L.A.’s Blake Griffin had 30 points.If there was a game that crystallized why it was such a big deal for the Los Angeles Clippers to acquire Chris Paul, Monday night was it. Having blown a 10-point lead in the final four minutes to the Memphis Grizzlies, Paul dazzled in overtime, scoring eight points in the five extra minutes to lead the Clippers to a 101-97 victory.It was a win that gave L.A. a 3-1 series advantage. How close has this series been? The Clippers’ three wins were by a combined six points.It looked in the fourth quarter that this one would not be that close. Los Angels led by 10 with four minutes to play. But Mike Connelly Jr. and Rudy Gay held the Grizzlies together, and they mounted a closing-quarter run that forced overtime when Paul turned the ball over on the last possession of the final period.But in overtime, Paul made amends. The Grizzlies inexplicably did not double team him to get the ball out of his hands, and Paul exploited the Clippers’ generosity. Going one-on-one, he created space for himself and capitalized with four baskets that proved the difference in OT.He finished with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Forward Blake Griffin had 30 before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Connelly Jr. had 25 points and Gay 23.The series goes back to Memphis for Game 5 on Wednesday.
3Dallas1992-95431740+150.7 6Dallas1968-831621667+125.7 The Pats are (still) the NFL’s greatest modern dynastyAmong franchises with at least two Super Bowl titles, the most impressive (nonoverlapping) spans of seasons, according to Elo ratings, since 1966 3 others tied4Earl Morrall19752Earl Morrall19761 4Pittsburgh1974-79641712+139.0 13Baltimore2000-141521599+54.6 2San Francisco1984-951241706+155.1 1New England2003-181651712+170.5 Len Dawson19754Doug Flutie20035Warren Moon*20001 7Oakland/L.A. Raiders1967-851931654+115.3 14N.Y. Giants1985-90621627+54.3 There are simply no comparisons for what Brady will try to do next year. (Although, to be fair, no quarterback had won six Super Bowls before Brady, either.)And for all of the Pats’ improvement on defense in 2018, they shouldn’t count on it being quite as good next season — defenses tend to regress to the mean much more strongly than offenses between seasons. Add in what (for now) looks a like a relative lack of cap space; several important players (such as Stephen Gostkowski, Malcom Brown, Trent Brown and Trey Flowers) hitting free agency; and speculation about the possible retirement of future Hall of Fame TE Rob Gronkowski,2Which would generate some cap savings but not enough to move New England into the top half of the league in space. and the Pats haters will have plenty to occupy themselves with over the next seven months.But as Sunday proved, the Patriots usually find a way to overcome the mechanisms that are supposed to make dynasties like theirs impossible to sustain. According to futures odds that sportsbooks have already released for next season, the Pats are, at worst, slightly behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the race to win Super Bowl LIV — if not outright favorites. So although there are, as always, plenty of logical reasons to think New England’s dynasty days are numbered, and 31 fan bases hoping we’ll look back at Sunday night as one of their final moments of glory, I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, Patriots fans should enjoy what they have: We’ve never seen something like this before and probably never will again. 8Denver1996-98321704+103.9 5Miami1972-74321739+138.5 Mean Elo is the harmonic mean of a team’s seasonal blended Elo ratings (which mix the average, final and peak Elo during the season) over the span of the seasons in question.Expected Elo is the mean Elo we’d expect for a generic Super Bowl contender (from a starting Elo of 1617) over the span of the seasons in question. Teams are ranked by how much they exceeded this expectation.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com TeamSpanSeasonsTitlesMean Elovs. Expected 12Green Bay1995-152121619+81.7 11Green Bay1966-68321688+87.7 This Super Bowl might rank among the most satisfying for Belichick, who originally made his reputation as a football genius with defensive game plans designed to shut down high-powered offenses. A year after his defense gave up 41 points to the Philadelphia Eagles’ backup QB in Super Bowl LII, New England held the Rams — who had averaged 32.9 points per game during the regular season — to a mere 3 points Sunday. L.A. quarterback Jared Goff had nobody to throw to and faced unrelenting pressure all night, recording a ghastly 57.9 passer rating.Belichick’s defenses had tended to be surprisingly mediocre over the back half of New England’s dynasty era, garnering an average seasonal rank of 15th of out 32 teams in ESPN’s Expected Points Added metric from 2008 to 2017. (Instead, they tended to rely on Brady and the offense to carry the load.) But this year’s Patriots were different, ranking seventh in defensive EPA, which made for one of the most well-rounded Patriots teams in a while. And in a year when seemingly anybody who ever met Rams offensive prodigy Sean McVay got hired as an NFL head coach on the spot, Belichick badly outcoached the wunderkind (by McVay’s own admission), unveiling a zone-coverage concept that the Rams hadn’t seen on tape and were