MSU stuns OSU, 17-14
Well, well, well, MSU is back in the playoff picture, after all.
Michigan State, behind a dominant run game, beat Ohio State, 17-14, on Saturday night in Columbus.
Michael Geiger, with the wind at his back, nailed a 41-yard field goal as time expired to win it, handing OSU its first loss of the season -- and Urban Meyer's first Big Ten regular-season loss during his tenure at Ohio State. The Buckeyes, national champs last year, had won 23 straight games.
With the win, MSU has a chance to win its division next week against Penn State.
That would pit MSU against Iowa in the Big Ten championship game, with the winner likely headed to the College Football Playoff.
With terrible weather Saturday, MSU pounded the rock all day long, finishing with around 200 yards on the ground. Gerald Holmes had 65 yards and L.J. Scott, after a tough week last week, had 57 yards, including several big ones late.
OSU played conservative all game long, and finished with just 132 yards of total offense. Zeke Elliott rushed for just 33 yards, snapping his streak of 100-yard rushing games at 15.
MSU, OSU tied at 14 late in fourth
It's getting interesting.
MSU and OSU remain tied at 14 with under 6 minutes to play.
MSU just had to punt from midfield, as it oddly decided to start throwing the ball this last drive -- after the running game had worked so brilliantly to that point in the game.
The Spartans punt has pinned the Buckeyes inside the 5-yard line, so that's some good news for MSU.
OSU is getting nothing done on the ground, with Zeke Elliott's streak of 15 consecutive 100-yard rushing games seemingly about to end.
J.T. Barrrett hasn't done much either, with his arm or his leg.
A three-and-out here for OSU could give MSU great field possession, and a chance to win the game on its next drive.
MSU ties OSU at 14
Here we go. This should be an exciting finish.
Michigan State just went 75 yards, mostly running the ball, to tie the game at 14.
Gerald Holmes capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. He looked like he was stopped short, but then a second burst and a reach for the goal line got him across.
Tyler O'Connor had a huge drive, picking up two MSU first downs with his legs.
The biggest play came on fourth-and-3 -- it was to be fourth-and-8, but an OSU offsides penalty helped out -- and O'Connor found a seam and moved the chains. He did it again on third down a few plays later.
Damion Terry saw limited time on the drive, and had to limp off, leaving MSU with just one healthy quarterback.
It's a tossup for MSU right now, whether O'Connor or Holmes has been the most valuable player. It's close.
And, again, MSU has the wind at its back this quarter, which could be huge late in the game with a field goal.
Another big mistake for MSU
Michigan State has made two huge mistakes in this game -- and both times, Ohio State has capitalized.
The Buckeyes now lead 14-7 after MSU's Macgarrett Kings Jr. muffed a punt. A low liner late in the third quarter, Kings reached up for it rather than let it go, and that proved a massive mistake -- as it tipped off his fingers and Ohio State recovered at the 6.
The next play, J.T. Barrett threw his first pass of the half -- a TD strike to Jalin Marshall.
The crowd had just been booing for the Buckeyes for conservative play-calling.
OSU's earlier touchdown came after an MSU fumble.
The Spartans' margin for error today was so slim, and they've made two massive errors.
MSU, OSU being cautious
Two of the top teams in the nation have turned conservative all of a sudden.
The weather is brutal in Columbus, so both MSU's Mark Dantonio and OSU's Urban Meyer are reluctant to put the ball in the air.
Problem is, they're not doing much on the ground -- as both teams have punted on their first two possessions of the second half.
OSU has punted on six of eight possessions in this game, and haven't even gained 100 yards yet.
Damion Terry took snaps at quarterback the last drive and made some things happen with his leg, including a nice 12-yard run for a first down. But the drive stalled after that, and MSU had to punt.
It's still 7-7 -- and the next mistake could decide the game. Hence, the conservative play-calling.
MSU, OSU tied at 7 at halftime
Well, who would've seen this coming?
Michigan State was a 14-point underdog coming into the Ohio State game -- and that was before the Spartans lost their quarterback, as Connor Cook couldn't go today because of a shoulder injury.
Well, the two College Football Playoff hopefuls are tied at 7 at halftime.
