OVERVIEW: It definitely was not a well played game between Ohio State and Michigan, but there was drama galore for over three hours Saturday. At the end of the day, these are two even teams, led by two great coaches, and a two overtime finish probably best explains how even these two teams really are. As an elimination game, there was pressure on both teams from the opening kickoff and that probably contributed to a sloppy game overall.
THE COACHES: I thought both Harbaugh and Meyer did what each needed to do to get the W, but of course only side is going to win. I don't think one side out-coached the other at all, and both defensive coordinators (Don Brown and Greg Schiano) were ahead of the offenses for the most part. Other than the ridiculous fake punt by Ohio State, there really wasn't much to question regarding each coaching staff throughout the game.
THE OFFICIATING: Every fan base thinks the referees hate them. It's simply a fact of the internet age, and probably goes back to the beginning of the sport. But I do think Harbaugh has a right to complain about Saturday's game regarding the penalty on himself, and the no-call on Grant Perry. Both were horrible calls. But the pass interference on Delano Hill was the right call, and there's no way that ball was uncatchable. He also has a right to ask how his defensive line could manhandle the Ohio State offensive line all game, but not have one holding call? Which bring us to.................
THE SPOT: I know it's plainly obvious to Michigan fans and Harbaugh that J.T. Barrett was clearly stopped short of the first down, while Buckeye homers could plainly see he had that first down easily. The truth? Nobody knows and we are never going to know. I've looked at every replay and every picture (including the Zach Smith photoshopped one), and it's just not possible to know where Barrett landed and how the ball was positioned. Only God knows and He won't be telling us anytime soon. Which will allow this play to be talked about for the next 50 years, and beyond.
THE PLAY OF THE GAME: The third down scamper by Curtis Samuel where he drifted backwards, reversed his field, and somehow got near the first down marker. Michigan had angles on Samuel, but could not get him on the ground. If he gets stopped back near the 35-yard line the game would probably have ended right there. It was probably the signature play of the game for both teams in a game where Ohio State did just enough to win, while Michigan did just enough to lose.
THE KEY MISTAKES: Wilton Speight played a courageous game, and threw the ball really well under pressure. But you CANNOT throw those interceptions deep in your own territory. And you CANNOT fumble on your opponent's one yard line. Had Michigan punted the ball away instead of hitting Hooker and Baker right in the hands, the Wolverines might have put the game away in the third quarter. But they let Ohio State hang around, and then came...............
THE FOURTH QUARTER: And Ohio State dominated the action, outgaining Michigan by nearly 150 yards and evening the score. When the game was on the line and the pressure was the greatest, Ohio State made the winning plays that often lead to victory. A team that could not move the football offensively, suddenly could not be stopped. A quarterback, Barrett, who had done a wonderful Joe Bauserman impersonation for three quarters, turned back into a quarterback again. Wide receivers made catches. An offensive line that had been rolled, started holding blocks, and Barrett made plays with his feet and his arm. Michigan looked like a tired team late in that game, especially defensively. The Ohio State defense, which was on the field for most of the first three quarters, never broke in the fourth, when a Michigan touchdown could have put things out of reach.
SUMMARY: In what will be viewed as one heck of a year for the Big Ten, these two teams put on quite a shoe Saturday. I believe Penn State also deserves a lot of credit for what they're doing right now, and anybody screaming the Nittany Lions will deserve the spot if they beat Wisconsin won't get an argument from me. But I don't think next week's championship game means a thing. I think Ohio State's resume will impress the committee, as it has all along, and the Buckeyes are in the playoffs today. And Penn State, who I think is one of the best teams in the country right now, is going to need to win and then get help from Clemson or Washington. But the bottom line for me is that I think Ohio State and Alabama have punched tickets to the Big Dance. Now we need to see who joins them.