All the campaigning, all the stumping can cease. And Auburn, direct your thanks and/or alcoholic beverages to the general direction of East Lansing.
Ohio State’s 24-game winning streak? Laying in tatters on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf. Ohio State’s spot in the BCS title game? Gone, thanks to a Michigan State team that simply refused to cower in the face of the mighty Buckeyes, with the Spartans pulling away late for a 34-24 win and the Big Ten title.
Both Ohio State finish the 2013 season at 12-1, but are headed in much different directions.
Next up for Sparty is a New Year’s Day date in Pasadena against Pac-12 champion Stanford in the 100th edition of the Rose Bowl. For the Buckeyes? A tentative date in the Orange Bowl, likely against Clemson.
Sending the Spartans to their first Rose Bowl in 26 years was a game that featured three very distinct runs. MSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter, only to see the Buckeyes roar back with 24 straight over the next 20 minutes or so to take both the lead and momentum. MSU, however, ripped off the final 17 points to send OSU to its first loss of the Urban Meyer era.
Ohio State had a chance late when, trailing by three with just under six minutes remaining, a blocked punt gave them possession in MSU territory. A fourth-down stop by the stingy Spartan defense handed the ball back to the MSU offense, which put the final dagger in OSU’s season with a 61-yard drive that was capped by Jeremy Langford‘s 26-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes remaining.
Connor Cook, who went 24-40 for 304 yards and three touchdowns, was named the Championship Game MVP.
While not yet officially official, the OSU loss means that Auburn, coming off a three-win season that saw it lose every SEC game it played, will play Florida State for the BCS title in, oddly enough, Pasadena. The Seminoles, currently installed as a 10-point title-game favorite, was ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press preseason poll; not only were the Tigers unranked, they didn’t receive a single vote.