12 Games Of Christmas: Michigan

In celebration of the holiday season as well as Ohio State’s appearance in the College Football Playoff, we’re counting down the 12 wins that made it possible, including the rivalry triumph vs. Michigan.

Nov. 29: No. 6 Ohio State 42, Michigan 28
Columbus, Ohio
Box Score

Quick Recap: Ohio State’s weird week included a search for missing defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge, but the Buckeyes dispatched a game Michigan team despite a slow start. Michigan’s offense and defense made the game interesting – U-M had 27 first downs to OSU’s 20 and barely lost the yardage battle, 416-372 – and led for much of the second quarter, but Ohio State’s offense got in gear and did the job. The Buckeyes scored early thanks to an interception by Vonn Bell and a short TD pass from J.T. Barrett to Nick Vannett, but Michigan’s defense battened down the hatches and forced three straight punts. Devin Gardner was in control and the Michigan OL played well as the Wolverines took a 14-7 lead, but a 25-yard scramble by Barrett just before halftime and a 2-yard run on the other side of the break restored OSU’s lead. Drake Johnson’s second TD of the game tied it, but Barrett led the game-winning drive late in the third and Ezekiel Elliott plunged over from 2 yards out to give the Buckeyes a 28-21 lead. Barrett suffered an injury that required him being carted off on the first play of the fourth quarter, but he came back to watch the end, which was clinched emphatically when Elliott lumbered for a 44-yard TD and Darron Lee returned a Gardner fumble 33 yards for a TD. Joey Bosa forced the sack, one of two for him on the day, and Lee tied Bell and Joshua Perry for the team lead with nine tackles.

Urban Said: “Our fans, as always, in that stadium were electric. Very appreciative of that. Also a lot going on. A lot going on. We have a young man that's missing, Kosta. Our prayers and thoughts are for him and his family to have him returned home safe. And obviously we lost a Heisman candidate today, J.T. Barrett, and I think he set the record for the history of the Big Ten Conference for touchdowns, and that's a tribute. So we gotta go. We gotta go and we have a lot of confidence in the guy that's going to be doing it, his name is Cardale Jones. He's been here I think for 120 years. He's been here for a while. He practices. He's going to get all the reps. And so we've got to be ready to go.

“A quarterback is a product of those around him. And that was the fourth down and one call with hand the ball off to a very good running back and offensive line that blocks you. Make some plays at the quarterback position, which he has all the talent in the world. And the good thing he's going to get a lot of reps. One thing about when you had J.T., Cardale didn't get many because you were trying to get him ready to go. But obviously we've got two quarterbacks go down and we're going to find out if we earn our coaching stripes and do a good job.

Play of the Game: Ohio State was holding on up 28-21 and was reeling from the Barrett injury when it faced a fourth-and-1 at the Michigan 44 with the clock ticking under five minutes. Ohio State took a timeout to talk it over, and the question from Meyer to OL coach Ed Warinner was simple – can we get it? The answer was yes, and came out with a counter option run, with Jones faking a run right and handing back to Elliott over the left. The hole was there thanks to the left side of the line, and Elliott was gone as soon as he broke through the arm tackle of Jake Ryan. The TD made it a two-score game and basically clinched Ohio State’s win.

Player of the Game: Barrett left after being injured on the first play of the first quarter but accounted for three touchdowns including the TD run right before halftime that really got the Buckeyes back in the game. On the whole, Barrett ran for 89 yards and threw for 176 with no interceptions in just over a quarter of work, and his calm nature helped the team overcome its early struggles.

What Was Accomplished: Ohio State got a rivalry win amid weird circumstances, but no win vs. Michigan is ever to be taken for granted. The Wolverines gave it their all but were kept from a bowl game, and the Buckeyes kept playoff and conference title hopes alive with the win, showing their character with the comeback win. How things would develop the next week, however, remained to be seen.

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