COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — No. 11 Ohio State put to rest any notion that it wouldn’t be motivated to finish strong after a surprising loss last week dropped the Buckeyes out of national championship contention.
The Buckeyes came out fast, scoring on five of their first six possessions on the way to a 48-3 rout of No. 13 Michigan State, a team that has given them headaches in recent years.
The blowout in front of the home fans helped Ohio State (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten, CFP No. 13) bury last week’s mystifying loss to Iowa, and put it in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten East with two games remaining.
J.T. Barrett threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores, and Mike Weber rushed for 162 yards and pair of touchdowns for Ohio State.
“We can’t go back in the past, of course, so I mean we try to just move on, learn from things, learn from losses, and I think that’s what we did (after last week’s game), grew from it.” Barrett said.
In a season already marked by radical highs and lows, the Buckeyes took out their frustrations on the Spartans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten, CFP No. 12), using a run-heavy attack to dominate them on both sides of the ball.
“I wouldn’t have thought this was going to happen,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio acknowledged.
Ohio State outgained Michigan State 524-195, and a Buckeyes defense that was smoked by unranked Iowa in the 55-24 loss limited Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke — who threw for 445 yards last week against Penn State — to 131 yards and forced two interceptions.
“We took that one on the chin today,” Michigan State center Brian Allen said. “Didn’t see that coming, but it happened and it kind of sucks.”
Barrett, who threw four interceptions last week against Iowa, was 14 for 21 for 183 yards Saturday with two touchdowns. He also ran nine times for 55 yards, including a pair of 4-yard touchdown runs. J.K. Dobbins, who split time with Weber in the backfield, rushed 18 times for 124 yards.
Michigan State: The Spartans suffer a huge letdown after beating Penn State last week and watch their hopes of winning the Big Ten East dissolve in the cold Ohio afternoon. They could never get any significant offensive traction against the stout Buckeyes defense, which was intent on redemption.
“We have to play better,” Lewerke said. “We have to step up to the stage when it’s there.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes shook off a mystifying loss that took them out of national championship contention by bullying a divisional rival. A spot in the Big Ten title game is theirs if they win out.
RBS LET LOOSE
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer faced questions this week about not using his pair of talented tailbacks enough. He put those concerns to rest on Saturday, with Weber and Dobbins combining for 286 rushing yards.
Meyer said “there was a mandate to make sure those guys touch the ball.
“I thought the running backs ran really, really hard,” he said. “Even when they got hit, it was plus-2 (yards).”
Weber’s 162 yards on nine carries was a career high. Dobbins’ 128 put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He became the fourth freshman in program history to hit that mark. The third was Weber last year.
STARTING LBS HURT
Ohio State’s defense dominated despite losing starting linebackers Jerome Baker and Dante Booker to midweek injuries. Meyer didn’t disclose the nature of the injuries but said both are expected back next week against Illinois.
Malik Harrison and Tuf Borland started for them. Borland led the team with 11 tackles.
“I look at Ohio State and they’ve lost two games and I had to listen to how poorly the media treated Urban Meyer this week, to be quite honest. And I listened to all the things he was hearing, which I’m sure I’ll hear now.” — Dantonio.
Michigan State: Hosts Maryland next Saturday.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes warm up for the Michigan finale with a home game against Illinois next week.