Columbus, Ohio — Ezekiel Elliott played his last game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday. Carrying the ball 12 times during a wet and windy last-second loss was not how he planned to go out.
Elliott ran for 33 of Ohio State’s paltry 132 yards and the second-ranked Buckeyes had their hopes of repeating as national champions crushed in a 17-14 loss to No. 9 Michigan State on Saturday. Michael Geiger kicked a 41-yard field for Michigan State on the last play of the game.
“This is my last game in the Shoe,” said Elliott, who spent a couple of days in the hospital this week being treated for a staph infection. “I mean there’s no chance of me coming back next year. I got to make the most of my time left.”
Junior quarterback Cardale Jones also suggested, strongly, on Twitter that this was also his last home game for Ohio State.
That Elliott intends to turn pro after this season is no surprise. He is one of the best backs in the country and has little left to prove in college. That it came after such a crushing loss and was delivered while being critical of Ohio State’s play-calling was startling.
The junior said he was lobbying coach Urban Meyer for more touches and that he deserved more than he got.
“I really do. I can’t speak for the play-calling. I don’t know what was going on or what they were seeing. It didn’t work out. It wasn’t working,” said Elliott, who had his streak of 15 straight 100-yard rushing games snapped.
The Buckeyes ran 45 plays, had five first downs and their two touchdowns came after Michigan State turnovers gave them a short field.
“I call a lot of the plays anyways,” Meyer said. “So finger will be pointed right here. And I have to do better.”
It was a bad day for Ohio State streaks.
The Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak? Done.
Their 30-game winning streak in regular-season conference games? Over.
Their chances to get back to the College Football Playoff and defend their title? The Buckeyes might not be officially buried, but they are in critical condition.
Ohio State plays Michigan next week. There is supposed to be nothing bigger than The Game for Ohio State. But unless Michigan State loses to Penn State at home next week, the only thing on the line for the Buckeyes against that team from up North is pride.
“The biggest thing is that it’s going to be hard to respond, obviously,” Buckeyes linebacker Josh Perry said.
The Buckeyes lost to a 14-point underdog playing without its star quarterback. Connor Cook was out with a shoulder injury for Michigan State, but the Spartans ran for 203 yards and completed only one pass in the second half.
J.T. Barrett, who played the best game of his career in a win at Michigan State last year, was 9-for-16 for 46 yards and ran for 44 yards.
“I don’t think it was the weather so much as they just beat us,” Barrett said.