The Buckeyes did it!
In a classic battle, the Buckeyes overcame a determined and tough Michigan squad to pull out a 14-9 victory. The Wolverines were looking strong in the first half, but OSU's defense held them scoreless in the second half, and the offense came together for a fourth-quarter drive that put OSU ahead for good.
The Michigan offense dominated time of possession in the first half. Ohio State started with the ball on their own 25, but they quickly went three-and-out and punted to Michigan. The Wolverines started at their own 40, and after some Chris Perry runs and key passes to Braylon Edwards and Ronald Bellamy, UM was in field goal position. They converted on a couple of third downs, but they could not convert once they got deep in OSU territory and had to settle for a 36-yard Adam Finley field goal to make it 3-0.
On the following possession, OSU took over on their own 24 and opened with a short pass to Lydell Ross. After that, Maurice Clarett entered the game and quickly made an impact, making a 10-yard catch. On the next play, the Buckeyes got a break as Michael Jenkins fumbled after catching a pass, but it was fallen on by Ryan Hamby. After a Clarett run and an OSU false start, Craig Krenzel hit Chris Gamble for a 14-yard gain, and then Clarett broke a big one for a 29-yard gain. Clarett then ran for 1-yard on his next carry but was shaken up and left the field. After a Craig Krenzel run (where he was hit hard and seemed a bit shaky afterwards) and a false start, Krenzel attempted to hit Michael Jenkins near the goal line, but Michigan's Jeremy LeSuer was called for interference, giving OSU the ball at the 2. Clarett ran it in shortly after for a TD, and the Mike Nugent PAT made it 7-3 OSU.
Michigan took over the next drive on their own 20 and put in another quality drive. After some Perry runs and a catch by tight end Bennie Joppru, John Navarre helped UM convert on another third down as he hit Ronald Bellamy for 15 yards. Chris Perry then ran for 12, but an incompletion and short gain set up another third and long. Michigan converted again as Navarre hit Edwards for a 10-yard gain. Michigan sputtered on the next series though, and they once again had to settle for a field goal, this one from 35-yards out to make it 7-6.
OSU took over the next drive on their own 26 after a Maurice Hall return and started out strong with a Krenzel-to-Jenkins 18-yard passing play. Clarett then was stopped on first down, but the Buckeyes set up a 3rd-and-short after a Krenzel-to-Jenkins 8-yard gain. On third down, Krenzel tried to run for the first and came up inches short, and instead of trying to convert the fourth-and-short, OSU punted to UM.
The strategy seemed to work as UM was pinned back at their own 8, but the Wolverine offense took over as they set out on a long, time-consuming drive that took up most of the remaining time in the second quarter. After a short Perry run and an incompletion, B.J. Askew converted another third down as he ran for 11 yards. UM then moved steadily down the field with short passes and runs -- Edwards for an 11-yard catch, Askew for 3, Perry for 4, Askew for 2, Edwards for 9, Perry for 6, Perry for 1, Bellamy for 10, Askew for 3, Askew for 3, and then Navarre (who is not known for his running) scrambling for 12. UM had a 1st-and-goal, but they shot themselves in the foot from there as a sack, a false start, and an offensive interference call in the end zone on Braylon Edwards (he caught the ball but shoved Chris Gamble before the catch) set up UM back at the OSU 34. A 9-yard Edwards catch and a 20-yard Bennie Joppru got UM closer, but they were held to another field goal, this one from 22 yards out to make it 9-7. OSU took over with just seconds left and downed the ball to send it to halftime.
The UM offense controlled the first half as they were far ahead in time of possession and were 8-11 on third down. The Michigan punter also did not punt in the first half. Things would change in the second half, however.
Michigan started the second half with the ball as they began at their own 27-yard line, but after one first down, OSU's defense held and forced UM's first punt of the game. OSU took over on their own 16, and the drive started well with a Maurice Clarett 15-yard run, but after a short run, an incompletion and a sack, OSU was forced to punt it back to UM.
Michigan took over with good field position at their own 45-yard line, but they would not be able to move the ball much. After a first down, UM was flagged for a false start and then lost yardage on the second down play, which was too much for them to overcome on third down. The Wolverines punted back to OSU, who took over at their own 20-yard line after a touchback. OSU's offense looked like it was starting to click; Maurice Clarett ran for six and then 17 yards, and then after an offsides on Michigan and a hold on OSU, Craig Krenzel and Maurice Clarett runs helped put OSU into Michigan territory. They could not convert their next third down however, and they elected to punt instead of going on fourth down. The punt was an uncharacteristically poor one from Andy Groom as it sailed out of bounds after going only 12 yards, giving UM the ball at their own 22.
