Football The Rivalry

Ten Things We Learned from OSU’s 31-20 Win Over Michigan

J.T. Barrett Ohio State Football Buckeyes


What can we learn from something that happens every year?

Good question.

Ohio State took Michigan’s best shot on Saturday, but finished the game with a 31-6 barrage that put the Wolverines away.

Michigan fans may argue that that was their best shot, but this was The Game, and you always get each team’s best shot.

Michigan’s shot simply fell short, and Ohio State’s most certainly did not.

What else did we learn from the Buckeyes’ 31-20 win at the Big House?

1. Dwayne Haskins is a gamer.

Urban Meyer hates the term “gamer” because he doesn’t believe that you can be successful in a game without also being a “practicer.” I’m not saying Dwayne Haskins isn’t a practicer, because he is, but I’m also saying that he’s a gamer. The guy prepared as a backup should all season long, and on Saturday in the biggest game of the year, he performed like a starter. People will say this reminds them of 2014, but it couldn’t be more different. Cardale Jones didn’t take his role as a backup seriously until after the Michigan game. Haskins has taken his role seriously every step of the way. After the game Haskins said he was never nervous. That’s exactly what you want to hear from any player, especially your backup quarterback.

2. The offensive line can still get it done.

Billy Price told Dwayne Haskins to trust the offensive line, so he did. But they also needed to perform, and they did. The Buckeyes rushed for 122 of their 226 yards with Haskins on the field. They put the run blocking in overdrive and re-arranged the Michigan defensive line to find the proper feng shui for the Buckeye offense.

3. Michigan didn’t know who Denzel Ward was.

When you were watching this game, I’m guessing you kept asking why the Wolverines were throwing at Denzel Ward. I have no idea why, but my assumption is that they had never heard of him before or seen seen his film. At least now they are more educated on arguably Ohio State’s best defensive player.

4. J.T. Barrett is one tough dude.

Listening to J.T. Barrett describe his ability to lock and unlock his knee almost on command had my own knees creaking. When he went down on the field during the game, he was trying to pop whatever had popped out back in, hoping that he could do it in time to avoid having to leave the game for a play. When it wouldn’t unlock, however, he had no choice but to leave — which he did, under his own power. After the game, he spoke of his injury as no big deal. I believe he also said it’s not an injury. He also said he has dealt with this all season long. That’s the mark of a special — and very tough — player.

5. The interior of Ohio State’s offensive line dominated.

Coming into this game, there was some argument that Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was the best player on the field. Do you remember hearing Hurst’s name during the game? If you heard it, you really had to listen because he was only involved in three tackles, and the Buckeyes were getting some tough running done inside. Hurst played all but five snaps in this game, and that lack of depth contributed to Ohio State’s success in the fourth quarter when they were able to close the game out with 84 yards rushing despite playing with a backup quarterback.

6. Tight ends are still a problem.

Granted, they weren’t a huge problem, but you were probably pulling your hair out when John O’Korn found Sean McKeon for a 3-yard touchdown. Michigan’s tight ends only caught four passes for 38 yards, but it would have been much more with a more accurate quarterback. I don’t know what the answer is, but at least I’m not alone because it seems like OSU doesn’t know either. Up next for the Buckeyes is arguably the best tight end in the nation in Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli.

7. The OSU passing game continues to be selectively good.

We can point to J.T. Barrett’s pregame knee injury as the reason for Ohio State’s struggles throwing the ball, but what do we do about his other rough outings? Four interceptions against Iowa, two against Michigan State, and one near-interception against Michigan that couldn’t have been any easier to intercept. And now the Buckeyes are about to take on the best pass defense in the Big Ten. Saturday is not going to be easy, and it may never be any kind of pretty.

8. Losing this game is becoming easier for Jim Harbaugh.

It was difficult for Jim Harbaugh to lose last year’s game the way they did and he was very upset about it. After Saturday’s loss, however, he even found time to crack a joke. This is not a good sign. In fact, it is the first symptom of Buckholm Syndrome.

9. This game came at a price.

No Ohio State team has ever come from 14 points down to beat Michigan, but this one did. The Game always takes a part of any player who plays in it, which makes it very difficult for those players to get back up one week later and play at their best. This Buckeye team gave it everything they had and now they’ll have to recharge their batteries and do it all over again. That’s not exactly easy, but this is the task that the OSU coaches have in front of them this coming week. They will try to learn from their mistakes following the comeback win over Penn State, and the Buckeyes will try to figure out how to get amped up following a game that they simply would not lose.

