The Buckeye Watch – Michigan
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Classics don't become classics without their fair share of angst and puckering, and this game had more than enough of both to get Buckeye fans through October of next year I'm guessing.
The Wolverines came out and played like everybody expected them to – back in July, and the Buckeyes were caught flat footed. Eventually, however, the Ohio State offensive line took control and calmed things down – until the fourth quarter, at least.
Much like they started the game on offense, Michigan kept attacking in the fourth quarter without any semblance of the quit they had shown for the last month. Ohio State's defense was on its heels repeatedly, and the Wolverines burst back to life like zombie General Studies majors, snapping at the Buckeyes every yard of the way.
It was everything an observer could have asked for and more.
Can you imagine doing this all over again next Saturday?
10:12 Mark Pantoni and Zach Smith have both tweeted that Michigan is not letting the team in the stadium yet. The bus is stuck outside the gates waiting to be let in, apparently. I assume at around 11:50, the refs will start asking Brady Hoke where the Buckeyes are, and he'll be like, “I have no idea!”
10:14 Braxton Miller turns 21 today. I couldn't imagine being asked to stand up straight without vomit stains covering 80% of my body on my 21st, let alone starting at quarterback in Ann Arbor.
11:28 Gameday has yet to spend any meaningful time on this game. I'd say I was surprised, but I'd be lying to you, and I only like lying to you when it serves my purposes.
11:37 Brendan Gibbons is out today for Michigan. That could mean something if Michigan gets into a questionable field goal situation.
11:48 Desmond Howard just picked Michigan to beat Ohio State. It sounded more hopeful than truthful. He also picked Michigan to beat Michigan State a few weeks back.
11:58 The Michigan student section is empty. That's ridiculously sad.
12:00 This is the best day of the year and I don't know what second-best is.
12:06 Michigan wins the toss and defers. The kickoff goes into the endzone. We are officially under way.
12:07 Carlos Hyde gets seven yards up the middle on the first play from scrimmage. That's different. Already in mash mentality. Why wait? No need for the early passing game, I guess.
12:09 Hyde again, busts through the line and gets into Michigan territory. He picks up 19 yards, and then flexes afterward. There is very little chance that he can go this entire game with getting a flag for flexing.
12:11 Third and nine. Braxton Miller drops back, has all day to throw, and goes deep into double coverage to Evan Spencer for some reason. It's obviously incomplete. Frank Clark hit Miller pretty good on that one. The Buckeyes will punt. This is Cameron Johnston's sweet spot.
12:12 The punt is downed at the one-yard line by Bryce Haynes. That second down incompletion to Devin Smith ruined that drive, but Johnston saved it a bit. A game of inches. Remember that play.
12:15 Michigan has no choice but to go with the I-formation here, which is a formation that has killed them all year long. Derrick Green gets the carry and picks up three yards. That's a win for Michigan. In fact, any carry that doesn't lose more than two yards is a win. Small victories lead to bigger, but still small, victories.
12:17 Now they're in the ace formation, and this is oftentimes a throwback to Jeremy Gallon. Yep, here it comes and he may go all the way. Josh Perry is keeping pace, but can't catch him. Bradley Roby finally tackles him at the two-yard line. That's pretty much Michigan's most predictable play. It's either that or the speed option out of the pistol formation, and the Buckeyes fell for it like the play had never been witnessed by human eyes before.
12:18 Second and goal. De'Veon Smith comes in. They're in the pistol now, so here comes the speed option. Yep. Devin Gardner keeps it and scores. Michigan leads it 7-0. If this is how successful this offense is going to be on their most predictable plays, what's going to happen when they actually mix in some wrinkles?
12:19 The Buckeyes have to make Michigan earn their drives, and they just gave one up in a single play. That's how you lose to this team. It's probably too soon for things to start tightening up, sphincterly-speaking, though.
12:22 Michigan students are all running to the stadium to try to get into the game now I bet.
12:24 Third and five. I see Josh Furman is at safety. He is attackable all game long. Philly Brown comes in motion, and it's a tap pass. He picks up six yards. Not sure why we didn't see more of that this season. That's probably the eighth or ninth time all year.
