In big rivalry games like Michigan-Ohio State, records and expectations can be thrown out. Michigan entered as a huge underdog as No. 3 Ohio State was expected to win, and win big. The Wolverines proved nearly everyone wrong and played right with the almighty Buckeyes, but fell just short, losing 42-41 in one of the greatest games in the history of the rivalry.
“The Game” had a little bit of everything and A LOT of offense. The two teams combined for 1,139 yards of total offense, with Michigan racking up 603 after being held to under 200 a week ago against Iowa. Hatred was in the air at The Big House, and one outburst in the second quarter ended with three players ejected. There was also some controversy, both in play-calling and calls made by the referees. All in all, it was an extremely entertaining game that nobody saw coming.
What we saw
With Michigan down by a touchdown with two minutes to go, quarterback Devin Gardner led a gutty drive which ended with a touchdown strike to Devin Funchess. An extra point would send the game into overtime, but Michigan coach Brady Hoke elected to go for 2, which has already led to quite a bit of controversy. Hoke made the right call. Michigan controlled its own fate on one final play in a game they had nothing to lose. Overtime would force the Michigan defense back onto the field against an Ohio State offense that had no problem scoring and gaining nearly 400 yards on the ground. Just three yards came in between a shocking upset.
Gardner took a two-step dropped and fired a pass to Drew Dileo who was blanketed by a pair of Buckeyes. The pass was intercepted and all but wrapped up the contest. Some might question the decision to go for it, and some might question the play call, but Gardner just threw to the wrong guy. Watch the play again and you can see Jeremy Gallon start to break open. Give credit to Hoke for putting his team in a position to win the game as he showed a ton of confidence in them. Michigan played as well as they could have, but just fell a little short at the end.
The game started well for the Wolverines, however. After forcing an Ohio State punt on the opening drive of the game, Michigan drove the length of the field quickly to score first. Gardner found Gallon for an 84-yard gain on a screen pass to set up Gardner’s 1-yard touchdown run a couple plays later. The 99-yard drive gave Michigan the early lead.
Ohio State answered when Braxton Miller connected with Devin Smith for a 53-yard touchdown pass. Freshman safety Josh Furman started in place of Jarrod Wilson, who was seen on the sideline wearing a cast of some sort on his hand. Furman and Raymon Taylor struggled in the secondary as they were beat deep multiple times. Fortunately, Miller was not terribly accurate passing the ball.
The teams traded touchdowns later in the quarter, leaving the game at 14-14 heading into the second quarter. Most still believed Ohio State would pull ahead very soon.
Michigan started the second quarter with a 17-yard leaping touchdown grab by Jeremy Gallon to give them the lead again.
Ohio State’s ensuing drive sparked a brawl at the end of the play which led to mass chaos. Michigan players surrounded a lone Buckeye, and then it got crazy. Players began shoving each other and it became a jumbled mess. There would eventually be an Ohio State helmet hurled from the pile and punches thrown. In the end, Michigan’s Royce Jenkins-Stone and Ohio State’s Marcus Hall and Dontre Wilson were ejected from the game. Upon Hall’s exit, he gave Michigan Stadium the “double bird” as he walked up the tunnel. Keep it classy, Ohio.
The drive ended when Miller was picked off by Blake Countess, but Michigan was unable to capitalize on the turnover. The teams were held scoreless until late in the first half when Miller evaded the Michigan pass rush and eventually walked into the endzone on a 21-yard touchdown run. The first half would end in a 21-21 tie, just like you predicted.
Michigan’s second drive of the second half ended with questionable call. Gardner ran for six yards on a 3rd-and-10, where he was met by a couple Ohio State defenders. The ball came loose and Ohio State recovered, but the play would be reviewed. On the replay it seemed pretty clear that Gardner’s knee was down, but the guys up in the booth disagreed. Ohio State would benefit from the gift as they scored soon after on another Miller touchdown.
Miller found Jeff Heuerman for a 22-yard touchdown pass and Ohio State held a 14-point advantage after scoring 21 unanswered points. The Wolverines answered on the first drive of the fourth quarter, with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Drew Dileo.
On the second play of Ohio State’s next drive, Carlos Hyde was stripped after a first down run and Michigan recovered. The replay confirmed the fumble on the field. Michigan took advantage and drove the field, ending with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jake Butt. Tie ballgame.
Ohio State would score with just over two minutes left on Hyde’s 1-yard touchdown run, leaving Michigan with one last drive to tie or take the lead. You already know what happens there.
Gardner played arguably his best game of the season, finishing 32-for-45 for 451 yards and 4 touchdowns. Michigan used Derrick Green, DeVeon Smith and Fitz Toussaint to run the ball, and was able to get some decent production. As a team, they rushed for 178 yards on 35 carries. Gardner and Toussaint both had touchdown runs.
Jeremy Gallon had a monster game, as he caught nine passes for 175 yards and a score. Jake Butt proved to be a solid option in the passing game as he caught five balls for 85 yards and a score. Drew Dileo and Devin Funchess also caught touchdown passes.
Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde was basically unstoppable. He ran for 229 yard on 27 carries and a score. Braxton Miller ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
Neither defense even decided to show up, so they really aren’t worth mentioning.
Notable stats and news
Jeremy Gallon has now caught a pass in 38 straight games, tying Braylon Edwards’ mark.
Dennis Norfleet finally broke out and had a big return on a kickoff, but it was called back due to a (really, really weak) holding call.
Ohio State has now won 24 straight games, capping off its second straight undefeated regular season.
Michigan gained 603 yards after being held to under 500 yards in the Michigan State, Nebraska and Iowa games COMBINED.
Everyone wrote this off as a blowout before the game even started. Michigan played a heck of a game to make this close, but neither defense showed up, which provided tons of points and yards. Had the Wolverines played like this all year, they could have a lot better record than they do now. Ohio State seems to have been exposed a bit heading into its Big Ten Championship game against Michigan State next week. The Spartans are believed by many to be the favorites as a result.
It was a classic Michigan-Ohio State game that had everything; animosity, an electric atmosphere, incredible plays, and lots of blue and scarlet. It wasn’t the result Michigan fans and players hoped for, but they made a game that was seemingly not winnable look like a game that they should have won.