Tyler O'Connor has had a nice day filling in for Cook, as he's 6-for-8 for 83 yards and a touchdown on a miserable weather day in Columbus. Damion Terry has only completed one of his four passes.
Gerald Holmes has led the MSU ground attack with five carries for 26 yards.
Zeke Elliott has led the way for OSU, with 10 carries for 30 yards. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has been a non-factor, after throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for two more in last year's win over MSU.
MSU wastes golden opportunity
You don't get many breaks against a team like Ohio State.
MSU got one with a horrific punt by OSU that put the Spartans on the 23-yard line.
But MSU walked away with no points, as Michael Geiger missed a 43-yard field goal. It had the distance, but was well wide left.
The Spartans committed a bad false-start penalty and L.J. Scott lost 4 yards on one run, pushing the Spartans back.
Gerald Holmes got some of the yardage back with a 7-yard run, but Geiger still couldn't convert.
Good news for the Spartans defense, though: The followed up the missed field goal with a three-and-out for the Buckeyes.
MSU ties OSU at 7
Well, not sure anyone expected that.
Michigan State answered Ohio State's touchdown with one of its one, thanks to some clutch passes by backup quarterback Tyler O'Connor.
O'Connor led a 75-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Trevon Pendleton, who had great self-awareness of where he was on the field, turning his body to strike the pylon with the football.
O'Connor converted two third-and-longs on the drive, the biggest one a 36-yard pass to Aaron Burbridge, who's closing in on 2,000 yards for his career.
Burbridge was forced out of bounds (sound familiar?) and reestablished himself to make the big catch.
That play came right after O'Connor took a massive hit to the upper body.
After the fumble on the last possession, O'Connor showed much more poise in the face of Ohio State's blitz.
Ohio State takes early 7-0 lead
If MSU had any advantage coming into this game, it was turnover margin.
But the Spartans coughed up the first ball of this game, and it led to seven points for the Buckeyes.
With great field position, Ohio State turned to the ground game to pound the ball into the end zone, with Zeke Elliott finishing the drive off with a touchdown rush from the 6-inch line on fourth down.
It looked like QB J.T. Barrett might've punched it in on second down, but replay decided his knee was down short. Then Elliott was stuffed on third down.
After an OSU timeout, the Buckeyes decided to go for it on fourth down, and they're up 7-0.
The Buckeyes ran 10 plays on the drive, and eight of them were runs by Elliott.
Ohio State forces big fumble
There's the first big mistake of the day by an MSU backup quarterback.
Damion Terry fumbled after a hard hit by OSU's Sam Hubbard, and OSU's Adolphus Washington was there to pick it up.
That gives the Buckeyes great field position with time winding down on the first quarter of a so-far scoreless game.
OSU got a big break earlier in MSU's drive. Terry let fly a deep pass, and the Buckeyes got away with blatant pass interference.
L.J. Scott had some nice, tough runs on the drive, a week after being benched for his consistent fumbling.
Defenses shining early
With Connor Cook seemingly out of this game, Michigan State will need its defense more than ever today.
So far, so good.
After a three-and-out by OSU on its first possession, Michigan State forced another punt on its second.
J.T. Barrett got the Buckeyes past midfield and appeared headed for another first down, but MSU's Montae Nicholson came out of nowhere to make a diving tackle on Barrett, stopping him about 2 yards shy of the first down.
MSU's offense will go to work again, after a holding penalty cut its first drive short. Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry have played quarterback already.
Cook out for MSU
Bad news for Michigan State: Quarterback Connor Cook (shoulder) is out, at least for now -- and probably for the entire game, according to ABC.
It'll be Tyler O'Connor getting the first snaps at quarterback.
Meanwhile, MSU's defense forced a three-and-out on Ohio State's first possession, giving J.T. Barrett little room to run.
The defense will have to be big, today, especially if Cook is out.
Finally, it's game time
Finally, the big game -- the game most Michigan State fans have been waiting for -- has arrived.
Michigan State and Ohio State are set to kick off in a matter of moments, and no less than a possible spot in the College Football Playoff is at stake.
The Spartans come in 9-1, with the loss to Nebraska two weeks ago their lone blemish.
The Buckeyes, the defending national champions, come in a perfect 10-0.
All eyes are on MSU quarterback Connor Cook, who is a game-time decision with his right shoulder still ailing.