12:26 Hyde goes up the middle, gets the football grabbed, but holds on for seven yards. I'm feeling pretty confident about my prediction that he's going to fumble today for some reason.
12:28 Third and nine. This will probably be a swing pass to Carlos Hyde for a gain of about three yards. Nope, Miller is going deep again on third and long. He has Devin Smith open...Wow! He snagged it and rolls into the endzone. I never thought he was going to be able to catch up to that one. Josh Furman was four yards behind him in coverage. The Buckeyes just tied it up 7-7, and given that Ohio State is undefeated when Devin Smith catches a touchdown pass, I have to wonder if we just saw the game winner.
12:29 Huge momentum shifter right there. Third and 11. Michigan fans were starting to believe. Pretty obvious that OSU thinks they have the weapons to go deep against these defensive backs. They're right. That was the pass that Devier Posey couldn't catch up to in 2011.
12:32 Here's the kickoff. Oh man...Dennis Norfleet is gone, but there's a flag. Nothing is going be normal today, so don't get comfortable.
12:37 Play-action, Gardner avoids a sack by Michael Bennett and finds Jake Butt wide open inside the 25-yard line. (Grow up.) Urban Meyer is visibly frustrated by the defense right now.
12:39 Second and goal from the four-yard line. Pistol formation, which means the speed option is coming. Yep, Gardner pitches it and Fitzgerald Toussaint walks in. Gardner got popped on that one, but it doesn't matter. Michigan leads it 14-7. They went 70 yards on seven plays.
12:42 At this point the Buckeye offense needs to hold on to the ball for a little bit to give their defense a rest. Hyde busting loose for 10 yards like he just did will surely help that. He's getting serious right now. Runs through a tackle.
12:43 Hyde gets seven more, then pulls himself out for sportsmanship reasons. Dontre Wilson comes in. It's a quarterback draw, and Miller just left Courtney Avery standing at the alter like Buford T. Justice's son. (Amazing reference!) Miller finishes off the 53-yard touchdown run by stiff-arming Blake Countess for the last 10 yards. Great answer by the Buckeyes ties it up at 14-14.
12:47 Throw back screen to Jake Butt for 28 yards. Brilliant call by Al Borges. (I bet that last sentence has never been typed before.) That play takes us to the end of the first quarter, tied at 14-14. The Buckeye defense will get a chance to catch their breath and maybe Google what screen plays are.
12:48 Michigan has had success in the first half throughout the season, it's the second half that is usually the difference.
12:51 Here's a quick screen to Devin Funchess who hurdles Doran Grant and picks up another 20 yards in the process. This is amazing. Where has this Michigan offense been?
12:52 Corner blitz, and Gardner throws a perfect floater to Jeremy Gallon for the touchdown. C.J. Barnett was in coverage because of the Roby blitz. He never saw the ball. Not a great day for Barnett so far. Michigan leads it 21-14. The defense needs to attack the middle of the offensive line, not the edges.
12:53 Al Borges is doing a great job of building Gardner's confidence by not giving him but one choice to throw to. He hasn't read anybody yet because the first read has always been there. The Buckeyes might want to start thinking about forcing a punt sometime soon, because UM starts with the ball in the second half.
12:56 Wilson takes the kickoff from two yards deep and gets tackled by the neck. Oh, and now there's some scuffling. Now there is fighting. Wilson just threw a punch. Ridiculous. He'll be ejected. Completely unnecessary. Well, let's see who all is going to get ejected.
12:59 Nobody UM loses on their special teams unit will be as valuable as what OSU loses in Wilson. Ross Jenkins-Stone is ejected. Wilson is ejected. Marcus Hall is ejected. Dontre Wilson said he'd be taught about the rivalry this week. I guess we know who taught him. Was that planned by UM? Terrible job by the refs to not protect Wilson, but Wilson needs to understand that situation. Now he does. That reminds me of when Lloyd Carr sent his team out during senior day introductions in 1996 and they ran over Greg Bellisari.
1:00 It's time for the Buckeyes to get back to the calming influence of Carlos Hyde.
1:02 Hyde picks up 17 yards right up the middle. He's busting helmets the proper way today, not the Marcus Hall way. He's going for 200 today.
