“I thought the game was right where we wanted it. We wanted to push the game forward, make it close, obviously as we moved forward. I felt like we came out with great energy. It was 7-3 at half, pretty even in terms of possession time, points… I thought their punter did an excellent job – I think we were down inside the five, I believe five times. It was tough coming out.”
That was Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio's opening remarks following his team's 26-6 loss to No. 10 Ohio State Saturday. And that's a fair assessment of what transpired.
The Spartans and Buckeyes battled nearly even for most of three quarters before the sharp punting of Drue Chrisman and turnovers tilted matters for the Buckeyes.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, Michigan State appeared to score on a trick play to take the lead, when wide receiver Cody White found tight end Matt Sokol on a double pass, but the play was negated by a penalty on the Spartans.
Dantonio said it should have been a quarterback throwback.
“Yeah, it was a throwback to the quarterback,” Dantonio said. “It was throwback to the quarterback and actually it was a throwback screen to the quarterback, so the line wandered down field and I think they sort of held and I think Jarvis was down field a little too far, so he (White) adlibbed and went down the field to Sokol.”
It was a momentum killer for the Spartans.
“Yeah, that would have put us in front. It would have been a big momentum changer. I think it was the right time to call a trick play, they hadn't read it and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. We called two or three on the day and they didn't work.”
“They'd probably get the ball at the 30 and have an opportunity to kick a field goal, then I'd be asked why I didn't take a safety.”– Mark Dantonio
Later in the 3rd quarter, Michigan State elected to take a bizarre safety instead of attempting to get a punt off from the one.
“Coming off the 1-yard line and taking a safety is like a turnover,” Dantonio explained. ”But, I thought we need to do that due to our situation at punter and everything that was going on. They'd probably get the ball at the 30 and have an opportunity to kick a field goal, then I'd be asked why I didn't take a safety. So that was a decision I made, but after that, you can't have three straight turnovers, that kills you.”