MSU defeated OSU by a score of 17-14 Saturday afternoon in Ohio Stadium on a walk-off 41-yard field goal by junior kicker Michael Geiger.
The Buckeyes scored 14 points off of MSU turnovers, which proved to be the gap-closing category, but MSU’s defense held the Buckeyes to just 132 total yards and the Spartans possessed the ball for 38:10, compared to OSU’s 21:50.
Much speculation surrounded the status of fifth-year senior quarterback Connor Cook coming into the game. Cook was used sparingly in pregame warmups and only threw short passes with little velocity. He was downgraded from starter to a “game-time decision” and then was downgraded again to out-of-play. Junior quarterback Tyler O’Connor started the first drive and sophomore Damion Terry finished it. O’Connor and Terry would continually switch in and out for the remainder of the game.
O’Connor finished 7-for-12 with 89 yards and one touchdown. Terry finished with eight carries for 20 yards.
And without Cook, it was the defense which featured itself as the Spartans’ most valuable contributor. The Buckeyes were held to just 75 yards in the first half – their least total to start a game since 2007, according to ESPN. The third quarter was much of the same, as 8:37 into the quarter the Buckeyes only tallied six total yards and the Spartans only 44.
The Buckeyes’ only points of the half came after a MSU turnover and the Spartans’ touchdown, a 12-yard pass from O’Connor to fifth-year senior fullback Trevon Pendleton, followed a 9-play 75-yard drive, which lasted 7:57.
But again, the Spartans special teams play cracked their shield.
On fourth and two at its own 33-yard line, OSU punted the ball 40 yards to the MSU returner, senior wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. Kings muffed the punt and the Buckeyes covered it at the MSU six-yard line. The Buckeyes would score one play later, putting them up 14-7 with 3:33 remaining in the third quarter.
On into the fourth, the Spartans put together a scoring drive of their own to tie the game.
O’Connor showed off his running ability on key fourth and third down conversions, and to cap off a 13-play, 75-yard drive, sophomore running back Gerald Holmes ran in the touchdown from two yards out making the score 14-14. Holmes finished the game with 14 carries for 65 yards and one touchdown.
The Spartans then faced a crucial third down and three from their 42-yard line with 6:02 left in the game, but O’Connor’s pass fell incomplete to Kings and a punt gave OSU the ball at its own seven-yard line. The Spartans defense would again step up and make a play, as the unit forced a three-and-out and MSU took over at the OSU 48-yard line.
The Spartans marched down the field, had the ball at the OSU 29-yard line, ran for the first down on third down, and called a timeout with 33 seconds remaining.
MSU ran the ball on two straight plays to bring the clock down to three seconds.
Junior kicker Michael Geiger then attempted a 41-yard field goal attempt to win the game; he made it. The Spartans won. They will play Penn State next Saturday at Spartan Stadium.