10. Good habits are hard to break.

At this point, it feels like Michigan is not supposed to win this game. The Wolverines are Charlie Brown lining up for the kick and the Buckeyes are Lucy, perpetually ripping wins away from the Wolverines’ foot before the cleat meets leather. This is six-straight wins over Michigan for the Buckeyes. Two wins in a row is an accomplishment. Three wins in a row is a streak. Four wins in a row is special. Five wins in a row is almost criminal. Six wins in a row, however, is habit.


29 Responses

  1. Dwayne Haskins may not have thought he was nervous, but on his first play of the game he neglected to insert his mouthpiece. It should have been apparent to the defense that he had not considered the possibility of getting hit.

  2. Anyone else wonder if Beilema regrets screwing over Wisconsin now? I wonder what his wife’s Twitter page is full of now. Seems she’s been very quiet over the past 3 years.

  3. I just wonder if any others feel as I do that Bucks may not have won if Haskins never came in to the game to replace JT. After that we were handing the ball off to the backs. Before that we seemed to be in what I call out “lose mode” where we keep ending up with JT carrying the ball. Also, Haskin’s passing touch was obviously much better (or lucky). Makes me wonder what is the best for the game against the Cheese Heads this week

  4. Haskins is not ready for a defense like Wisconsin. He would have 3 or 4 ints and OSU will get blown out. It has to be Barrett and I dont think he can beat Wisconsin either. Wis is a really well coached team. Saying that, I thought they would lose to Michigan.

    1. They are capable of beating Wisconsin, but they have to limit the mistakes, that’s for sure.

      1. Haskins would have 3 or 4 ints against Wisconsin? Really. SO J.T not speculatively, but did have 4 ints against Iowa, but he wouldn’t have as many against a better Wisconsin team? But Haskins would? This is the same logic that saw 11-0 , national championship winning Cardale Jones benched for “lose one or two every year, doesn’t even win conference championships J.T Barrett.

        Personally I put winning ahead of all the “intangibles” J.T. Barrett has. It would seem Meyer and a lot of tOSU’s fan base prefer “pretty boys” to winning. When J.T. left Ohio State was losing. J.T. gets to “beat” Michigan 4 times because Cardale finished one for him, and Haskins came in a nd won a game he was losing. As of their performances last week, Haskins should in any real world situation get the start. IN the whoever Urban Meyers drools the most over Ohio State world Barrett will start, even if injured.

        If i hadn’t lived in Columbus for 7 years, I probably wouldn’t even be able to comprehend it.

  5. Nice article; Ten things I learned.
    1. Haskins saved the day, when JTB got hurt in ’14 at home, OSU had a lead, Haskins was on the road and came in down by 6. To me was the MVP. His sharp pass and better yet his scramble than dull dozing to the end zone was terrific and set the tone for the rest of the day. .
    2. The game hinged on two plays; OSU seized momentum in the 2nd quarter and lost it with the bad snap to JTB, OSU could have taken a 21-14 lead. The game didn’t swing back until the best pass and catch of the day, Haskins to his room mate Mack. That will go down in OSU fb lore as The Bucks never looked back. The BTN crew said the game flipped on O Korn’s horrendous pick, not so.
    3. Tackling is still an issue, OSU should have forced MI to take a 3, not 7-0 lead and should have never allowed MI inside our 25 on that punt return.
    4. OSU wore down MI on both sides of the ball, especially late.
    5. OSU pass D showed some huge gaps in the 1st half, guarantee that WI will dial in on that next week. O Korn just didn’t make passes to wide open guys mainly in the first half.
    6. Less nail biting should of OSU got to that fumble first and if Hill could have stayed in bounds by less than 1/2 inch in the 4th.
    7. Harbaugh blew last year’s game when his head exploded after he complained about MI being off side after that OSU dominated. His temper tantrums on the side lines this year show him to always be the victim instead of manning up to win the game and that spills over to the field.
    8. Our run game really opened after Haskins hit two big crossing route plays. OSU will need to open the run while spreading WI out.
    9. Special teams do matter, MI took a 14–0 lead after our Punt D got torched, OSU missed a FG that would of extended our lead to 7, and that block PTA was a huge mental advantage for OSU.
    10. Next week, OSU has the talent and WI seems to have the discipline and will try to work their game plan and execution. Can OSU keep WI’s misdirection and roll outs looking for TE’s under control? If so, they should win. WI has not seen this type of depth and speed all year.

