Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio talks about his team's 34-10 loss at Ohio State on Saturday. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Columbus, Ohio — Two years ago, Michigan State walked into Ohio Stadium with a highly rated defense and headed home humbled after a blowout loss that was over before it started.
On Saturday night, a similar script played out in No. 4 Ohio State’s 34-10 victory over No. 25 Michigan State.
The Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) gained 529 total yards while running for 323, the second-most ever allowed by a Mark Dantonio team at Michigan State. The only other time the Spartans allowed more than that? Two years ago when they gave up 335 in a 48-3 loss at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State had 296 yards in the second quarter alone, the second-most by an FBS team in a quarter this season behind the 300 yards Washington State gained against UCLA on Sept. 21.
“Well, I don't think we stopped the run,” Dantonio said in the understatement of the night. “At the end of the day, we didn't stop the run effectively enough. They had too many explosive plays, and what we've been able to do when we have won is they haven't had quite the number of explosive plays.”
The Buckeyes had seven plays that would be deemed explosive — runs for more than 15 yards or passes for more than 20 — with four coming in the second quarter. The first was a 60-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Binjimen Victor and the quarter was capped with a 67-yard touchdown run from J.K. Dobbins.
“They did a little half-roll pass and get our guy out of coverage, he sucks up for a 60-yard gain,” Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie said. “It was nothing special, just a pitch and catch. The quarterback scrambled and we had confusion. … We busted that,, I mean, simple as that. We shot ourselves in the foot.”
Michigan State’s second-quarter defensive meltdown came after it started the game playing as well as it could. Ohio State had only 16 yards the entire first quarter and managed just two first downs.
The Buckeyes had a 3-0 lead after the first 15 minutes, but that came after the Spartans offense turned the ball over twice in its first four plays from scrimmage with the defense limiting Ohio State to one field goal.
“I thought they responded well, to be honest with you,” Dantonio said of the defense early in the game. “We had one stop, but they missed (the field goal), and then we had another stop where they kick the field goal. So those are successful things. And I think you gain confidence after that. You think you should gain confidence after but you know, getting scooped out of a gap or whatever it is and you don’t recover … There were too many explosive plays defensively, when you look at it. And then I think we got tired in the fourth quarter in the second half.”
While Ohio State was making the big plays, Michigan State was too busy at times trying to do the same, looking for turnovers instead of securing the tackle.
Bachie tried to get the ball away from Ohio State’s Luke Farrell on his 21-yard touchdown grab and later in the second quarter, as Dobbins was racing down the field for his 67-yard score, Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott ran him down but tried to punch the ball out instead of going for the tackle.
“The guy needs to make the tackle first then, go for the strip,” Dantonio said. “That's way we teach it. You just try to make a play, you know, but he had the ability to run them down. So he ran them down, you got to make the tackle. You got to secure the tackle on that and make them snap the ball again.”
Instead, the Buckeyes humbled the Spartans once again, just as they did two seasons ago.
To defensive tackle Raequan Williams, the loss was one of his worst.
“Probably top two,” he said when asked where the game ranked in terms of frustrating losses.
“Pssht, 2017,” Williams said. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t trust ourselves, didn’t trust our defense and we got beat. … That’s a really good team we played.”