COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — As Marvin Harrison Jr. bolstered his case for the Heisman Trophy, No. 3 Ohio State started looking like a team that is peaking at the right time.
Harrison caught two of Kyle McCord’s three touchdown passes and rushed for another score in an electric performance, helping the Buckeyes pound Michigan State 38-3 on Saturday night.
"I can't really quantify how impactful he is to this offense," McCord said, noting that Harrison is often double-covered and gets open anyway, or draws so much attention that other receivers can get open.
“I'm spoiled,” said McCord, who threw for a career-high 335 yards. “There's no other way to put it.”
The Buckeyes (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten, No. 1 CFP) overwhelmed the Spartans (3-7, 1-6) with touchdowns on five of their six first-half possessions.
Ohio State's defense, missing several key players due to injuries, held Michigan State to 182 total yards and two third-down conversions on 14 attempts.
Ohio State hosts Minnesota next weekend ahead of the Nov. 25 showdown with No. 2 Michigan, now embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal that led to a suspension for coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines beat No. 9 Penn State 24-15 on Saturday.
“I think this is what I’ve kind of been talking about all year,” McCord said. “You know, we’re just continuing to improve and grow each week and now that we’re in November, I think we have to play our best football now. And I think the urgency has been passed on from the coaches to the players. And I think as an offense, we knew that this had to be a good week for us.”
McCord completed 24 of 31 passes before being relieved in the fourth quarter. Harrison finished with seven receptions for 149 yards, and tight end Cade Stover tied a career high with seven catches for 79 yards.
Harrison sparked Ohio State's impressive start. In motion from the left side, he took a pitch and went 19 yards around the right end for the first rushing touchdown of his career.
After a missed field-goal attempt by the Spartans, Harrison got back to what he does best, catching a 26-yard pass that McCord dropped over his shoulder in the back corner of the end zone.
“Marv is a special player, and we’re always going to find ways to get him the ball," coach Ryan Day said. “Not that it’s always easy. There’s was a lot of double coverage out there tonight, and he still found a way to make plays.”
Harrison caught a 9-yard TD pass early in the second quarter. T reVeyon Henderson ran one in from 9 yards out, and Stover turned around in the end zone to grab a pass for an 18-yard touchdown and a 35-3 Ohio State lead at the break.
“They're good,” Michigan State interim coach Harlon Barnett said. “It'll be interesting to see how this thing all works out when it's all said and done as far as the playoffs and all that kind of stuff, but they're a good team.”
Michigan State: After getting their first Big Ten win of the season last week, the Spartans ran into Ohio State playing at its best and couldn't match up.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes are rolling toward another high-stakes game with Michigan if they don't overlook Minnesota next week.
The Buckeyes were without their best defensive player, linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, as well as starting safeties Lathan Ransom and Josh Proctor. Eichenberg, the team’s leading tackler, and Proctor got hurt in last week’s win over Rutgers. Ransom and Burke were injured in the Oct. 28 Wisconsin game. Eichenberg and Proctor are “week to week,” but Ransom “is a little more long term,” according to Day.
Harrison became the first receiver in Ohio State history with 1,000 yards receiving in two seasons. He had 1,263 in 2022 and has 1,063 so far this season.
He said he was “blessed and thankful to be in the (Heisman) conversation,” but getting to New York is not one of his immediate goals.
“So whatever happens in December happens in December,” he said. “Right now, I'm focused on the corrections being made (after) this game and moving on to Minnesota.”
With a dominating win over a bottom-tier Big Ten team, Ohio State shouldn't move, if at all.
Michigan State: At Indiana next Saturday.
Ohio State: Hosts Minnesota next Saturday.
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