5 Answers: Ohio State at Michigan

This week we looked at third down conversions, fast starts, Denard Robinson's supporting cast, offensive wrinkles and forcing turnovers in Ohio State's 40-34 loss at Michigan.

1. Will Ohio State be ready to play at noon?

After falling behind 10-0 in three consecutive weeks, the Buckeyes came out swinging against Michigan – at least initially.

After receiving the opening kickoff, they picked up a pair of first downs then drew first blood with a 54-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Philly Brown.

"We knew we had to be aggressive," Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said. "It's an emotional game. The things that happened to us in the last few weeks we probably haven't started as well as we could have. We knew what kind of team that we had and knew where we were mentally and everything and really had an idea that we needed to get out there and we needed to start fast and we needed to make something happen whether that's offensively or defensively."

The Ohio State defense also came out strong by forcing a three-and-out the first time it took the field, but the Wolverines controlled the rest of the opening quarter. They forced two punts and a safety on the next two Ohio State possessions, and the Michigan offense took advantage of two short fields to score a pair of touchdowns and open up a 16-7 lead by the time the first quarter was over.

2. Can the Buckeyes force multiple turnovers?

Ohio State turned a Denard Robinson fumble into its second touchdown of the day in the second quarter, but one takeaway proved to be too few for the Buckeyes, who had not recovered a fumble on defense since Oct. 15.

The teams ended up even in turnovers when Miller's last pass of the day was intercepted by Courtney Avery.

Lack of takeaways was a season-long problem for the Buckeyes.

3. Which team will win on third down?

Michigan came out the winner in this department by converting 5 of 11 third downs. That edged Ohio State's 5-for-12 performance.

The defensive mark was an improvement for Ohio State after they allowed opponents to convert 25 of 48 chances in the previous three games.

4. How much will Denard Robinson's supporting cast contribute?

While Michigan's star quarterback accounted for 337 total yards and five touchdowns, he was not a one-man show.

Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 120 yards on 20 carries while wide receivers Junior Hemingway and Martavious Odoms and tight end Kevin Koger all caught touchdown passes. Koger, a senior tight end, finished as the leading receiver with 40 yards on four catches.

"We had a hand on them all but we just didn't make the plays when we were supposed to," said linebacker Ryan Shazier, who had eight tackles despite playing more than half of the game with a sprained knee. "We missed some tackles, we had them wrapped up but have to bring them to the ground and we didn't."

5. Will there be a Michigan game wrinkle?

The Buckeyes changed things up by opening up the offense. They threw more on first down, and Miller ended up with career highs in pass attempts (25), completions (14) and passing yards (235). He also continued to show he is one of the most dangerous runners in the country with 100 yards on 16 tries, including a touchdown.

They did scheme up the Wolverines somewhat as the coaching staff installed a check to take advantage of a particular defensive look that left the middle vulnerable to a draw.

Miller exploited that more than once.

"We had seen some teams hurt them before and whenever we would get that look we would just go for it," Ohio State center Mike Brewster said. "They kind of baited us into it at the end of the game, but overall it was a nice successful play."

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