(Note: everything in this article is based off simulating events on NCAA Football 2007. The game does not assign players, so I came up with names myself.)
East Lansing, Mich. – It seems that no matter how successful Ohio State is in a given season, there comes one game that forces the Buckeye Nation to hold its collective breath a little longer than is comfortable.
Michigan State did just that, keeping the OSU offense out of the end zone for much of the game and keeping the final outcome in doubt until the very end. But when the dust settled, the Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) emerged with a 17-10 victory over the Spartans (3-4, 1-2) and kept their perfect season alive.
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With the score knotted at 10 in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes marched down the field on their first drive of the quarter and punched the ball into the end zone on a two-yard run by tailback Antonio Pittman. The score came with 13:12 remaining in the half and proved to be the difference-maker.
Pittman finished the contest with 19 carries for 115 yards and the touchdown to lead all rushers.
The Spartans drew first blood in the game, however. After MSU halfback Jehuu Caulcrick scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter to put the Spartans ahead 7-0, the Buckeyes took until the second quarter to respond.
A 43-yard field goal by Ryan Pretorius at the 11:02 mark of the second quarter helped OSU tighten the gap, but it would take a big play from the passing game to put the visiting Buckeyes ahead.
With time winding down in the first half, the Buckeyes finally struck paydirt when senior quarterback Troy Smith connected with speedy wideout Ted Ginn, Jr. for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 3:27 remaining in the half. The score put OSU up 10-7 and gave the Buckeyes a lead they would never relinquish.
That did not mean the rest of the game was smooth sailing, however. As both teams battled for field position in the second half, MSU got on the scoreboard with a 25-yard field goal by senior kicker John Goss with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter to pull the Spartans even at 10 until Pittman's decisive touchdown.
The vaunted Ohio State defense continued to be stingy against the run, holding the Spartans to 53 yards on 24 carries. MSU's leading rusher – Caulcrick – was responsible for 16 of those carries and 51 of the total rushing yards.
The Spartans did enjoy some air superiority over the Buckeyes' young secondary, however. Senior signal-caller Drew Stanton completed 16 of 34 passes for 200 yards but was kept out of the end zone. In contrast, Smith was 12 for 29 for 137 yards and one touchdown while completing passes to seven different targets.
Part of OSU's inability to score came as a result of an inability to convert on third down. For the game, the Buckeyes converted just one third-down situation in 11 attempts. MSU, on the other hand, was 4 for 13 on third down conversions.
Quinn Pitcock continued to be a force for OSU, recording six tackles – four for loss – and one sack. Junior strong safety Curt Lukens, seeing more playing time due to the injuries suffered by Brandon Mitchell and Antonio Smith, recorded three tackles for loss and one sack. Malcolm Jenkins and David Patterson each added an interception.
The Buckeyes remained at the top of the coaches' poll and were at the top of the first media poll released Sunday night. The top 10 schools are as follows (first-place votes are in parentheses followed by overall record):
1. Ohio State (38) 7-0
2. USC (22) 6-0
3. Oklahoma (1) 6-0
4. West Virginia 6-0
5. Miami 6-0
6. Auburn 6-1
7. LSU 6-1
8. Louisville 5-1
9. Michigan 6-1
10. Florida 5-2
Iowa moved up to No. 12, Notre Dame moved up to No. 15 and Penn State fell to No. 17.
1. Ohio State (38) 7-0
2. USC (25) 6-0
3. Oklahoma (1) 6-0
4. West Virginia (1) 6-0
5. Auburn 6-1
6. Miami 6-0
7. LSU 6-1
8. Michigan 6-1
9. Florida 5-2
10. Texas 5-2
Iowa improved to No. 12, Notre Dame dropped to No. 15, Penn State fell to No. 16 and Minnesota fell to No. 21.
The Buckeyes remain alone at the top of the Big Ten standings. Conference records are listed ahead of overall records.
1. Ohio State 3-0, 7-0
2. Minnesota 3-1, 6-1
3. Iowa 3-1, 6-1
4. Michigan 3-1, 6-1
5. Penn State 2-2, 5-2
6. Michigan State 1-2, 3-4
7. Purdue 1-2, 1-5
8. Illinois 1-2, 5-2
9. Northwestern 1-2, 4-3
10. Wisconsin 1-3, 4-3
11. Indiana 0-3, 2-5
Week six scores:
No. 1 Ohio State 17, Michigan State 10
No. 15 Michigan 28, No. 10 Penn State 14
No. 13 Iowa 31, Indiana 14
Minnesota 28, Wisconsin 21
Purdue 42, Northwestern 37
Illinois 48, Ohio 10
News & Notes
-Troy Smith leads the balloting for the Heisman Trophy. Arizona State wideout Rudy Burgess, Georgia Tech wideout Calvin Johnson, Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor and Auburn signalcaller Brandon Cox round out the top five.
-The Buckeyes announced on Monday that they are suspending junior wideout Ted Ginn, Jr. for two games. The OSU conditioning coach told coaches that Ginn "has been quite a disruption at voluntary workouts. He shows up and talks on his cell phone for most of the session." Ginn had four catches for 80 yards and one touchdown against Michigan State last week and is the Buckeyes' leading receiver so far this season.
-Minnesota halfback Amir Pinnix was named the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Week after carrying the ball 35 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns against Wisconsin. Purdue linebacker Jason Werner was named the defensive player of the week after recording three tackles, one tackle for loss and returning an interception for a touchdown that proved to be the difference in Purdue's first win of the season: a 42-37 victory over Northwestern.
-The Buckeyes boast the nation's fourth-best running attack in the country, averaging 235.7 yards per game. On defense, OSU gives up an average of 76.7 yards per game – good enough for tenth in the country. The Buckeyes are ninth in points against – 14.2 – and fourth in interceptions with 16.
-Slade Bobo told reporters he "liked what he saw" when the Buckeyes ground out a win against Michigan State last week.
-Four-star offensive lineman Reggie Tidwell thought the OSU offensive line "looked great in the Michigan State game." Tidwell has the Buckeyes as his top choice.
-Cameron Houston, the No. 6 center prospect in the country, trimmed his list to five schools and has OSU at the top ahead of Notre Dame after a recent unofficial visit to South Bend reportedly left him unimpressed.
-Of the seven recruits the Buckeyes are still in the running for, only one does not have OSU at the top of his list: four-star defensive tackle Patrick Anderson has the Buckeyes second behind Georgia.
The Buckeyes next opponent is the Indiana Hoosiers, winless in Big Ten play.
The Hoosiers are led by junior quarterback Blake Powers, who has completed 132 of 254 passes for 1,514 yards and 12 touchdowns against eight interceptions. The passing attack is complimented by freshman tailback Demetrius McCray, who has rushed for 434 yards and three touchdowns on 92 carries.
Defensively, the Hoosiers are led by sophomore linebacker Geno Johnson's 44 tackles and defensive tackle Kenny Kendal's three sacks.
Check out the previous results: