HALFTIME: Spartans, Buckeyes, gridlocked at 10 in cold November slugfest
Winds were howling in East Lansing as the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) entered Spartan Stadium in a matchup with MSU (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten) that hasn’t seen the home team win since 2007. The Spartans got off to a hot start, but the Buckeyes responded, making the score 10-10 in a back and forth slugfest.
MSU celebrated senior day prior to the game, and players like receiver R.J. Shelton, tight end Josiah Price, and linebacker Riley Bullough were among some of the biggest ovations from the Spartan Stadium crowd. Shelton started the first offensive drive of the game for the Spartans with an 11-yard jet sweep run.
The next play for MSU found paydirt. A screen pass from fifth-year senior Tyler O’Connor hit sophomore running back LJ Scot right in the chest. With fifth-year senior lineman Benny McGowan paving the way, Scott burst down the sideline for a 64-yard touchdown. Just like that, MSU was up seven on the heavily-favored Buckeyes.
Ohio State stalled their first drive but pinned MSU at their own four. After stopping the Spartans, Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett led a drive with a short field, eventually connecting on a play-action pass to wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Barrett had rushed for 26 yards on the 50-yard scoring drive, opening up the middle for a long pass.
Ohio State, who has started the same 11 players on the defensive side of the ball every game since week two, struggled to control Scott in the first quarter. His 64-yard touchdown reception was coupled with 71 rush yards on five carries, including a 61-yard burst that set up a Michael Geiger 28-yard field goal just after the start of the second quarter.
With MSU leading 10-7 at that point, Barrett and the Buckeyes offense came out in the second quarter pretty flat, with a few decent runs from Ohio State running back Mike Weber. However, an illegal hands to the face call and a questionable unnecessary roughness call on two plays later set Ohio State up in MSU territory. After inching closer but being stopped, the Buckeyes converted a field goal and knotted the game at 10 in the process.
O’Connor tried to arch a ball to Shelton the next drive but was easily intercepted by Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley. MSU’s defense, however, responded with a combined sack from sophomore Robert Bowers and freshman Mike Panasiuk followed by a strip fumble on Weber by freshman Auston Robertson and recovered by walk-on defensive end Dillon Alexander.
MSU stalled again, but pinned the Buckeyes offense at their own four-yard line with just under four minutes left in the half. The Buckeyes got out from the shadow of their goal post but not much more than that, ending the half at 10-10.
Scott was MSU’s best player on offense, rushing for 97 yards as well as his 64-yard touchdown. Barrett only threw for 57 yards but rushed for 63 on 15 attempts. MSU out-gained Ohio State in total offense 203 to 176.
Weather is sure to play a factor in the second half, as winds have picked up and light snow has been spiraling around Spartan Stadium on and off this afternoon. Stay with the State News for updates during the game and post game coverage.