The Buckeye fans, simply, were stunned.
After 3½ hours of back-and-forth, edge-of-the-seat action, Ohio State wrested control of The Game for the final time. With 32 seconds left, Michigan's final touchdown was scored, but after a timeout, the Wolverines' two-point conversion was denied by a Tyvis Powell interception.
Moments later, Bradley Roby recovered Michigan's onside kick.
Seconds after that, the Buckeyes were dancing on the Big House artificial turf. What had been perhaps the most epic version of The Game ever went from bitterly contested to suddenly over, but heads were still spinning.
"I feel like I'm just coming out of a heart attack," OSU center Corey Linsley said. "I have to go get checked out."
Was there the jubilation that normally comes with such a victory in this ancient rivalry? Or was it simply a sense of relief that the school-record winning streak and national championship hopes that mere seconds earlier were hanging by a thread were still intact?
"I don't even know at this point," tight end Jeff Heuerman said. "It was such a crazy ending. Everyone's head is still spinning, I think. We'll take it however we can get it."
And how the Buckeyes got it was in stunning fashion. Two touchdown favorites, Ohio State watched Michigan take three separate first-half leads, only to rally back to take a 35-21 lead that seemed to put the game in hand.
But suddenly, the Wolverines rallied, scoring two touchdowns in a row in the fourth quarter to knot the score. What happened after that will go down in Ohio State-Michigan lore forever. OSU needed just six plays to take the lead, Michigan countered with a touchdown with those 32 ticks on the clock and Powell ended it when he sniffed out Michigan's conversion attempt.
Was the topsy-turvy affair a series best? It would be hard to argue it. How many have been settled in the final seconds? It was just the second version of The Game to be determined by a single point, meaning a decision was reached unlike the six unfulfilling ties in series history.
Want records? This game had those as well. Carlos Hyde's 226 yards on the ground was an OSU series best, and the Buckeyes had two 100-yard rushers in The Game for the third time ever and first time since 1967. Braxton Miller's five TDs accounted for was the most for an OSU quarterback in the series, and Michigan's 451 passing yards, Devin Gardner's 84-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon and the Wolverines' 99-yard drive were all bests against OSU.
Add in the second-quarter melee that will go down as one of the uglier in series history and the stakes on the line and it will be hard to top this game – OSU's 285th game in school history in which the team scored 35 points and didn't lose.
"That's an instant classic," OSU head coach Urban Meyer said. "I want to congratulate our players. Someone asked me a question about what means more, our 24th win in a row or our second win against our rivals. There's no question about it, it's our second win against our rivals. I want to give them credit. They have great players and great coaches. I mean, that was a battle. Great game, a classic."
And Meyer would know. He grew up watching the Ohio State-Michigan game in Ashtabula, Ohio, mesmerized by Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler – two guys who might not recognize the 42-41 scoreline but would have no trouble understanding two rivals going toe-to-toe for 60 minutes only to be separated by the slimmest of margins.
Of course, none of that was in Meyer's mind when he stood on the sideline of Michigan Stadium as Michigan lined up for its final two-point conversion. He was helpless at that point, but mere seconds later, he was on the winning side.
"Whatever is inside of you, it feels like it just shoots out of you," he said. "I have great respect for this rivalry. I thought about 1986, '87 when Coach Bruce was here, coached his final game, and the Ten-Year War. You have a flashback to the great games I've witnessed, and if I didn't witness them in person, I certainly witnessed them on TV."
Outside the stadium before the game, reporters indicated that ticket sales were as slow as they had ever been. For much of the week, the talk about the game was how the heavily favored Buckeyes might render moot the usual excitement that surrounds the contest.
But once The Game kicked off, from the moment the Buckeyes were held short of scoring on just their second opening drive this season, The Game was a game. By the end, it was more than a game. It was a classic.
"I knew it was going to be tough," the hero, Hyde, said. "I would've been surprised if it would've been easy. These games are always tough. It's the biggest rivalry in college football. Of course it's going to be tough."