1:04 Third and 17. QB draw here? Nope, going deep again. It's intercepted by Blake Countess. That's as good as a punt. Urban Meyer is smiling. Somebody has to have some composure.
1:08 Second and 10. Toussaint with an eight-yard run. What world are we living in? Shazier got stoned on the blitz.
1:13 Third and seven. Buckeyes blitz, and it's intercepted by Roby – and then dropped. Wow, you cannot drop those. But at least now the Buckeyes know that Gardner is human. Michigan punts.
1:17 Ohio State goes three and out. Nice job by the Michigan defense...wait...unsportsmanlike conduct on Frank Clark. Wow. What Glenville giveth with Marcus Hall, it taketh away with Frank Clark. First down Buckeyes. Gotta make this possession count.
1:23 Instead the Buckeyes go three and out again. This was always a possibility given how this offense played against better defenses. The lulls are returning. Buckeyes punt.
1:28 The blitzes finally get to Gardner as Ryan Shazier and Joey Bosa sack him for a four-yard loss. I wouldn't have thought it would be this difficult to get after him, but they've done a better job of it this quarter.
1:30 Third and 11. Shazier blitzes again from the edge and the screen to Gallon is incomplete because of the pressure. Shazier was untouched. Michigan punts, and it's downed at the eight-yard line.
1:32 Hyde rips off 20 yards in two carries and he's down. He's grabbing at his stomach. Looks like a loss of breath after landing on the football. He now has 114 yards rushing as he catches his breath.
1:34 Play-action to Jeff Heuerman down the seam for a huge gain. That's available all game long. These safeties are asking to be attacked. May as well oblige.
1:36 Second and 10 with 1:15 to play. Play-action, Miller has time to throw, avoids a sack, rolls out, points to a receiver, and then takes off up the sideline and walks into the endzone. I think he was steering his receivers out of his way so that the defenders would follow. Ohio State ties it at 21-21 with 1:03 to play. Big time drive by the Buckeyes. They now have 197 yards rushing to Michigan's 49.
1:40 Michigan runs out the clock, and the fans are booing. Can't blame them on that one, but I think Brady Hoke is happy to be tied 21-21 at halftime. Not sure why he should be – he was actually leading last year, and it didn't turn out so well.
1:42 And now Urban Meyer will walk the fine line of reading his team the riot act, and encouraging them for tying the game up.
1:47 This is just about as good as Michigan can play, and just about as bad as Ohio State can play, and the game is tied. It will be about the Buckeyes finally securing the momentum in the second half. If they can force a punt and get the lead immediately, then Michigan could wilt.
1:53 The real question is whether Michigan has shown all of their cards on offense. The Buckeyes have, but it doesn't appear to matter.
2:03 It's time for round two. Ding. Ding.
2:05 Third and five. Huge play here. The crowd is quiet, the momentum is up for grabs. Gardner drops back, there's pressure and Michael Bennett brings him down with the sack. And now he's eating. Bosa got good pressure with the bull rush of Taylor Lewan. Michigan punts. Whoa, muffed by Jordan Hall, but he recovered. Seriously?
2:06 Jake Ryan drops Hyde for a loss of three, and then talked trash afterward. UM read that entire play perfectly. But I think they may have made a mistake talking trash to Carlos Hyde.
2:08 Third and 13. Michigan blitzes, and Miller's pass is off of Philly Brown's hands, and then Raymon Taylor's. That would've been a pick six if Taylor could have held onto it. Miller is off again today. The game has finally settled in. Ohio State punts.
2:16 Third and 5. False start on Kyle Kalis. That's a killer. A bloody killer.
2:17 Third and 10. It's a quarterback draw for eight yards, and Gardner fumbles it! Ohio State recovers. Armani Reeves forced it? I doubt this stands, but we'll see. I don't think it's a fumble.
2:19 Ha ha! It's confirmed? I'm not sure how, other than the fact that Big Ten refs are involved. This will drive Michigan fans nuts. Now the Buckeyes just need to do something with the field position.
2:19 Miller keeps it on the fake to Philly Brown and picks up 15 yards. Whoa, Shane Morris is warming up? I think it's a little too early for the white flag.
