OSU's Greatest Football Wins: Michigan State

Ted Ginn Jr.

BuckeyeSports.com counts down the days to the Big Ten football media days by recounting Ohio State's greatest wins against their Big Ten foes. Today we look at the Michigan State series, one that got a later start than most but has had more than its share of noteworthy outcomes.

Ohio State holds a 28-13 advantage over Michigan State in a series that began in 1912 and saw the Buckeyes lose the first three games.

Neil Colzie set the single-game record with 170 punt return yards against the Spartans in 1973, and the Buckeyes set a team record with 178 punt return yards in the contest. The Buckeyes' 12 sacks in a wild 2005 victory are the most in one game in school history. Morten Anderson set an opponents record with a 63-yard field goal against the Buckeyes in 1981.

Ohio State 30
Michigan State 24

Ohio State had to wait 47 years, but the school finally got its first win over Michigan State and cost the Spartans the Big Ten title in the process.

The game was closely contested all afternoon until the Buckeyes opened up some breathing room with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tom Matte to Billy Wentz in the third quarter that gave the home team a 23-14 lead.

Michigan State kicked a field goal to pull within six points, but Ohio State did not wait long to light the scoreboard again. After Matte returned the ensuing kickoff 20 yards to the Buckeye 39-yard line, running back Bob Ferguson took the ball on third-and-4 and raced 55 yards for a touchdown.

Matte's all-around play was the catalyst for the Buckeyes' success. Making his first start at quarterback, he threw for 138 yards and three touchdowns on just five completions, including a 57-yarder to end Jim Houston in the first quarter. Matte also picked up 79 yards rushing. Ferguson added 109 yards on the ground and Houston caught three passes for 110 yards along with the score.

No. 2 Ohio State 25
No. 16 Michigan State 20

The "Super Sophomores" continued their march toward the 1968 national championship with a five-point win over Michigan State. Quarterback Rex Kern got the Buckeyes going, engineering the game's first touchdown drive. The effort covered 83 yards with Kern either running or passing for 82 of them. In the second quarter, Kern pushed the lead to 13-0 with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Larry Zelina, but the Buckeye signal caller was forced out of the game shortly after with a sprained ankle. He would not return, but Ron Maciejowski proved to be a more-than-capable backup. After Michigan State got on the board with a touchdown in the second quarter, Maciejowski engineered a drive that resulted in a Jim Otis touchdown run. The teams traded interceptions to begin the second half before Michigan State cut the Buckeye lead to five on a 13-yard pass from Bill Triplett to Frank Foreman.

The Buckeyes quickly struck back, scoring in 2:14 on a 2-yard run by Maciejowski, but the lead remained just 12 after a failed two-point conversion try. Ohio State's defense then made a stop, but after a disastrous drive by Ohio State lost 30 yards, the Spartans got the ball back just 31 yards from the Buckeye goal line. Michigan State's Thomas Love punched it in from one yard out to cut the deficit to five, but neither team scored in the fourth quarter. Michigan State's hopes of completing the comeback were hindered greatly by three lost fumbles, two in OSU territory. The balanced Buckeye offense gained 214 yards on the ground and 215 through the air, while the defense had six players tally double-digits in tackles, led by Doug Adams' 16 stops. Mike Sensibaugh had 11 tackles, recovered a fumble and made an interception.

No. 3 Ohio State 21
No. 11 Michigan State 0

To open the 1975 season, the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes returned to East Lansing, the site of the previous season's most crushing defeat, and the results were much better for the visitors this time around.

On offense, tailback Archie Griffin kicked off his second Heisman Trophy campaign with 108 yards rushing while fullback Pete Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns.

The Buckeye defense, with eight new starters, shut out the Spartans while allowing only 11 first downs and 173 total yards. Also on that side of the ball, Ohio State received a standout performance by Howard "Hopalong" Cassady's son, Craig, who intercepted a school-record-tying three MSU passes. The Buckeyes also found the air to their liking, getting their other touchdown of the day via a 64-yard passing connection from Cornelius Greene to Lenny Willis.

