A tumultuous week for Ohio State ended the best way possible Saturday, short of a victory by Penn State.
Ohio State rediscovered its offense, rode running back Ezekiel Elliott, dominated on defense and ruined the rivalry debut of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in a 42-13 victory at Michigan Stadium.
The win helped ease the pain of last week’s loss to Michigan State that crushed Ohio State’s chances at a second straight national championship.
And the Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) took it out on the Wolverines (9-3, 6-2) on a cold and blustery afternoon in front of 111,829 spectators.
“It’s bigger than just us as football players,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said of bouncing back from last week’s loss. “It’s about Buckeye Nation. It’s about the players that played before us. You take that into consideration that it’s bigger than us as individuals.”
Here are five reasons the Buckeyes won:
1. Barrett zoned in: The sophomore quarterback threw for 113 yards on 9-of-15 completions. His effort running the zone read was far less pedestrian. Ohio State steamrolled Michigan’s heralded run defense for 369 yards.
When Barrett wasn’t exploiting holes up the middle for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, he was handing off to Elliott for his 214 yards and two scores on 30 carries.
Michigan’s run defense entered Saturday allowing 100.2 yards per game and had allowed one 100-yard rusher, until Saturday. Ohio State’s game plan was to attack Michigan with an up-tempo offense.
“We played faster. They had a plan that was going to throw the kitchen sink at us,” Barrett said. “We had to play faster. You could see they were getting tired.”
Ohio State’s touchdown drives covered 94, 75, 82, 84, 75 and 47 yards. Ohio State managed 132 yards of offense last week.
2. Silver Bullet defense: Ohio State held Michigan to 57 yards rushing, 104 under its average.
The Wolverines finished with 364 yards in total offense, but the Buckeyes stood firm in the red zone by twice holding Michigan to field goals.
Defensive end Joey Bosa put the exclamation point on Ohio State’s win in the fourth quarter.
Early in the quarter, Bosa blew around the right tackle and drilled Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock. Bosa lifted Rudock off his feet and sent him crashing on his left shoulder. Rudock didn’t return. With 4:50 left, Bosa charged backup quarterback Wilton Speight and tipped Speight’s pass straight up. Bosa hauled it in and sprinted 28 yards to Michigan’s 9-yard line for his first career interception.
3. Meyer’s fire: The game was labeled the Second 10-Year War with high-profile coaches Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh.
The first installment was more of a skirmish.
“Something switched a fire in Coach Meyer today,” OSU receiver Jalin Marshall said. “He was ready to go. He talked to us many times with motivational speeches and things like that. He was fired up for the rivalry game and wanted a big win.”
Harbaugh became the third Michigan coach to lose his debut against Ohio State (11-3-1), joining Harry Kipke (1929) and Rich Rodriguez (2008).
4. Offensive adjustments: For the first time this season Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, who also coaches the offensive line, called plays from the press box. It allowed him to focus on one duty — beating Michigan’s defense that was ranked No. 2 in the nation allowing 263.1 yards.
Ohio State finished with 482.
“The criticism he was taking was not deserving,” offensive tackle Taylor Decker said. “He’s a damn good coach. I love him and I’d take one right here (tapping his forehead) for him. … You saw what happened when he went up and called the plays today. He’s a very capable coach.”
5. Quiet crowd: Ohio State never trailed, and though Michigan pulled to 14-10 a minute before halftime the crowd of 111,829 was seldom a factor. One of the loudest boos rained down on Ohio State came when the band performed Script Ohio before the game.
And with Ohio State leading 42-13 late in the fourth, Buckeyes fans dominated the atmosphere with its O-H-I-O chant on all four sides of Michigan Stadium.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.