Ohio State (10-2, 7-1) earned a share of its fourth Big Ten championship in a row, posted its largest margin of victory over U-M since rolling to a 50-14 win in 1968 and won its fifth straight against Michigan (3-9).
OSU head coach Jim Tressel won his fifth straight against U-M, as well.
“It’s hard to believe because it’s so difficult,” Tressel said of the streak. “I remember looking up the statistic about three or four years ago of what the winning streaks were because you always have to have something in the back of your mind that you’re shooting for.”
“I’m just so proud of these kids to be able to have some of the accomplishments our seniors have had over the last five years,” Tressel added.
Each team sputtered on offense throughout much of the first quarter – Ohio State had only 8 yards and Michigan had a net of minus-18 as the clock wound under 4:30 in the first quarter.
But OSU junior tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells quickly ended that offensive futility with a 59-yard touchdown burst right through the heart of the U-M defense.
Wells led the Buckeyes’ offensive charge with 134 yards on 15 carries, part of a rushing attack that eventually generated 232 yards. Redshirt freshman Dan “Boom” Herron added 80 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor turned in what could only be described as an uneven performance during his first taste of The Game. He connected on only 5 of 13 passes, but that handful of completions was good for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Pryor also threw a first-quarter interception, his first pick since the Penn State game.
Senior co-captain Todd Boeckman came on in the fourth quarter and directed the final touchdown drive for the Buckeyes. He completed all three of his pass attempts for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Junior split end Brian Hartline and senior co-captain Brian Robiskie had only two catches each in the game, but they were worth a combined 125 yards and three TDs. Hartline had touchdown receptions of 53 and 18 yards while Robiskie had a 46-yard reception to go along with an 8-yard scoring grab.
All told, Ohio State overcame its sluggish start to account for 416 yards of total offense while limiting the Wolverines to 198.
Defensively, OSU senior linebacker James Laurinaitis made his final appearance in the Horseshoe a good one, leading the Buckeyes with a game-high 12 tackles that included his fourth sack of the year.
Junior safety Kurt Coleman added 10 tackles while senior linebacker Marcus Freeman had seven stops, including 2½ for loss, to go along with a fumble recovery.
2003: No. 5 Michigan 35, No. 4 Ohio State 21: Any chance Ohio State had of defending its national championship ended in the 100th meeting between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
Tailback Chris Perry thrilled those dressed in maize and blue in the NCAA-record crowd of 112,118 in Michigan Stadium. He rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and denied the Buckeyes the outright Big ten championship, something OSU had not captured since 1984.
"That's the thing that hurts the most right now," said Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel, who split time with backup Scott McMullen because of a shoulder injury. "We set a goal before the season to be the No. 1 team in the Big Ten, and we didn't get that done. It hurts."
Added OSU head coach Jim Tressel, who tasted defeated for the first time vs. Michigan: "We didn't come out and do the things that we needed to do to be the Big Ten champions. So, obviously we have to tip our cap to Michigan."
The Wolverines dominated the line of scrimmage, piling up 170 rushing yards while hold the Buckeyes to 54. U-M quarterback John Navarre threw the ball 32 times but was never sacked and rarely pressured. Conversely, Krenzel and McMullen were sacked a total of four times and were constantly under pressure.
"I'm extremely disappointed in the fact that I as a senior - not only a senior, but a co-captain - I did not have my best game today," said OSU defensive tackle Tim Anderson. "I don't think I had even close to my best game. So I feel like I let the team down."
The Wolverines never trailed. Michigan started the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run by Steve Breaston with 39 seconds remaining in the first quarter. That lead built to 21-7 by halftime behind a pair of touchdown receptions from Braylon Edwards from Navarre.
Santonio Holmes gave Ohio State some momentum heading into halftime when he caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Krenzel with 44 seconds remaining before halftime. Yet Michigan extended the lead early in the third quarter on a 30-yard touchdown by Perry. Ohio State cut the lead to 28-21 with touchdowns by Holmes on a 13-yard reception from Krenzel and Lydell Ross on a 2-yard run.
But that was as close as the Buckeyes came. Perry capped the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run with just less than eight minutes remaining.
"Obviously, we didn‘t do a great job," Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio said. "We didn't come to play like we usually play. As coaches, we have to take responsibility for that.
"We didn't tackle as well as we have, and they made too many big plays against us. You have to give Michigan credit, but the things we needed to do to win the football game, we didn't do."
Michigan earned a Rose Bowl bid with the victory and put OSU's bowl fate in the hands of the BCS selection committee.
"To be that close to going back to the championship game and losing is tough," McMullen said. "Knowing that Michigan is the team that did it to us - that doesn't make it easier."
1997: No. 1 Michigan 20, No. 4 Ohio State 14: Ohio native Charles Woodson stated his case for the Heisman Trophy in leading the Wolverines past the visiting Buckeyes.
Woodson made two big plays in the second quarter that led Michigan to victory. He first caught a 37-yard pass from Brian Griese that set up a U-M touchdown and returned an OSU punt 78 yards for a touchdown moments later.
"I think it's obvious he's the best player in America," said Griese, who completed 14 of 25 passes for 147 yards in securing his third straight win over the Buckeyes. "What he did today was unbelievable."
