After 15 minutes of play, Rich Rodriguez and his Wolverines were feeling pretty good. His offense, behind dynamic quarterback Denard Robinson was piling up yardage, while his maligned defense was holding the Buckeye offense in check, including holding OSU to two three-and-outs to start the game.
Things were going so well for the Wolverines that they outgained the Buckeyes 133-13 in the first quarter alone. If it weren't for a couple of miscues that stalled or ended drives -- like a Robinson fumble inside the OSU 10 -- the Wolverines would have been playing with an early lead.
Instead, the Buckeyes got things going to take the lead on a 33-yard Devin Barclay field goal to go up three at the start of the second quarter and then followed it up with a 7-yard touchdown strike from Pryor to Sanzenbacher to storm ahead by 10. The pivotal play in the drive came when Pryor, scrambled back 20 yards on a third-and-six to roll left and find Taurian Washington on the sideline for a first down.
Later, when the Wolverines answered with a Michael Shaw one yard run to cut the lead back to three, Jordan Hall's 85 yard return on the ensuing kickoff put OSU up 17-7 (massive credit to Jaamal Berry for a killer block on the return). And then then Ohio State went to work building on said lead.
Thanks to a 24-point second quarter, the Buckeyes walloped Michigan 37-7, giving Jim Tressel his seventh-straight win over the Wolverines and ninth in ten tries.
The Buckeyes got contributions from just about everyone on the afternoon. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor started hot, completing 10 of his first 12 before finishing 18/27 for two touchdowns to go along with 49 yards on the ground. He did have one interception on a poorly thrown ball to end the 1st half when it looked like OSU might pad their lead heading into the break, but overall, he turned in a solid game, doing just enough to keep plays alive and moving the team when it mattered. Running back Boom Herron had a monster afternoon, putting up 175 yards on 22 carries including an 89 yard scamper in the 3rd quarter that in reality should have been a 98-yard touchdown run, but was negated by a phantom holding call on Dane Sanzenbacher. Still, the run was good enough to tie the longest run from scrimmage in OSU history (Gene Fekete - 1942).
On the defensive side of the ball, it was all Brian Rolle and Jermale Hines. The two seniors were everywhere -- Rolle shadowing Robinson and the running backs and Hines breaking up passes to kill Michigan drives. The defense as a whole played with such a ferocity after the opening quarter that Robinson was put out of the game with an injured hand and then his replacement, Tate Forcier, was treated to intercepted passes and sacks when he came on in relief.
After Herron scored on a 32-yard run to put OSU up 31-7 at the start of the third quarter, the game was played out to the tune of the defense shutting down Forcier and keeping the Wolverines at bay, while the offense moved the ball somewhat, settling for two more Barclay field goals for the final margin.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty but I don’t make the calls. I wouldn’t change what I did if I could do the play again if that makes it any better. Sorry to Boom to steal his touchdown. I was just trying to help clear the way for him to get into the end zone.”
Dane Sanzenbacer on the phantom holding call
In the end, things worked out as we had expected -- perhaps and then some. The Wolverines entered averaging 515 yards of total offense, but were only able to muster 218 in the final three quarters, finishing with 351 on the afternoon (less than 100 in the second half when they gave up their will to live). The seven points were also a season low for the Wolverines and their offensive genius of a coach.
The final margin was the second-most lopsided in the series since 1968, behind the 42-7 win in Columbus two years ago, meaning the Buckeyes have outscored the Wolverines 79-14 in the last two meetins in Columbus. For what it's worth, Jim Tressel now has more Big Ten titles (7) than Rich Rodriguez has wins in conference (6).
Ohio State now awaits their BCS bowl opponent while the Michigan AD Dave Brandon likely has a tough decision ahead of him.
- The officiating was really shaky today. Beyond the phantom holding call against Dane that robbed Boom of a 98-yard touchdown, there were two penalties assessed to Ohio State players (Posey and Boom) for showing off the Block O on their gloves after scoring. Which is odd, because doing the same wasn't a penalty in Pasadena in January.
- The win gave OSU a sixth-straight Big Ten championship, matching Woody's run from 1972-77.
- The seven straight wins over Michigan are the longest in series for OSU. Now, let's get seven more.
- Mad love to Brian Rolle's pops who showed up in a white tux for Senior Day. You must be just as awesome as your son, sir.
- Boom's huge afternoon pushed him over 1,000 yards on the season. Raise your hand if you thought he'd end up here after the fourth game of the season.
- Travis Howard and Orhian Johnson both showed up today. After some early tackling struggles, particularly out of Johnson, he answered with a forced fumble that was recovered by Nathan Williams. Howard finished with a fumble recovery of his own and an interception.
- Most importantly, that's another batch of seniors that will leave Columbus with four (and in some cases five) pairs of Gold Pants.