Final Score: Ohio State 31, Michigan 20
The Game. The biggest rivalry in all of sports. Not much more needs to be said. No. 9 Ohio State traveled north for a battle with Michigan on Saturday afternoon. Looking to beat Michigan for a sixth straight time and keep their playoff hopes alive, the Buckeyes knew they were in for a challenge. Wanting nothing more than to close the door on Ohio State’s season, the Wolverines promised to leave all they had out on the field. A world of hype surrounded this game, but talk is cheap and when noon came it was finally time for the Buckeyes and Wolverines to kick things off.
Michigan received the ball to start the game, but both teams went three and out on their opening possessions. On the Wolverines’ second possession, however, they began to find a rhythm. Unable to make key tackles, the Buckeye defense allowed Michigan to march down the field for a touchdown. Going backwards on the ensuing drive, Ohio State was forced to punt the ball right back to the Wolverines.
With a penalty on Ohio State and huge punt return for Michigan, the Wolverines started off their next drive on the Buckeyes’ five yard line. Just like that, Michigan scored its second touchdown of the game to start the second quarter. Trailing 14-0, J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes knew they needed to respond fast. Going on an 11 play drive, Barrett led the offense right down the field. On third and nine, Barrett scrambled for a 21 yard touchdown run to bring Ohio State within seven.
A huge sack by Sam Hubbard helped the Silver Bullets force a punt on the following Michigan possession. With the ball back in hand, Barrett got back to work. The senior quarterback led the Buckeyes right back down the field, finding tight end Marcus Baugh wide open for a 25 yard touchdown pass. All tied up at 14-14, Ohio State had finally gained momentum and was looking to carry it into halftime.
The Silver Bullets forced another Michigan punt, but just as Ohio State started to drive, the Buckeyes were brought to a halt. On third and five from midfield, Barrett mishandled the snap and barely managed to jump back on the football in time. Despite the near turnover, Ohio State’s defense was able to hold the Wolverines scoreless for the final two minutes of the half. Tied up at 14-14 heading into the break, everyone knew the second half would be a historic one.
Going three and out on their first two possessions of the second half, Ohio State did not come out of the break like it had hoped. Michigan marched right down the field on its second drive of the half, capping it off with a two yard touchdown run. The Buckeyes special teams made a big play, though, blocking the Wolverines’ extra point attempt. With Michigan in front 20-14, Ohio State found itself playing from behind again with 7:07 left in the third quarter.
Needing to respond, the Buckeyes were dealt some tough luck as both Barrett and veteran left tackle Jamarco Jones exited the field with injuries. With back-up quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the game, Ohio State’s offense showed a spark of life. Haskins threw an absolute dime to Austin Mack on third and 13 before scrambling for a 22 yard gain. A one yard touchdown run by J.K. Dobbins on the following play put the Buckeyes in front 21-20 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Getting the ball back after a Michigan punt, Haskins and Weber went back to work. They marched into Wolverine territory before being stopped on a third and nine. Sean Nurenberger came in to try a 44 yard field goal. Nurenberger nailed the kick and the Buckeyes extended their lead to 24-20 with 10:21 to go.
Putting everything on the line, Michigan needed a big drive with time winding down. The Wolverines powered into Buckeye territory before being faced with a fourth and four. Out of field goal range, Michigan elected to go for it. Sailing a pass over the intended receiver’s head, Michigan failed to convert as the Silver Bullets came up with a huge stop.
Back out on offense with under seven minutes to play and a four point lead, Haskins knew Ohio State needed to run some clock. Connecting with K.J. Hill on third and seven, the Buckeyes picked up the first down and entered Wolverine territory. Stopped after that, though, Ohio State was forced to attempt another 44 yard field goal. This time Nurenberger missed it and Michigan got the ball back with 2:47 to play.
Looking to lead his team on a game winning touchdown drive, John O’Korn and the Wolverine offense went back out on the field. Refusing to lose to the team up north, however, the Silver Bullets came up with a huge play. O’Korn’s first pass of the drive sailed and was intercepted by Jordan Fuller. Giving the ball right back to the offense, Ohio State was determined to put the finishing touches on the game this time. Dobbins busted through for a 35 yard run into Michigan territory. Moments later, Mike Weber zipped around the corner for a 25 yard touchdown run.