Ohio State's punting game triggers win over Michigan State
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Drue Chrisman kept Michigan State pinned back with a sensational second half of punting, and eighth-ranked Ohio State eventually pulled away for a 26-6 victory over the 24th-ranked Spartans on Saturday.
In a tight defensive struggle, the Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) enjoyed a huge advantage in field position during the second half. Chrisman’s punts forced Michigan State (6-4, 4-3, No. 18) to start its first five drives after halftime from its own 5, 6, 3, 1 and 2-yard line.
On the fourth of those possessions, the Spartans had to punt from their own end zone. They took a safety that appeared intentional, giving Ohio State a 9-6 lead, but that did little to help flip the field position. The ensuing free kick went out of bounds, giving the Buckeyes the ball at the 50, and then Chrisman pinned Michigan State back again.
Ohio State capitalized on that punt when a shotgun snap by Michigan State hit the man in motion. Dre’Mont Jones recovered the fumble for the Buckeyes in the end zone, giving Ohio State a 16-6 advantage.
Both offenses found the going tough. Michigan State was 2 for 16 on third down. The Spartans used both Brian Lewerke and Rocky Lombardi at quarterback but never reached the end zone.
Chrisman’s day actually started in embarrassing fashion when his first punt went for only 4 yards, but Michigan State couldn’t take advantage. Ohio State opened the scoring late in the second quarter on a 1-yard pass from Dwayne Haskins to Parris Campbell. It was 7-3 at halftime.
The Spartans had a third-quarter touchdown called back for a penalty. They settled for a field goal on that drive to make it 7-6, but that was as close as they got.