Ohio State Dominates Michigan State, 52-12, Despite Absences of Ryan Day, Several Key Players

By Dan Hope on December 5, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Even without Ryan Day, three starting offensive linemen and two captains, Ohio State had its most dominant performance of the season to date against Michigan State on Saturday.

Ohio State had three new starters in on its offensive line with Thayer Munford, Josh Myers and Nicholas Petit-Frere all out, but Justin Fields still made plays all day with both his arm and legs, while the defense was dominant even without Tuf Borland, Josh Proctor and Tyler Friday, allowing the Buckeyes to a roll to an 52-12 win in East Lansing.

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
#4 Ohio State 14 14 10 14 52

After forcing a 3-and-out on its opening defensive series, Ohio State drove 83 yards on 12 plays to score on its opening possession. After a 21-yard run by Master Teague got the Buckeyes to Michigan State’s 1-yard line, Justin Fields capped off the drive with a 2-yard scramble for a touchdown on 3rd-and-goal.

Two drives later, Ohio State took a 14-0 lead when Fields ran for a 44-yard gain and followed that up with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson two plays later.

Ohio State, which forced Michigan State to punt on its first five possessions, extended its lead to 21-0 on its next drive when Fields ran for his second touchdown of the day from one yard out. That followed up a 25-yard run by Trey Sermon on which he broke multiple tackles and delivered a stiff arm for his most impressive as a Buckeye so far.

Fields had an injury scare on Ohio State’s next possession, as he was forced to leave the game for one play – on which C.J. Stroud came in as the backup quarterback – after taking a hard hit on which Michigan State was called for roughing the passer. Fields ultimately returned to the field, though, for a drive that ended with Ohio State punting the ball from Michigan State’s 36-yard line.

That decision proved prudent when Chrisman hit a perfect punt to down the ball at the 1-yard line. Three plays later, Haskell Garrett tipped a Rocky Lombardi pass to himself and intercepted it in the end zone for a rare defensive tackle pick-six, extending Ohio State’s lead to four touchdowns.

Michigan State finally reached Ohio State territory on its final possession of the first half, but the Buckeyes took a 28-0 lead into halftime after a fumble by Payton Thorne – who replaced Lombardi in the second quarter after Lombardi suffered a head injury – was recovered by Javontae Jean-Baptiste with just 45 seconds to play in the second quarter.

Ohio State extended its lead to 35-0 in the third quarter when Trey Sermon broke away from the defense for a 64-yard touchdown run, the first touchdown of his Ohio State career, which also brought him over 100 rushing yards for the first time as a Buckeye.

Michigan State finally got on the board for its first points of the game on its second possession of the third quarter, when Thorne completed a 55-yard pass to Jayden Reed and ran for a 20-yard touchdown one play later.

6.7 AVERAGE per RUSH 2.9
26 1st DOWNS 13
7.2 YARDS per PLAY 4.1
3-3 RED ZONE 2-2
6-12 3rd DOWNS 3-17
7-63 PENALTIES 10-101
32:47 POSSESSION 27:13

A Chris Olave fumble was recovered by Michigan State on Ohio State’s next possession, and it looked like the Buckeyes might be about to let their opponent back into the game in yet another second half. But Shaun Wade came up with a clutch diving interception on the very next play – his second interception in as many games – to swing the momentum right back in Ohio State’s favor.

Ohio State drove inside Michigan State’s 10-yard line on its subsequent possession before settling for a 27-yard field goal by Blake Haubeil, who returned to action after missing the Buckeyes’ previous two games with a groin injury.

Michigan State also settled for a field goal in the red zone on its next possession, with Matt Coghlin converting from 32 yards out, after a 31-yard run by Thorne got the Spartans to Ohio State’s 15-yard line.

Ohio State extended its advantage to 35 points when Fields connected with Olave for a 41-yard touchdown pass, with 8:16 to play, on what would be both of their final play in the game, as Stroud replaced Fields on the Buckeyes' next possession – and promptly ran 48 yards for the first touchdown of his Ohio State career.

Fields finished the game with 199 passing yards and two passing touchdowns and 103 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Michigan State scored two points after Jack Miller, who came into the game at quarterback after Stroud's touchdown run, had to fall on the ball in the end zone following a snap over his head by Luke Wypler. But a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return by Michigan State was recovered by Ohio State, sealing a 40-point win for the Buckeyes to kneel out the clock.

Ohio State is now 5-0 on the season, and will look to improve to 6-0 next week when it hosts Michigan – assuming the game happens, as the Wolverines are currently on pause due to positive COVID-19 tests – in the annual rivalry game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines, which is scheduled for a noon kickoff at Ohio Stadium.

Game Notes

  • 23 total Ohio State players were unavailable for Saturday's game.
  • Co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis and special teams coordinator/assistant secondary coach Matt Barnes also did not make the trip to East Lansing. Larry Johnson made his collegiate head coaching debut in Day's place.
  • Harry Miller started at center in place of Myers, while Dawand Jones (left tackle), Matthew Jones (left guard) and Max Wray (right tackle) all made their first career starts on the offensive line. Enokk Vimahi also saw playing time at left guard.
  • Justin Hilliard joined Pete Werner and Baron Browning in the starting lineup at linebacker with Borland out.
  • Tyreke Smith made his second start of the season at defensive end opposite Jonathon Cooper.
  • Jonathon Cooper served as the game captain for Saturday's pregame coin toss.
  • Haubeil kicked all of Ohio State's field goals and extra points on Saturday, but Dominic DiMaccio continued to handle kickoffs for a fourth straight game.
  • Davis made his first career catch on a deflected screen pass in the second quarter.
  • Walk-on linebacker Cade Kacherski suffered an injury in kickoff coverage in the second quarter. He was unable to put weight on one leg as he was helped off the field.
  • Wade briefly left the game in the third quarter after suffering an apparent knee injury before returning.
  • Fields ran for more than 100 yards for the first time in his Ohio State career. He and Sermon became the first duo of Ohio State players to both rush for more than 100 yards in the same game since J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague both topped 100 yards against Indiana in 2019.
  • Davis left the game with an injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. He was unable to put much pressure on his left leg as he limped off the field, and was seen with ice on his left knee on the bench. Gavin Cupp replaced him in the game at right guard.
  • Drue Chrisman had four punts of 50-plus yards and three punts inside the 20-yard line in Saturday's game, including a 74-yard fourth-quarter punt that was downed at the 2-yard line.
  • Olave topped 100 receiving yards for the fourth time in five games this season. Olave and Wilson have now both had four 100-yard receiving games this season, though Wilson's streak of consecutive 100-yard games came to an end on Saturday.
  • Cormontae Hamilton, who moved to defensive end this offseason after starting his Ohio State career at tight end, recorded the first sack of his Ohio State career on Saturday.

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