completely unprepared for.That defensive master plan helped paper over a mediocre passing game for Brady, who at age 41 had his worst statistical Super Bowl performance, on the heels of a regular season that — while still good — was one of his least impressive of the past decade. There are mitigating factors, of course, including a vastly diminished set of targets as compared with his Randy Moss heyday. And by now, Brady is used to people wondering if he’s about to fall off a cliff every time he has an uninspired game. But he will also be sailing into uncharted territory at age 42 next season, playing at an age when literally no QB in football history has had an effective season: Brady is headed for uncharted territoryBest seasons (by Approximate Value) for quarterbacks at ages 40, 41 and 42 (or older), 1960-2018 10Pittsburgh2004-11821656+93.9 V. Testaverde20035Brett Favre20105Steve DeBerg*19981 Age 40Age 41Ages 42+ 9Washington1982-921131653+99.1 Tom Brady201719Tom Brady201814Warren Moon19985 The 2018 NFL season will be remembered in part for its regular-season offensive explosion and the breakout performances of exciting young players such as MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. But in the end, all of that new stuff faded away. The Patriots won, just like they have six times in the past 18 seasons, and they did it with defense, just like in the very beginning. It was yet another affirmation of a dynasty that continues to reach unprecedented levels of dominance in a sport we keep pretending is designed to produce parity. The only question now is: How much longer can Tom Brady and Bill Belichick keep doing this?Sunday’s Super Bowl win over the Los Angeles Rams was not the prettiest for New England, even if it was the team’s widest margin of victory in a Super Bowl (somehow). Brady had a 71.4 passer rating in the lowest-scoring title game on record. And yet, it counted the same in the legacy column. I recalculated the numbers from my story measuring the most difficult-to-replicate multiseason runs by any franchise, and the Patriots’ stretch from 2003 through 2018 is easily the most dominant in the NFL’s Super Bowl era.1Moving up the list to officially pass … the Pats’ own run from 2003 through 2017. S. Jurgensen19747V. Testaverde200410V. Testaverde20052 * DeBerg and Moon were 44 in 1998 and 2000, respectively.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com PlayerYearAVPlayerYearAVPlayerYearAV Brett Favre200916Warren Moon199712Doug Flutie20042 From ABC News:
Rankings are among all 32 NFL teams.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Granted, the bulk of that defensive improvement came in a single game, against Seattle on Sunday. By holding the Seahawks’ passing offense to 24.9 EPA below its usual per-game output — including a staggering five interceptions of Russell Wilson — Green Bay had the fourth-best defensive outing against the pass by any team this season. It’s still an open question, however, whether that game was more of a fluke or a sign that this defense is finally coming around. Three of Wilson’s five picks were tipped, so Green Bay enjoyed some good fortune Sunday. And although the Packer D was improving in the two games leading up to its outburst versus Seattle, that meant playing “slightly below average” instead of “historically atrocious.”Even if Rodgers is healthy enough, and even if the defense has straightened out its issues, this late-season push may simply be coming too late to salvage Green Bay’s playoff hopes. Our Elo simulations currently give the Packers a 30 percent chance of making the postseason, most of which comes from their hope of winning the NFC North (and not the wild card, for which Green Bay would need to leapfrog three teams instead of two). According to The New York Times’ playoff simulator, the Packers probably need to beat both the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions in the season’s final two weeks in order to make the playoffs — and even then, the postseason wouldn’t necessarily be assured.If it doesn’t happen, Packer fans will find themselves looking back at Sunday’s rout of Seattle and wondering where that version of their team was all year — and why it couldn’t have emerged sooner.CORRECTION: (Dec. 12, 4:00 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated Julius Peppers’ condition. Although Peppers is listed on the Packers’ injury report for Week 15 (http://www.packers.com/team/injury-report.html), the team said his presence on the list was “not injury related.”Check out our latest NFL predictions. 2016, weeks 1-114-612th7th29th4th31st Going into Week 12, the Green Bay Packers were in deep, deep trouble. They’d lost four games in a row, and five of their previous six — the first time either type of skid had happened to the franchise since late in the 2008 season. