INDIANAPOLIS – The chase for the national championship is over for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The nation’s longest winning streak came to a halt Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game, as No. 2 OSU (12-1, 8-1) fell to No. 10 Michigan State (12-1, 9-0), 34-24.
Down 27-24 with two minutes to play, OSU coach Urban Meyer elected to go for it on fourth and one from the Buckeyes’ 47 yard line, but junior quarterback Braxton Miller was stuffed on a rush around right end.
“It was my call,” Meyer said about the fourth down play following the loss. “I wanted to put the ball in the hands of our best player, Braxton (Miller).”
The Spartans’ junior running back Jeremy Langford put the game out of reach on the ensuing drive, rushing 26 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead 10 points.
OSU turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, allowing the Spartans to run out the clock.
Early on, Michigan State was in control, burning 6:29 off the clock on the game’s opening drive, jumping out to a 3-0 lead after freshman kicker Michael Geiger nailed a 40-yard field goal. The drive was aided by a pair of OSU penalties on third down, by both junior defensive back Doran Grant and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier.
The Buckeyes offense failed to get anything going early, and the first quarter ended with the Spartans leading, 3-0.
Michigan State extended its lead to 10 when sophomore quarterback Connor Cook connected with junior wide receiver Keith Mumphery for a 72-yard touchdown down the right sideline, as OSU safety redshirt-senior Corey “Pitt” Brown went for the interception.
After a pair of first downs on its next drive, Miller fumbled the ball on third down as he tried to evade pressure. Miller would recover, but OSU would punt again.
Another long passing play extended the Spartans’ lead to 17-0, as Cook this time hit junior wide receiver Tony Lippett from 33 yards out.
“(I’m) disappointed with our pass defense,” Meyer said. “We’re have to get this fixed. We’re going to get back to work.”
The Buckeye offense would get going on its next drive, as Miller hit senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown for a 20-yard touchdown strike to make the score 17-7.
An exchange of punts from both teams gave the Buckeyes the ball back with just 1:23 left before half, but a big rush from Miller coupled with a 36-yard pass to junior tight end Jeff Heuerman put OSU in position to kick a field goal before half. The 28-yard attempt from senior kicker Drew Basil was good, making the score 17-10 at halftime.
OSU’s offense quickly went down the field on the first drive of the second half as Miller tied the game at 17 on an eight-yard run to the outside.
Cook was intercepted on the Spartans’ next possession by senior safety C.J. Barnett, but the Buckeyes were unable to capitalize on the turnover.
OSU would take its first lead of the game, 24-17, on its next possession, though, as Miller scampered into the end zone from six yards out.
The third quarter ended with the score 24-20 after Michigan State hit a 44-yard field goal late in the quarter.
The Spartans took the lead for good on their first possession of the fourth quarter, when Cook found redshirt-freshman Josiah Price wide open in the end zone from the nine yard line.
Langford finished with 117 yards on 22 carries to go with his touchdown.
Miller ran for 142 yards on 21 carries, and senior running back Carlos Hyde added 118 on 18 attempts.
Miller said that after the loss the team must look to each other in order to get through the disappointment.
“(We) just (need to) grow as a team. Things happen in games, really don’t go your way,” Miller said after the loss. “You got to come back and fix the mistakes. Keep your head high, come back stronger.”
Michigan State is set to travel to Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 1, 2014, to take on Pac-12 Champion Stanford in the Rose Bowl. OSU will have to wait to see where they will head for the postseason until Sunday night, when the BCS bowl selections will be announced.
“I imagine there’s a chance we’ll get invited to a great bowl game. If we do, they’re going to get a very good Buckeye football team that’s going to stick together and try to win a game,” Meyer said. “If you’re asking me to measure the levels of hurt, I’m not sure I can do that.”