No. 4 Ohio State bullied and bulldozed No. 8 Michigan State 56-7 in an absurdly dominant performance on both sides of the ball, dismantling the Spartans’ quest for an unexpected College Football Playoff berth and restoring a sense of order to a Big Ten race that felt unpredictable earlier this month.
The win sends Ohio State soaring into next weekend’s rivalry game against Michigan and paints the Buckeyes as the team most capable of wrestling the national championship from Georgia, which has looked invincible in an unbeaten march through SEC play.
OSU scored 21 points in the first quarter and another 28 points in the second behind a passing game that took advantage of Michigan State’s season-long issues in the secondary. Remarkably, the Buckeyes ran 49 plays and gained 500 yards in the first half with seven scoring drives yet faced just two third downs, converting both opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes’ defense slowed Michigan State quarterback Peyton Thorne and a physical running game. The Spartans finished with 224 yards of offense on 3.8 yards per paly, Thorne hit on just 14 of 36 throws and the offense didn’t sniff the OSU end zone until late in the third quarter.
In his latest Heisman Trophy statement, quarterback C.J. Stroud completed 32 of 35 attempts for 432 passing yards and six touchdowns, with scoring strikes of 23, 77 and 43 yards, before OSU backups entered the game in the third quarter.
The first-year starter was on point from the start: Stroud hit on 29 of 31 throws in the first half for 393 yards and all six of his scores. Wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave combined for 14 catches for 226 yards and four scores as each continued to build a case for All-America accolades. A third OSU receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, continued his strong second half with a team-best 10 grabs for 105 yards and a touchdown.
After missing a win against Akron in late September, Stroud has thrown for 2,505 yards and 28 touchdowns against just two interceptions in his past seven games, helping him close the gap on projected Heisman frontrunner Bryce Young of Alabama.
Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III ran for 25 on six carries as the Spartans leaned on the pass in an effort to overcome the sizable early deficit.
The impressive win could provide Ohio State with the ammunition to move ahead of Oregon in this week’s playoff rankings. The Buckeyes have been ranked No. 4 to the Ducks’ No. 3 as a result of September’s non-conference loss at home.
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg