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REACTION: Michigan beats Ohio State for third straight year

Courtesy of Adam Shondel
Ohio Stadium is in Columbus, Ohio, and is home to the Ohio State Buckeyes

For the second straight season, Michigan and Ohio State met as the second and third-ranked teams in the nation. Both have an 11-0 record. 

Once again, it was the Maize and Blue defeating the Buckeyes with a 30-24 victory.

The game started off with a pair of punts for both teams. 

On the first play of Ohio State’s third drive, quarterback Kyle McCord threw a pass directly to Michigan cornerback Will Johnson, who came up with the interception and returned it to the Ohio State seven-yard line.   

The Buckeye defense forced a fourth and goal from inside the one. However, running back Blake Corum would punch it in to put the Wolverines up 7-0.

The following Buckeye drive went down the field and nearly ended with another interception when McCord again threw a pass to Wolverines linebacker Michael Barrett. 

However, Ohio State’s tight end Cade Stover got a hand on the ball to prevent the interception. The drive would yield a 43-yard kicker Jayden Fielding kick.

Michigan’s next drive lasted 14 plays, including a pair of fourth and one conversions. 

The drive’s final play was a third and 10 from the Buckeye 22-yard line, where quarterback J.J. McCarthy threw a laser between two Ohio State defenders to Roman Wilson for the touchdown, putting the Wolverines up 14-3.

Needing a score to stay in the game, the Buckeyes went 73 yards in seven plays and responded with an wide receiver Emeka Egbuka touchdown reception, making the score 14-10.

The Wolverines punt pinned Ohio State back at their own 2-yard line with 3:23 left in the half. The drive started slow, but a 44-yard reception by wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. put the Buckeyes in Michigan territory late in the half. 

Facing a fourth and two with 25 seconds left, coach Ryan Day elected to let the clock run down and attempt a 52-yard field goal on the final play of the half. 

It’s understandable not to want to attempt fourth and two with 15 or 20 seconds left because if the attempt fails, Michigan has a couple of plays to get into field goal range themselves. 

However, Day should have run a play with about 8 seconds left to try to get closer for the field goal. If the offense turns it over on downs, Michigan only has one play. 

Sending your kicker out there to attempt a career-long was the conservative approach, and it didn’t pay off as Fielding missed it wide left, leaving the halftime score 14-10 in favor of the Wolverines.

Michigan took the opening drive of the second half and came away with a 50-yard field goal.

Ohio State’s following drive was 12 plays; the last eight were all runs, and it was capped off by a 3-yard touchdown by running back TreVeyon Henderson to knot the game at 17-17.

Michigan would answer, marching down the field in seven plays, the last of which was a 22-yard touchdown run for Blake Corum.

Down 24-17, the Buckeyes went three and out, giving the ball back to the Wolverines, who took it down the field and cashed in a field goal to go up 27-17.

Ohio State needed another push to cut the deficit to one possession again, and they did, going 65 yards in 8 plays, finished off by a Harrison Jr. touchdown.

With the ball and a 27-24 lead, the Wolverines took seven minutes off the clock with quality runs and short passes. They had to kick a field goal with just over a minute left, putting them up 30-24. 

The last chance for the Buckeyes started with an incompletion, then two chunk plays, getting the offense to the Michigan 37 with 34 seconds left.

The Wolverine’s pressure affected McCord, as his pass to Harrison Jr. was off the mark and intercepted by defensive back Rod Moore, sealing the win for the Wolverines and sending them to the Big Ten Championship for the third straight season.

Michigan played a clean game, with just three penalties, no turnovers and no major mistakes. 

As for the Buckeyes, conservative coaching and poor quarterback play are just a couple of things to look at. 

Throughout the whole game, the offense took the play clock down under 15 seconds before snapping the ball, even when they were down ten points in the fourth quarter. 

Over the course of a game, that results in losing an extra possession or two, which would’ve come in handy. 

The defense also had a tough time handling the Michigan tight ends. They were able to get by the linebackers enough times for it to become an issue, but the Buckeyes could not stop timely passes to the tight ends.

McCord played another bad game. He made some good throws, but he will be remembered in this game for the two interceptions and many throws in the dirt. He simply did not get it done.

Michigan will head to the Big Ten Championship to play the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2).

Ohio State does have a shot at making the playoffs, but they will need a lot of help. They will most likely face Louisville (10-2, 3-1) in the Orange Bowl.

Demetri Manousos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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