There’s a reason a college football game has four quarters and consists of 60 minutes, not just one quarter and 15 minutes. If the latter was the case, it would have been very problematic for both the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans Saturday night. With that said, Ohio State turned it around in the final three quarters of the game to beat the Spartans, 34-10, in what was their toughest game of the season to date. In fact, it was the first time so far this season that they didn’t win by at least 40 points. Even after a very slow and awful first quarter by the offense, the scarlet and gray still covered the 20-point spread, which proves just how talented they are across the board.
To say it was an ugly first quarter would be quite an understatement. The first 15 minutes featured just 66 total yards, with only 16 of those from the Buckeyes. On Ohio State’s first three drives of the game, they not had a grand total of minus-9 yards, but they legitimately looked lost, much different than they looked the first five games of the season. That includes two of the drives starting at Michigan State’s 27- and 22-yard line, respectively, after the defense forced two fumbles.
Luckily for the offense, the Buckeyes defense bailed them out. The Silver Bullets forced two turnovers on Michigan State’s second and third possessions of the game. Those turnovers allowed Ohio State’s offense to have a very good field position, but it led to just three points after Blake Haubell missed a 37-yard field goal and then followed that up by making a 39-yard field goal on the next possession. Even after such an ugly first quarter offensively, because Ohio State’s defense continued to bail out the Buckeyes, they held a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Then the second quarter happened. Prior to this week, Ohio State averaged 22 points per game in the second quarter during their first five games of the season. After totaling just 16 yards and three points on 16 plays in the first quarter, the Buckeyes notched 24 points in the second quarter to take a 27-10 lead at halftime. Much of that was due to Ohio State’s running game. In the second quarter alone, the Buckeyes had 163 rushing yards. Keep in mind, this is against Michigan State’s fourth-ranked run defense that had previously allowed just 279 total rushing yards the four games of the season.
After just 16 yards of total offense in the 1st quarter, @OhioStateFB rebounded in a big way with 296 yards of total offense in the 2nd quarter.
That's their 2nd-most total yards in any quarter in the past 15 seasons. pic.twitter.com/3Y2f7RZq7q
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 6, 2019
Holding a 17-point lead, Ohio State’s offense slowed down a bit in the second half, scoring just seven points in the final two quarters. The good news is that the defense was still its normal self, shutting out the Spartans in the final 30 minutes.
Coming into the game, there were many analysts and fans that were curious regarding how first-year head coach Ryan Day and first-year starting quarterback Justin Fields would perform given the fact that the Buckeyes were not only taking on their first ranked opponent of the season but a dominant defense. While they started slowly during a dismal and ugly first quarter, whether it was adjustments or just getting more comfortable, the offense put their foot on the gas pedal in the second quarter and never really let up, at least up until they already had the game in hand.
Thanks to a dominant second quarter that consisted of 24 points and nearly 300 yards of offense, Ohio State looked solid offensively against one of the best defenses in the country Saturday night. Justin Fields completed 17-of-25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns while also adding 11 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Unfortunately for the quarterback, he threw the first interception of his college career as well. Like J.K. Dobbins has done throughout much of the season, the running back continued to dominate against the Spartans, notching 172 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Binjimen Victor (three catches, 79 yards, one touchdown) and K.J. Hill (seven receptions, 57 yards) led the receivers.
As former head coach Urban Meyer always said (and continues to tweet), the best part about being 6-0 is the chance to be 5-0. Following a bye week for Ohio State next week, the Buckeyes will travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern Friday, October 18.