EAST LANSING, Mich. -- There wasn't a moment John Simon could pinpoint, so the Ohio State defensive lineman didn't know for sure if it ever arrived.
But the senior and his teammates had made it an emphasis to frustrate Le'Veon Bell, and whether the top rusher in the Big Ten ever reached a boiling point, the Buckeyes gave him plenty of reasons to get there.
The defensive line didn't give an inch up front, the linebackers flooded to the football and even the defensive backs arrived to help put Michigan State's tailback on the ground in a 17-16 win on Saturday at Spartan Stadium. And it was no secret what tipped the odds in favor of the Buckeyes.
"I just think we were getting after him pretty good," Simon said. "That was our goal for the game. I think we did a nice job forcing him lateral, and we’ve got guys in the back end who are able to run, and they can really run. They were able to get out there and wrap him up.
"When we face a physical offense, I think we play our best. We have to show how physical we are, and I think we’re one of the most physical defenses in the nation -- and we went out and proved it today."
That comparison might have been hard to make across the country on Saturday, but with the top-rated defense in the Big Ten coming into the weekend on the same field, the Buckeyes certainly looked more like an elite unit than the one that had bumbled through a couple weeks of sloppy tackling.
Bell finished with just 45 yards on 17 carries and the Spartans collectively were held to just 34 yards for the game, forcing them to try their luck with a suspect passing attack against an Ohio State secondary that regularly made its impact felt with huge hits and timely pass breakups.
There was one hiccup in the third quarter when the Buckeyes missed at least four tackles as Keith Mumphery barreled in for a 29-yard touchdown catch, but for the rest of the afternoon, the Spartans rarely sniffed the end zone.
"On defense, are you kidding, if you had to say who was the MVP, it's that defensive line and the linebackers," Meyer said. "They did a very, very nice job stopping a very good rushing attack.
"Not to pump his tires, but that's a good back. I'd venture to say that won't happen again to that guy."