The victory avenged a bitter and controversial loss to the Spartans when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 in the country in 1974.

No. 8 Ohio State 23
Michigan State 20

Ohio State withstood two late touchdowns by Michigan State and held on for a 23-20 win in East Lansing. Rick Spangler booted three field goals (36, 42 and 30 yards) to account for all the scoring in the first half and Keith Byars added a third-quarter touchdown to stretch the lead to 16-0.

The Buckeyes led 16-6 at the start of the fourth quarter and 23-13 after Mike Tomczak ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 4:44 remaining in the game. Ohio State's lead looked safe only until Spartan Mark Ingram returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to three. The game was not decided until a Spartan field goal attempt from 43 yards out with 0:06 was short and wide right.

Tomczak finished with 256 yards passing while Byars totaled 121 yards rushing. The game's score belied a statistical domination by the Buckeyes, who outgained Michigan State 410-223 in total yards and made 20 first downs to their host's eight.

No. 5 Ohio State 28
No. 25 Michigan State 21

Joey Galloway and Raymont Harris led the fifth-ranked Buckeyes as they scored in the final two minutes to remain unbeaten.

Galloway caught three touchdown passes in the first half, two from Bobby Hoying sandwiched around a 64-yard bomb from backup quarterback Bret Powers to stake the Buckeyes to a 21-10 halftime lead.

The Spartans answered, however, with 11 straight points of their own in the fourth quarter. Harris passed the 100-yard mark on a 7-yard touchdown run with just 1:06 left to provide the winning points for the Buckeyes. The senior tailback known as "the Quiet Storm" finished with 103 yards on 22 carries. Galloway, along with his three scores, caught nine passes for 186 yards.

Hoying (14 for 21, 181 yards, two touchdowns) and Powers (7 for 10, 113 yards) both went over the 100-yard mark on the afternoon. Linebacker Lorenzo Styles had 18 tackles, including 14 solos, to lead the Ohio State defense.

Ohio State 23
Michigan State 7

The Buckeyes shook off a loss from the previous week and a sluggish start to down the Spartans. Ohio State trailed 7-3 in the third quarter when Eddie George kickstarted the offense with a 76-yard touchdown run 2:52 into the third quarter. The Buckeye offense tacked on another touchdown at 6:59 in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run by Hoying, then watched the defense slam the door 29 seconds later when Greg Bellisari returned an interception of Spartan quarterback Tony Banks 35 yards for a touchdown.

George, a junior tailback, was the catalyst for the Buckeyes, who used a powerful ground game to plow under the Spartans. The visitors ran on 50 of their 69 plays and outpaced Michigan State 278-76 on the ground. George toted 29 times for 219 yards, becoming the first OSU back to eclipse the 200-yard mark twice in one season. George ran for 206 yards two weeks earlier in a 17-15 win over Northwestern.

In addition to Bellisari, the Buckeye defense was led by Marlon Kerner and Styles, who both tallied 10 tackles.

Ohio State 32
Michigan State 19

On a day when the offense struggled, Ted Ginn Jr. came to the rescue with lightning early and late.

The Ohio State freshman scored the first points of the game on a 17-yard touchdown run coming on a reverse then struck again with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown after the OSU defense forced a quick Spartan punt. After Mike Nugent kicked a 53-yard field goal later in the quarter, the Buckeyes lead stood at 17-0 with 2:50 remaining in the first quarter, but would be the last time the OSU offense would be heard from for quite a while.

Michigan State began its comeback soon after with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Damon Dowdell to Jerramy Scott. It continued over the next three quarters with four field goals by kicker Dave Rayner, the last of which capped a 67-yard, 14-play drive that gave the Spartans their first lead, 19-17, with 3:06 to play in the game.

