EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Urban Meyer's first Big Ten Conference game as Ohio State coach Saturday turned out to be a classic welcome to the league.
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, at Spartan Stadium. 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, respectively.
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 of 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.