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Takeaways from UM's loss: Run game stalls

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

What went wrong

Where to begin … Michigan didn't tackle and couldn't run, that pretty much sums it up, oh, and a roughing the kicker on an attempted block in the first quarter that negated a three-and-out and led to Ohio State's first touchdown.

The Wolverines couldn't handle the dual-pronged attack of quarterback J.T. Barrett and tailback Ezekiel Elliott. Barrett rushed 19 times — more than the number of passes he attempted (15) — for 139 yards and three touchdowns, while Elliott, a week removed from publicly criticizing OSU's play-calling in the Michigan State loss, gashed Michigan for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Michigan could not run the ball, and as the Wolverines' deficit grew, clearly they had to rely on the pass. Jabrill Peppers, whose primary position is safety, had 29 yards on seven carries and lead back De'Veon Smith rushed for 23 yards on 10 carries. Michigan's running backs averaged 2.8 yards a carry, while OSU averaged 6.8 yards.

What went right

Not a lot, as evidenced by the final score. The positives were in the first half, which Michigan trailed, 14-10, after a late score. The Wolverines drove 92 yards on 11 plays and Jehu Chesson caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Jake Rudock with one minute left in the half. Michigan dominated the first half in time of possession, 18:32-11:28, and outgained OSU, 226-189. The Wolverines relied on the pass, as Rudock threw for 174 yards, but mustered 52 yards rushing. Ohio State, meanwhile, threw for only 18 yards but rushed for 171 of the 369 total with which the Buckeyes finished.

Key developments

No one could have envisioned quarterback Rudock's last play of the regular season coming early in the fourth quarter, but after taking a hard hit by OSU's Joey Bosa, he was curled on the field, grimacing in pain and grabbing at his left shoulder.

Ironically, Bosa and Rudock are friends and former teammates at St. Aquinas High in Ft. Lauderdale. Earlier in the week, Rudock had joked he was looking forward to seeing Bosa after the game but didn't want to see him too much during the game.

Rudock's status was unclear after the game. "I don't know how serious it is, but (it is) an AC to the left shoulder," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. The AC joint is where the collarbone meets the highest part of the shoulder.

For the second time in the last five games, Rudock was knocked out of the game. He did not finish the Minnesota game after a hard hit left him with bruised ribs and torso, and he did not finish the Ohio State game. Rudock, a graduate transfer who started the last two seasons for Iowa, watched the end of the game from the medical trainer's bench on the sideline.

Key quotes

Defensive lineman Chris Wormley: "There were a couple times where I was kind of gassed, especially when they were driving the ball for those 10- or 15-play drives they had. It's the Ohio State-Michigan game, you're going to be out there and do whatever the coach says and lay it on the line."

Chesson on Rudock's injury: "When one guy takes a hit like that, it affects the whole team. We all feel it emotionally, mentally. We all need to rally around him and make sure he's healthy. God first, safety is very close behind."

UM tight end Jake Butt on the game: "We just didn't execute. In a game like this, you've got to be able to run the ball and play defense. We weren't running the ball very well, we weren't getting stops on defense. We just didn't execute. In terms of how it feels, it hurts."

What's next

Michigan (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) will play in a bowl game after missing out last season with a 5-7 record. Most projections have the Wolverines playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (formerly Capital One Bowl) in Orlando on New Year's Day. Michigan last played there Jan. 1, 2008, the last game Lloyd Carr coached at Michigan. The Wolverines defeated Florida, 41-35.