A sorry day in the ’Shoe

COLUMBUS – Ben Buchanan established a career high with 10 punts the postgame notebook reflected.

Which would likely indicate it was not the most prolific offensive performance in Buckeye history. So how bad was it?

Time and again, a stadium full of Scarlet & Gray fans unsuccessfully attempted to attract Luke Fickell’s attention, suggesting Ohio State’s rookie head coach insert Snoopy at quarterback. The other guys just weren’t working. At least, not until it didn’t matter anymore.

With a majority of the 105,000 departed, freshman Evan Spencer reeled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Joe Bauserman, a play that did nothing more than avert a little Horseshoe history.

Spencer’s first career TD reception came with but 10 ticks remaining and allowed OSU to escape with a small portion of its offensive dignity intact.

The last time the Buckeyes were blanked at home? Spencer’s father, Tim, was part of that infamy in a 6-0 reversal to Wisconsin back in 1982.

Somewhere down the line, Michigan State defenders rate a standing-O for recording a staggering nine QB sacks in what was obviously a statement victory for Mark Dantonio and the Spartans’ other 20-some-odd players from Ohio.

“We came down here on a mission,” Dantonio described. “I thought we controlled the tempo of the game. Also, we took no sacks, but did turn it over three times. Obviously, though, a win’s a win, especially in (this environment).”

In turn, OSU’s offense failed to establish anything resembling a steady ground game which translated into big-time trouble for rookie quarterback Braxton Miller who very rarely exuded confidence.

“We knew Ohio State was inexperienced (at quarterback) and needed to take advantage,” Dantonio observed. “I thought we brought great pressure and didn’t really permit them to get much going. I mean, we come down here and win, 10-7. That’s old-school football.”

Save for their last-minute scoring drive, the Bucks had generated all of 100 net yards with three minutes to play. Only Bauserman’s seven-play, 61-yard effort over the final 1:41 permitted OSU to total a modest 178.

If not for a Kirk Cousins’ fourth quarter end zone pick by C.J. Barnett, the damage could have been additional. “I felt we left too many points out there,” Cousins related. “We moved well but just failed to finish off drives. Still, you’ll take a win (in this place) all the time.”

The Buckeyes’ offensive output, for the most part, was nothing short of inept. Not what the Nation had envisioned following a 37-point outburst vs. Colorado one week earlier. This was Hurricane Miami all over again plus a chill factor for added discomfort.

With 43 yards lost a result of sacks, OSU’s final net rushing yards Saturday totaled 35, one of the lowest in Ohio Stadium history. What would Woody say?

“When you can’t run the football, you know, it really puts you in a bind,” Fickell noted. “It allows (the defense) to gang up on you and that’s what happened today. I think we have to go into every game thinking we can run the football. That’s where the game is won.”

Next week’s return of Boom Herron and DaVier Posey can’t come soon enough for a deflated and beat-up Buckeye unit which faces another harrowing assignment at Nebraska.

“We’re just going to try and focus on how to get better right now. We’re going to evaulate (this loss) and move forward,” Fickell insisted.

There’s no secret the Buckeyes’ success for the season’s duration depend’s on Miller’s ability to seize control of the offense and become a more poised quarterback. Frankly, the kid looked shell-shocked much of Saturday.

Asked his status, Fickell advised the freshman will remain a starter, at least indefinitely. “(It’s all) focused on the quarterback, but really, we’ve got to focus on the entire team,” Fickell added. “(This loss) was not the fault of one player. We lost today as a team and now we’ll work hard (in practice) to get a few things straightened out.” Not such a bad idea.


IT WAS Michigan State’s first win over Ohio State since 1999 and first in Columbus since 1998….The Spartans recorded some 13 tackles for losses Saturday, totaling 71 yards. “That helped put Ohio State in long yardage situations which was very beneficial for us defensively,” Dantonio explained…

COUSINS, who completed 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards and a score, stressed it’s imperative the Spartans use Saturday’s victory to achieve more this season. “Today told us we can come into any stadium in the country and win,” he stated. “We have to take this win and run with it…”

MICHIGAN State was only 3-of-14 on third down conversions while OSU was 4-of-16….Miller’s final passing numbers included five-of-10 completions for 56 yards. He was sacked four times…..

WHILE Ohio State now faces consecutive Big 10 road tests, Michigan State has an open date before hosting Michigan and Wisconsin…

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com