COLUMBUS, Ohio — “We’re going to do it [beat Ohio State]… or die trying,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said over the summer at Big Ten Media days.
Michigan did it. And it was Ohio State who fell desperately on Saturday, just trying to stay in the game.
When Ohio State came to the Big House, nothing it did was enough. The run game was a major factor in Michigan’s success. While for Ohio State, it simply didn’t exist.
“We didn’t run the ball very well on offense, hurt ourselves with penalties, and then we didn’t stop the run on the other side of the ball,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said after the game.
For the last 19 years, the team that has won The Game, has won the game on the ground. From the start, Michigan’s offensive line won the battle in the trenches and opened up the run game for Michigan’s senior running back Hassan Haskins.
While Ohio State has been traditionally sound in stopping the run, Michigan had six rushing touchdowns and Haskins had a career high five touchdowns. The Wolverines finished the game with 297 yards and six touchdowns across six rushers on 41 carries, for an average of 7.2 yards per rush.
The Ohio State defense didn’t have an answer, and the Ohio State offense couldn’t respond on the ground either.
“That was the recipe I’m sure they [Michigan] had to win the game and we weren’t able to stop that and that’s very disappointing, especially when you knew they were going to do it,” Day said.
Although the Buckeyes put up some numbers in the air, almost 400 yards, Ohio State rushed for 64 yards and one touchdown on 30 attempts, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.
Day said he thought they threw too much in the game, but he felt they had to down the stretch because they weren’t getting much in the run game and that was the only way to keep the offense going. Turning to the pass game was desperation as a result of not being able to establish the run and control the game.
True freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson reached 19 touchdowns on the season, the most from scrimmage by a freshman, passing Maurice Clarett’s Ohio State record and his efforts allowed his team to stay in the game in the 4th quarter, but the damage was already done. It was too little, too late.
“When you run the ball and stop the run, you give yourself a chance. Not all those things happened today,” Day said. “When that happens and they’re controlling the game, and controlling the ball, and we’re not getting stops on defense, all of those things add up.”
Haskins hurdled Ohio State defensive back Cameron Brown on a touchdown late in the game, sealing the win for Michigan. It was too fitting of a narrative for the Ohio State defense who had their hands full with Michigan’s run game all day.
“We have to stop the run, that’s the goal,” safety Bryson Shaw said. “Especially in away games in the Big Ten, gotta stop the run. For them to run the ball like that, it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing.”