They say defense wins championships.
And Ohio State’s defense kept the Buckeyes championship aspirations alive Saturday with a pair of key interceptions late as OSU escaped East Lansing with a 17-16 win over Michigan State.
Gareon Conley picked off a Tyler O’Connor pass in the final two minutes, piggy-backing a Malik Hooker interception on a 2-point try after a MSU TD with less than five minutes left.
The Ohio State offense took a step back in East Lansing but it shouldn’t make a difference for OSU, which is still in a win-and-in situation as far as the College Football Playoff.
But the offense must play better. QB J.T. Barrett completed just 10 of 22 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, while running 24 time for 105 yards. Mike Weber Jr., carried just 14 times for 111 yards, 52 on a long-run that set up a short TD plunge to give the Buckeyes a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter.
Curtis Samuel was basically a non-factor running just 4 times for 13 yards and catching 4 balls for 40 yards and one touchdown.
The 3-9 Spartans out-gained 10-1 OSU 334-310 and gashed the OSU defense for 207 rushing yards. Cameron Johnston punted seven times for a nifty 41.6 yard average. He put three inside the 20.
Michigan State used a big play, something Ohio State doesn’t give up too often, to take an early 7-0 lead. Tyler O’Connor found L.J. Scott for a 64-yard swing pass on the game’s second play.
OSU answered quickly on a 24-yard floater from Barrett to Samuel.
A 28-yard field goal from Michael Geiger gave the Spartans a 10-7 lead with 13:42 left in the half and Tyler Durbin tied it three minutes later with a 39-yarder.
Weber’s TD seemed to give the Buckeyes all they would need, but the Spartans scored late in game using a good field position, a 26-yard run by L.J. Scott (160 yards) and several other Scott runs to move into position to tied it.
But Coach Mark Dantonio went for the win and lost.