No. 4 Ohio State walks all over Spartans


COLUMBUS — When No. 4 Ohio State opened as a 19-point favorite over No. 7 Michigan State earlier this week, many saw it as disrespectful to the Spartans. Just a quarter into the supposed showdown, it was clear the line may actually have offended Ohio State as they abused Michigan State early and often en route to a 56-7 win on Senior Day in Ohio Stadium.

Quarterback C.J. Stroud’s six first-half touchdown passes tied Ohio State’s single-game record, and the Buckeyes amassed 501 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of play on their way to the emphatic beatdown.

Stroud, in just over two quarters of action, completed 32 of his 35 attempts — including a stretch of 17 consecutive completions that broke the school record — for 432 yards and six touchdowns in a performance that solidified his position at the front of the Heisman Trophy race.

“(Michigan State) did some good things on defense, so we knew we had to be prepared for it,” Stroud said following the win. “Really, everything we thought we were going to get (from their defense), we got. It was good to come out and execute at a high level … We did a decent job today, but we’re definitely never satisfied.”

Chris Olave, playing in his final game in Ohio Stadium, caught seven passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns as Stroud’s top go-to target. The two touchdown recepetions moved Olave past David Boston as the program’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions.

Both Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba also topped the 100-yard mark for Ohio State, hauling in 126 and 105 yards worth of passes, respectively, while combining for three touchdowns.

Running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 63 yards on just nine carries in a light workday for the true freshman, and Miyan Williams carried four times for 35 yards and Ohio State’s lone rushing touchdown of the first half. Senior running back Master Teague III played all of the second half and finished as the leading rusher in the game with 95 yards and a touchdown.

While some Ohio State players were enjoying historic performances, the putrid effort from Michigan State was especially costly for its star running back. What was touted as a showdown of Heisman candidates proved to be more of a nightmare for Kenneth Walker III, who managed just 25 yards on six carries in a dismal performance.

Walker was removed from the game early in the second half and did not return given the lopsisded score. Both his carry and yards totals are season lows for Walker.

Ohio State set the tone from the opening possession of the game, marching 86 yards on 11 plays to get on the scoreboard first. Stroud’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Olave capped off the drive, giving the Buckeyes an early 7-0 lead.

Michigan State was unable to muster a response on its first offensive possession, and Ohio State wasted no time in increasing the lead following the punt. Just four plays later, Stroud connected with Wilson for 77 yards and another touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead just seven minutes into the game.

In desperate need of an answer, Michigan State appeared poised to cut into the Ohio State lead after driving to the Buckeye 29-yard line. The drive stalled, however, and Matt Coghlin’s field goal attempt was no good as the hits continued to come for head coach Mel Tucker and the Spartans.

Stroud continued to pour it on from there, effectively ending the game on the ensuing drive. On the fourth play of the drive, Stroud found Olave from 43 yards out for the duo’s second scoring connection of the game. Noah Ruggles’ extra point made it 21-0 Ohio State, and the scoring avalanche was just getting started.

A Michigan State fumble on the ensuing possession quickly turned the ball back over to the Ohio State offense, and the Buckeyes cashed in on the short field.

Stroud went on to toss three more touchdown passes in the second quarter, and Miyan Williams added a rushing touchdown for good measure as Ohio State took a 49-0 lead over shellshocked Michigan State into the locker room.

Michigan State was held to just 116 yards of total offense, including just 39 rushing yards, during the first half. Quarterback Payton Thorne managed 77 yards passing before halftime, completing jst eight of his 26 attempts in the first half.

With the game already in hand, Ohio State was liberal with its substitutions early in the second half. Following an interception by backup quarterback Kyle McCord, Michigan State scored their lone points of the game as Thorne found Keon Coleman on the first play of the fourth quarter to break up the shutout.

The late score was no matter for what was left of the 101,858 in attendance, however, as a festive atmosphere broke out inside Ohio Stadium in anticipation of the looming showdown with Michigan next week.

Following the game, head coach Ryan Day said of his team’s performance, “You can see our capability when we’re playing good, clean football. We certainly have a high ceiling, but we’re still striving towards greatness, which is bringing it every week and playing well every week.”

Despite the high level of play from his team, Day said he didn’t pause to enjoy or appreciate it during the game. In fact, Day said his mind had already turned to next week’s game before the clock struck zero.

“I just feel like there’s so much more here,” Day said. “We’re right in the middle of it right now, and to take a step back and start to do all of that stuff, you’re going to lose focus on what is going on. We’ve got everything riding on this one coming up right around the corner … We knew this run was going to real. I am very proud of the way our team played today, but all the focus goes to the Wolverines.”

Ohio State running back Miyan Williams scores on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Saturday’s home game against Michigan State. State running back Miyan Williams scores on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Saturday’s home game against Michigan State. Joshua Keeran | The Gazette

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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