East Lansing, MI – Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller showed he could do more than just run the ball, and the much-maligned Ohio State defense held standout Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell in check as Urban Meyer won his Big Ten opener.
Miller hit Devin Smith with a go-ahead 63-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter as No. 14 Ohio State hung on and downed 20th-ranked Michigan State, 17-16, on Saturday.
Miller carried the ball 23 times for 136 yards and added 179 yards passing on 16-of-23 efficiency for the Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten), who ran the final 4:10 off the clock to seal the win in the fourth quarter.
"It was a fun game," Miller said. "It was a good team game. We fought through it and we'll be back at it tomorrow."
Meyer became the third Ohio State coach to start 5-0 in his first season and joined Carol Widdoes and Earle Bruce, who both won their first five games in 1944 and 1979, respectively.
"This was a war, and this was two sledgehammers going at each other," Meyer said. "I know the Big Ten has taken some heat; I thought that was a great game, great atmosphere, bunch of great players on the field...We played at the next level and that was good for college football and good for the Big Ten."
Philly Brown caught 12 balls for 84 yards and Carlos Hyde racked up 49 yards rushing on 11 carries in the victory.
Bell ran for a career-high 253 yards last week against Eastern Michigan, but was limited to 45 yards rushing on 17 carries in the setback. Bell's longest run of the day was just eight yards, and 14 of his 17 rushes went for three yards or fewer.
"That's a good back," Meyer said. "I'm venturing to say that won't happen again to that guy. He's a good player."
Andrew Maxwell completed 22-of-42 passes for 269 yards and a score for Michigan State (3-2, 0-1), which snapped a seven-game losing streak to Ohio State with a 10-7 victory in Columbus last season.
Ohio State missed six tackles on Keith Mumphery's 29-yard touchdown reception on a flank pass along the left sideline, which concluded a quick three-play, 50-yard march and gave Michigan State its first lead of the contest, 13-10, in the latter stages of the third quarter.
Miller and the Buckeyes, though, had the quick answer.
On the fourth play of the ensuing series, Miller rifled a pass to Smith along the right sideline for the go-ahead score.
Matched up in one-on-one coverage against Michigan State cornerback Johnny Adams, the speedster Smith had a step on Adams and snagged the pass at the Spartans' 32-yard line. He broke free from Adams' shoestring tackle attempt and scampered the rest of the way, which gave Ohio State a 17-13 advantage with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter.
"He played me press, I gave him a little move at the line of scrimmage and just ran fast. Braxton Miller threw me a nice ball I caught it and just took it to the end zone," Smith said of the go-ahead touchdown.
Faced with a 3rd-and-6 on Ohio State's next touch early in the fourth, Miller picked up 12 yards on the ground along the left edge, but he hyperextended his left knee on the play and let go of the ball -- his third turnover of the afternoon. Michigan State's Kurtis Drummond pounced on it and began running the other way.
The play was blown dead, though, as Miller was ruled down. The call was then reversed following a review and Michigan State got the ball at its own 32-yard line. This led to a Dan Conroy 32-yard field goal and cut the deficit to 17-16 midway through the final stanza.
"They are doing the best job they can and we do the best we can," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said of the Drummond fumble recovery. "But that's just part of the game. They had to review it and I'm just glad we got the football."
Following an Ohio State three-and-out, the Spartans regained possession at their own 20-yard line, but they picked up just one first down before punting the ball back to the Buckeyes with 4:10 to play.
Ohio State then moved the chains three times to seal the outcome.
"Against that front, when they knew it (run) was coming. To just take the ball and end the game like that, that tells you a lot." Meyer said of the final drive.
Earlier, Jordan Hall plunged in from a yard out on Ohio State's opening 8- play, 75-yard trek, before the Spartans countered with a Conroy 34-yard field goal on their first possession for the only points of the first half.
The Buckeyes moved the ball deep into Michigan State territory on their opening march of the second quarter, but Drummond intercepted Miller's pass at the Spartans' 17-yard line.
Later in the frame, the Buckeyes' Bradley Roby blocked a Mike Sadler punt, which gave Ohio State the ball at the Michigan State 35-yard line.
The Spartans, though, regained possession two plays later when defensive end Marcus Rush forced a Miller fumble as he was attempting to cut inside off the right edge. This led to a Conroy 42-yard field goal attempt, which he missed with 33 seconds to play in the half.
Both teams exchanged field goals on their initial possessions of the second half.
Michigan State has lost its last four games in East Lansing to the Buckeyes ... Ohio State improved to 71-24-4 in Big Ten openers ... The Buckeyes lead the all-time series against the Spartans, 28-13.