Red menace: Ohio State overwhelms Michigan
Ann Arbor — For periods of the game, Michigan looked like it might finally get over the hump and pull off a stunner of Ohio State.
But the unranked Wolverines, which had a 14-0 lead early, could not generate much of a run game and stuttered offensively with backup quarterback John O’Korn at the helm. Even when Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett left the game in the second half with an injury, the Wolverines couldn’t take advantage.
Ohio State won for the sixth straight time in the rivalry, beating Michigan 31-20 on Saturday before 112,028 at Michigan Stadium. The Buckeyes are now 13-1 against the Wolverines the last 14 meetings.
A late interception by O’Korn cost Michigan a shot at taking the lead in the final minutes.
O’Korn started because redshirt freshman Brandon Peters, who started the last three games, left last week’s Wisconsin game with a concussion. He was at the stadium Saturday but not in uniform, as was Wilton Speight, last year’s starting quarterback who started the first four games this season before suffering three broken vertebrae at Purdue on Sept. 23.
O’Korn took over for Speight and started four games before Peters took over in the Rutgers game. He was 17-of-32 for 195 yards, one touchdown and one interception and took five sacks.
BOX SCORE: Ohio State 31, Michigan 20
Redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins came in for Barrett and was 6-of-7 for 94 yards.
Michigan finished Jim Harbaugh’s third season (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten). The Buckeyes are 10-2, 8-1 and will play in the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin.
The Buckeyes dominated Michigan in the run game, outgaining the Wolverines, 226-100. J.K. Dobbins led Buckeyes with 101 yards on 15 carries. Chris Evans led Michigan with 67 yards on 11 carries and Karan Higdon had 55 yards on 11 carries.
The Wolverines, who had a 14-0 lead in the first half before the Buckeyes tied the game, regained the lead early in the second half, opening their second series with a 43-yard pass from O’Korn to Kekoa Crawford, who got outstanding blocking from Mason Cole and Sean McKeon. Karan Higdon scored on a two-yard run, but Quinn Nordin’s point-after attempt was blocked and Michigan took a 20-14 lead.
Barrett left the game on Ohio State’s next possession with 6:07 left in the third quarter. He was replaced by Haskins, who didn’t miss a beat. He also got some help from Michigan, when on an incomplete pass the Wolverines were called for a holding, which gave OSU the first down. The Buckeyes gained a 21-20 lead after driving 78 yards on 11 plays and Dobbins scored on a one-yard run.
Ohio State added a 44-yard field goal by Sean Nuernberger for the 24-20 lead. Nuernberger missed a 43-yard field goal wide left with 2:47 left in the game.
The Wolverines had a chance to make a game-winning drive and O’Korn, with an inexplicable deep throw, was intercepted by Jordan Fuller. Ohio State added a touchdown to take a 31-20 lead on Mike Weber’s 25-yard run with 1:44 left.
Michigan took a 14-0 lead before surrendering its first points with 9:50 to go in the first half.
After both teams went three-and-out to open the game, Michigan drove 77 yards on 13 plays. On third-and-eight, O’Korn, who was 0-for-3 with two overthrows, hit tight end Zach Gentry for a 27-yard gain to the Ohio State 14. Chris Evans ran 13 yards to the 2-yard line, and Khalid Hill scored for the game’s first points.
The Wolverines defense held Ohio State to another three-and-out on two negative-yardage plays and an incompletion. The Buckeyes could get nothing going on their next possession and at that point had minus-seven yards to Michigan’s 103.
Donovan Peoples-Jones returned a punt after the Buckeyes’ third series and went 42 yards with an Ohio State penalty on top of that, giving Michigan the ball at the OSU 5-yard line. On a play fake, O’Korn hit Sean McKeon on a 3-yard pass to go up, 14-0, early in the second quarter.
Ohio State began to generate some offense on its next series and drove to the Michigan 14-yard line, when Josh Metellus had an interception in his hands but dropped it. He stood in disbelief while linebacker Devin Bush put his hands on his helmet. After OSU was penalized for a delay of game, Barrett scored on a 21-yard run to pull to 14-7.
O’Korn took a 10-yard loss on a sack in Michigan’s next drive and fumbled a snap that he picked up and threw incomplete, and the Wolverines had an illegal formation penalty.
The Buckeyes started the next drive at their 47-yard line and needed only three plays to tie the game, 14-14. Barrett ran for 26 yards and then hit Marcus Baugh for a 25-yard touchdown.