2:20 Hyde finds a huge hole and he picks up 32 yards the easy way. He is so quick, made one man miss and then turned on the speed. He ran right by a flat-footed Raymon Taylor. It can't be any fun tackling that guy.
2:21 Second and goal. This is usually where Chris Fields comes in. This time Miller keeps it, reading it perfectly, and then runs the opposite way he was expected to go. There was nobody there and he's into the endzone for the touchdown. Buckeyes lead it 28-21. The planets have realigned. Offense and defense both seem very confident right now. Miller is now over 100 yards rushing, and the Buckeyes are at 250 yards on the day.
2:25 Carlos Hyde and Braxton are both eating. They are apparently not too full from Thursday.
2:28 Gardner is getting more erratic by the throw. Now he's changing the play. De'Veon Smith breaks a tackle and slowly makes his way down the sideline down to the 25-yard line. Camren Williams on the missed tackle. Curtis Grant can't go today, clearly. This is crazy.
2:30 Third and two. Gardner rolls, gets pressured and planted, and his pass to Funchess falls incomplete. He limps off.
2:31 Field goal. Funchess is now yelling at Devin Gardner. Timeout called by Michigan as the field goal goes wide right. Are they going to go for it here? That would be a bit of a panic move.
2:34 They're going for it. Fourth and two from the 14-yard line. The Buckeyes blitz, and the pass is incomplete. He threw off of his back foot. Nice play by Joshua Perry on the pressure.
2:35 The Buckeyes can put it away on this drive. Hyde grabs 10 yards like he's on a shopping spree, throwing yards in his cart like the clock is running out.
2:35 Hyde for 11 more. He's at 179 yards rushing. He pulls himself out. He can't carry it more than three times in a row because there's always a big run in there.
2:36 Quarterback draw and Miller picks up 17 more. The Buckeyes are just blasting this Michigan defense without an ounce of respect for their front seven. They're treating Michigan players like Michigan players treat everyday people.
2:36 Hyde and Miller now have 298 yards rushing.
2:38 First and 10. And then when you think it can't get anymore devastating, Braxton Miller goes with the play-action from the 22-yard line and finds Jeff Heuerman running wide open down the middle of the field for a touchdown. That's what the running game does. Buckeyes lead it 35-21.
2:40 So what's the OSU record for TDs accounted for by a QB against Michigan? Braxton Miller now has five.
2:43 The clock runs out on the third quarter. Buckeyes lead it 35-21 as they will no doubt try to milk this fourth quarter as quickly as possible.
2:46 The final fight in this game may be Carlos Hyde vs Braxton Miller for the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
2:50 Pistol formation. Hey Buckeye defense, here comes the speed option. Gardner pitches it to Toussaint for four yards. I guess that's an acceptable stop considering the way the defense has played today.
2:52 Third and seven from the 12-yard line. The Buckeyes blitz, Gardner escapes, rolls out and finds a wide open Drew Dileo in the endzone for the touchdown. Wow, that was an awesome job by Gardner to get free and then keep his head up. He's in pain, but he's still making plays. Michigan cuts it to 35-28.
2:53 Tremendous answer by Michigan to stop the bleeding, and now they're only down by a possession. This is still very much a ball game.
2:57 Michigan is going to gear up more than ever to stop Hyde here. Can't afford a turnover, even though it's time for one.
2:58 Second and seven. Michigan blitzes, but Hyde runs right through it. He fights for the first down, and fights for more – the ball comes out! Michigan recovers it. He was never down. I can't be the only person who knew this was going to happen, right?
2:59 They're reviewing it. Confirmed. Now he's mad. He went over the 200-yard mark on that carry, by the way.
3:03 Gardner is going deep...and it's dropped by Funchess again. Wide open. They went after Pitt Brown again. Buckeyes are having trouble protecting Brown today.
3:06 Third and 12 from the 28-yard line with 8:35 on the clock. Gardner drops back and finds Gallon on the deep slant inside the 15-yard line. This is pretty amazing stuff by Gardner today. It reminds me of Chris Perry in 2003, but Gardner isn't faking anything.
3:09 Fourth and two from the four-yard line. Ohio State basically has to send everybody here, and the defensive line needs to get their hands up quickly. Gardner keeps it on the run and picks up the first down.