    1. Great insights, Kurt. On paper this appears to be right in tOSU’s wheelhouse – power run game with only 1 threat at receiver and a mediocre QB. Most pundits are citing Wisconsin’s #1 defense in the land and don’t mention the Silver Bullets are #8 – OR that the Bullets have at least been tested by decent teams (and torched by 1 bad one and 1 that will probably make the Playoff).
      Historically the Bucks shut down Wisconsin runners since Dayne left town and they’ll want to at worst slow down Taylor and make Hornibrook beat them. Fumigalli (sp?) will be a problem but he’s only 1 target. Wisky has typically had problems getting more than their TE involved and that plays into the Buckeyes’ hands as well.

      1. I wonder where WI ranks with the average O they played against? WI has not played OSU, PSU or MSU, some of the better O’s of the B1G. Their marquee OOC game was at BYU, enough said. OSU has played PSU, OK, and MSU. While OK ran them out of the building, OSU has seen McSorley and Mayfield and have faced the likes of Barkely of PSU and Scott of MSU, and Anderson/Sermon of OK. MSU does have a power rushing team. Should anyone think that the OSU dud that showed up in Iowa City is the real OSU team, they may be sadly forsaken. We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m cautiously optimistic!

    2. Cardale Jones did very little to beat MI in ’14. OSU had the lead when JTB went down and a long EE run and a Defensive fumble return for a TD sealed the win. FYI.

  6. What was always so infuriating in the 90s was that, like now, Ohio State was the better team, but we STILL couldn’t win. Over the last 16 years, we’ve continued to routinely be the better team. . .but now we simply take care of business and win when we’re supposed to.

    The reason this is still a rivalry for me (given that we win so often) is that we still haven’t repaid the pain they inflicted in the 90s. They completely crushed our seasons on at least three instances. Where as from 2001-2017, even when Michigan was REALLY good, we were still just slightly ahead. We’ve been able to simply seize what is ours.

    When we win a few as underdogs, THEN we can consider things even. Till then. . .screw them. Screw them all.

    1. The teams in the 90’s, while talented, lacked the mental toughness to overcome adversity. That and the coaching staff was just a mess. Teams typically take on personality aspects of their leaders. The fear and concern Cooper wore on his sleeve during the games was infectious. After the first three times losing to Michigan it became psychological.

  7. The Buckeyes have some major problems that good teams expose. As you mentioned, covering TE’s is one of them. The most egregious one is the lack of discipline that has caused them to lead the Big Ten in penalties. Many of those penalties are stupid and uncalled for, and I blame that on the coaches. They also run a very predictable offense that defensive coordinators have figured out. If Haskins starts, they need to let him pass more than they let JT, because Haskins is much more accurate with the long ball and can open up the run game if he hits a few. They will need to be much more disciplined and much more creative to beat Wisconsin.

    1. Baker is a real problem at linebacker. A lot of the plays Michigan made on that side of the field happened because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be or he didn’t pick up his assignment (if indeed that TE roaming free was his assignment. It looked to be so but I could be wrong). He isn’t the only problem. His is just the most obvious. The free lancing and over running is killing them on his side in both the run and passing game, imo. Baker is a superb athlete but it doesn’t do you much good if you aren’t where you are supposed to be.

  8. Recruiting is going to get even harder up north after this latest effort. Harbaugh is not the answer and I hope he gets that lifetime contract.

    1. If our O was unpredictable, then how did we go on a 31-6 run to end the game?

  9. “Buckholm Syndrome” drove me to donate. Olentangy Shakespeare.

  10. The TE giving OSU trouble doesn’t seem like a new phenomenon to me. I always fear the TE in the Michigan game. And the PSU game for that matter. So no, it’s not going to be “fixed” this week. I only hope that we can get to Hornibrook before he unleashes the fury of Fumagalli.

  11. I learned that the Buckeye pass defense is not elite. They can be had and while Alex Hornibrook isn’t much threat, Mayfield, Stidham, and even Bryant and Fromm will be problems if it ever gets that far.
    I learned that the Buckeye offense only focuses under pressure.
    I learned that when the Bucks can get to the 4th quarter they really do have a significant depth advantage.
    I want to learn if Jamarco Jones will be good-to-go?

