CFN Analysis - Michigan 40, Ohio State 34

Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller. This is going to be a really, really fun ride. Brady Hoke vs. Urban Meyer. It's going to be a really, really fun decade.

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CFN Analysis

Ohio State at Michigan

By Pete Fiutak

- Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller. This is going to be a really, really fun ride.

- Brady Hoke vs. Urban Meyer. It’s going to be a really, really fun decade.

- There shouldn’t have been so much late drama. THAT WAS A TOUCHDOWN. Not only was Fitzgerald Toussaint’s late push to the end zone a score, but it certainly wasn’t reversible.

- The dramatic finish was fun, though.

- Keeping Denard Robinson alive and kicking by limiting his carries during the season is one thing, but when it’s Ohio State, and with five weeks to heal up, yeah, you give him 26 carries for 170 yards and two scores.

- Michigan wasn’t necessarily lucky late, but if Braxton Miller was a more polished, accurate passer, DeVier Posey might still be running.

- Put Michigan in the Sugar. The team is a near-lock now for a BCS at-large bid.

- Ohio State was entertaining enough to warrant a strong bowl bid.

- The Buckeyes put up 34 points and 372 yards, but it’s still a stunner that Miller ended up throwing 26 times and the ground game only came up with 31 carries.

- Dan Herron never got any room to move. Miller didn’t, either, but he made things happen on his own time and again.

- Give credit to Brendan Gibbons for his clutch 43-yard field goal to make it a six point game late. He has been fine this year, but he hasn’t shown much range. It might go down as the most unappreciated big play of the game.

By Richard Cirminiello

It’s been 2,926 seconds since Ohio State beat Michigan.

Eight long years of futility in one of the game’s most storied rivalries have finally come to an end. In a season-ender that clearly slanted in the direction of the Wolverines, this was a game they absolutely, positively HAD to have in Ann Arbor. And they did, in large part because of the heroics of QB Denard Robinson, who time and time again made the big play to extend drives, and put points on the board. The junior, who accounted for five scores, has had better statistical games over the last two years, but none with greater importance than the one he weaved this afternoon at the Big House. It was an epic effort that’ll go down in the annals as such.

For Brady Hoke, this first season as the Michigan head coach could not have gone much better. Ten wins for the first time since 2006, and a possible BCS bowl berth as an at-large team are improbable and outstanding places to start. It only gets better from here. Oh, and it won’t hurt to be the rookie head coach who ended Ohio State’s choke hold on the series. Hoke looked like the right choice months ago to get the program back on the rails, but that’s even more accurate now that he has the wind at his back and the support of the locals.

Braxton Miller + Urban Meyer = an exciting marriage in Columbus once the announcement of the new coach makes everything official. Sure, Miller is predictably raw as a true freshman, and missed DeVier Posey late for what could have been the game-winner, but does he gush with long-term potential or what? Poised and blessed with an immense amount of physical ability, he only requires time and the right tutelage to blossom into a superstar at quarterback. Enter Urban and a new staff of assistants with a track record of coaching up quarterbacks.

By Matt Zemek

It would have been Joe Piscarcik at the Meadowlands in 1978 without the fumble. It would have been Leon Lett in Super Bowl XXVII without Don Beebe chasing him down. This would have been Stanford-California 1982 without the laterals or the band. This would have been Hail Flutie without Gerald Phelan at the bottom of that pile. Ohio State was in position to deal Michigan a 41-40 loss that would have gone far beyond the term “stomach punch,” far beyond any precise or emotionally accurate description the human language is capable of. You saw the latest rendition of a venerable American sports classic. You don’t need the details to be explained or the context to be unpacked. You knew what was possible.

Then came Luke Fickell to produce a last-minute train wreck which rivaled Les Miles against Arkansas from 2007 and Cal’s Jeff Tedford against Oregon State the same year.

The burning of a timeout with 1:48 left – using his last game-management poker chip well before the final 30 seconds – was a major-league gaffe by Fickell, but it didn’t hold a candle (a Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kind of candle, if you get the drift…) to the act of coaching malpractice which followed roughly a minute later.

Yes, with 45 seconds left, Ohio State – out of timeouts because of Fickell’s blunder – faced a 3rd and 6 near midfield. This wasn’t a situation in which the clock was ticking down to zero (in which case spiking the ball would have been needed to allow for a Hail Mary). The clock wasn’t even inside 25 or 20 seconds, in which case the Buckeyes would have needed to be conscious of creating four plays instead of three over the final few seconds. This was the 45-second mark, with Michigan’s defense – and its woeful pair of often-scorched safeties – vulnerable to a big play on any downfield pass from erratic fastballer Braxton Miller. Everyone inside the Big House – just like everyone watching on television – was waiting to see if the Buckeyes could move the chains and then focus on hitting 25-yard deep-intermediate pass plays to steal a 41-40 win.

Instead, the unthinkable (and the unthinking) happened.

