For the third time in four years, an undefeated Ohio State team was stunned by a team from Michigan.
The top-ranked Buckeyes, who had perfect records spoiled by the Michigan Wolverines in 1995 and 1996, were shocked by four-touchdown underdog Michigan State 28-24 Saturday.
"We came in here with the attitude we were the squirts in the neighborhood who had to pick a fight with the bully," Spartans coach Nick Saban said.
Julian Peterson forced three fumbles and Renaldo Hill made a goal-line interception with 1:12 left to seal the victory for Michigan State, which overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half.
Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten), which was No. 1 in both major polls and the Bowl Championship Series standings, had beaten every opponent by at least 17 points before running into the Spartans.
"This hurts, no question about it," Ohio State coach John Cooper said. "It seems like anything that could happen to us did happen to us."
The Spartans (5-4, 3-2) trailed 24-9 early in the third quarter after Ohio State's Damon Moore picked off Bill Burke's pass and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown.
But the Spartans rallied and took a 25-24 lead on Sedrick Ervin's 3-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter, then padded the margin on Paul Edinger's fifth field goal of the game with 9:26 left.
Ohio State drove to the Michigan State 15 in the closing minutes, but three straight incompletions left the Buckeyes facing fourth down.
| Victory was just out of Ohio State's reach Saturday. (AP) |
The Spartans blitzed, leaving flanker Dee Miller isolated in single coverage on Hill, but quarterback Joe Germaine underthrew the ball and Hill picked it off near the goal line.
"This hurts the most," Miller said. "We had everything lined up. We just didn't get it done."
It was Michigan State's first victory over a No. 1 team since the Spartans upset Michigan 28-27 in 1990. That also was the last time an unranked team beat a No. 1 squad.
"We've been an inconsistent team this year," Saban said. "We're young. For us to grow up and make the plays at the end of the game like we did is a positive step for our program."
Ohio State not only lost its No. 1 ranking, but fell to third in the Big Ten behind Michigan and Wisconsin, both unbeaten in conference play.
Burke, an Ohio native, completed only 18 of 46 passes, but frequently hit the big pass on long-yardage downs.
"It's the kind of thing you'll never forget," he said. "It was a game you like to play in, that you dream about as a kid."
Burke threw for 323 yards, while Germaine was 16-of-34 for 239 yards.
"All week in practice we thought we could win," Burke said. "We kept it in the family and didn't talk about it much."
With 3:33 left in the game, Michigan State's T.J. Turner, with help from Sorie Kanu and Josh Thornhill, stuffed the Buckeyes' Joe Montgomery for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Spartans 26.
After forcing a punt, the Buckeyes took over at their 49 with 1:39 left following a 26-yard return by David Boston.
Germaine, who had engineered a 20-17 upset of Arizona State in the Rose Bowl two years ago under similar circumstances, completed passes to Boston and John Lumpkin before Hill ended the Buckeyes' final threat with his interception.
Edinger's five field goals tied a Michigan State record and extended his overall streak to nine straight.
But it was the Spartans' defense that really made the difference.
"We knew they would come out and play like a No. 1," said Peterson, who stripped the ball from Germaine with Michigan State leading 25-24 in the fourth quarter. "But we just stayed in there and wore them down."
Ohio State had third-and-3 at the Michigan State 47 when Germaine was flushed out of the pocket and hit in the open field by Peterson. Michigan State's Josh Shaw picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Ohio State 17 with about 11 minutes remaining.
"I was trying to do too much on that play," Germaine said. "That was the play that shot us in the foot. It was my fault. I should have thrown it out of bounds."
Four plays later, Edinger kicked a 42-yarder to give the Spartans a four-poit cushion.
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