Thrashing of Wolverines defense even surprised the Buckeyes

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Ohio State running back Mike Weber runs the ball in for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Columbus, Ohio — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he didn’t envision the beatdown his offense would put on Michigan’s vaunted, top-rated defense.

Sure, the Buckeyes’ offense, led by prolific passer Dwayne Haskins, was ranked No. 2 entering the regular-season finale against the Wolverines, but Michigan’s defense was allowing an average of 234.8 yards of offense, No. 1 nationally, and was fourth nationally in scoring, yielding an average 13.5 points.

Haskins went untouched in the Buckeyes’ 62-39 victory over Michigan on Saturday at Ohio Stadium and threw for 318 yards and five touchdowns. The Buckeyes churned 567 yards, the most the Wolverines have allowed since Penn State gained 506 last year in a lopsided win. The 62 points were the most Michigan has allowed in regulation.

“I think we're the second offense in America, and I know we struggle all the time or whatever,” Meyer said. “But second offense in America just put a bunch of yards on the No. 1 defense in America.

“Did we see that (coming)? No. No. The guys just went out and played. We just played as hard as we could and it kept going and going and going.”

Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel, a co-captain, was stunned how badly Ohio State beat the Wolverines’ defense.

“It’s very unexpected,” Kinnel said. “We didn’t think we’d have to go through that much pain throughout a game. It was tough to go through, but you’ve got to give them credit. They had a great game plan and they played extremely well.”

Kinnel was asked if there was a turning point for the defense.

“We tried to stay upbeat throughout the whole game and trust each other and stay in the fight, but I don’t remember a play where it just got out of hand,” he said. “It slowly devastated us throughout the game and knowing all the yards they were putting up and how easily they were scoring, it was tough, extremely tough.”

Ohio State was successful in the first half with crossing routes.

“We seen a lot of man coverage, lot of one high, so we knew that we could get a lot of one-on-one matchups and crossing routes on them,” Haskins said. “And made some plays when it mattered the most.

“I was licking my chops, I see the one-high covers and that's a quarterback's dream. The biggest responsibility for me all week was to be able to pick up blitzes and protection, because we saw a lot of different fronts and exotic looks. I spent hours in the film room just trying to figure out how we can pick the blitzes up. And once we picked it up, receivers make plays, and I'm going to put it there.”

Michigan made adjustments but Ohio State had plenty left in its offensive basket.

“We addressed the issues we had in the first half then they came out and beat us with something else in the second half,” Kinnel said. “Credit to them and their coaches. They had a great game plan. They completely beat us today.”

The concern heading into the game was whether defensive end Chase Winovich, the team leader in tackles for loss, would be available for the Wolverines. He played, as did defensive end Rashan Gary, but each had only one tackle for loss.

Haskins was never sacked or hurried.

Their protection was really good,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We didn’t get the pressure on the quarterback that we wanted to.”

When asked why Michigan couldn’t get pressure, Harbaugh reiterated the Ohio State protection was impenetrable.

Perhaps the Indiana game a week earlier should have provided a clue. Michigan had held Wisconsin to 283 yards, then Michigan State to 94 and Penn State to 186. Indiana had 385 yards, the most the Wolverines had allowed all season until Ohio State.

“I guess you could say shocked a little bit,” Kinnel said. “My mindset and our mindset as defense coming into this game was to play like we’ve been playing all year. Feel like we had high confidence and had a good shot at dominating this game. I’m pretty shocked at the outcome like this and how easily they moved the ball and how easily they made plays.”