miller finished with 142 yards rushing on 21 carries while Hyde had 118 on 18 rushing attempts. Miller completed just 8 of 21 passes for 101 yards.

Michigan State was led by Cook, who completed 24 of 40 passes for 304 yards and three TDs. Langford rushed for 128 yards on 24 carries.

With Friday night’s result, both teams ended up with 12-1 marks.