No. 12 MSU football fell on Saturday, losing to No. 8 Ohio State, 49-37, at Spartan Stadium. The loss was spurred by an impressive performance from Buckeye freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett and ultimately killed any hopes and dreams of MSU qualifying for the inaugural College Football Playoff this postseason.
Second quarter swing
Football coaches always say a game is determined by a handful of plays and none may have been more of a decider for MSU than junior center Jack Allen’s holding penalty in the second quarter.
After regaining the lead, MSU was given a great opportunity when OSU fumbled the following kickoff. Only a few plays later, senior running back Jeremy Langford scored from 11 yards out but the touchdown run was called back because Allen was caught holding an OSU defender. The play took away what would have been a 14 point lead.
Sophomore kicker Michael Geiger added insult to injury missing a 39-yard field goal attempt, squandering away a golden opportunity. From that point on, OSU outscored MSU 35-16.
“We got a chance, we go in for a touchdown (but) get a holding call,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Makes it 28?14, but he takes it off the board and we miss the field goal. So the next play is a 79 yard touchdown. So it goes from 28?14 to 21?21, and all of a sudden momentum just flipped.”
Can’t blame offense
Anytime your offense scores 37 points in a game, you should win. Especially when you have a normally potent defense like MSU.
The offense compiled 536 total yards on Saturday and zero turnovers, and was led by junior quarterback Connor Cook’s career high 358 passing yards.
While some of the stats and numbers came late and didn’t play a role in the final score, this one can’t be pinned on the offense.
All season many were worried about this defense surrendering big plays and those concerns were validated on Saturday. Most notably in the secondary.
Barrett torched the MSU secondary this past weekend for 300 passing yards and three touchdowns on only 16 completions. Most of Barrett’s staggering numbers came on explosive plays, including 44-yard and 79-yard touchdown passes.
It appeared that OSU’s game plan was to attack sophomore cornerback Darian Hicks and it worked. Hicks was beat for a couple big plays and following the game it was evident he knew he didn’t have his best performance.
“I know they made plays on me on running and passing,” Hicks said quietly following the loss. “I know I can do better.”
With the loss to OSU, the Spartans are most likely out of the Big Ten Championship hunt — need Buckeyes to lose two of remaining three games to have chance at winning East Division — and definitely out of the College Football Playoff conversation.
So where will this team end up at season end? Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has MSU playing No. 9 Auburn in the Citrus Bowl (formerly known as Capital One Bowl) on New Year’s Day.
MSU also still is alive to qualify for a Selection Committee Bowl Game, which include the Peach, Cotton, Orange and Fiesta Bowls. If MSU wins out and finishes 10-2, expect Sparty to be playing in one of the marquee, non-playoff bowl games this postseason.