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings (our pet metric for determining each team’s quality), Green Bay was the ninth-worst team in the NFL, and it had a mere 6 percent probability of making the playoffs.Since then, however, it’s hard to find any team running hotter than the Packers. Green Bay has won three straight — by an average margin of 17 points per game — and they’ve risen to 10th-best in Elo after a stunning 38-10 rout of the Seattle Seahawks on national TV Sunday afternoon. Over the past month of action, no team has improved its Elo rating as much as the Packers have. The only question now is whether this late charge will be enough to save Green Bay’s season.Through 11 weeks, the 2016 Packers were looking like a team with an average passing attack and a terrible defense and special teams — no recipe for success in today’s NFL. In fact, Green Bay had been pretty mediocre in most phases of the game for a couple seasons at that point, despite the presence of future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers under center. Rodgers had one of the top two dozen or so passing seasons ever in 2014, but he’d slumped in 2015 without many of his usual receiving weapons, and he merely had a good — not great — start to 2016.And the Packers desperately needed Rodgers to be great in 2016, because with an injury to Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews (among others), the team’s defense had slipped badly from its form of the previous few years. After giving up 42 points to Washington in Week 11, Green Bay had the NFL’s sixth-worst defense by expected points added,1Even after adjusting for the strength of opposing offenses faced. and it ranked fourth-worst against the pass in particular. The 34.2 total EPA below average (i.e., they allowed the equivalent of 34.2 more points through the air than the average defense would have) Green Bay’s pass D yielded against the Titans and Redskins in Weeks 10 and 11 represented the worst back-to-back performances against the pass by any team in the 2016 season.The Packers had thrived with a poor defense in the past — they went 15-1 in 2011 despite having the league’s 13th-worst defense by EPA — but that was back when Rodgers was carrying the team with historic passing numbers. Without those, there was little reason to think a Green Bay turnaround was imminent.But over the last three weeks, the Packers have rediscovered what made them perennial Super Bowl contenders. In spite of a nagging calf injury, Rodgers still has the NFL’s best Total QBR since Week 12, producing a league-best 12.6 EPA above average per game over that span. (It’s the team’s best three-game passing stretch since late in 2014.) And perhaps even more importantly, Green Bay’s defense has played far better over the past few games than it did all year long. With 6.2 EPA above average per game since Week 12, the team is having its best three-game defensive showing since the end of the 2015 season. 2016, weeks 12-143-01st30th4th26th9th 201510-618th11th8th27th12th How Green Bay turned it around SEASONRECORDPASS OFFRUSH OFFPASS DEFRUSH DEFS/T EPA PER-GAME RANKING 201412-42nd11th13th9th31st
Brandon Saine is making sure he’s not “getting caught up in the moment.” “[It’s important to] go back and watch the film, and there are always things you can improve on,” Saine said. This is what is driving Saine to have a breakout season after injuries slowed his performance last year. Saine’s top priority this season is to avoid major injury, though he has been battling a hamstring injury during spring practices. “At any time, someone can go down,” Saine said. “With so many hits and so many carries and you’re in so many plays, all it takes is one and the next guy has to be ready. You have to be ready at all times.” Saine thrives off of competition. With a lot of depth this season at tailback, Saine says it helps the guys push each other harder and not slip up. “It’s a great thing, definitely makes us a lot better,” Saine said. “The younger guys are getting better and they’re pushing us older guys to get better too.” Leading by example, helping them understand their roles, sharing experiences and answering any questions they have is a big deal for Saine, as he strives to be a mentor in his senior season. “We have a diverse group of guys and have a back for any down, and it will help us be a lot better,” he said. Saine is happy to have a familiar offensive line in front of him, too. He said that makes them more confident and they mesh well. On being a senior, Saine has not really captured the complete feeling yet. The feeling of him doing it all for the last time hasn’t dawned on him. He said that being voted a captain would mean a lot. “I am a pretty soft-spoken guy and they give me a lot of slack for not having big rah-rah speeches for them, but I think it would be an amazing experience,” Saine said. “I wasn’t even the captain of my high school team, but it would mean a lot. I would be humbled and excited to do it.” Saine should also have more impact on the offense also. With quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s progression in the passing game toward the end of last year, Saine is looking to catch the ball out of the backfield a bit more. “Hopefully he can check it down to us a little bit and we’ll be able to do something with it and show him that if we get the ball we can catch it,” Saine said. But Saine is not worried about the offense going from traditional “smash mouth” Ohio State football to an “air-it-out” game. He feels there is equal opportunity for everything to come about this season and show how versatile the offense can be. Saine said he hopes to be 100 percent by next week. Despite missing some spring practices, Saine said he is just taking some time off to heal properly and not have any major issues before the start of the season.
