Perhaps the highest scoring defensive battle all season, “The Game” lived up to all the hype that surrounded it leading up to the kickoff. In the end, though, it was the Urban Meyer led Buckeyes who stood victorious.
When the final whistle blew, it was the Buckeyes who outlasted the Wolverines for a thrilling 30-27 victory in double-overtime.
Both teams struggled to move the ball for most of the game with Ohio State only scoring one offensive touchdown in regulation. Leading 3-0, Michigan made a critical mistake that surrendered the lead to Ohio State in the first half.
Not to be outdone, though Michigan drove the length of the field from within their two-minute offense and punctuated it with a touchdown by running back Khalid Hill:
Coming out of the half, Ohio State received the kick and set to work on this Michigan defense.
Their drive was cut short abruptly, though, when collegiate superstar Jabrill Peppers came down with his first interception of his impressive career.
Michigan was unable to capitalize on the turnover, however, and would fumble the ball away a few plays later while setting up near the goal line. After forcing a punt on Ohio State’s next possession, the Wolverines extended their lead to two scores with another Khalid Hill touchdown; this time he was on the receiving end.
Michigan held a 17-7 lead and had momentum in their sails.
Forced to punt again, Ohio State looked as though it may be coming undone.
That was, of course, until the Buckeyes got more help from their defense with an interception from Jerome Baker:
Ohio State, now only three yards away following an defensive offside call and an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Jim Harbaugh, punctuated the quick drive with a one-yard run from Mike Weber.
Only down a field goal and with precious few minutes remaining in the game, Ohio State managed to set up field for Tyler Durbin. Durbin, who has been automatic all season, missed a chip shot earlier in the game.
Now with a chance to redeem himself: pulled in left. No good.
Ohio State was officially on the ropes. But again, their defense bailed them out. They force a quick three-and-out from the Wolverines and get to work on offense. What ensues is a masterful 73-yard drive from J.T. Barrett that takes up all but :05 and putting the ball again in the hands of Tyler Durbin, who has missed each of his attempts in the game:
With the monkey off his back, the Buckeyes and the Wolverines go into overtime. T
his was the first time “The Game” had ever gone into overtime in the long and storied rivalry.
Here’s how the sequence went:
Ohio State: Touchdown. Michigan: Touchdown. Michigan: Field Goal.
Ohio State: Ball game.
In what was one of the most exciting games of the season, Ohio State has now made it very difficult for the College Football Playoff selection committee to overlook them even if Penn State defeats Michigan State to earn their spot in the Big Ten Championship.
Michigan could be on the bubble now as a result. None of this is lost on its fans, either, whose long faces show a combination of disappointment, emptiness and fear for the unknown.
Neither team dominated offensively in this game. Both quarterback struggled to throw the ball down the field and to players wearing the same jerseys as themselves; the TD/INT ration in this game was 2:3.
The difference was the legs of J.T. Barrett. Not only did he run for more yards than he threw, he also accounted for the Buckeyes first overtime touchdown and a critical 4 and 1 conversion on the penultimate play of the game.
Next years game will likely be bigger, but it will struggle to be better. This one had it all, making the real winner anybody who watched it from start to finish.
Final score: Ohio State 30, Michigan 27.