Resur­gent Buck­eyes ruin Wolver­ines’ plans

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By Ralph D. Russo The As­so­ci­ated Press

Set­ting record for points, Ohio State adds chap­ter to tor­ment of ma­jor ri­val

COLUM­BUS, Ohio — Af­ter a most un­usual reg­u­lar sea­son for Ohio State, it was busi­ness as usual against Michi­gan.

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.

The Wolver­ines were two vic­to­ries away from their first con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship since 2004 and a trip to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off, fac­ing an Ohio State team that has looked dis­com­bob­u­lated on de­fense and oned­i­men­sional on of­fense much of the sea­son. Look­ing to snap a six-game los­ing streak against the Buck­eyes (11-1, 8-1, No. 10 in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings) and get coach Jim Har­baugh his first vic­tory in four tries in the ri­valry known sim­ply as The Game, the Wolver­ines (10-2, 8-1, No. 4 CFP) wilted.

In the115th meet­ing be­tween two of col­lege foot­ball’s most sto­ried schools, Ohio State scored more points than it ever had against Michi­gan — and more points than any team has ever scored in reg­u­la­tion against Michi­gan.

And now, de­spite all the dys­func­tion at Ohio State this sea­son — both on and off the field — the Buck­eyes will face No. 20 North­west­ern next week in In­di­anapo­lis with a chance to re­peat as Big Ten champs and maybe even squeeze into the play­off.

“I think we def­i­nitely showed the coun­try the Ohio State Buck­eyes are still here,” of­fen­sive tackle Isa­iah Prince said.

Maybe most sat­is­fy­ing of all, Ohio State made it 14 vic­to­ries in 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 TD 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 the­side andwentto Sevyn Banks, who cruised 33 yards for a touch­down that made it 34-19 and­sent­theOhioS­ta­di­um­crowd­in­toafrenzy.

“Mo­ti­vated to come back and make darn sure it doesn’t hap­pen again,” Har­baugh said. “Win our next game, that’s our mo­ti­va­tion now.”

The take­away

Michi­gan: Har­baugh is now 0-4 against Ohio State and faces an­other year of crit­ics ques­tion­ing his abil­ity to win the big game.

Ohio State: The sea­son started for Ohio State with coach Ur­ban Meyer sus­pended for three games for his han­dling of for­mer as­sis­tant coach Zach Smith, who has been ac­cused of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence by his ex-wife. A cloud of un­cer­tainty hung over the Buck­eyes through­out pre­sea­son prac­tice, and this sea­son has been any­thing but nor­mal.

The road to The Game was filled with spotty per­for­mances, one hum­bling loss, sev­eral close calls and con­stant spec­u­la­tion and ques­tions about Meyer’s health and fu­ture.

Af­ter all of it, Ohio State stomped Michi­gan yet again, this time as an un­der­dog. Meyer flashed a sat­is­fied grin when he met Par­ris Camp­bell on the side­line af­ter a 78-yard touch­down run that made it 48-25 early in the fourth quar­ter.

“Ex­tremely proud of our play­ers, the way they fought through it,” Meyer said. “And like some­one was say­ing, noth­ing’s ever good enough. And ob­vi­ously some ad­ver­sity ear­lier in the year — not some, big-time ad­ver­sity. And to come back against your ri­val and play like that, that’s a fo­cused team that loves each other and cares about each other.”

Up next

Michi­gan: The Wolver­ines will likely still get into a New Year’s Six bowl, maybe the Peach.

Ohio State: The Buck­eyes have won six straight against North­west­ern and lost to the Wild­cats just once, dat­ing to1972.

JONATHAN QUILTER/COLUM­BUS DIS­PATCH/TNS

Ohio State wide re­ceiver Terry McLau­rin (83) cel­e­brates a touch­down catch by team­mate Chris Olave dur­ing the first half against Michi­gan at Ohio Sta­dium on Satur­day. McLau­rin’s catch helped Dwayne Hask­ins set a Big Ten sea­son record with 41 touch­down passes.

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