Coach Tressel promised us we'd be proud of the Buckeyes when they traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Can he deliver on his promises or what???!!!
In a game that few people thought Ohio State could win, the Buckeyes came into Ann Arbor today, pushed UM around in the first half while racking up a 23-0 halftime lead and then holding on in the second half for a 26-20 victory. The Buckeyes' win sends them to 7-4, a possible New Year's Day bowl berth, and at the same time, results in Michigan losing a Big Ten title and a berth in a BCS bowl game... just a little payback for UM spoiling OSU's parties in the 1990s. Jonathan Wells led the way for OSU, racking up 129 yards and 3 TDs on the day, and even though Jonathan left in the second half with an injury and did not return, his three first half TDs were enough for an OSU win. But this was a definite team victory... let's recap and see why.
To start the game, OSU took the opening kickoff and sputtered, punting the ball after a delay of game on the first play and three-and-out. But the Buckeye D would shortly make on of several huge plays on the day as on the third play of UM's possession, Mike Doss picked off a tipped John Navarre pass and brought it down to the UM 4-yard line. Shortly after, Jonathan Wells scored on a 2-yard TD run, and a Mike Nugent PAT made it 7-0 Buckeyes.
Momentum almost shifted on the following kickoff as UM returned it deep inside OSU territory on a fake reverse (is it me or does UM get annoying with all their stupid reverses that they run), but the return was called back due to a penalty. UM went three and out and punted it to OSU. The Bucks could do nothing with the ball on their next drive as they punted, and then after moving the ball into OSU territory on the following drive, UM had to punt the ball as well.
On the next drive, OSU took the ball and rambled down to the UM 46, where they faced a 4th and 1. On that play, the Bucks made a very important call to go for it, giving the ball to Jonathan Wells, who found a big hole and sprinted 46 yards for a TD. A Nugent PAT made it 14-0 Buckeyes.
UM had yet another 3-and-out on the next drive. The boo birds came out, but the Bucks were playing inspired defense and were shutting down the UM offensive attack. The Bucks got the ball back on the punt and drove the ball down to around the UM 20, but they came up empty as Mike Nugent missed a field goal. On that drive, Shane Olivea suffered a serious injury as his leg was rolled up on and was taken off the field on a cart. As this is being written, we heard no word on this injury.
UM got the ball back at their own 22, and after the missed field goal, it seemed like the momentum had shifted to UM, but the Buckeye D came up huge again as Darrion Scott tipped a Navarre pass and Tim Anderson took it out of the air for the INT. The Bucks took over on the UM 28, and shortly after, Jonathan Wells ran it in from 11 yards for his third TD, making it 21-0. UM got the ball back on the next drive and once again, the Buckeye D held, forcing a three-and-out. OSU went three-and-out on the next drive, and UM got the ball back, but the defense forced yet another turnover as Kenny Peterson forced Navarre to fumble and Will Smith recovered, giving OSU the ball at UM's 21. But the Bucks missed on this opportunity as Craig Krenzel would throw an interception in the end zone -- the Bucks' only turnover of the day.
On the next drive, OSU got a nice little gift as back-up Jermaine Gonzales was inserted at QB for UM in hopes for an offensive boost, but what UM got instead was a snap past Gonzales' head and out of the end zone for a safety, giving OSU a 23-0 lead. The Bucks ran out the clock on the next possession, going into halftime with a 23-0 cushion.
The first half was completely dominated by Ohio State. The Buckeye defense held UM's offense to next to nothing, and the OSU offense was doing a great job as they won the battle at the line of scrimmage and were able to control the ball on the ground. Wells had 122 of his 129 yards in the first half.
However, you knew UM wasn't just going to go away, and they didn't. The Wolverines got the ball at their own 35 to start the second half, and they stormed down the field in a hurry as John Navarre capped a 65-yard drive with a 21-yd TD pass to Marquise Walker. The Hayden Epstein PAT made it 23-7. OSU was held to a 3-and-out on the next drive, but OSU D held on UM's next possession as the Wolverines were forced to punt. OSU once again had a 3-and-out on the next drive, but the Bucks got a lucky bounce as Andy Groom's punt hit the ground and rolled and rolled and rolled until it stopped dead at the UM 19 for a 66-yard punt. UM and OSU traded three-and-outs again until UM got the ball once again and drove the ball deep into OSU territory. However, two costly mistakes killed UM as first, Marquise Walker dropped a sure TD in the end zone, and then when UM was forced to go for the field goal, Hayden Epstein missed his 27-yard attempt. Let's hope Epstein has a note from his mother to help excuse him from missing that kick.
The fourth quarter would come, and after a couple of three-and-outs for each team, the OSU special teams had a breakdown once again as UM blocked an Andy Groom punt deep inside OSU territory and took over on the OSU 9. For a moment, OSU looked like it had held UM, but a roughing the passer call gave UM the ball at the 2, where they punched it in shortly after on a B.J. Askew 2-yd run. The two-point conversion was no good, and the score stood at 23-13.
OSU was forced to punt once again on their next drive (a drive that saw OSU get just their first 1st down of the second half), and UM had the ball once again. But the defense would come up huge for OSU as Mike Doss would pick off a John Navarre pass and return it to the UM 9. OSU looked like they were sitting pretty, but two consecutive 15-yard penalties drove the ball back and forced OSU to kick a field goal, which Mike Nugent hit from 33 yards out, making it 26-13.
With 5:58 left on the clock, it was still nerve-racking as there was more than enough time for UM to manage two scores. The Wolverines ran a hurry-up offense on the next drive and got down to the OSU 20, but they could not convert on 4th down. OSU took over and went three and out, but on their possession, UM burned all three of their time outs. The Bucks punted the ball back to UM, and they took the ball at the OSU 45 and drove down the field to make it 26-20 on a Navarre-to-Walker 11-yd pass.
With just over two minutes on the clock, the nerves were shaking as UM lined up for an onsides kick. If you were considering the history of sports in Ohio, you were seriously scared at this point, but Chris Vance wound up recovering the onsides kick, giving OSU the ball at the UM 43. The Bucks ran some clock and had to give the ball back to UM with 9 seconds, but that wasn't enough time as Dustin Fox picked off the last second heave, sealing OSU's victory.
What a big win for Ohio State. Everyone played well. Craig Krenzel went the whole way at QB and played well. The offense was made simple today to take the pressure of Craig, and he did a good job of running it. On the day, Craig was 11 of 18 for 118 yards and an INT. He made some good throws, and the INT was his only costly mistake of the day. The running game was great in the first half as Wells