THE OHIO STATEMENT GAME
Buckeyes blitz top defense in nation for 567 yards in rout
COLUMBUS, Ohio — This season for Ohio State has been anything but normal, beginning with its celebrated coach suspended for three games.
There have been spotty performances and troubling trends on both sides of the ball. There have been questions and constant speculation about Urban Meyer’s health and future, in addition to his handling of former assistant coach Zach Smith, who has been accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife.
After all that, it was business as usual against Michigan, and now the Buckeyes are right where they always expect to be.
Dwayne Haskins threw five touchdown passes, freshman Chris Olave had a breakout performance and No. 10 Ohio State continued its mastery over No. 4 Michigan with a record-setting 62-39 victory Saturday that sends the Buckeyes to the Big Ten championship game.
“I think we definitely showed the country the Ohio State Buckeyes are still here,” offensive tackle Isaiah Prince said.
The Wolverines were two victories away from their first conference championship since 2004 and a trip to the College Football Playoff, facing an underdog Ohio State team that has looked discombobulated on defense and one-dimensional on offense for much of the season. Looking to snap a six-game losing streak against the Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) and get coach Jim Harbaugh his first victory in four tries in the rivalry, the Wolverines (10-2, 8-1) wilted.
Harbaugh faces another year of critics questioning his ability to win the big game. He took ownership of a complete collapse, but his players were not letting him take all the blame.
“I don’t know why he would take any heat after this loss,” said quarterback Shea Patterson, who passed for 187 yards and three touchdowns. “He took a lot last year and even this year when we were winning. We have a chance to win 11 games, and I think that’s a successful season.”
In the 115th meeting between two of college football’s most storied programs, Ohio State scored more points than it ever had against Michigan — in fact, more points than any team has ever scored in regulation against Michigan.
Haskins and the Buckeyes carved up the top-ranked defense in the country for 567 yards. Haskins finished with 318 yards and set the Big Ten season record for touchdown passes with 41.
And now, despite all the dysfunction this season, the Buckeyes will face No. 19 Northwestern next Saturday in Indianapolis with a chance to repeat as Big Ten champs and maybe even make the playoff.
Maybe most satisfying of all, Ohio State has won 14 of the last 15 meetings against the team it loves to beat the most.
“This is not an ordinary game,” Buckeyes defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said. “This is a game that’s got years and miles behind.”
Olave, who came into the game with five catches and no touchdowns, caught two touchdown passes in the first half and broke it open on special teams in the third quarter. He looped through a seam in the line and got a chunk of Will Hart’s punt. The ball sailed off high and to the side and landed in the arms of Sevyn Banks, who cruised 33 yards for a touchdown that made it 34-19 and sent the Ohio Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
Chris Olave (from left), K.J. Hill and Jahsen Wint celebrate after Olave blocked a punt and the Buckeyes scored a touchdown in the third quarter Saturday.