AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Urban Meyer's first Big Ten game as Ohio State coach turned out to be a classic welcome to the conference.
His quarterback got shaken up twice, but Braxton Miller kept coming back on the field, and in the end the Buckeyes played just well enough defensively to come away with a bruising victory.
"This was a war. This was two sledgehammers going at each other," Meyer said. "I know the Big Ten has taken some heat. That was a great game. Great atmosphere, a bunch of great players on the field that are going to be playing at the next level, and that was good for college football and good for the Big Ten."
Miller threw for 179 yards and ran for 136, and No. 14 Ohio State held off No. 20 Michigan State 17-16 on Saturday. Miller put Ohio State ahead 17-13 with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith in the third quarter, and the Buckeyes' maligned defense held Le'Veon Bell and the Michigan State running game in check.
Meyer becomes the third coach to start 5-0 in his first season at Ohio State. Carol Widdoes and Earle Bruce also did it in 1944 and 1979.
Michigan State (3-2, 0-1) has lost four home games in a row against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) aren't eligible to win the Big Ten title because of sanctions, but they handed the Spartans an early loss.
Michigan State took a 13-10 advantage in the third on a terrific individual effort by Keith Mumphery. With the ball on the Ohio State 29 after a personal foul call on the Buckeyes, Mumphery took Andrew Maxwell's short pass and eluded four tacklers before dragging a couple more Buckeyes into the end zone.
The lead didn't last long. Miller managed to pick up a first down, just barely, with a run on third-and-1, then lofted a deep pass on the next play to Smith, who beat Johnny Adams along the right sideline to put Ohio State ahead to stay.
"We hook up all the time," Miller said. "That's one of my favorite receivers, so I'm always going to look for him."
Miller turned the ball over three times in Michigan State territory, including a fumble early in the fourth - but the Buckeyes actually caught a break on that play. The ball bounced right to Kurtis Drummond of the Spartans, who began running down the right sideline before the play was blown dead and Miller was ruled down.
The call was reversed after a review, giving Michigan State the ball at its own 32 - but the Buckeyes were saved from a big return that would almost surely have followed if the call had been correct to begin with.
The Buckeyes then appeared to have stopped the Spartans when Maxwell underthrew a pass on fourth-and-1 from the Ohio State 44, but Travis Howard was called for defensive holding on the opposite side of the field, keeping the drive alive.
Dan Conroy's 48-yard field goal pulled Michigan State within a point with 7:07 remaining.