  12. Great article! We also learned Michigan receivers cry to the refs about every incomplete pass. Clearly they picked this behavior up from their coach.

    1. Kevin- actually, Michigan wideouts have been coached to do that for at least 30 years. They IMMEDIATELY cry to refs after an incomplete pass because they play for Michigan, so they can’t possibly have made an error- it MUST be a penalty! What a joke, I hate that team.

  13. I agree JT has given us all he has and he is to be commended, but now it is time for the OSU coaches to look out for JT’s health and his long term future. Somethings are just more important than wins or losses and young men’s health for playing a game that they do not get paid playing is at the top of the list. We just need to go with Haskins and Burrows and let the chips fall where they will.
    GO Bucks!

    1. You are completely ignoring the fact that JT wants to play. The kid has a desire and a passion. It’s not like he is asking to sit. Let him play as long as he is able and has the desire.

      1. If JTB was so injured then why was he walking around w/o crutches or assistance during the 2nd half? Notice, OSU did not put him back in partially out of concern for him and next week, but Haskins seemed to be ‘the gamer.’

        1. No one in the history of the world has ever had a knee injury that didn’t require crutches. So, I must be wrong.

    2. Barrett is 7th in the nation in pass efficiency. If Wilson will turn him loose he can win and he’s proven it more than any QB in Buckeye history. You guys will get Haskins soon enough. Barrett’s earned this more than any of us have.

      1. Thanks for that, well said. Get ready for the cupcake notes, etc. The reality is that it takes a team effort to win football games – ask Billy Price, Jamarco Jones, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes who they want to go to battle with. My guess is that it’s not Burrow or Haskins. It’s J T Ba rrett!

      2. ? Wilson turn JT loose? I think that decision lies with the the supreme offensive micro-manager Meyer. This offensive has only occasionally resembled any kind of “Wilson offense” that most of us were hoping for when he was hired – and never against good teams. JT is Meyer’s pacifier that he goes to under stress. Being the underdog is the only way to make Meyer teams offensively aggressive. That seems to be the only way that both UM and JT can become mentally unencumbered from playing not to lose.

      3. Umm, hello? Is this thing on? Where to start?:

        1) It is NOT Wilson’s decision whether to turn JT loose. That comes from Urban Meyer, who only lays the play calling responsibility on his OC when things go badly. Make no mistake about it, Meyer forces his will on Wilson.

        2) JT’s pass efficiency rating was built on the backs of supbar opponents this year. What was the rating for UM? Iowa? And don’t give me any baloney about him being graded as a Champion on Saturday either, that’s a grade from the world’s most lenient (and biased!) coach.

        3) NOBODY has “earned” the right to cripple his team on the field, and maybe himself literally, by playing while injured. We don’t know right now the extent of the injury, but they’ve been hiding at least some issue for a long time and now its worsened. I don’t want to see JT seriously (permanently?) hurt while simultaneously killing our chances- such as they are-in the championship.

        4) For about the one millionth time, the issue here is more on play calling than on JT. Lots of people, including you Andrew, claim to have special insight on game dynamics and flow. There is no doubt AT ALL that this offense- the 2017 version now- sputters and plays into its opponents’ hands when it defaults to JT being the “running back” during games against worthy opponents. You can intuit it during games and validate it statistically later. You don’t have to believe me- just look back at the OU game. No thanks? How about Penn State, which was AWFUL for 55 of the 60 minutes of play. Need more? IOWA. The stats bear out- beyond any question- that OSU is most successful (win percentage) when a running back leads the team in rushing under this head coach. The stats also bear out that OSU is least successful (win percentage) when a QB is the leading rusher. That’s FIVE seasons of consistent history which completely contradict Meyer’s utter obsession with placing his QB on the shakiest of pedestals while treating great RBs almost dismissively.

        5) To Thojenningsolv from the comment immediately below- OF COURSE it takes a team effort to win! I thought we were past Football 101. And guys like Billy Price, Tyquan Lewis, et all consistently say they have faith in the “next man up”. They don’t have the power to reverse an injury, nor the authority to make a game time decision on a starter.

        6) Most OSU fans want nothing more than for them to beat Wisky on Saturday. The best way to do that offensively (the D is another matter) is NOT to make the QB the running centerpiece of the offense, regardless of who that QB is. Most folks love JT, they just don’t love watching the offense flounder against good teams- and the opponent Saturday smells blood in the water.

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