Ohio State's hopes of returning to the national championship game ended at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines today as the Wolverines put the Buckeyes away 35-21. Ohio State's defense gave up 448 total yards to Michigan (170 on the ground on 40 carries and TD drives 89, 74, 80, 62, and 88 yards) and had difficulty stopping the Wolverines on the ground and through the air. Chris Perry rushed for 154 yards and two TDs, while John Navarre threw for 278 yards on 21 of 32 passing with two TDs and one interception. The Buckeye offense had one of their best outputs of the year yardage-wise, but it was not enough to pull ahead of Michigan.
Much of the first half was close to a nightmare for Ohio State. The Buckeyes opened the game on offense and punted after a three-and-out, but they were able to hold Michigan to a punt on the following possession (during which UM WR Jason Avant left the game with an injury). OSU took over on offense but was forced to punt once again after a few plays.
Michigan took over in poor field position at their own 11-yard line, but the Wolverines proceeded to execute a statement-making drive of 89 yards on 18 plays, capped by a Steve Breaston TD run after he lined up under center. The drive lasted 7:04 and put Michigan on top 7-0.
After another Buckeye three-and-out, Michigan struck quickly on the next drive as on the third play of the possession, QB John Navarre hit Braylon Edwards (7 catches, 130 yards, 2 TDs) in the middle of the field, who then shook off tackle attempts by Will Allen and Nate Salley and took it to the end zone for a 64-yard TD play. The point after gave Michigan a 14-0 lead.
OSU took over on their next drive and had to punt once again after running a few plays, and Michigan took over at their own 20 and marched down the field for another long drive, aided in part by a personal foul penalty on Ohio State and an interference penalty on Ohio State. The drive was capped by another Braylon Edwards TD reception.
The Buckeyes were able to get one back before the half as they took over at their own 18 late in the second quarter and moved the ball downfield on a drive engineered by Craig Krenzel's passing (8-9, 63 yards on the drive) and running (18 yards on 3 carries on the drive). Krenzel hit Santonio Holmes for an 8-yard TD to cap the drive, and after Michigan ran out the clock on the following possession, the Buckeyes would go into the half trailing 21-7.
The second half did not start promisingly though. UM started with possession on their own 38 and drove down the field in less than two minutes to make the game 28-7 on a 30-yard Chris Perry TD run. The Buckeyes responded by moving the ball downfield inside UM territory, but penalties prevented them from getting in scoring position and were forced to punt.
Michigan took over on their own 8-yard line and looked to have put the game away as John Navarre hit Braylon Edwards on a deep TD pass, but the Wolverines were called for a hold and had to punt shortly after. The Buckeyes took over with solid field position and cut the lead to 28-14 shortly after as they capped off the drive with a TD pass from Craig Krenzel to Santonio Holmes.
OSU's defense held UM to a three-and-out on the next possession, but OSU started the next drive with the ball inside their own 10-yard line. On the possession, Craig Krenzel had to leave the game after taking a hard hit and apparently suffering an injury around the shoulder area, and OSU had to punt back to UM soon after. After a three-and-out by UM, the Buckeyes and Scott McMullen began a drive at their own 7-yard line and engineered a drive that would bring the Buckeyes back within a TD after a 42-yard pass to Santonio Holmes and a 2-yard TD run by Lydell Ross to cut the lead to 28-21.
Momentum continued to move in the Buckeyes' direction on the following Michigan possession as Chris Gamble picked off a John Navarre pass on the second play of the drive, but the Buckeyes could not do anything with it as they were forced to punt after three plays. Michigan took over on their own 11-yard line and would then put together an 89-yard back-breaking drive that put the Wolverines up 35-21 on Chris Perry's second TD of the day. Craig Krenzel would re-enter the game, but neither he nor Scott McMullen (who gave it a shot on the final OSU possession) could put the Buckeyes in the end zone again.
OSU's offense had (unofficially) 383 yards on the day, with over 300 of those coming through the air. Craig Krenzel went 20 of 33 for 221 yards and two touchdowns, while Scott McMullen threw for 108 yards and 1 INT on 8 of 13 passing. Michael Jenkins was the leading receiver with 9 catches for 132 yards, while Santonio Holmes had eight catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Craig Krenzel led the Buckeyes on the ground with 38 yards. B.J. Sander had 9 punts for a 49.1 yard average. Will Allen had 14 tackles and Nate Salley 11, but the Buckeye D only managed two tackles for loss.
The Buckeyes finish the regular season at 10-2 on the year and appear to be headed to either the Capital One Bowl or a potential BCS at-large bid.