ANALYSIS: Run defense, missed mid-game opportunities doom Buckeyes

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Bryson Shaw on Ohio State’s loss at Michigan

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State falls to Michigan 42-27 in 117th edition of The Game

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Pinpointing when Ohio State’s first loss to Michigan in nine years went from possible to likely is easy.

The Wolverines were ahead 42-27 at the end, but the 117th edition of The Game was essentially decided at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third.

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Michigan went to the half clinging to a 14-13 lead then came out of the locker room and punched the Buckeyes in the mouth with back-to-back touchdown drives to follow Ohio State punts.

With that, the best-case scenario for Ohio State instead turned into the worst.

Instead of taking the lead then extending it with the last possession of the first half and the first of the second, the Buckeyes fell into a 15-point hole with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.

They cut the lead to eight twice after that but never got closer.

“We kept fighting, but we were’t able to turn the tides,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “That’s always a big part of the game, and I felt like even getting three points at the end of the half then getting the ball back, if we could have come down and score on that first possession we would have really gotten some momentum going. But we didn’t, and then they came right down and scored.

“And then you just felt like you never could get the ball back on offense, and that’s a bad feeling as well. You start to force it a little bit too much and don’t establish the run when you’re in that situation, so this one hurts.”

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The two-score lead allowed Michigan to stay in its comfort zone on offense and run the ball.

Michigan ran for 297 yards, the most for an Ohio State opponent since Maryland had 363 in late 2018.

The Wolverines averaged 7.24 yards per carry, the fourth-most for an Ohio State opponent and higher than any team since Indiana set the record with 7.8 in 2014.

They ran through the Ohio State defense on their first scoring drive of the third then used play action passes to go over their head on the second.

Ohio State finished with 64 yards on the ground, though that reflects 30 yards lost on sacks.

The last time the Buckeyes ran for less yardage in a game was 2011 when Michigan State held them to 35, and it was the lowest rushing total for Ohio State against Michigan since a 2003 loss.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who improved to 1-5 against Ohio State as head coach of his alma mater, credited first-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald with crafting a game plan that would keep the powerful Buckeye offense off-balanced.

“Knew it was going to be really good at the beginning of the week as he was putting it in, and it was really effective,” Harbaugh said.

The message was not to be discouraged if Ohio State moved the ball and scored points.

“They’re going to, and that will be the offense’s job to respond — and our offense did,” Harbaugh said. “The amount of stops today especially those two right after the half, was really good disguise, really good packages that we made ‘em doubt what they were seeing. They were seeing one thing, but they weren’t really seeing that, and it was really effective today.”

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