ANALYSIS: 5 things to know about Ohio State’s loss to Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ohio State failed it biggest test of the season for a third straight year.

The second-ranked Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) fell behind early then couldn’t stop Michigan late en route to a 30-26 loss to the third-ranked Wolverines (12-0, 9-0) on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

The Wolverines will play on while the Buckeyes continue to wonder what they have to do to get the rivalry back in their favor.

“It wasn’t for lack of effort, but we didn’t win the rushing yards, and we didn’t win the turnover battle, so you’re not gonna win the game,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said after falling to 1-3 against the Wolverines.

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. Kyle McCord made two critical errors.

Ohio State’s quarterback set up Michigan’s first touchdown when he tried to force a short pass to Marvin Harrison Jr. on the Buckeyes’ third possession.

Will Johnson was playing inside and easily intercepted it to set up Michigan’s first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Blake Corum.

At the end of the game, McCord had a chance to play hero as he had at Notre Dame in September, but he was hit as he threw a first-down pass from the Michigan 37 and the ball ended up in the arms of Michigan safety Rod Moore to end the game.

A junior from Northmont High School, Moore has beaten the Buckeyes three times in three tries.

“I mean, just being from Ohio, this in a sense, this whole game is personal,” Moore told reporters after the game. “Every year, it’s so personal to me. And I said before the defense went out there, ‘You’re either gonna make the play to seal the game or someone else is.’”

2. J.J. McCarthy made enough plays for his team to win.

Michigan’s quarterback had a pair of unimpressive outings the last two weeks, but he came through in the clutch for the Wolverines on Saturday.

He threaded the needle to Roman Wilson for a 22-yard touchdown in the second quarter kept the chains moving with his feet multiple times.

McCarthy completed 16 of 20 passes for 148 yards and became the first Michigan quarterback to start two wins over Ohio State since Elvis Grbac in 1990-91.

3. The Ohio State defense faltered as the game went on.

Michigan went three-and-out on its first two drives, but the Wolverines scored six of the last seven times they got the ball (not counting when they ran out the clock after Moore’s interception).

After Ohio State tied the game at 17 in the third quarter, the defense immediately gave up a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took less than four minutes and a seven-play, 44-yard field goal drive that put the Buckeyes down 10.

Trying to protect a three-point deficit, they let Michigan take seven minutes off the clock before kicking a field goal with one minute left in the fourth quarter.

4. The Buckeyes lost the rushing battle again.

Ohio State held Michigan to 34 yards on 18 carries in the first half, but the Wolverines gradually started to find running room as the game wore on.

They ran for 111 yards in the third quarter and 45 more in the fourth to finish with 156.

Ohio State ran for 84 yards in the third quarter but couldn’t sustain that effort and finished with 107.

“I don’t know what the final numbers were, but I feel like ultimately when you go into this game you’ve gotta win the rushing yards, and it didn’t happen,” Day said. “They had more than we did, and that’s a big part of controlling the game, certainly has to do with the last couple of drives.”

Michigan outrushed Ohio State 297-64 in 2021 and 252-143 last season.

5. Explosive plays were a problem again.

Five touchdowns of 45 yards or more were Ohio State’s undoing last season in Columbus.

The Wolverines’ longest play Saturday was 44 yards, but they actually had one more explosive play (10) than a year ago, and this time they were key to keeping drives alive in the second half when they posted seven.

Meanwhile, the Ohio State offense had eight explosives.

Stat of the game: Michigan extended its lead in the all-time series to 61-52-6.

Game ball: Michigan’s offensive line lost one of its best players, Zak Zinter, to a leg injury in the third quarter but came together to help Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards grind out yards as the game wore on and leave Ohio State with too little time to come back.

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