Despite a starting lineup consisting of all freshmen and sophomores, the Ohio State men’s golf captured its first victory of the season at the Windon Memorial. Freshman Max Rosenthal led the Buckeyes to a first-place finish out of 15 teams with a final score of 29-over 881 at the Skokie Country Golf Course in Glencoe, Ill. Rosenthal finished the first round of the tournament tied for 37th place with a score of 77 but turned things around with a second round score of 72, and a final round score of 70 to tie for 8th place individually. OSU went to the top of the leader board after finishing the first round in ninth place. The Eden Prairie, Minn., native attributed his aggressive comeback to his conservative play. “My game strategy was really conservative and I was just trying to hit a lot of fairways and greens,” Rosenthal said. “Just a matter of keeping a good mental focus because the course we played was really tough, but my strategy really helped out.” Not only was it Rosenthal’s first time leading the team, it was also his first tournament in the Buckeyes’ starting lineup. “I was a little nervous,” Rosenthal said. “I started off with four bogeys right away and coach came up to me and said, ‘All right, you got your nerves out of the way, now just go out there and play with confidence,’ and then I started making some puts and made a comeback.” Like Rosenthal, Buckeyes golfer sophomore Grant Weaver also made a comeback from 18th place after the first round to 12th place after the final round, finishing the tournament with a score of 220. Similarly, Weaver attributed his comeback to playing safe. “My strategy was to work with what I got because I was struggling hitting the ball so I tried to put myself in position where I could get up and down for par,” Weaver said. “I played safe because I wasn’t on top of my game all week.” Fellow Buckeyes sophomore Boo Timko and freshman Tee-K Kelly followed Weaver, tied for 17th place with a final score of 223. Freshman Michael Bernard rounded out the team lineup, tying for 37th place with a final score of 15-over 228. Sophomore Logan Jones competed individually placing 55th with a final score of 234 in his first tournament of the season. Coach Donnie Darr was pleased with the way the team finished the tournament. “We played exceptional the last two rounds,” Darr said. “Our first round score wasn’t really good but we didn’t play as bad as the score indicated, we just had a couple bad holes that drove our score up but overall pretty good this week.” The Buckeyes are scheduled to will take a break from tournament play before hosting the Jack Nicklaus Invitational at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, Oct. 8-9. “It’s a good field at Muirfield,” Darr said. “It’s a great venue and a great opportunity for our players to play in front of their home fans.”
