Ohio State football’s defeat to Michigan State on Saturday was more than a setback in the Big Ten standings. It was nearly a loss of historic proportions.
A 33-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kirk Cousins to senior receiver B.J. Cunningham midway through the first quarter put the Spartans up early, 7-0. A field goal in the fourth quarter by Dan Conroy proved to be enough for the Spartans who went on to win, 10-7.
With 10 seconds to go in the game, red shirt senior quarterback Joe Bauserman found Evan Spencer for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 10-7.
But it was too little, too late for the Buckeyes.
OSU was only able to accumulate 178 yards of total offense in the game against MSU’s 324 yards.
The Buckeyes were only 10 seconds from being shutout for the first time since a 1993 blanking at the hands of Michigan. It would have been the first shutout at Ohio Stadium since October 1982, against Wisconsin.
The Buckeyes started the game slowly with freshman quarterback Braxton Miller leading the offense, which accumuled only 42 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
In the mean time, Cousins found Cunningham in the back of OSU’s end zone to open the scoring. Cousins rolled out to the right of his pocket and found the streaking Cunningham, who made the catch despite double coverage from OSU.
In the second quarter, Miller completed a 33-yard pass on third-and-13 to push OSU into Spartans’ territory for the first time. The drive ended with 7:39 remaining in the first half after Miller’s next pass was thrown into double coverage and intercepted by MSU sophomore corner Darqueze Dennard.
By the end of the first half, the Buckeyes’ offense had been out-gained by the Spartans, 170-87. OSU’s defense stopped MSU scoring threats twice in the second quarter, however.
A fumble recovery by sophomore defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins with under one minute remaining preserved the 7-0 deficit.
The Buckeyes attempted to salvage a score from the remaining 50 seconds of the half, but Miller took a sack and the clock then ran out. Michigan State jumped and celebrated as it headed for its locker room with the lead still intact — the Buckeyes exited the field to a chorus of boos.
After the intermission, OSU’s defense held the Spartans again.
MSU drove 52 yards from its own 14-yard line to set up a long field goal attempt. Conroy pushed his 51-yard try wide right of the uprights and OSU’s deficit remained at 7-0.
OSU’s offense continued to sputter — Miller led the team to only 16 total yards of offense in the third quarter as redshirt senior quarterback Joe Bauserman began to throw a ball behind the Buckeyes’ bench.
MSU moved into scoring position again late in the quarter when Cousins completed a 52-yard pass to Cunningham. The Spartans eventually moved to the Buckeyes’ 5-yard line, but Cousins’ pass on third-and-goal was intercepted in the end zone by sophomore safety C.J. Barnett.
Then Bauserman went under center for the Buckeyes, though he didn’t fare much better, going 0 of 1 passing on his first drive before being sacked on third down.
The Buckeyes’ never found their footing with either Bauserman or Miller leading the offense. Conroy’s 50-yard field with 10:35 remaining put the Spartans up 10-0 and proved to be the game-winning score.
OSU (3-2) will continue conference play next Saturday when it makes its first-ever trip to Nebraska.