Woodson's heroics overshadowed an impressive afternoon by the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes held Michigan to 189 yards of total offense and allowed only one of U-M's three touchdowns.
"I told (OSU head coach John Cooper) I was tremendously impressed with his kids," U-M head coach Lloyd Carr said. "That defense was magnificent. They played great football. We had one drive on them. They certainly played well enough on defense to win."
What cost the Buckeyes was turnovers. Ohio State committed three costly turnovers, including a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown by Andre Weathers that gave Michigan a 20-0 lead early in the second half. Quarterback Stanley Jackson had a rough afternoon, turning the ball over three times with a fumble and two interceptions.
"I haven't thrown a pick all year and come up here and threw two," said Jackson, who finished 4 of 9 for 49 yards. "It's sickening."
Joe Germaine came off the bench and led Ohio State on a second-half rally. He completed only 5 of 17 passes for 84 yards and was sacked five times. Yet he did throw a 56-yard touchdown pass to David Boston that cut the Michigan lead to 20-7.
Pepe Pearson scored on a 2-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to six points, but the Buckeyes could get no closer.
Cooper fell to 1-8-1 vs. the rival Wolverines, but his players rallied behind him after the loss.
"John Cooper is a great coach," said Pearson, who led OSU's rushing attack with 85 yards on 18 carries. "I don't think anybody should look at his record against Michigan. He's won a tremendous about of games. He should be respected for the job he's done."
1986: No. 6 Michigan 26, No. 7 Ohio State 24: Ohio State's Rose Bowl hopes wilted on a late fall afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes had to settle for sharing the Big Ten title and going to the Cotton Bowl instead of Pasadena because they could not hold onto their early momentum. Ohio State built a 14-3 lead in the first quarter before sputtering to a close loss.
"The game is 60 minutes long," said OSU head coach Earle Bruce. "That's the thing about football. You've got to be as strong at the end of the game as you are at the beginning."
The Buckeyes lost their 11-point lead and eventually trailed 26-17 in the fourth quarter before rallying. Jim Karsatos connected with Cris Carter for a 17-yard touchdown with just less than 10 minutes remaining, and Ohio State had a chance to win the game late. Facing a fourth-and-2 at the Michigan 28, kicker Matt Frantz attempted a 45-yard field goal which went wide left with 1:06 remaining.
"It was a touch decision," Bruce said. "We conferred with our kicking coach and he said the young man had been able to kick them before the game and he was kicking them well. He did kick the ball far enough, but it was just a hooked ball, like you do when you give it a little extra. I wish he'd have played it on to the right a little more."
The missed kick was not Ohio State's downfall. After holding Michigan to two field goals in the first half, the Wolverines dominated after the break. Tailback Jamie Morris led the way for U-M with 151 yards and two touchdowns in the second break.
"They ran very effectively in the second half and kept the ball," Bruce said.
Cris Carter started the scoring for Ohio State when he caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jim Karsatos in the first quarter. The lead was extended to 14-3 when Vince Workman added a 46-yard touchdown scamper. Michigan took command after that, holding Ohio State to only a 27-yard field goal by Frantz and a 17-yard touchdown reception by Carter the rest of the way.
On defense, linebacker Chris Spielman led the Buckeyes with a school-record 29 tackles. However, he did not care about his new top single-game mark after the loss.
"That doesn't matter to me," the junior said. "We lost the game. That's all that matters right now. You know me, and if you do, you know I don't like to lose."
1980: No. 10 Michigan 9, No. 5 Ohio State 3: Both the Buckeyes and Wolverines took perfect 7-0 Big Ten records into the game, and it was Michigan earning a berth in the Rose Bowl with a victory at Ohio Stadium.
The Wolverines handed Bruce his first conference loss thanks to its defense, which dominated the Buckeyes' offense. Michigan did well with its ball-control offense, running 84 plays compared to only 58 for OSU. The Buckeyes converted only four of 15 third downs.
A 33-yard field goal by Vlade Janakievski gave the Buckeyes their lone lead in the second quarter. Michigan's Ali Haji-Sheikh tied the game with a 41-yard field later in the quarter, and the Wolverines took the lead for good with a 13-yard touchdown pass from John Wangler to Anthony Carter in the third quarter.
Haji-Sheikh's extra point attempt hit the upright, but Ohio State could not capitalize.
1975: No. 1 Ohio State 21, No. 4 Michigan 14: Ray Griffin's key interception helped the Buckeyes earn a Rose Bowl berth with a win in Ann Arbor.
With the Wolverines desperately trying to break a 14-14 tie that would send Ohio State to Pasadena, the defender best known as Archie's brother stood tall. On a third-and-19 play deep in Michigan territory, Ray Griffin intercepted a Rick Leach pass and returned it 29 yards to the U-M 3-yard line. It did not take long for Ohio State to cash in, as Pete Johnson bowled into the end zone on first-and-goal.
Johnson gave the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, capping a 63-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown reception from Cornelius Greene. Michigan tied the game on an 11-yard option pass from tailback Gordon Bell to wingback Jimmy Smith.
