For the seventh year running, Jim Tressel has made good on his promise to beat Michigan. Back when Ohio State hired him, the man stood on the hardwood at The Schott and told a packed Value City Arena that he planned on beating the Wolverines. Since that speech, Tressel has gone 9-1 against That School Up North, and 2010′s edition of The Game was one of the most dominating wins that the series has seen in years.
It was the last game for a group of 2010 seniors led by defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. It was a day honoring the 1942 National Championship team. And in the end, everything worked. Including the crazy throwback uniforms.
I’ll point out right up front that Ohio State got some help in the form of suspect officiating. The refs were in poor form and made some very questionable decisions. The most damaging for UM was a Tate Forcier interception that was, in fact, never caught by Buckeyes defensive back Travis Howard. However, the zebras were equal opportunity offenders and Ohio State suffered as much as it benefited. In the end, the officiating didn’t determine the outcome of the game, but I do hope that when grades are given, this particular crew will be attending some remedial classes.
With that acknowledgement out of the way, I can focus on the positive. And there was plenty of it.
- 37 points and 478 yards of offense
- An 89-yard Dan Herron rush that tied the school record for longest play from scrimmage.
- An 85-yard kickoff return by Jordan Hall.
- And a defense that limited the powerful UM offense to 7 points and 351 yards.
The 351 yards might not seem too impressive until you remember that Michigan was averaging better than 514 per game coming into the matchup. The Buckeyes’ defense played a very sound game, sticking to assignments on running plays and keeping the Wolverines receivers off balance. Tailback Michael Shaw did break off a 39-yard run in the second quarter but was otherwise controlled. His remaining 7 carries went for a total of 13 yards. QB Denard Robinson was effective as usual with 18 carries for 105 yards, but Ohio State did an excellent job of taking away the weapons around him.
Robinson might have had a better day if his receiving corps hadn’t dropped several key tosses; his final passing line of 8-for-18 for 85 yards isn’t indicative of the type of day he had. Surprisingly, it was Roy Roundtree who had the toughest day– the star wideout was unable to haul in several balls that hit him in the hands.
Robinson was knocked out of the game for some of the second and third quarters with an apparent arm injury, but Tate Forcier didn’t have much more luck. He completed 8 of 15 passes for 82 yards.
The tandem’s counterpart was far more effective. Terrelle Pryor was the Buckeyes’ best weapon, hitting 18 of 27 throws for 220 yards and a pair of scores. He did have an interception at the end of the first half that came on an ill-advised attempt, but for the most part Pryor played a smart and efficient game.
Boom Herron was held down early on but eventually broke a series of good runs, including an 89-yard gallop in the third quarter. That rush originally finished in the endzone, but a shabby holding call against Dan Sanzenbacher brought the ball back to the UM 19. Boom had to settle for a single touchdown.
Sanzenbacher more than atoned for his hold with 71 yards and a touchdown on 3 grabs. The 2 that weren’t scores both came on big third downs, going for 39 and 25 yards respectively. DeVier Posey led all receivers with 82 yards and a TD of his own. He hauled in 5 passes.
Michigan came out playing very well in the first. They forced a pair of Ohio State 3-and-outs but couldn’t capitalize on the Buckeyes’ inability to move the ball. The Wolverines first drive ended on downs at the Ohio State 28; the second was snuffed by a Robinson fumble at the Buckeyes 26.
Despite 2 time-consuming possessions by Michigan, the first quarter was scoreless. The Buckeyes broke the deadlock early in the second when their 10-play, 74 -yard drive ended with a Devin Barclay field goal. An obvious hold by Reid Fragel stalled the promising drive before Pryor could find the endzone. But after forcing Michigan to punt, OSU got a gift 18-yard shank from kicker-turned-punter Seth Broekhuizen. Operating from the UM 35, Pryor engineered a scoring drive that was highlighted by a miracle scramble and throw on third-and-6. Pryor dropped back 24 yards behind the line of scrimmage, running for his life and ultimately finding Taurian Washington along the sideline for 13 yards and the first down. A couple of plays later, he found Sanzenbacher in the middle for the TD that put the Buckeyes up 10-0.
Michigan made it 10-7 by finally finishing a drive without any self-inflicted wounds. Denard Robinson’s 20-yard run set up a 1-yard plunge from Shaw, but the ensuing kick was taken back 85 yards by Jordan Hall as the Buckeyes provided an immediate answer.
The lead went to 24-7 after Pryor found Posey for a 33-yard strike that finished off a 6-play, 62-yard march. Ohio State would have extended the advantage, but Pryor interception at the UM 1 yardline ended the half.
Michigan received to start the third quarter, but the first play from scrimmage was the dubious interception thrown by Tate Forcier. Travis Howard appeared to be bobbling the catch the entire way to the ground, but the play was inexplicably not reviewed by the officials booth. 6 plays and 70 yards later, Herron scored from 32 yards out.
The Buckeyes’ next possession began at the OSU 2, but Herron rumbled 98 yards for the apparent score before the Sanzenbacher holding call took those points off the board. Instead, OSU had to settle for another Barclay kick that made it 34-7. A final field goal with just more than a minute left in the third set the 37-7 final. Ohio State essentially ran out the clock in the fourth as Michigan was unable to get anything going.
With the win, the Bucks secured at least a share of the Big Ten title for the sixth straight year. Wisconsin went on to win its game against Northwestern, meaning that Badgers will likely claim the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl berth by virtue of their higher ranking in the BCS standings. However, OSU will almost certainly be an at-large selection. That means a sixth straight BCS appearance, and the team’s ninth overall.
2010 Schedule (all times Eastern)
11/6 — BYE
11/20 — 3:30pm — Ohio State @ Iowa – W 20-17
11/27 — 12:00pm — Michigan @ Ohio State – W 37-7
Final Record: 11-1, (tie) 1st in the Big Ten