3:30 PM ET, October 14, 2006
Spartan Stadium, EAST LANSING, MI
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Top-ranked Ohio State has Heisman Trophy contender Troy Smith, the explosive Ted Ginn Jr. and a potent running game.
|First 3 games||Last 4 games|
The Buckeyes' defense doesn't get as much publicity, but it can be just as dominant as their offense.
The Ohio State defense battered and bruised Michigan State in a 38-7 victory Saturday. The Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) narrowly missed a shutout, giving up a meaningless TD to the reeling Spartans (3-4, 0-3) with just more than a minute left to play.
The victory extends the nation's longest winning streak to 14 games, and the Buckeyes appear to have a fairly clear path in the Big Ten until it hosts No. 4 Michigan in the last game of the regular season Nov. 18.
The Buckeyes -- despite heavy losses from last year's defense -- are allowing just nine points per game.
"I face them all the time in practice," Smith said of his buddies on D. "They make me better every day."
Smith did nothing to hurt his Heisman Trophy candidacy, smoothly leading the Ohio State offense. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
Anthony Gonzalez caught seven passes for 118 yards and a TD, while Ginn returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown.
Michigan State entered the game averaging 31 points per contest. But the Spartans gained just 79 yards in the first half and trailed 24-0 at the break.
The Spartans had upset the Buckeyes the last two times they played with Ohio State ranked No. 1 -- in 1974 and 1998.
There was no threat of a similar upset Saturday.
Michigan State won three straight to start the season, including a quality win at Pitt. But the Spartans have struggled since blowing a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead and losing to Notre Dame on Sept. 23. They've now lost four straight, making coach John L. Smith's future with the school somewhat murky.
The Spartans had an early chance to steal momentum from Ohio State, recovering Chris Wells' fumble at the Buckeyes' 31 just three plays into the game. But a holding penalty and a sack took the Spartans out of scoring range.
"We had an opportunity early," John L. Smith said. "We needed to capitalize on it. We didn't capitalize on it."
Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis made the sack on quarterback Drew Stanton, throwing him for a 16-yard loss.
"We were in control the whole game," Laurinaitis said. "But that first sack turned momentum around."
Ohio State responded with an 80-yard, 12-play drive -- capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Antonio Pittman -- to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. A 37-yard catch by Ginn, who broke a tackle near midfield, moved the Buckeyes into Michigan State territory.
Michigan State drove to the Ohio State 36 early in the second quarter, but failed on a fourth-and-2 on a draw by Stanton.
Ohio State then marched downfield and took a 10-0 lead on Aaron Pettrey's 32-yard field goal.
Stanton was jarred by Ohio State defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock on the Spartans' next possession, appearing to hurt his back. Stanton was knocked out of the game for good midway through the third quarter, hitting his head on a large sideline Gatorade container after a hit by linebacker Marcus Freeman.
He walked back to the Michigan State sideline under his own power, but was replaced by backup Brian Hoyer on the Spartans' next possession. Stanton is expected to be OK but has a sore neck and back, Smith said.
Michigan State defensive back Greg Cooper was carted off the field in the third quarter after tackling Pittman. Cooper briefly lost consciousness but is responding and moving, Michigan State officials said. He was taken to a hospital as a precaution.
The Spartans played the entire game without leading rusher Javon Ringer (knee) and receiver Matt Trannon (ankle).
Stanton completed 8 of 16 passes for 54 yards. He was intercepted by Freeman in the second quarter.
Ginn's punt return made it 17-0 with about five minutes left in the first half, taking Michigan State out of it for good.
"Getting that punt return for a touchdown was gigantic," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.
The Buckeyes have won five straight against Michigan State.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Notre Dame killed Sparty's spirit in Week 4. Michigan State hasn't been the same since then, and it certainly wasn't going to find it's mojo against No. 1 Ohio State.
Gameball goes to... Troy Smith. The Heisman front-runner completed 15-of-22 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. He continues to be the driving force for the Buckeyes' balanced offense.
Stat of the game... 7: Michigan State QB Drew Stanton tossed another interception in the loss, bringing his season total to seven -- one less than the number of touchdowns he's thrown.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||10-16||6-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-1|
|TD||6:12||ANTONIO PITTMAN 2 YD RUN (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||12:09||AARON PETTREY 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 50 yards.
|TD||5:09||TED GINN JR. 60 YD PUNT RETURN (AARON PETTREY KICK)||17||0|
|TD||0:39||ANTHONY GONZALEZ 12 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 39 yards.
|TD||10:43||BRIAN ROBISKIE 7 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||12:49||CHRIS WELLS 5 YD RUN (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 88 yards.
|TD||1:07||A.J. JIMMERSON 6 YD RUN (BRETT SWENSON KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 69 yards.