5 Answers: Ohio State at Michigan

For the 106th version of The Game, we took a close look at the play of Michigan's star defensive end, wondered about Ohio State big plays, special teams and turnovers for both teams. See how those topics played out in the last weekly installment of Five Answers.

1. Can Ohio State contain Brandon Graham?

The Michigan senior defensive end made a strong case for Big Ten defensive player of the year honors in his final college game. He was nearly unblockable and finished with a sack and three other tackles for loss among his six total stops.

He nearly turned the Buckeyes back by himself after they earned a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line in the third quarter. Graham threw Dan Herron for a 2-yard loss on first down then sacked Terrelle Pryor eight yards behind the line of scrimmage to set up a crucial third-and-goal from the 12.

At that point, Ohio State chose to use Michigan's aggressiveness against it by calling a screen pass to Herron, an idea that proved golden (and helped earn the team another set of gold pants) when Pryor dumped the ball to his running back over a host of Wolverine defenders and Herron waltzed into the end zone to give his team a 21-10 lead.

"He's going to make some plays, but I thought we contained him pretty well," Ohio State center Michael Brewster said. "He's a good player. He played his butt off. He'll play on Sundays."

2. Who will make plays for the Buckeye offense?

Ohio State's longest play from scrimmage was Brandon Saine's 29-yard yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put the Buckeyes ahead 14-3. That was the closest thing to a home run Ohio State hit, although Pryor missed a pair of long throws that could have broken the game open.

"Michigan was doing a good job," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "They were gambling a little bit. They were sitting on things. Probably if we could have lined up and thrown deep four times we might have hit one or two, but we didn't feel as if we wanted to stop the clock and be second-and-10 or whatever. But, yeah, we probably got conservative. We understand that we won the Big Ten championship and we just had a great win over our rival, but we've got a long way to go to be as good as we want to be on all sides of the ball."

Michigan's ability to limit big plays was a major difference between the 21-10 game this turned out to be and the 42-7 blowout of 2008 when Ohio State hit a pair of long touchdown passes, had two long touchdown runs and saw another score set up by an 80-yard punt return.

3. Who will win the special teams battle?

Ohio State's Jon Thoma's first punt was downed at the Michigan 7, and later in the first quarter he boomed a 54-yarder that forced the Wolverines to start at their own 17 after a loss of a yard on the return, but he was not consistent after that.

Three times he had boots of 35 yards or less that gave Michigan the ball at midfield or in Wolverine territory.

Fortunately for the Ohio State senior, the defense responded with two interceptions and a three-and-out on those instances.

Thoma apparently felt bad enough about his day to post an apology to his teammates on his Twitter page, but the guess here is they will have forgiven him by the time they are measured for their Big Ten championship rings.

Neither side did much in the return game.

4. Can Michigan gets its spread offense into gear?

Eight of Michigan's 15 possessions did not yield any first downs, but the Wolverines were able to get in gear a few times.

They never established much of a running game, but they made some hay with their short and quick passing game. Quarterback Tate Forcier was 23 of 38 passing, but his one touchdown toss was easily trumped by four interceptions, including one in the red zone that snuffed out the Wolverines' last serious scoring threat.

Michigan would have outgained the Buckeyes had the OSU defense not pushed the Wolverines back 11 yards on their final drive of the day.

"We always talk about bending and not breaking," said Ohio State linebacker Austin Spitler. "I think we really put that to the test. We bent a lot. It seems like when they got in the red zone we made huge plays. The turnovers were crucial."

Speaking of giveaways and takeaways...

5. Will turnovers affect the outcome?

By taking advantage of five Wolverine turnovers, Ohio State wiped out almost every good thing Michigan accomplished.

Forcier set the tone for the day by dropping the ball without being hit in the end zone on Michigan's first drive. Ohio State's Cameron Heyward jumped on the ball for a touchdown.

"To me that's probably one of the biggest plays of the game, if not the biggest," Spitler said. "Momentum is so big in this game and we got it right off the bat."

Two of Forcier's other interceptions practically served as punts, but his aforementioned red zone interception (pilfered by Devon Torrence) was a crucial mistake when a field goal would have still done the Wolverines good as they trailed by 11.

His last pick went to defensive lineman Thaddeus Gibson and essentially removed any doubt from what the outcome would be.

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