Michigan State players were highly complimentary of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett early in the week. Saturday night, they saw how good he was up close.
Barrett -- who became the starter in August when Braxton Miller was lost for the season with a shoulder injury -- accounted for five touchdowns and 386 total yards in leading the 14th-ranked Buckeyes (8-1) to a 49-37 upset of the eighth-ranked Spartans (7-2). Barrett threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 86 and two more scores as the Buckeyes beat a top-15 team for the first time since Urban Meyer became coach in 2012.
Ohio State was one of 12 one-loss teams ranked in the top 25 by the College Football Playoff selection committee last week. But the Buckeyes' No. 14 ranking meant they were 11th among the one-loss teams; how far the Buckeyes move up this week will be a major storyline when the poll is released Tuesday night.
Barrett helped the Buckeyes roll up 568 yards of offense and 25 first downs against a team ranked fifth nationally in total defense (279.4 yards per game). Ohio State had 332 total yards in the first half. In its losses this season (the Spartans also fell at Oregon), Michigan State has surrendered 1,058 yards and 95 points.
At one point, Ohio State scored touchdowns on six consecutive drives in a span that started late in the first quarter and ended in the fourth period. All six of the drives covered at least 50 yards and two were at least 78 yards.
It was Barrett's third 300-yard game of the season and the fifth time he threw at least three TD passes. He now has 26 TD passes this season; the school's single-season record is 30, by Troy Smith in 2006. In addition, he now has thrown just two interceptions in the past six games.
Barrett also has thrown for 2,156 yards; if Ohio State plays 14 games, which would mean an appearance in the Big Ten title game, Barrett is on a pace to throw for 3,353 yards. The school record is 3,330 yards by Joe Germaine in 1998. Miller's season-highs in yardage and touchdowns came last season, when he threw for 2,094 yards and 24 scores.
Miller received help from sophomore tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who had 23 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Devin Smith, who had six receptions for 129 yards and one touchdown.
The victory leaves Ohio State -- whose only loss came to Virginia Tech at home in early September -- all alone atop the Big Ten East and all but sews up the division title for the Buckeyes, who have regular-season games remaining against Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan.
Michigan State finished with 536 yards of offense and punted just twice. Still, 151 of those yards came on the Spartans' final two drives, after the game already was decided.