Ohio State’s 48-3 clobbering of Michigan State was decided early with the Buckeyes’ offense and defense dominating both sides of the ball. But before Ohio State was out to a 35-point lead in the first half, there were moments that were crucial to the Scarlet and Gray’s performance.
Here are five plays that mattered in the No. 13 Buckeyes’ (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) win against the No. 12 Spartans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten).
Mike Weber long touchdown run
Redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber is probably the second-best running back on the team, but he looked like the best in the conference Saturday. On Ohio State’s first drive of the game, the offense was facing a critical third-and-3 at the Michigan State 47-yard line. Weber took the handoff up the middle and outran the entire Spartan defense for the game’s first score with 8:14 remaining in the first quarter.
He sprang free through a huge hole created by Billy Price, blocking the tackle lined up across him, then blocking the linebacker coming down on the play.
Weber hadn’t shown that burst of speed yet in his two-year career in Columbus. Finally healthy from a hamstring injury, Weber’s first score was a premonition of his career day.
Nick Bosa first-drive sack
Ohio State appeared to have turned the page from a defensive nightmare last week at Iowa on the first drive. Then, Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke ran through missed tackles for 16 yards on third-and-18 and converted the fourth-down run on the next play. However, Nick Bosa ended that three plays later with a drive-ending sack.
Bosa rushed from the weak side and beat left tackle Cole Chewins to sack Lewerke 12 yards back to Ohio State’s 48-yard line. That sack ended any threat of the Spartans scoring on their opening drive and began a trend of Bosa’s presence in their backfield.
Arnette fumble recovery
The rout continued.
Bosa was in the backfield yet again on a third-down play, forcing Lewerke to scramble. Lewerke was hit at the 22-yard line by defensive end Tyquan Lewis and linebacker Malik Harrison and fumbled. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Damon Arnette recovered the fumble at the Michigan State 25 with 10:17 to go in the first half.
Three plays later, quarterback J.T. Barrett threw a screen to running back J.K. Dobbins, who ran 8 yards for a touchdown, extending Ohio State’s lead against the Spartans, 28-0.
Arnette’s two interceptions*
Arnette has been shaky at best this season. Saturday against Michigan State, he was excellent. Following his fumble recovery, Arnette was on the hip of wide receiver Cam Chambers and ripped the ball away from the receiver for an interception with three minutes remaining in the first half. However, a roughing the passer and targeting call on defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones negated that.
But Arnette got his chance again three plays later. Lewerke miscommunicated with his wideout, which allowed Arnette to range over to the sideline and intercept the ball at his own 7-yard line.
Arnette played his best game of the season Saturday, but it was cut short with an injury in the third quarter. Head coach Urban Meyer said Arnette suffered a thigh bruise without structural damage.
Weber’s second touchdown run
This one just added insult to injury.
Weber took a first-down handoff 82 yards for a touchdown to move the score to 35-0 with 6:16 still remaining in the half. It was the longest run of his career. Ohio State simply imposed its will on Michigan State, and the offensive line and Weber are two of the main reasons the offense had its success.