No. 5 Michigan (11-1) turned the game into an old-fashioned Big Ten contest of blocking at tackling and it was the perfect formula for a 42-27 win over favored No. 2 Ohio State (10-2).
The Buckeyes entered the game known for their high-flying passing offense, but on this cold, snowy day in November it was good old fashioned Big Ten grinding football that carried the day.
Michigan used a dominating offensive line to bludgeon the Ohio State defense into submission. Michigan rushed the ball 41 times for 297 yards to not only move the football but keep the Ohio State offensive off the field. The Wolverines averaged 7.2 yards per carry and all six of their touchdowns came on the ground.
The game was close at the half with U of M holding a slim 14-13 lead, but it took almost no time in the second half for Michigan’s physical dominance to become clear. The Buckeyes received the second half kickoff and immediately went three and out on three rushing plays. After the ensuing punt, Michigan also ran three running plays, but theirs covered 79 yards and resulted in a touchdown to make the score 21-13.
The writting was on the wall.
Ohio State’s defense was helpless in the second half against the Michigan running game. The Wolverines scored touchdowns on each of their possessions in the second half, and each drive was fueled by their rushing game. The Wolverines routinely pucked up five to seven yards on first down to keep themselves in short yardage situations and the OSU defensive was unable to do anything to stop it. Michigan senior running back Hassan Haskins rushed for 169 yards on 28 carries. He averaged six yards per carry and scored five touchdowns.
Ohio State’s offense did find some success at times, but uncharacteristic mistakes were very costly. At least three dropped passes helped stop drives and the Buckeyes were guilty of numerous penalties on offense that kept them behind the chains. A touchdown run by redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud was negated by a holding penalty, though the Buckeyes did later score on that possession on a screen play to true freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson. Stroud had an effective day passing, completing 34 of 49 394 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Henderson led OSU rushers with 74 yards on 17 carries. He also had one touchdown on the ground.
Ohio State’s receivers were productive. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 11 catches for 127 yards. Garrett Wilson had 10 for 119 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Olave had seven catches for 88 yards.
The passing yardage, though, was not enough on this day. This was a day of for old fashioned Big Ten football, and the Wolverines were simply better at it. They made far fewer mistakes and rode their physical domination in the running game both offensively and defensively to the win, their first win under head coach Jim Harbaugh and the first since 2011.