Finally, it was Ginn who came to the rescue. With defenders bracketing him on either side he snagged a slant pass from Troy Smith and raced 58 yards untouched for a touchdown that gave the lead back to the Buckeyes. Smith ran in the two-point conversion to extend the lead to six points. After an acrobatic interception by OSU linebacker A.J. Hawk snuffed out the Spartans final drive, senior tailback Maurice Hall took care of any suspense with a 51-yard TD run in the final minute of play. Ginn finished with 169 all-purpose yards and was the first Buckeye to score three different ways in one game since Keith Byars in 1984.

No. 15 Ohio State 35
No. 16 Michigan State 24

The Buckeyes salvaged a season on the brink of becoming a major disappointment by rallying for a stunning win over head coach John L. Smith's Spartans at Ohio Stadium.

Coming off a disheartening loss at Penn State one week earlier, the Buckeyes trailed by 10 late in the second quarter when the Spartans lined up for a 35-yard field goal. Or at least some of them lined up for the kick, anyway, while others were expecting to try to run a kill-the-clock play. That left MSU with too few men on the field, and Ohio State took advantage as Nate Salley rushed in from the side where no one had lined up as a wing protector and blocked the kick. The ball then bounced fortuitously into the arms of OSU cornerback Ashton Youboty, who raced 72 yards for a touchdown with 0:00 showing on the clock.

That had the Buckeyes feeling like they had new life and sent Smith into a famous tirade captured on television as he walked off the field to the locker room.

The Buckeyes took their first lead of the afternoon with their first possession of the third quarter as Troy Smith connected with Ginn on what began as a simple sideline pattern that ended as a 57-yard touchdown after two Spartans failed to bring Ginn down at the time of the catch.

After Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton engineered an 80-yard touchdown drive that put the Spartans back on top, Smith answered by hooking up with Santonio Holmes for a 46-yard touchdown pass that put the Buckeyes up 28-24.

The vaunted Ohio State defense struggled for much of the day against Smith's spread offense but made that lead stand up on a wild afternoon that produced some astounding numbers.

Stanton threw for 340 yards and Michigan State gained 27 first downs, but the Spartans were crippled by 12 sacks, an Ohio State school record.

Linebacker Bobby Carpenter collected four of those sacks, tying the school single-game record, while David Patterson had three and Marcus Green, Donte Whitner, Mike Kudla, Jay Richardson, and Youboty all made one apiece.

Troy Smith threw just 15 passes but completed 10 for what was then a career-high 249 yards.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk had 19 tackles for the Ohio State, which hadn't given up more than 200 yards in a game in over a month but allowed 456 yards of total offense to the Spartans.

The Ohio State offense had four scoring drives and none took longer than 2:16. The total time-of-possession for the four touchdown drives by Ohio State was 7:34.

The quick strikes offset four Ohio State turnovers and a Michigan State advantage of more than 20 minutes in time of possession.

No. 14 Ohio State 17
No. 20 Michigan State 16

The Buckeyes delivered Urban Meyer his first Big Ten win as a head coach in dramatic fashion on a spectacular late summer afternoon in East Lansing.

The decisive score came from Braxton Miller, who delivered a perfect strike to Devin Smith as he streaked down the visitors' sideline. Michigan State's Johnny Adams ran nearly stride for stride with the OSU sophomore, but Smith gained just enough separation as the ball arrived to pull it in and outrace the Spartans' standout corner for a 63-yard touchdown that stunned the Spartan Stadium crowd and put Ohio State on top 17-13 with 3:05 left in the third quarter. The long pass came as the Buckeyes were in need of an answer to a Michigan State touchdown drive capped by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Maxwell to Keith Mumphrey in which the Spartan receiver broke at least a half-dozen tackles on his way to the goal line and left the OSU defense reeling.

The Buckeye stop troops recovered to force two punts and a field goal on the last three Michigan State possessions, including a third down with under five minutes to go that saw Etienne Sabino force Maxwell into an incompletion that necessitated a punt.

The Buckeyes took over with 4:10 remaining and ground out three first downs to run out the clock.

In speeches throughout the offseason, Meyer has repeatedly referenced this game as the one that turned the tide toward and undefeated season for Ohio State after a preconference schedule that included some lackluster performances against inferior opponents.

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