The Wolverines took a 14-7 lead with 7:11 left in the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by Leach. Ohio State took the ensuing kick and drove 80-yards to tie the game. Johnson capped the march with a fourth-down plunge from the Michigan 1 with 3:18 remaining.
1969: No. 12 Michigan 24, No. 1 Ohio State 12: The Ten Year War between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler began with an upset victory by the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium.
The Buckeyes only needed a win over their archrival to clinch their second straight national championship because of they were unable to go to the Rose Bowl because of the "no repeat" policy of the time.
The then-largest crowd (103,588) ever to attend a regular-season college football game saw the Wolverines shock Ohio State. Jim Otis gave Ohio State a 6-0 lead on its second possession, but Michigan answered with a Garvie Craw 3-yard touchdown. Frank Titas' extra point gave U-M a 7-6 lead and put OSU its first deficit of the season.
The Buckeyes took the lead back with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Rex Kern to Jan White, but Michigan again answered with another Craw touchdown run.
The Wolverines closed out the game's scoring before halftime. Don Moorhead scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and Tim Killian made a 25-yard field goal to put U-M ahead 24-12 at halftime.
Ohio State only crossed midfield once in the second half, and the Buckeyes threw six interceptions.
1958: No. 11 Ohio State 20, Michigan 14: The Buckeyes ended the season with a win over the struggling Wolverines.
Michigan entered the game with a 2-5-1 record but led 14-12 at halftime. Ohio State took the lead for good with an 80-yard scoring drive in the third quarter. The Wolverines almost pulled off the upset in the final moments. They drove to the Ohio State 4-yard line with 40 seconds remaining before the Buckeyes forced a fumble. Jerry Fields recovered the loose ball to preserve the victory.
1952: Ohio State 27, No. 12 Michigan 7: Hayes' first of 16 victories over That School Up North came thanks to an impressive defensive effort and the passing of quarterback John Borton.
The Buckeyes forced eight turnovers in the victory and the OSU defense did not allow any points until the fourth quarter. Senior Fred Bruney had a great Buckeye finale, setting an single-game record with three interceptions in the first half.
Borton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.
It was Ohio State's first win over Michigan in eight seasons. The upset spoiled U-M's Rose Bowl hopes.
1947: No. 1 Michigan 21, Ohio State 0: Retiring Michigan head coach Fritz Crisler earned his last victory over the Buckeyes and saw his team improve to 9-0 with a win at Michigan Stadium.
Ohio State struggled to a 2-6-1 record in '47.
1941: No. 14 Ohio State 20, No. 5 Michigan 20: More than 15,000 Ohio State fans made the trek to Ann Arbor to watch the Buckeyes and Wolverines battle to a tie.
It was a gutsy effort by Paul Brown's Buckeyes. Brown only had 36 plays in uniform but still managed to keep pace with the Wolverines on a cold and windy afternoon at Michigan Stadium. The game was tie 7-7 at halftime and 14-14 after the third quarter. Both teams scored touchdowns in the final quarter but each team missed the extra point.
1930: Ohio State 12, Illinois 9: Ohio State broke a three-game losing streak to Illinois with a win at Champaign.
Wes Fesler threw an 8-yard touchdown to Bob Grady, and Martin Varner ran for a 1-yard score. Each of Illinois' points came in the second quarter.
1924: Illinois 7, Ohio State 0: Even without Red Grange unable to play, the Fighting Illini still defeated the Buckeyes in the first battle for the Illibuck.
Illinois dominated despite the close score. The Illini ran 66 offensive plays compared to only 27 by OSU. They also outgained the Buckeyes 318-101.
The win allowed the 16-pound live "Illibuck" turtle to stay in Champaign. It eventually died in 1927 and was replaced with a wooden replica.
1919: Illinois 9, Ohio State 7: The Buckeyes lost out on a chance at the outright Big Ten title with a loss in Chic Harley's last game at Ohio Field.
The Illini scored first on a 50-yard touchdown run by Ed Sternaman - the first touchdown allowed by the Buckeyes all season. Ohio State answered with a touchdown in the third quarter on 1-yard touchdown plunge by Harley. The extra point, kicked by Harley, barely made it but gave OSU a 7-6 lead.
Illinois rallied late to earn the victory. After Harley punted for a touchback, the Illini drove to the OSU 20. With eight seconds remaining, Bobby Fletcher dropkicked a 25-yard field goal to give his team the win.
1913: Ohio State 58, Northwestern 0: A rout of the Wildcats ended the 1913 season on a high note - with its first conference win.
The Buckeyes were in their first year as a member of the Western Conference, which later became the Big Ten. Prior to the game, OSU head coach John Wilce had his seniors take one last ceremonial hit on a tackling dummy after the last practice. The tradition of the "Senior Tackle" has become one of Ohio State's oldest rituals.
After starting the season 2-2-1, Ohio State won its last two games by a combined score of 76-0.
1902: Ohio State 17, Ohio Wesleyan 16: The Buckeyes earned their final win of the '02 campaign at OWU.
The Buckeyes would end the season five days later with a Thanksgiving Day 6-6 tie with Indiana. OSU finished with a 6-2-2 record.