Ohio State tops Michigan State

EAST LANSING (AP) — Drue Chrisman’s first punt of the day was an embarrassment, a 4-yarder at the end of Ohio State’s first possession.

“I don’t know where it ranks in Ohio State’s worst punts in history, but it was definitely my worst punt,” Chrisman said. “I was just like, ‘Man, I’ve got to ball after this one.’”

Chrisman made up for that early blooper, keeping Michigan State pinned back with a sensational second half of punting. Eighth-ranked Ohio State pulled away for a 26-6 victory over the 24th-ranked Spartans on Saturday, largely because of what Chrisman did to Michigan State’s field position.

In a tight defensive struggle, Chrisman’s punts forced Michigan State (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten, No. 18 CFP) 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 took an intentional safety instead of punting out of their own end zone. That decision gave Ohio State a 9-6 lead but wasn’t enough to 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 (9-1, 6-1, No. 10) 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.

“We just kept playing the field-position game,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said. “We always talk about the offense’s job in a game like this — get two first downs, get the ball to midfield and let’s get the ball down inside the 10-yard line.”

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.

“It’s not easy to call plays off the goal line,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.

Chrisman’s day began with his 4-yard punt, but Michigan State couldn’t take advantage.

 

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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