Bill Burke passed for 174 yards and two touchdowns as No. 19 Michigan State rolled to a 23-7 victory over the 20th-ranked Buckeyes, who may have cost themselves a shot at a New Year's Day bowl game.
"You just saw an old-fashioned butt-whupping," said Ohio State coach John Cooper.
The Buckeyes (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) had been pointing to this game for almost a year, ever since their hopes for the 1998 national championship were dashed by a 28-24 loss in Columbus last season. But they were completely outplayed by Michigan State (7-3, 4-2) which used an off week to get over a two-game losing streak.
The Spartans' defense, tops in the Big Ten against the run, held Ohio State to zero yards rushing and just four first downs. The Buckeyes finished with 79 yards, all in the air on 8-of-23 passing with one interception.
"The key was to put as much pressure as possible on their quarterback," Spartans' cornerback Amp Campbell said. "We knew he had happy feet, so we didn't want to let him get comfortable in the pocket."
It was the Buckeyes' worst rushing performance since finishing with minus-22 yards rushing in a 32-7 loss to Michigan State in 1965. The last time Ohio State had less total offense was 1963 when Penn State held the Buckeyes to 63 yards.
"We just didn't do anything offensively," Cooper said. "We came here knowing that we had to establish the running game, but we couldn't do that. We just didn't block anyone."
Ohio State quarterbacks were sacked six times.
"They were bringing guys from everywhere _ linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties, and we didn't pick them up," Cooper said. "There were plays where we were in max protect and still couldn't get the ball off. That comes from the fact that we were no threat running. They could just blitz us at will. We never gave our quarterback a chance."
Burke completed 15-of-24, including a 17-yard touchdown to Plaxico Burress and a 1-yard scoring flip to Chris Baker.
Ohio State's only score came on a 4-yard touchdown toss from Steve Bellisari to Michael Wiley following a third-quarter interception. For the game, Bellisari was just 7-of-16 for 61 yards with one interception. He watched the fourth quarter from the bench.
"It was really tough out there, because they were blitzing on every play," said Austin Moherman, who replaced Bellisari. "The quarterback doesn't have a chance like that. We didn't have time to make our reads or find our receivers."
The Buckeyes didn't cross the 50 in the first half, going three-and-out on their last five possessions before halftime. Michigan State's swarming defense held the Buckeyes to just 61 yards in the half, nine on the ground.