Saturday’s important home encounter will be the 46th clash between Ohio State and Michigan State, in what has been a very thrilling, hard-hitting and controversial series. OSU leads at 30-15 (66.7%), but the Buckeyes have surprisingly played considerably better at East Lansing than in Columbus.
Ohio State is 16-5 in away games (76.2%) and 14-9 at home (60.8%). The Spartans won 35-20 in the 2013 Big Ten Championship game played at Indianapolis. The Buckeyes have won the last four games played at Spartan Stadium, and the Spartans have won the last two at Ohio Stadium.
Michigan State joined the Big Ten Conference 64 years ago in 1953, replacing the University of Chicago Maroons who dropped out of the league after the 1939 season. The Spartans made an immediate impact, winning a Big Ten co-championship with Illinois their first season. They defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl, 28-20. Taking advantage of a very quick “pony backfield,” coach Biggie Munn installed a multiple-formation offense that outscored its 10 opponents, 240-110.
Michigan State finished the 1953 season at 9-1, and placed third in the final Associated Press Poll behind Maryland (10-0) and Notre Dame (8-0- 1). Illinois at 7-1- 1 finished 7th in the AP. Purdue dealt the Spartans their only setback in 1953, 6-0, breaking an MSU 28-game winning streak that began midway through the 1950 season.
Ohio State was 0-2 against Michigan State in non-conference games prior to 1953, and has been 30-13 in league contests over these last 64 seasons. The Buckeyes’ highest score in the series has been a 42-0 home triumph in 1979. MSU’s highest score was a 35-20 victory at old Ohio Field Stadium in 1912. The No. 1 ranked Spartans dealt Woody Hayes his first loss at Ohio State with a 24-20 win at Ohio Stadium on October 6, 1951.
The turning point of Ohio State’s 2012 season was a 17-16 triumph at Michigan State on September 29. OSU overcame three turnovers for this exciting single-point victory, played before a packed Spartan Stadium crowd of 76,705. The Ohio State players demonstrated a noticeable belief in new coach Urban Meyer and his new coaching staff. It was Meyer’s first Big Ten Conference game after four non-conference wins against less-talented opponents.
With his team trailing 13-10, quarterback Braxton Miller passed 63 yards to split end Devin Smith for the winning score with 3:05 left in the third quarter. Miller ran for 136 yards and passed for another 179. The punting was exceptional on both sides – Osu’s Ben Buchanan averaged 44.0 yards on four punts and MSU’s Mike Sadler punted five times for a 55.4-yard average. The game marked the beginning of Ohio State’s 100th season as a member of the Big Ten Conference.
Ohio State won its first 24 games after Meyer took charge of the program, going 12-0 in 2012 and winning the first 12 games of 2013. This streak broke the previous school record of 22 established from 1967 through 1969.
The Spartans broke OSU’s 24-game streak with their 34-24 triumph in the 2013 Big Ten Championship game. The Buckeyes won their first 30 Big Ten Conference games under Meyer from 2012 through 2015, establishing an NCAA record for consecutive conference victories. Florida State had held the record with 29 straight Atlantic Coast Conference wins from 1992 through 1995. Michigan State again was the spoiler, defeating Ohio State 17-14 in Columbus on Nov. 21, 2015.
The Spartans were one of three Big Ten opponents unable to defeat Ohio State during Jim Tressel’s 10 seasons as head coach from 2001 through 2010. Tressel’s teams were 6-0 against Michigan State and 8-0 against both Indiana and Minnesota.