Fourth-quarter thoughts: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 7

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Terrelle Pryor just manhandled Michigan State cornerback Ross Weaver with a stiff arm on a first-down run, and the first person to congratulate him was tight end Rory Nicol. I'd say all is right in Ohio State's world today.

Nicol was among the players who spoke out this week about Ohio State's struggles on offense, asking for some sort of change to jump-start the passing game. None of the players directly criticized Pryor, but they didn't give him a ringing endorsement, either. It seems like what they said worked, though, as Pryor stepped up in a big way today.

Ohio State fans have complained the last few weeks that the Buckeyes aren't getting the necessary boost in the polls with win after win. Until today, the argument seemed hollow. Ohio State hadn't looked like Ohio State, and other teams looked better.

But the Buckeyes' convincing performance at Spartan Stadium should get them a sizable boost in the Week 9 rankings.

Michigan State likely will fall out of the Top 25 after today's clunker.

Mark Dantonio tried to give the offense a spark with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, but after one scoring drive the Spartans went nowhere. I doubt Brian Hoyer will be replaced next week, but Ohio State definitely erased the notion that Michigan State is an elite program. The Spartans have to bounce back in a rivalry game at Michigan to avoid their annual nosedive.

If Ohio State's defense performs like this next week, Penn State will have a tough time.