'Everyone's to blame': Ohio State shreds Michigan's No. 1 defense, 62-39
Columbus, Ohio — So much was on the line, and the Michigan Wolverines carried themselves all week with confidence, but when it mattered most, their bubble was burst again by arch-rival Ohio State.
The Wolverines top-ranked defense was torched by Ohio State’s offense, which entered the game ranked No. 2 nationally, in a 62-39 rout at Ohio Stadium on Saturday. That’s the most points the Wolverines have allowed since Illinois scored 65 in a triple-overtime loss to Rich Rodriguez-coached Michigan in 2010.
Michigan was ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings and was poised to make its first Big Ten championship game.
But that’s no more, taking with it the Wolverines shot at a national playoff berth.
Ohio State has won seven straight and 14 of the last 15 against its nemesis. Michigan is 10-2, and saw its 10-game winning streak snapped, its season bookended by a loss in the season opener and season finale. Ohio State is 11-1, 8-1 and will be the East Division representative in the Big Ten title game next week.
Running back Chris Evans sat alongside receiver Nico Collins at the postgame news conference and was asked what went wrong in the rout.
It was a simple question that received a simple answer.
“The score,” Evans said.
So much went wrong and maybe that was just the easiest way for the Wolverines to sum it all up. After all, the score was glaring.
The Wolverines had crossed off three opponents on the Revenge Tour — Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State — and all that was left was Ohio State.
The Buckeyes had 567 yards against Don Brown’s defense that was allowing an average 234.8 yards a game. A defense that coming into the game had held eight of 11 opponents to their lowest yardage total of the season. That’s the most yards the Wolverines have given up since Penn State had 506 last year in their rout of Michigan.
“We made adjustments at halftime,” Michigan senior safety and co-captain Tyree Kinnel said. “We addressed the issues we had in the first half then they came out and beat us with something else in the second half. Credit to them and their coaches. They had a great game plan. They completely beat us today.
“They could really beat us everywhere. Run game, pass game. Everyone’s to blame.”
Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who has torn up the OSU record books, tore up the Michigan defense, which also entered the game No. 1 in pass defense. Haskins was 19-of-30 for 318 yards and five touchdowns, including two to Chris Olave. Parris Campbell also had a receiving touchdown and a rushing score.
Michigan was fourth in scoring defense allowing an average 13.5 points
“I don't know about (scoring) 62, but I knew we were going to come out and put on a show,” Haskins said. “It started up front with the O-line. And the playmakers made plays. That's what mattered.”
The Wolverines had no pass rush and no quarterback hurries, negated by outstanding protection from Ohio State’s offensive line.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he took “responsibility” for the loss.
“They got some real speed plays, crossing routes, threw the ball downfield well,” Harbaugh said. “Thought their protection was really good and we didn’t get the pressure on the quarterback that we wanted to.”
Haskins said he plans to take his offensive linemen out for dinner.
“As far as picking up protections, there was no pressures,” he said. “I really had all day in the pocket. I can't complain. The line did a great job. To have a performance like that, try to do it again next week (against Northwestern in the Big Ten title game).”
Conversely, the Wolverines’ offensive line, which had shown improvement this season, gave quarterback Shea Patterson little time to work. Patterson was 20-of-34 for 187 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Collins, and an interception. The Wolverines had 401 yards, including 161 rushing.
Kinnel was right — Ohio State scored anyway it wanted.
The Buckeyes even got a special teams score when Will Hart’s punt was blocked and Sevyn Banks went 33 yards for the touchdown with 4:41 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State led 24-19 at halftime and had to settle for a field goal after being stopped at the 2-yard line its second possession of the third quarter.
Just before the punt block, Michigan had an opportunity to cut into the 27-19 lead but tight end Zach Gentry couldn’t make the catch in the end zone and forced the punt.
The Buckeyes had built a 21-6 lead in the first half when things got a bit crazy in the final seconds.
Michigan drove 79 yards on eight plays, including a pass interference that converted a third-and-9 giving the Wolverines the ball at the OSU 38. Patterson connected with Collins, who made a great reception with OSU’s Kendall Sheffield on the coverage, for a 23-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left, cutting into the Buckeyes’ lead, 21-13.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ohio State’s Demario McCall muffed the return and Nate Schoenle secured it for Michigan. Michigan needed one play and added its second score in six seconds, this time on a 9-yard pass from Patterson to Chris Evans to cut OSU’s lead to 21-19. Michigan failed on the two-point conversion.
But the Buckeyes went 74 yards on seven plays in 41 seconds and added a field goal with no time left giving them the 24-19 advantage.
The badly beaten Wolverines bussed home to Ann Arbor shortly after the game, their goals that had been within reach, no longer attainable.
Kinnel suggested maybe they were thinking too far ahead.
“We all had mindsets of going to the Big Ten championship, we all had mindsets of beating Ohio State,” Kinnel said. “I felt like we started having that mindset after the Wisconsin game and beat them, beat Michigan State, beat Penn State.
"We were high on confidence. Maybe we got a little too ahead of us. It’s just tough coming into this big of a game and wanting to win and reach our goals. It’s extremely tough.”