CINCINNATI – Gusty winds did little to prevent Ohio State from airing out the football during its annual Spring Game Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. With parts of Ohio Stadium undergoing surface work, the Buckeyes traveled about two hours southwest to the Queen City for the 2013 edition of an intrasquad scrimmage between the Scarlet and Gray teams. After a game that saw its quarterbacks throw for a combined total of 433 yards, the Scarlet team prevailed, 31-14. While limited in the running game because of a no-contact black jersey, junior quarterback Braxton Miller finished the day 16 of 25 for 217 yards and two touchdowns. His counterpart, redshirt senior Kenny Guiton, totaled 151 yards and a touchdown on 13 of 22 attempts. After guiding the Buckeyes to a 12-0 finish last season, OSU coach Urban Meyer hovered just yards back from play on the field as the teams battled it out amid 18-25 mph winds in front of a speckled crowd of 37, 643. “This was a great day for Ohio State football – to come back to (a place), I consider this partly my hometown,” Meyer said during a press conference after the game. By his own admittance, Meyer said he intended it to be a day where the Buckeyes threw the ball more than they ran it. “Obviously, it was a pass-heavy game – an area that we were not very good at last year that we have to get better,” he said. Miller would set the tone early – launching a 49-yard rocket to junior wide receiver Evan Spencer on the scrimmage first play. Three plays later, Miller found junior wide receiver Devin Smith for a 20-yard touchdown with 9:08 to play in the first quarter. Miller said he’s gotten more comfortable throwing the ball. “Just knowing the play, how the play is developed and how it’s going to move. I can just move out of the pocket and know where the guy’s going to be,” he said. It’s something Meyer took note of. He said Saturday’s marked improvement in the passing game was a “continuation of what started all spring.” In fact, Meyer said it’s the type of development that could vault OSU into talk of being one of the nation’s best offenses. “I’ve spent a lot of time talking about a part of our game – that if we can figure that out – I would be disappointed if we don’t have the best offense in the Big Ten,” he said. It’s a notion that seems too early to validate, but one perhaps with the potential to come to fruition somewhere down the line. Meyer, though, maintained it’s a concept that hinges upon the play of his offensive line – which lost only former right tackle Reid Fragel. And with senior left tackle Jack Mewhort held out of the game for precautionary reasons, Meyer called the “fifth spoke of the offensive line” a “legitimate concern.” “Unless we get that fixed, there go the best offense in the Big Ten,” he said. Meyer’s concern seemed warranted, as sophomore defensive linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington combined for five sacks in the first half and seven total. It bought time for Guiton and the Gray team to answer in the second quarter. The Buckeyes’ backup quarterback found senior receiver Chris Fields from six yards out to tie the game, 7-7, with 4:35 remaining in the half. Guiton, who played sparingly last season, said he was content with his performance. “I thought I did pretty good, I got the offense down. I’m moving forward, trying to get everybody else making sure we know what we’re doing,” he said. Thanks to an eight-play, 59-yard drive, though, the Scarlet team again seized the lead after Miller found senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown. Miller’s squad would head into halftime with a 14-7 advantage that they would not relinquish. Having been harassed most of the afternoon by the Gray defensive line, Miller rolled out of the pocket before scampering for a 5-yard touchdown with 6:25 to play in the third. Senior kicker Drew Basil tacked on a 25-yard field goal more than two minutes later to make it 24-7 in favor of the Scarlet team. Behind sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas, the Gray would make a dent in the deficit after sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones found Thomas from four yards out with 8:44 to play in the fourth. Jones finished with 65 yards and a touchdown on 7 of 16 attempts. In a instance of trickery and changing of allegiances, Fields, who started the contest with the Gray team, scored on a 6-yard reverse play, pushing the Scarlet team’s lead to 31-14 with 4:41 to play in the game. It would all but seal the Scarlet team’s second-straight victory in the Spring Game. OSU is scheduled to open the 2013 season against Buffalo Aug. 31 at Ohio Stadium.
An Ohio State student organization is welcoming those who are looking to get in shape through strength training.The Buckeye Barbell Club has two primary goals — to give OSU students, faculty and staff the opportunity to get stronger and to promote the sport of powerlifting — with a focus on the latter. Participating in club workouts is free of charge, but a $20 fee is required each academic year to help cover entry fees for meets and the club T-shirt.“When it originally started, it was meant for people to strength train together and to help new people learn how to (lift), and actually competing was in the background,” said Evan Byrne, club member and graduate student in electrical and computer engineering. “As we’ve gone forward, it’s shifted to more of an emphasis on competing.”Powerlifting is a sport that consists of three specific types of lifts — the squat, the bench press and the deadlift — and club members learn how to correctly and efficiently do them in hopes of competing in meets, whether it be at the local, regional or national level. These lifts are learned through the “wealth of knowledge” experienced weightlifters provide, fifth-year in electrical and computer engineering and club member Alex Cramer said.“There’s a lot of instruction and encouragement,” Cramer said. “It’s a lot easier to go to the gym every day when there’s someone invested in helping you.”While emphasis is placed on training for and competing in meets, the club also provides a more casual atmosphere for those who just want to strength train for personal recreation and people with all levels of experience are encouraged to join.“A lot of people are hesitant to join because they have this mental image of what a powerlifter looks like, but in Buckeye Barbell, you can see that we have tons of different kinds of people represented: different majors, athletic backgrounds and body types,” said Victoria Liang, president of Buckeye Barbell Club and third-year in information systems. “We have people who have never touched a barbell and we have nationally-ranked athletes. Our common goal of getting stronger brings us together, and that supportive network drives everyone to succeed.”Liang said that mental image of what a powerlifter looks like was a driving force behind the creation of the club.“When I started lifting my freshman year, I was terribly clueless and self-conscious like many beginners,” Liang said. “I often wished I had a community of people who could help, support= and motivate me, and that became my inspiration for the club.”Another staple of the club is the opportunity to get involved. Members of the club regularly do volunteer work at high school powerlifting meets in the winter, as well as the Arnold Sports Festival, which takes place at the Columbus Convention Center annually.Liang said the club has about 50 active members who participate in various activities that the club takes part in, from training sessions to seminars to volunteering.
