Michigan State's Denicos Allen leads big defensive effort


Michigan State won with defense this season. Saturday night, in the Big Ten championship game, the Spartans' pass offense decided to join the party. In doing so, Michigan State wrecked Ohio State's national title hopes.

Michigan State beat the second-ranked Buckeyes 34-24 in the Big Ten title game to snap Ohio State's 24-game, two-season winning streak. Michigan State rolled up 438 yards of offense, including 304 in the air, to pull the upset.

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Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook was 24 of 40 for 304 yards and three touchdowns. It was just the second time in his career he had 40 attempts, and the yardage total was a career-high.

Still, Michigan State's defense can't be overlooked. Ohio State was held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season, and the Buckeyes were held under 31 points for the first time this season. In addition, the Buckeyes finished with just 374 yards -- their lowest total of the season and just the second time they were held to fewer than 445 yards. Ohio State was 1 of 10 on third down.

The Buckeyes came into the game second in the nation in rushing offense at 321.3 yards per game and finished with 273. More important, they had rushed for 21 TDs in the past five games but managed just two Saturday night.

Spartans senior linebacker Denicos Allen turned in one of the biggest plays of the night when he dropped Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller a yard short of a first down on a 4th-and-2 run from Michigan State's 39 with just under six minutes left in the game. Ohio State had taken over at Michigan State's 47 after a punt by the Spartans' Mike Sadler was partially blocked by Ryan Shazier.

Six plays after Allen's stop, Jeremy Langford scored on a 26-yard run to seal the win and provide the final margin.

Miller was just 8 of 21 for 101 yards through the air, and Michigan State senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard lived up to the billing with numerous big plays.

Michigan State (12-1), which clinched a spot in the Rose Bowl, scored the first 17 points of the game. But Ohio State scored the next 24 before Michigan State answered with the final 17. Michigan State led 17-10 at halftime. The Spartans haven't played in the Rose Bowl since the 1987 season. Ohio State (12-1) will get a BCS at-large bid, to either the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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