Spartans Fall To No. 1 Buckeyes
Oct. 14, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Troy Smith did nothing to hurt his Heisman candidacy and the Ohio State defense was dominant in a 38-7 victory over Michigan State on Saturday.
The top-ranked Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 14 games and had little trouble with the fading Spartans (3-4, 0-3).
Michigan State entered the game averaging 31 points per contest. But the Spartans gained just 79 yards in the first half and trailed 24-0 at the break.
Buckeyes came in allowing just nine points per game and kept Michigan State off the scoreboard until A.J. Jimmerson's 6-yard TD run with 1:07 remaining.
Smith completed 15 of 22 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns to boost his Heisman Trophy resume. Anthony Gonzalez caught seven passes for 118 yards and a TD, and Ted Ginn Jr. returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown.
The Spartans had upset the Buckeyes the last two times they played with Ohio State ranked No. 1 - in 1974 and 1998.
There was no threat of a similar upset Saturday.
Michigan State won three straight to start the season, including a quality win at Pitt. But the Spartans have struggled since blowing a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead and losing to Notre Dame on Sept. 23. They've now lost four straight.
The Spartans had an early chance to steal momentum from Ohio State, recovering Chris Wells' fumble at the Buckeyes' 31 just three plays into the game. But a holding penalty and a sack took the Spartans out of scoring range.
Ohio State responded with an 80-yard, 12-play drive - capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Antonio Pittman - to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. A 37-yard catch by Ginn, who broke a tackle near midfield, moved the Buckeyes into Michigan State territory.
Michigan State drove to the Ohio State 36 early in the second quarter, but failed on a fourth-and-2 on a draw by quarterback Drew Stanton.
Ohio State then marched downfield and took a 10-0 lead on Aaron Pettrey's 32-yard field goal.
Stanton was jarred by Ohio State defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock on the Spartans' next possession, appearing to hurt his back. Stanton was knocked out of the game for good midway through the third quarter, hitting his head on a large sideline Gatorade container after a hit by linebacker Marcus Freeman.
He walked back to the Michigan State sideline under his own power, but was replaced by backup Brian Hoyer on the Spartans' next possession.
Michigan State defensive back Greg Cooper was carted off the field in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury after tackling Pittman. The Spartans played the entire game without leading rusher Javon Ringer (knee) and receiver Matt Trannon (ankle).
Stanton completed 8 of 16 passes for 54 yards. He was intercepted by Freeman in the second quarter.
Ginn's 60-yard punt return made it 17-0 with about five minutes left in the first half, taking Michigan State out of it for good. It was the sixth punt return for a TD in Ginn's career.
The Buckeyes have won five straight against Michigan State.
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