Following a 56-17 shellacking of Rutgers on Saturday, the Ohio State football team is looking ahead to its next challenge, a night game in State College, Pa., against Penn State.The Buckeyes (5-1, 2-0) are set to play just their second true road game of the season against the Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-2). OSU coach Urban Meyer met with the media Monday to discuss the upcoming game and recap the Rutgers win.Meyer made a point to thank the OSU fans for continuing to come out in big numbers. Ohio Stadium ranks first in the country in average attendance thus far in 2014.Meyer said he was pleased with the fast start the Buckeyes got out to as they scored on their opening drive for the fourth straight game.He said senior wide receiver Evan Spencer, redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman, redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein and junior offensive linemen Taylor Decker and Jacoby Boren graded out as offensive champions.Meyer emphasized the play of Spencer. Added he is one of the MVPs of the team right now.Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott was named offensive player of the game by Meyer.Despite winning Big Ten Offensive Player and Freshman of the Week, Meyer said redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett could have played better in the game against Rutgers. Barrett did not grade out as a weekly champion.Meyer named senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett, sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa, redshirt-sophomore safety Tyvis Powell, junior linebacker Joshua Perry and senior cornerback Doran Grant as defensive champions.Meyer said Grant played his best game as a Buckeye against Rutgers.Meyer said the Penn State defense stands out to him. The Nittany Lions rank first in the country in rush defense.Meyer said he has “a lot of respect for their big quarterback,” sophomore Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game.Meyer said playing at Penn State in 2012 was one of the top-five atmospheres he has played in. Added he feels much more comfortable now sending Barrett in as a starter than he would have a few weeks ago.Injury reportMeyer said Boren rolled his ankle against Rutgers, but should be ready to go against Penn State.Meyer said he does not know the status of junior linebacker Devan Bogard who sustained an injury on special teams Saturday. Bogard has missed extended time with knee injuries in the past.Defensive line coach and former Penn State assistant Larry Johnson Sr. said the status of redshirt-senior defensive lineman Rashad Frazier is still unknown for Saturday.Wide receivers coach Zach Smith said he believes sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson will be able to play against Penn State after sitting out most of the second half against Rutgers.The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Nittany Lions Saturday at 8 p.m.
Buckeye football players link arms as they enter Spartan Stadium prior to a game against Michigan State on Nov. 8 in East Lansing, Mich. OSU won, 49-37. Credit: Ritika Shah / Lantern TV News DirectorEAST LANSING, Mich. — Eleven months and a day after Michigan State beat Ohio State in the 2013 Big Ten Championship game, the No. 13 Buckeyes overcame an early deficit to top the No. 7 Spartans, 49-37, on the road.After the game, sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott described OSU’s locker room as “ecstatic.”“Everyone’s in there smiling,” Elliott said. “Toothy smiles; big, beautiful smiles. We love each other and we came out and we played for each other. And we’re just happy to go out there and win for each other.”The win put the Buckeyes (8-1, 5-0) alone atop the Big Ten East Division standings, breaking a tie with Michigan State (7-2, 4-1). OSU also set a conference record with its 21st consecutive regular season Big Ten win.“It was a great opportunity for two good football teams to go play, and I’m very proud of our guys,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “A young team grew up tonight.”Elliott said OSU came into the game with a chip on its shoulder, and added the Buckeyes wanted to prove their doubters wrong.“Just coming into this game, no one believed in us,” he said. “We had no one behind our back besides Buckeye nation and ourselves. We just had to come out and prove to the world that we’re ready.”Heading into the weekend, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 14 in the College Football Playoff rankings, while the Spartans were No. 8.Senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said beating Michigan State means OSU’s “dreams are still alive for this year.” He added the game was about playing for the future, rather than getting revenge for last year’s loss.