3:12 Second and goal from the one-yard line. Pistol formation. If the Buckeyes haven't figured this one out by now... It's the speed option and Shazier stones it for a loss of a yard. Fifth time's the charm.
3:13 Third and goal. This will be a play-action rollout. Yep, Gardner heads right, but throws it back to Jake Butt for the touchdown. Carlos Hyde looks on, unhappily. Michigan ties it up with 5:15 to play. Wow!
3:14 And so this is all Carlos Hyde could have asked for. A chance at redemption. One drive. Five minutes. There's no reason for Michigan to touch the ball again until next month.
3:17 Michigan's kickoff goes out of bounds. Ouch. That's not exactly the way you pin an offense. Unless they weren't trying to pin them at all.
3:18 Philly Brown motions in. Miller keeps it and he breaks past the 50-yard line and he's down to the Michigan 32-yard line. A 33-yard gain. Slow down, son. You need to burn this clock.
3:20 Pistol formation. Hyde gets the ball, fights and falls into the endzone, but they're going to say he's down at the one-yard line. That's pretty close, but I think they're right. The clock ticks down to 2:42 remaining.
3:21 Reviewing it. He's short barely. That's 378 yards rushing for Hyde and Miller. Looking for 379. Hyde's 26 carries for 225 tops the 222 yards by Chris Wells in 2007.
3:23 Pistol again. There's confusion, Hyde runs into Miller, and then he runs into the endzone. Disaster averted. Touchdown Buckeyes with 2:20 to play. Ohio State leads it 42-35.
3:24 What a game. I've had to pee since Wednesday!
3:26 Buckeyes rush four and Gardner finds Funchess for 14 yards. Shazier tried not to target him. He might've had a chance to dislodge that one.
3:28 Down to 1:13 to play. Three-man front. Gardner finds Joe Reynolds for 13 yards. The Buckeyes are just dropping back and letting things happen.
3:28 Under a minute. Buckeyes blitz, and Gardner goes down via a Joey Bosa sack! Michigan calls timeout with 50 seconds to play. They sent two linebackers and a cornerback on that play. So much for standing back and waiting. Bosa threw Gardner down for a loss of seven.
3:31 Third and eight from the 31-yard line with 46 seconds to play. Buckeyes blitz again and they go with a throw-back screen where the blitz came from. Toussaint takes it down to this two-yard line. Holy crap! This is play-calling wizardry. When Michigan scores here, they have to go for two. They have no choice.
3:33 Second and goal from the two-yard line. Buckeyes blitz again, and Gardner throws it up for Funchess, who catches it in front of Bradley Roby with 32 seconds to play. Gotta go for two here. He's going. Oh man.
3:34 Two-point conversion. This is awesome. Ohio State calls timeout.
3:35 Here we go...from the three-yard line. Shotgun. For the game...Gardner rolls right a bit, and it's intercepted by Tyvis Powell! He was waiting on that play! He was ready for it. Now all the Buckeyes have to do is land on that onside kick.
3:37 Here comes the onside kick. Roby catches it and the Buckeyes will take a knee and that will be ball game.
3:38 Miller takes a knee. Urban has a hug with his son Nate. Brady Hoke shakes his head. The clock runs. Ohio State wins it 42-41. Incredible.
3:39 Urban Meyer just said watching the two-point conversion was “awful”. Just imagine how Brady Hoke felt.
3:42 Boy, this one will not soon be forgotten. Sure, Michigan fans will try, but it's not going to work. They've forgotten the Rich Rodriguez losses, but this wound will cut much, much deeper. They were so close to ruining Ohio State's undefeated season, and instead they simply chalk up another loss in a forgettable season. Well, not everything is forgettable, of course.
3:43 Now it's time to see what happens with this Auburn game.
7:52 Oh man...business just picked up in Columbus, Ohio. Auburn went 108 yards for the game winner. The Ohio State Buckeyes are going to be playing for a berth in the BCS National Championship Game next week. I'm stunned. Completely stunned. Not at the outcome, but at the way this whole thing happened.
7:53 The Chase is on, and there's only one more stop to make.
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