Malik Harrison didn’t hesitate when asked where Saturday’s game against Michigan State, his first start at linebacker for Ohio State, ranks in his athletic career.

“It’s got to be No. 1,” said the sophomore from Walnut Ridge. “First time starting in the ‘Shoe — it was a great experience.”

Harrison and Tuf Borland stepped in for Jerome Baker and Dante Booker after the latter sat out the game because of concussion symptoms. To adjust, middle linebacker Chris Worley shifted to the outside, where he had played last season. Borland stepped into the middle and Harrison to Booker’s outside position.

“It’s my job to just step in and play,” Borland said.

Borland led the Buckeyes with 11 tackles, including a sack of Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke. Harrison also had one of the Buckeyes’ six sacks, and Worley made five tackles, including a sack.

“The first play, I was nervous when we were first jogging out there,” Harrison said. “But after the first play the nerves just went away.”

Worley was the calming influence for the group.

“Leadership was great,” Harrison said of Worley. “He was the first one to find out (Wednesday). … He wasn’t even worried. He just knew that we were going to be ready.”


Dobbins joins the club

J.K. Dobbins became the fourth Ohio State freshman, the third true freshman, to top 1,000 yards rushing in a season, his 124 against Michigan State pushing him to 1,038 for the season in 10 games.

“That means a lot, because last year I didn’t even play,” Dobbins said, referring to his high school senior season at La Grange, Texas, where he suffered a broken ankle on the first play of the season. “To come and get 1,000 yards thanks to my O-linemen, it’s a great feeling.”

Mike Weber rushed for 1,096 yards last season as a redshirt freshman. Maurice Clarett ran for 1,237 yards on the 2002 national championship team and Robert Smith for 1,126 in 1990.


Jones ejected for targeting

Defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones was ejected late in the second quarter for targeting Lewerke on a late hit. Jones took a couple of steps to hit Lewerke after the quarterback released the ball, but he did not appear to make much, if any contact, with Lewerke’s helmet.

But Jones was called for targeting, a ruling upheld on review. It was the fourth targeting call on Ohio State this season.

“I was very upset about that,” Meyer said. “Of course, they're aware (of the rule). I was irate when that happened. So we’ve just got to keep coaching ourselves through it.”

As Jones jogged through the south end zone and marching band members toward the locker room, he signaled O-H to the crowd.


Two more interceptions

Interceptions have not come easily to the Buckeyes, who had only seven entering the game.

They had two against Michigan State, by cornerback Damon Arnette and safety Damon Webb. Arnette actually had two pickoffs in the same possession. His first was nullified by Jones’ targeting call. But then Arnette intercepted an errant Lewerke throw at the Ohio State 7-yard line.

Webb’s interception came early in the fourth quarter. He returned it 47 yards to the Michigan State 15, with a late-hit penalty tacked on.

After returning seven interceptions for touchdowns last year, the Buckeyes haven’t had one in 2017. Webb’s was the closest they’ve come.

“I should have cut back,” he said. “But there was a little room on the sideline. Kendall (Sheffield) was in front of me, but the linemen ended up hitting him and I went out of bounds.”


More milestones for Barrett

With a 4-yard touchdown run in the first half, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett passed Minnesota QB Adam Weber for second place in Big Ten career all-purpose yards with 11,804. Purdue's Drew Brees has the record.

Barrett had two touchdown runs, moving him past Carlos Hyde into fifth place in Ohio State history with 38 scoring runs.


Lewerke feels the heat

Lewerke was pressured frequently, largely due to the play of OSU’s front seven. The Buckeyes recorded six sacks for 57 yards, along with nine tackles for loss totaling 60 yards.

“They would always spy, so they would have a guy for me if I scrambled. I wasn’t able to get away from him very easily,” Lewerke said. “They have some good defensive ends.”

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called it the best pass rush the Spartans have faced all season.


Picking up the pace

Ohio State’s offense sped up the tempo, which created problems for Michigan State. The Buckeyes ran 65 plays in 25:16 time of possession. The Spartans ran 70 in 34:44.

Dantonio said the Spartans failed to quickly recognize the Buckeyes offense before the snap.

“Early in that first series, we were getting the signal, they’re lining up and (our) guys are turning their heads and the ball is being snapped,” Dantonio said. “I thought we were getting the defenses in as fast we could, but they were still not fast enough. So consequently, there were some things where we weren’t ready to play.”