“It’s about accomplishing what we can accomplish this year,” Bennett said after the game. “And so by having that big win over a really good team, it really just keeps everything alive and starts putting us in the conversation.”After a handful of early miscues put OSU in an early hole, the Buckeyes surged to a 28-10 run to take a 42-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.“We just tried to forget about the mistakes, because mistakes happen in games,” redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett said after the game. “Those were…big mistakes, wish we didn’t make ‘em, but we did. We just all had to respond as a team and just get back together and play football.”Michigan State responded with a touchdown to cut the lead to 11, but Barrett sparked the Buckeyes on the ensuing drive, extending the lead to 18 at Spartan Stadium.On second-and-eight on his own 24-yard line, Barrett kept the ball and rushed outside before putting his head down to finish off a 55-yard run. Two plays later, Elliott powered the ball across the goal line for a 17-yard touchdown run, making it 49-31 with 7:12 on the clock.The Spartans tacked on another touchdown from redshirt-senior running back Jeremy Langford, but OSU ran nearly five minutes off the clock to help seal the win.The Buckeyes totaled 568 yards on offense, compared to 536 for Michigan State.Coming into the game, the Spartans’ defense had given up an average of 279.4 yards per game.“They’ve been talking about that defense, how they can stop everybody in the country,” sophomore safety Vonn Bell said after the game. “You seen our offense just shove it down their throats.”In a first half filled with momentum swings, OSU found a way to take a 28-21 advantage into the locker rooms — thanks in part to four total touchdowns from Barrett.After both teams scored early in the first quarter, OSU muffed a punt and Michigan State Jeremy Langford scored from 33 yards out on the first play of the ensuing drive.Barrett answered with his second touchdown run of the night on fourth-and-goal at the one, but Langford scored again to make it 21-14, set up by a key third-and-23 pass to senior wide receiver Devin Smith for a gain of 43 yards.“It was definitely a big time play,” Barrett said. “He did a great job just getting open and I just threw the ball to him.”OSU sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson fumbled on the ensuing kick to give the ball back to the Spartans, but they missed a 39-yard field goal to give OSU the ball on its own 21-yard line.On the opening play of the next drive, Barrett hit redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas for a 79-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21.After the game, Thomas said he knew what was going to happen before the ball was snapped.“Before the play came I knew I was going to score,” Thomas said. “Because of my confidence. I watch film on them.”After a Michigan State punt, Barrett went deep again and found Smith for a 44-yard touchdown, capping a five-play, 64-yard go-ahead drive for the Buckeyes.The 28-21 halftime lead came despite a pair of fumbles and six penalties for OSU.Michigan State opened the final 30 minutes with a field goal, but a 13-play OSU drive was capped by a one-yard touchdown run from Elliott, making it 35-24 with 2:18 to play in the third quarter.The Buckeyes stopped Michigan State on fourth-and-five on the ensuing drive, taking over at their own 36 to start the fourth.OSU marched down the field in less than three minutes before Barrett hit Wilson for a seven-yard touchdown to make it 42-24 with 12:07 to play. Michigan State redshirt-junior quarterback Connor Cook responded with a 16-yard touchdown strike to sophomore tight end Josiah Price.After Elliott’s touchdown, the Spartans took it back down the field for a touchdown, but Cook’s two-point conversion attempt fell short, keeping a 12-point advantage for OSU with 5:20 to play.Barrett finished the game with exactly 300 passing yards and three touchdowns and added another 86 yards and two scores on the ground. Elliott led all players with 154 rushing yards while Smith totaled 129 yards receiving.Senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett paced the OSU defense with four total tackles and the team’s only sack.Cook threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns while Langford totaled 137 yards and three scores on just 18 carries in the loss.The Buckeyes’ win marked their 12th consecutive victory on the road, which is the best ongoing streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.OSU is set to close out a two-game road trip Nov. 15 against Minnesota in Minneapolis. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.After the Golden Gophers beat Iowa, 51-14, before the Buckeyes took the field on Saturday, Meyer said his team doesn’t have much time to relax before getting back to work.“If you want to use the term exhale, we can’t exhale very long because we go on the road next week against a team that whooped Iowa,” he said.