Spartans defense even better than previous best

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Columbus, Ohio — A week ago, Michigan State played what it called its best defensive game of the season in a victory over Maryland.

What the Spartans might not have predicted was it would lead to a far better outing, shutting down a vaunted Ohio State offense in a 17-14 victory, knocking off the defending national champion and putting Michigan State in control in the Big Ten East.

"We won at the line of scrimmage," coach Mark Dantonio said. "That was important that we were able to do that."

The numbers were stark in comparison to the meeting a year ago when Ohio State rolled up 568 total yards and scored 49 points.

This season, the Buckeyes were never allowed to get going. The Spartans limited them to just 132 total yards, the Buckeyes' fewest since Urban Meyer took over as head coach at Ohio State, and just 86 yards on the ground.

Ohio State entered the game averaging 244.8 yards on the ground, good for 11th-best in the nation. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had gained more than 100 yards in 15 straight games but managed just 33 on 12 carries against the Spartans.

"Our discipline was different this year," defensive end Shilique Calhoun said. "We understood their offense better and our defense better."

Michigan State linebacker Darien Harris (45) and a host of his teammates stop Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The 132 total yards allowed was Michigan State's best defensive performance of the season, outpacing the 230 it gave up in the win over Michigan.

One more performance will be needed next week against Penn State to lock up the East and reach the Big Ten championship game.

"There's still a lot to come," Calhoun said. "There is still a lot to do as an offense and a defense. I think we did a good job holding the run game and not allowing too many big plays. But there are still corrections to be made and we'll focus on getting in the film room and focus on the rest of the season."

Extra points

Michigan State is now 6-1 in its last seven games against top-10 opponents, including a victory over then-No. 7 Oregon in Week 2.

The Spartans are also now 5-1 against top-10 teams since 2013 and have beaten Ohio State twice in that span.

… Aaron Burbridge had four catches for 62 yards and is 1 yard shy of 2,000 for his career. He also needs one more catch to become the second MSU receiver with 150 career receptions.

… Michigan State has won four straight vs. an undefeated Ohio State team when playing the Buckeyes after Nov. 1 (2015, 2013, 1998, 1974).

... Michigan State is 26-10 in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a 20-4 record since 2010.