Game Thoughts To Bank On: Michigan

While this edition of the Ohio State-Michigan game might have ended up being a lot closer than many people expected, the outcome remains the same, as the Buckeyes once again defeated the Wolverines, 21-10. Bill Greene has more in this edition of "Thoughts to Bank on."

Ohio State's 21-10 victory over Michigan extended Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel's domination over his famed rival. The win was Tressel's sixth straight, and gave him eight wins in nine tries against the Wolverines.

QUARTERBACK: The maturation of Terrelle Pryor was on display again as he made several big plays running the football, and continued to make smart decisions with the football. Although he missed a few deep throws, Pryor executed the short passing game well, and was a master reading the defense in running the read option. Although being known as a game-manager carries a negative connotation, that's exactly what Pryor is becoming, and he's a far better player because of it. GRADE: B+.

RUNNING BACKS: Brandon Saine and Boom Herron continued the recent tradition of the Buckeye tailbacks carrying the team on the ground. Herron rushed for a game-high 96 yards, while Saine added 84. When you factor in Pryor's 74 yards rushing, it's apparent how the Buckeyes won the football game. Herron probably had his best game as a Buckeye, also catching a touchdown pass that helped clinch the game. Saine was explosive, averaging over seven yards per carry, with a long run of 29. GRADE: B+.

WIDE RECEIVERS: There weren't many catches to be had but Devier Posey was open deep, and could have had two long touchdown receptions. Dane Sanzenbacher continues to combine with Duron Carter to give the Buckeyes excellent downfield blocking. Posey caught five passes, several resulting in Buckeye first downs. GRADE: B.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Anybody calling for the head of offensive line coach Jim Bollman today? I didn't think so. It's hard to single out any one performer, but Jim Cordle finished his senior season in fine fashion. Cordle was the epitome of a team player, lining up at nearly every spot on the line over his career. Michael Brewster continues to follow in the footsteps of former Buckeye star Nick Mangold and is becoming a dominant player in the middle of the line. Justin Boren returned to the scene where his college career began, and facing a ton of pressure, played a tremendous game. Boren kept his emotions under control and was dominant in the trenches.GRADE: B+

DEFENSIVE LINE: The most dominant group of players on the 2009 Ohio State team was once again dominant. The defensive line eliminated the running game and pressured Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier into numerous turnovers. Doug Worthington was a monster in the middle, along with freshman tackle Johnny Simon. Thad Gibson and Cam Heyward were not blocked most of the game. Michigan ended up with 80 yards rushing for the game, a certain sign of defeat. Making a freshman quarterback pass on nearly every down played into the Buckeye defense's hands. Give this group the bulk of the credit for the turnovers. GRADE A+.

LINEBACKERS: Ross Homan should be the defensive player of the year in the Big Ten. He's that good. He was excellent against Michigan in every phase of the game, leading the team in tackles. Austin Spitler had another fine game and finished his senior season as more than a dependable contributor. Brian Rolle continues to be a force in the middle and is simply a tackling machine. This group lost James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman from last year's team. Neither player was missed. That says it all about the linebacking crew. GRADE: A.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: The plan was to give up the short stuff and make Michigan go the length of the field, thinking they would turn the ball over before they could do that. This strategy worked perfectly, as the defense grabbed four interceptions off Forcier. The Buckeyes gave up several short completions, but for the game Michigan averaged less than ten yards per completion. Devon Torrence had his best game as a Buckeye, and that statement has been made often in 2009. His pick basically ended the game. He continues to improve and was the main reason nobody ever missed Malcolm Jenkins this season. Kurt Coleman ended his regular season career with possibly his finest game as a Buckeye. Coleman grabbed two interceptions and eliminated the deep middle portion of the field as a passing option for Michigan. Jermale Hines recovered from a few nagging injuries to have a great game, and was effective playing at the line of scrimmage. Anderson Russell was once again steady and ended up having a good year. Chimdi Chekwa gave up some short completions, but responded from a poor showing against Iowa to have a solid game. GRADE: A.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A dramatic turnaround from the disastrous showing against Iowa. Jon Thoma was called upon to punt nine times and he dropped three inside the twenty yard line. He also blasted a 54-yard rocket to get the Buckeyes out of a hole. This was a major improvement over last week. The main difference was in the coverage squads, which were excellent, except for a 36-yard kickoff return. Michigan came into the game needing to win the special team's battle. They did not come close. GRADE: B.

COACHING: It's Jim Tressel against Michigan, so how could it not be excellent? The screen pass to Boom Herron might have been the play-call of the year, and the credit was given to Doc Tressel. One could nitpick about the offense receiving four turnovers and only scoring 14 points, but this has been the Tressel formula for victory his entire coaching life. Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock effectively killed one of the highest scoring offenses in the Big Ten, and was brilliant in alternating coverages and blitz packages. There will never be a day in my lifetime that the coaching staff doesn't get the highest grade possible when they beat Michigan. GRADE: A+.

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