Ohio State-Michigan State | Mike Weber tops 100 yards, and other notes
EAST LANSING, Mich. — It was the final blow Saturday in Ohio State’s 26-6 win over Michigan State, a 2-yard touchdown run by Mike Weber.
It struck a blow for perseverance by the offense in salvaging a semblance of a running game to go with what was a defensive and punting gem by the Buckeyes. On that final drive Weber, pushed his total to 104 yards rushing, a badge of honor considering it came against the nation’s No. 1 defense against the run, which had been giving up an average of 71.7.
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“Mike Weber ran for over 100 yards, and I’d have to say 75 percent of it was post-contact yards,” coach Urban Meyer said. “He ran really, really hard.”
The Buckeyes had only 120 yards net rushing, but in the fourth quarter on the cold, blustery day when they needed yards, especially from Weber, they got them. It was well shy of the 162 and two touchdowns he had against the Spartans last season, but it was a statement nonetheless.
“They play really hard,” right guard Demetrius Knox said, “but we play really hard, too. It was a real physical game and we just tried to execute.”
Brendon White made his first start at Ohio State at safety after his breakthrough performance against Nebraska last week.
He played well again, with five tackles and a pass breakup. But the highlight of his day came after the game. Ohio State awarded its game ball after the game to White’s father, William, who was a star defensive back for the Buckeyes in the 1980s. William White is battling ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
Brendon accepted the game ball on behalf of father.
“Not only do I have support from my family with my father’s disease, but having it come from Buckeye Nation is very cool, and that’s what makes this place was very special,” Brendon White said.
He said that when the presentation was made, “Everyone went crazy. They yelled and cheered. He did our chapel (service) yesterday. I’m excited to get out there and let him know.”
Meyer has known William White since his days as a graduate assistant.
“He’s a dear friend, one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met and one of the greatest football players I’ve ever met,” Meyer said.
With Ohio State leading 7-6 and Michigan State facing fourth down at its 1-yard line, Mark Dantonio made an unconventional decision. He told his long-snapper Ryan Armour to snap the ball over punter William Przystup for a safety.
Michigan State has been ravaged by injuries this year, including at punter. Dantonio said Przystup is his fourth-team punter.
“William's never punted before until this game, and it felt like coming off the goal line with only 10 yards between the snap and the punter, there's an opportunity for the punt to be blocked,” Dantonio said. “It's still a one field goal game, and I felt like our defense was playing well enough.”
It didn’t work out as planned. The field-position advantage Dantonio sought was foiled by a kick out of bounds after the safety, and Ohio State got the ball at midfield. Drue Chrisman then punted to the 1, and the Buckeyes scored on a fumble in the end zone on the next play.
Isaiah Pryor, who had started the first half of the season at safety opposite Jordan Fuller, didn’t make the trip. Pryor (shoulder) had also sat out the Nebraska game.
Linebacker Baron Browning made the trip after suffering an unspecified injury during practice, but he was ruled out early Saturday. Justin Hilliard became the backup to middle linebacker Tuf Borland.
Backup quarterback Tate Martell last played Sept. 26 in the win over Tulane. Some fans thought he might be a difference-maker with the offense sluggish in the red zone for several games.
He entered for one play to run for 5 yards on first-and-goal from the 6 before making a quick exit. Dwayne Haskins Jr. then flipped a shovel pass to Parris Campbell for a 1-yard TD play.
Martell re-entered in the fourth quarter after the Buckeyes had moved to first-and-goal at the Spartans 8, but three plays later, he couldn’t handle a wide snap from center Michael Jordan and the Buckeyes lost the fumble.