Michigan began moving the ball once again with a couple of first down catches by Braylon Edwards, but the Wolverines were forced to punt again soon after that. Chris Gamble fielded the punt inside the OSU 5-yard line, and the Buckeyes began the next drive at their own six. A Maurice Clarett 9-yard run was the last play of the third quarter, and the Buckeyes headed into quarter #4 still trailing 9-7.
Clarett ripped off another nice run as he went for 17 yards, and the Buckeyes would come through on the next series with a Krenzel-to-Jenkins 16-yard passing play on 3rd and 15, but they could not get any further and had to punt once more.
UM took over on their own 16, but they were forced to punt once more after a few plays, and a halo violation on the Wolverines gave OSU their best field position of the game at their own 43. The drive opened with a first down catch by Brandon Schnittker, but after a Krenzel run, a loss on a Clarett run, and a Krenzel run that fell just shy of a first down, OSU faced a huge fourth down plaay at the UM 33-yard line. Krenzel converted though with a dive over the line for a first down.
On the next play, the Buckeyes hit one of the biggest plays of the game with a 26-yard pass from Krenzel to Clarett down to the UM six-yard line. After a 2-yard run by Clarett, Maurice Hall would run it in from four yards out on a pitch from Krenzel. The Mike Nugent PAT made it 14-9.
Michigan took over after a touchback at their own 20 with 4:55 to go. Navarre through incomplete on 1st down and Chris Perry ran for a small gain on second down, and then an interference call on Dustin Fox gave UM a first down. After a couple of incompletions and a short pass to Ronald Bellamy, UM was faced with a 4th and 4, but they converted with a 12-yard pass to Bellamy.
The Buckeye defense would come up big though. After gains by B.J. Askew and Braylon Edwards, Darrion Scott got through to John Navarre and forced a fumble. The ball rolled around and seemed to roll right into the lap of defensive end Will Smith, giving OSU the first turnover of the game.
It wasn't over though. OSU took over with little time on the clock, but they went three-and-out on their possession and punted it back to UM with 58 seconds left. Three incompletions set up a 4th and 10 for UM, but they converted on an 11-yard pass to Braylon Edwards. After an incompletion, UM moved the ball up to the 46 on a pass to Bellamy, and then an interference call on Chris Gamble and an 18-yard pass to Bellamy moved UM deep into OSU territory with 7 seconds left. Navarre threw incomplete on first down, but one second remained. On the final play, Navarre dropped back to pass and saw a man down the field, but the pass was picked off by safety Will Allen to ice the OSU win.
- Bend (a lot), but don't break: That summed it up today for the OSU defense. UM controlled the clock in the first half and looked good on offense, but OSU held them out of the end zone and limited them to three field goals. UM then did not score at all in the second half and punted on their first four possessions. Then, on UM's last two possessions, OSU came up with the lone turnovers of the day. Yes, "bend but don't break" truly sums it up today.
- Maurice Clarett comes through: Maurice Clarett, as we all know, had been fighting an injury, and he didn't even start this game. But he came off the bench and came up big, running for 119 yards on 20 carries and a TD and also had 2 catches for 35 yards. OSU won the rushing edge in this game, 140 to 121.
- 13-0... who'da thunk it? Well, at least one person did... none other than Duane Long. In a Bucknuts Fan Club article dated July 25, Duane correctly predicted that OSU would win all 13 regular season games. Let's hope, however, that Duane is not truly a psychic friend when it comes to the Fiesta Bowl. The question was "What games will OSU lose and why?" and here's his complete answer: "(The Buckeyes will lose to) whoever the Buckeyes play in the bowl game. If I am right, they will play in one of the elite bowls and will not be a good enough passing team to win. Someone will stack the line and make the Buckeyes pass."
- Record Crowd (of course): 105,539 fans were in attendance today in the horseshoe... a record!
Overall, it was just a classic game between two quality Big Ten teams.
In the end, it was the same story that we've seen from the Buckeyes all year --
they were the team who had players step up and make the big plays. Today,
it was Craig Krenzel (again), Maurice Clarett, Darrion Scott, and Will Allen,
and Mike Doss also had a big game.
Congratulations to the Buckeyes for a truly great accomplishment and a wonderful season... so far. There's one more big game to go! But this was a classic win today, and it's one that will be remembered and savored for years to come. Go Bucks!!!