It lived up to be something that all of us had no idea it could be. The Michigan Wolverines hadn’t made the game “competitive” in nearly 7 years. Yet many Buckeye fans didn’t give this chance the light of day to keep on track with a high scoring offense.
Despite making this the best game of football fans have seen all season, The Ohio State Buckeyes fell short for the first time in 8 years on Saturday in Ann Arbor. Though it wasn’t due to lack of effort.
On the first drive of the ballgame, The Buckeye offense flashed a more aggressive playbook then we’ve seen all year. After completing two first downs through the air, Miller found room on the intended quarterback draw for a gain of 17 yards. Then on 1st down from Ohio State 46, Miller kept threw to a wide open Philly Brown near the end zone for a 54 yard touchdown strike.
After a four and out the Buckeyes would get the ball back looking to score on back to back drives.3 downs later It was Michigan that was positioning themselves to score. On the second play of drive, Denard Robinson used his legs to even up the ballgame on an outside run to sidelines — easily walking in for the first points on the afternoon for Michigan. It looked like we were going to have a back and forth offensive performance in the first quarter.
That’s when it seemed penalties and boneheaded mistakes would set apart these two teams.
After an incomplete pass from the Buckeye 20 to a streaking Philly Brown, 2nd down saw a Zach Boren holding penalty push Ohio State back to the 10 yard line. That was followed by a patented Jack Mewhort offsides penalty. Then after a -2 yard rush from Braxton Miller, it was 3rd down and 27 from the 3 yard line. The freshman hoisted a pass deep from the opposing endzone, but while trying to keep the outside rush from getting to the blindside of Miller, Mike Adams was flagged for holding Ryan Van Bergen, who beat him at the line. Adams did everything he could to make up for the great jump from the Michigan lineman. Holding onto a defender and ripping him down before he can finish though is a penalty punishable by two points and a safety in the stat book.
It was that penalty that gave Michigan their first lead in this rivalry in four years.
Riding the momentum, Denard Robinson would add on to the lead on a solid 8 play 52 yard scoring drive that concluded with a 26 yard touchdown pass to a well covered Junior Hemingway.
The Ohio State offense would respond in the second quarter with a gritty scoring drive, led by a 24 yard run from Braxton Miller. The freshman kept his wheels moving despite being nearly brought down by the ankles. With three or four Wolverines on him, he bulled forward and out of bounds. Miller would put together a handful of rushes to move Ohio State within the Michigan 30. On third down from the 28 yard line, DeVier Posey found room on the left sideline but Miller overthrew him.
That led to a Drew Basil 45 yard field goal to cut the Michigan lead to six.
It might not of been the three points the cut the lead that changed momentum for the Buckeyes, but after the field goal the Silver Bullets came out hungry. After a five yard rush from Denard Robinson, the Michigan offense went to their running threat on back to back plays and paid for it. Trying to get to the edge, Robinson stretched out on 2nd down and 2 for the extra yard at the Michigan 31 yard line. Before he was down freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier poked the football out of his possession and into the hands of defensive back Travis Howard.
The Scarlet Assassins would get back on the board with the third play of their ensuing drive, when Braxton Miller had his first game defining moment in the biggest rivalry in sports.
With the defense pursuing a run up the middle of the field, Miller cut back to the left sideline and off the edge of the offensive line. With the whole defense pursuing up the middle, Miller found wide open grass and followed his blockers for his 7th rushing touchdown of the season.
After getting the lead back, Michigan responded in the most competitive half “The Game” has seen since 2006.
The nine play 80 yard scoring drive got rolling on a Fitz Toussaint 46 yard run with nobody near him to make a play. From the Ohio State 16, the Wolverines strung together enough offense to get to the six yard line. After stuffing Toussaint for no gain on 1st and goal, The Ohio State defense watched as Denard Robinson ran right up the gut from the Shotgun on the fake draw into the endzone — giving the Wolverines a 23-17 lead.
But the Buckeyes would not be denied the lead heading into the locker room at the half.
With 1:21 remaining in the second, Braxton Miller connected on arguably the best full offensive play of the season. From the I formation, both backs picked up blitzing wolverines, opening up a lane on the outside for Miller to run through for the first down. Instead, the maturing signal caller took a step back in the pocket and found DeVier Posey on a post route from the right sideline to the left pylon for the 43 yard touchdown pass to give the Buckeyes a 24-23 lead at the half.
Heading into the second half, it was more than obvious that the Big House Shootout of 2011 would continue it’s trend of big play drives and a ton of scoring.
The Wolverines kept the pace, scoring on their first possession of the half. Denard Robinson connected on a 20 yard pass to Martavious Odoms at the five yard line. He would score on a misplay by the Ohio State Secondary. CJ Barnett and Etienne Sabino would collide into each other.
With the 30-24 lead Michigan would control the clock for most of the third quarter. After punting away the football on their first possession, Ohio State got the break they needed on fourth down. After a botch handle on the punt from Will Hagerup on the Michigan 32, the Silver Bullets would stop him near the line of scrimmage and take over in short territory.
After a beautiful rush from the I with the pocket collapsing for 23 yards from Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes were on the doorstep of tying the ballgame with touchdown strike. The Michigan defense had other thoughts though. At two yard line, on third and goal, Jibreel Black would meet Braxton Miller for a loss of 2. That would set up a 21 yard field goal to cut the lead by three.
That was the momentum change that Michigan needed to change the back and forth touchdown affair. Responding from the goal line stand, the Wolverine offense put together an 80 yard drive capped off by Toledo native Kevin Koger’s 4 yard touchdown catch.
A ten point lead in the fourth quarter has consistently been too much for the Buckeyes to handle. This offense hasn’t been dynamic enough to handle adversity. This though is no ordinary game on the schedule.
Getting the ball back on the Ohio State 20, the Buckeyes marched down the field through the air with a 36 yard pass to Jake Stoneburner wide open in the middle of the field. Miller would then find Jordan Hall for a gain of sixteen. From the Michigan 28 Braxton Miller would find tight end Reid Fragel on a 20 yard completion and up to the Michigan 4 after a personal foul. Boom Herron would score from four yards out to make it a three point ball game.
Momentum didn’t mean a thing though, as Denard Robinson and Michigan’s offense marched down the field to the goal line looking to score. Fitz Toussaint added a 20 yard run and Robinson scrambled down to the Ohio State 4. Toussaint would get the ball at the four and rushed to what seemed to be inside the pylon.The play was reviewed he was down in front of the pylon. From in front of the goal line Denard Robinson rushed to the outside and found the corner of the endzone.
The play was flagged back though on a holding and unnecessary roughness call. Back 15 yards, Denard Robinson would throw a strike that was incomplete to Roy Roundtree, setting up a 43 yard field goal that was good, giving Michigan a 6 point lead.
Ohio State would have their chance to win the ball game in the final two minutes, but after boneheaded confusion that wasted 15 seconds on third down. With no timeouts left Ohio State ran the clock down fifteen seconds before spiking the ball to set up fourth down. Instead of running two plays, the Buckeyes settled for one big fourth try. That’s when Braxton Miller threw the ball up and into the hands of Courtney Avery at the Ohio State 49.
The win gives Michigan their first Ohio State in the last 8 seasons.
Ohio State finishes the season at 6-6