Tuesday, April 13, 2021

FINAL: Ohio State cruises to a 52-12 victory over Michigan State

December 5, 2020
MSU runningback, Connor Heyward (11), carries the ball for Michigan State in a game against OSU in Spartan Stadium on Dec. 5, 2020.
MSU runningback, Connor Heyward (11), carries the ball for Michigan State in a game against OSU in Spartan Stadium on Dec. 5, 2020. —
Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

Fresh off a huge win over Big Ten West leader Northwestern, Michigan State looked like a team with hope. As Ohio State came into East Lansing shorthanded four starters and 23 total players, some thought the Spartans could have a chance.

That couldn’t be further from the truth as Justin Fields and the Ohio State Buckeyes thrashed Michigan State, 52-12, Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium.

Fields, OSU's all-important quarterback, got things going early for the Buckeyes on their first drive after holding Michigan State for a three and out to begin the game. Right after Michael Fletcher was tabbed with a roughing-the-passer penalty on third down, Fields and his running back Master Teague III torched the Michigan State defense on the ground as Fields finished the drive by escaping five Michigan State defenders for a walk-in touchdown.

The Michigan State offense was dismal the entire first half as they finished with just 80 total yards in the first half. The Spartan offense began that poor display on offense in the first half with four consecutive three and outs. 

The Buckeyes took advantage of the Spartans’ struggles going up 28-0 at the end of the first half on the back of Fields’ legs.

With two minutes left to go in the first quarter, Fields began the drive by scrambling outside of the pocket and turning up-field for a 44-yard gain to the Michigan State 28. On the next set of downs, Fields would find Garrett Wilson for a 28-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 72-yard, 41-second drive.

Self enforced errors and penalties were killers for Michigan State. Following Ohio State’s quick striking drive, MSU again went three and out and gave the ball back to OSU. Michigan State then committed a holding penalty as OSU was facing third and five to keep the chains moving.

As Ohio State drove inside Michigan State’s 10, the Spartans looked to have a big sack coming out of a timeout, only to have 12 players on the field. Fields would cap off the drive with his second touchdown run of the game.

Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi struggled in the first half as the run game looked flat and miscommunication on routes hampered the passing attack. Backed up into his own endzone, the Ohio State defense was able to deflect Lombardi's pass and come up with an interception to add to the already bleak game.

Lombardi would later leave the game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Redshirt quarterback Payton Thorne stepped in to replace Lombardi for the remainder of the game.

Michigan State would get their first drive of substance in the game before the end of the half as Thorne was able to provide a spark to the MSU offense through the air. Driving inside Ohio State territory for the first time, Thorne couldn’t break the seal for the Spartans as he was stripped for a fumble to end the first half.

On the Spartans' next drive, Thorne would continue to look efficient in the beginning of the second half. On their first drive of the second half, Thorne drove the Spartans back into Ohio State territory but came up short as the Spartans questionably chose to punt.

The Buckeyes continued to flex their muscles as graduate transfer running back Trey Sermon flashed past the Spartan defense for a 64-yard touchdown run.

Thorne wouldn’t give up though as he found his former high school teammate Jayden Reed on the next drive who put a nice juke on a defender to cut up field for a 55-yard gain. Thorne on a read option carry would finish the drive to cut the lead down to 28.

The Spartans looked to have some life as Chase Kline forced the ball out and Thorne had a chance to score once again inside OSU territory.

The turnover bug struck once again, however, as Thorne led Jalen Nailor just too far, and Shaun Wade intercepted the ball to squash any hopes of a thrilling comeback.

Ohio State wouldn't let their foot off the gas to finish the game either, scoring 14 points in the fourth on two big play touchdowns to add insult to injury.

Fields finished the game with 303 total yards in the air and on the ground and 4 touchdowns.

Thorne, after stepping in for an injured Lombardi, finished the day with 147 yards and an efficient 16 completions on 25 attempts. Throne also had an impact on the ground as he scrambled for a 31-yard run to set up a field goal to put them at 10 points. Thorne would finish as MSU's leading rusher with 42 yards.

Xavier Henderson was one of the lone bright spots on a rough day for the Spartan defense, finishing with 9 tackles, a season high.

Michigan State will look to rebound from this performance against Penn State, who after starting 0-5 on the season has won two straight after taking down Michigan and Rutgers in back-to-back weeks.

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