The fourth-and-one play was going to be a battle of strengths.
Trailing 27-24 with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Ohio State decided to go for it at the Michigan State 39. It was too far for a field goal. Too short of a field and too dire of circumstances for a punt. Presumably, it was going to be a run play.
And that's what it was. Ohio State entered the game second in the country in rushing offense. Michigan State was first in rushing defense. First beat second. Braxton Miller was stuffed on a speed option play to the right side. Michigan State had the ball back.
The game was over from there, and so was Ohio State's undefeated season, 24 game winning streak and hopes for a BCS Championship berth against Florida State. Those marks went into hiding after the fourth down play and were lost forever when Jeremy Langford subsequently scampered into the end zone from six yards out and a 34-24 Michigan State win.
The game looked like an upset early; Michigan State was quickly up 17-0 and Auburn fans were prematurely rejoicing after their Tigers had beaten Missouri's. After all, Auburn would likely be in the BCS title game if Ohio State was not. But the Buckeyes scored 24 unanswered points over the second and third quarters to take a 24-17 lead. Was the upset not to be?
It was. And Auburn's likely going to play Florida State. After Michigan State kicked a field goal to narrow the deficit to 24-20, quarterback Connor Cook hit Josiah Price for a 9-yard touchdown and that 27-24 lead that the Spartans would never relinquish.
Cook finished with 304 yards on 24-40 passing and three touchdowns and an interception while Langford ran for 128 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Michigan State will head to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford while Ohio State will play in either the Sugar or Orange Bowls.
- - - - - - -