Miller – a freshman who was certainly acting under orders from his coaching staff – spiked the ball. Yes, with 45 seconds left in a one-possession Ohio State-Michigan game, the trailing team spiked the ball on third down (the distance is frankly irrelevant).

Michigan is headed to a (likely) BCS bowl because of the excellence of Brady Hoke, but in the Wolverines’ final regular-season game of 2011, the coaching-based difference was found in the ineptitude on the other sideline.

By Terry Johnson

- How much of a difference has Brady Hoke made this season? He took the same core of players that Rich Rodriguez had last season, and led Michigan to a 10-win season. If his recruiting classes at San Diego State are any indication, the Wolverines will continue to contend for the Big Ten title for years to come.

- Oh yeah, he also helped the Wolverines break an eight-year losing streak to Ohio State.

- Even though they did not win their division, the Wolverines could end up in a BCS bowl game. The Sugar or Fiesta Bowl will be their likely destination.

- The game ball goes to Michigan QB Denard Robinson. Robinson had one of his best performances of the season, hitting 14 of 17 passes for 166 yards and 3 TDs. In addition, he led the Wolverines in rushing with 170 yards on 26 carries and 2 TDs.

- Michigan’s offensive line also deserves some of the credit for the victory. The big uglies won the battle at the line of scrimmage, paving the way for 296 yards and a whopping 6.0 yards per carry.

- As well as the Wolverine offense played, the defense also deserves the credit for the win. While they did allow over 350 yards for the first time since week 6, the front seven held a potent Ohio State rushing attack to only 4.1 yards per carry. In addition, they held Braxton Miller to only a 50% completion rate.

- The Buckeyes dropped to 6-6 with today’s loss. The last time they finished the regular season with a non-winning record was back in 1999 when John Cooper was the coach. Cooper got another a season to turn things around.

- Even though this season did not go the way that Ohio State expected, I have to commend Luke Fickell for the way he handled things this year. He inherited a tough situation of replacing a legend, and had to play without a lot of key players. Rather than complain, Fickell went to work, and left his mark on the program. He developed QB Braxton Miller by letting him run the full playbook, rather than play it conservative. If Urban Meyer does replace Fickell at the end of the season as expected, he will have a much better situation at the QB position because of Fickell’s leadership.

Please follow me on Twitter @TPJCollFootball

Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

- Michigan finally gets the monkey off of its back. Here’s to you Denard Robinson, you are Brady Hoke are the reason that the Wolverines pulled this out and stemmed the scarlet and grey tide of a seven year losing streak.

- If you would have told the college football world that Ohio State was going to score 34 points in this game, you had to like its chances to pull of the upset.

- You had a good feeling that the Michigan offense was going to put up yards and points, but where was this Ohio State offense all year? There was creativity in play calling, the forward pass made an appearance, and the game plan was much more aggressive. It makes you wonder why this same type of game plan couldn’t have been instituted in previous games.

- It’s hard to argue that Luke Fickell is ready for a big time college program head coaching job, and his main area of growth is clock management and play calling at the end of games. Ohio State has lost several close games this that OSU has won in year’s past. Once again, the poor clock management was on display by clocking the ball on third down after letting fifteen seconds run off the clock in winning time. It set up one play, one play only, instead of a couple. It was do or die, and a slow death indeed it was.

- What’s with OSU QBs and their coming out party against Michigan in recent years? There was Troy Smith, then Terrelle Pryor, and now Braxton Miller. Miller played his best game of the year and nearly put the team on his back for the upset, but.....

- For all of the great plays, Miller left about three big plays out on the field that ended up being the difference. He likely left at least 10 points on the field by missing Devier Posey a couple of times, and Corey Brown that looked like sure TD passes. Those are the plays that have to be made in a close game to make all the difference between bragging rights. He should grow and get better...

- Is there any doubt when the chips are down, where Michigan goes? The Wolverines likely learned their lesson in taking the ball out of Denard Robinson’s hands against Iowa, and there was no way they were going to do it in this game. Michigan’s best offense all day was to put it in Robinson’s hands and let him run to daylight. OSU had no answer.

- So now the Urban Meyer watch begins. Will he, or won’t he be the next head coach at Ohio State? We may all know this week now that the big rivalry game is out of the spotlight.

- If Meyer does take the job, you have to be excited about the potential marriage between Braxton Miller and the spread look of Urban Meyer....

- Is this the swinging of momentum in this rivalry? History has shown that it goes in cycles. Recently the 90’s belonged to Michigan, the 2000’s clearly belonged to Ohio State, and now with the hiring of Hoke, is the pendulum swinging back to the maize and blue? Maybe, but if the reports are accurate, Urban Meyer is likely going to have something to say about it...

- So now we wait and see if Michigan can get a BCS bowl invite? You have to like its chances with the exuberance back in the program and the likely resulting travel plans that Michigan fans will have. If things fall just right, it will be quite the turnaround engineered by Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison.

- Michigan is back and we can all be excited to watch the winged ship move forward in the national and Big Ten waters.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

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