EAST LANSING, MI (AP) — Mike Weber ran for 111 yards and a touchdown, and No. 2 Ohio State held off Michigan State 17-16 on Saturday after the upset-minded Spartans missed a 2-point conversion with 4:41 remaining.
Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten, No. 2 CFP) can now move on to next weekend’s showdown with rival Michigan, but only after withstanding a spirited challenge from a Michigan State team that derailed the Buckeyes’ national title bids in two of the previous three seasons. The Spartans (3-8, 1-7) were down 17-10 when LJ Scott scored on a 1-yard run with 4:41 to play. Michigan State went for the lead, but Tyler O’Connor’s pass on the 2-point conversion attempt was intercepted in the end zone.
The Spartans got the ball back one more time, at their own 20 with 2:04 remaining. Tyquan Lewis sacked O’Connor on the first play, and then Gareon Conley intercepted him on the second.
Scott ran for 160 yards and also scored on a 64-yard catch-and-run in the first minute of the game, but the Ohio State defense didn’t allow much more after that. J.T. Barrett threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel in the first quarter, and the game was tied at 10 at halftime.
Weber’s 4-yard TD run in the third gave the Buckeyes the lead for good.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes had to claw their way to this win, but it was still a sweet one against the team that has given them more trouble than any in recent seasons. Michigan State beat Ohio State in the 2013 Big Ten title game and again late in the regular season last year. Ohio State’s stellar pass defense was the difference. O’Connor and Damion Terry were a combined 8 of 21 with two interceptions for the Spartans.
Michigan State: Coach Mark Dantonio’s team threw everything it had at Ohio State, executing a successful fake punt in the fourth quarter and later going for 2 when an extra point would have tied it. The Spartans fell just short in the end, unable to establish any consistent offensive threats aside from Scott.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have lost only once in their last 12 meetings with Michigan. Ohio State will be at home next weekend, where it has not lost to Michigan since 2000.
Michigan State: The Spartans play at Penn State next weekend, meaning they could have another chance to play spoiler in the Big Ten title race.