Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.
The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.
Ohio State (12-1) had the nation’s longest active winning streak end at 24 as coach Urban Meyer suffered his first loss since taking over in Columbus.
It was a game that almost defied logic.
The Spartans (12-1) led 17-0 after 21 minutes, then gave up the next 24 points before scoring the final 17.
Michigan State sealed the victory, and its probable trip to the Rose Bowl, with Jeremy Langford’s late 26-yard TD run. The Spartans haven’t played in Pasadena since 1988.
For the Spartans, it was a monumental win.
They have won 12 games in a season for the first time, won their ninth straight for the first time since starting 9-0 in 1966 and are likely headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988 — though coach Mark Dantonio said earlier this week he thought Michigan State could have a claim on the BCS game with a win. The only thing that could keep the Spartans out was a 17-13 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 21.
But the upset marked a stunning turn of events.
One week after the Buckeyes cheered when Auburn upset No. 1 Alabama, the Tigers were rooting for Michigan State to return the favor.
Did they ever.
Langford ran 24 times for 128 yards, becoming the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Buckeyes this season.
Cook finished 24 of 40 for a season-high 304 yards with three TDs and one interception and was selected the game’s MVP.
Even before the final seconds ticked off the clock, Michigan State players were bouncing up and down on the field.
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller did everything he could, going 8 of 21 for 101 yards with one touchdown and running 21 times for 142 yards and two scores against the nation’s stingiest defense. Carlos Hyde ran 18 times for 118 yards. Both joined the school’s exclusive 3,000-yard club Saturday, becoming the seventh and eighth members.
The Buckeyes took their first lead, 24-17, when Miller scored on a 6-yard TD run with 5:36 left in the third.
Michigan State answered when Michael Geiger’s 44-yard field goal barely dropped over the crossbar to make it 24-20, and the Spartans retook the lead, 27-24, when Cook capped an eight-play, 90-yard drive by finding Price wide open in the flat for a 12-yard TD pass with 11:41 left in the game.
South Florida 6
Chas Dodd threw two touchdowns and Paul James ran for two as Rutgers finally nailed down its eighth bowl bid in nine years.
The win snapped a three-game losing slide for the Scarlet Knights (6-6, 3-5 American Athletic Conference), and it is expected to set up a game with Notre Dame (8-4) in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28. Bowl bids will be announced today.
James ran for 113 yards, scoring on runs of 5 and 1 yards. Dodd threw for 179 yards, connecting on scoring passes of 12 yards to Andre Patton and 2 yards to Michael Burton.
Marvin Kloss kicked two field goals for South Florida (2-10, 2-6), which ended its first season under Willie Taggart with a six-game losing streak.
The win should take some pressure off second-year Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, but there is no guarantee that taking the Scarlet Knights to two straight bowls with a 15-10 overall record will guarantee him the job when they move into the Big Ten Conference next season.