Debriefing: Michigan

By Michael Citro on December 1, 2013 at 10:30a
Miller made big plays in the air and on the ground in The Game.

The road to the Buckeyes’ second consecutive undefeated regular season ran through Ann Arbor, Michigan — a place that derailed so many promising Ohio State bids over the years, particularly in the 1990s. But optimism in Buckeye Nation was at an all-time high. Very few were the voices that warned of hubris or reminded of failures past.

This year’s OSU squad seemed to be light years from the one that outlasted Michigan in a tight, hard-fought game in the Horseshoe last year. The offense was humming, the defense was ranked 13th in the country, and Urban Meyer’s second-year magic appeared to be flowing.

And then there were the Wolverines, losers three times the previous four Saturdays and a miracle late kick at Northwestern from being 0-4 in November. Michigan’s offense finished with negative rushing yards in two of those games and to call the offensive line a dumpster fire would have been an insult to dumpster fires everywhere.

Would Ohio State roll, as many predicted? Could the Buckeye defensive line destroy Devin Gardner repeatedly in the backfield as previous defenses had done? Or would Michigan respond against their greatest rivals? Was Al Borges playing rope-a-dope for a full month?

No, no, yes and…maybe?

Ohio State’s 24th win in a row came in the greatest rivalry in sports, but it also came in what might have been its worst-played defensive game in the streak. Here are your talking points:

Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)

Michigan came out punching and never quit, regardless of how many times Ohio State hit back. The Wolverines racked up 603 yards of offense — the second most ever allowed by Ohio State — and overcame a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter. Carlos Hyde (226) and Braxton Miller (153) each rushed for more than 100 yards and Miller figured in five of Ohio State’s six scores (two passing, three rushing).  Michigan scored to pull within one in the final minute but Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner’s two-point pass try to preserve the 42-41 win.

Talk before the game 

As you can imagine, this game elicited a good quantity of pregame thoughts and emotions.

Talk in the aftermath

Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)

He didn’t have his best passing day, but Braxton Miller was a force on his 21st birthday. His running complemented Hyde’s 226 yards on 27 carries (8.4 YPA) and he threw scoring strikes to Devin Smith (53 yards) and Jeff Heuerman (22 yards). Miller’s 153 rushing yards came on 16 carries, for a 9.6-yard average and he scored from 53, 21, and three yards out. He completed only 6/15 passes for 133 yards, but the two scores were critical and well thrown. Michigan gummed up everything underneath and dared him to throw deep, where accuracy can be tricky. It was, but he made the plays he had to in order to win the game. Obviously a huge honorable mention to El Guapo, as well as replacement right guard Pat Elflein, who didn't miss a beat.

Snot Knocker of the Game

Trailing 35-28, Michigan lined up at the Ohio State one for a second-and-goal play. Devin Gardner ran left on an option that the Buckeyes sniffed out, preventing the pitch. Josh Perry took out the lead blocker, allowing Ryan Shazier to meet Gardner in the hole and plant him for a one-yard loss. Shazier hit Gardner so hard that he actually shook himself up, although he stayed in the game. The Wolverines scored on a play-action pass on the next snap, but Shazier’s hit was maybe the hardest in a day of hard hits. It was one of 14 tackles for the potential Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

Did you see that?! (Play of the game)

Braxton in video game mode.

In what might not be the play you’re expecting (see that one below), Ohio State faced second-and-three from its 47 late in the first quarter, trailing 14-7.  Miller took the snap, stepped back as if to pass, then took off up the middle, behind a Heuerman block. With so many Wolverines near the line of scrimmage, Miller was quickly into the second level, where he juked Avery Courtney, leaving him grasping at air. Braxton broke right and outran the defense, getting the last few yards by giving Blake Countess the stiffarm of justice. The electrifying run knotted the game at 14 after one.

When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)

You know what’s coming, but let’s pretend this is a surprise. Michigan scored to take a 21-14 lead early in the second and kicked off. Freshman Dontre Wilson returned it 16 yards before being roughly tackled by a host of Wolverines, who proceeded to rough him up after the play. Wilson took exception to the manhandling and lost his cool, striking out at anything wearing sun and blue. It escalated quickly into a full-blown fracas and, before it was over, Wilson and starting right guard Marcus Hall were ejected, along with backup Michigan linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone. Wolverines Jake Ryan and Delano Hill perhaps should have been tossed as well, but so too could Michael Thomas, and even Miller got into things as he took the field with the OSU offense. It was an ugly reminder of how much these teams hate each other. It was capped by…

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game

Tressel choked on his Melba Toast (sesame, because the Vest enjoys bold flavors) when the brawl broke out in Ann Arbor. He was aghast when punches were thrown, helmets were ripped off and general mayhem marred an otherwise uneventful special teams play. Just as Ellen prepared to administer the Heimlich maneuver, Marcus Hall gave the Big House both of his massive middle fingers at full extension.

The former OSU coach hacked up his snack and his wife gasped audibly at the spectacle. “Oh Marcus, I thought we taught you better than that,” said the man who recruited Hall. “Such obscenity has no place on the football field, young man.”

Jim and Ellen made it a point to add ‘forgiveness for Marcus’ to their nightly prayer notes, kept lovingly on the magnetic pad stuck to the fridge.

What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter

First: WTF?

Second: More like Marcus LOL, amirite?

Third: Normalcy returning? El Guapo is unstoppable.

Fourth: I love you, Tyvis Powell.

It was over when

Powell gets the save in the ninth.

Michigan lined up to go for two after their touchdown in the final minute. Ohio State took its last timeout after seeing the Wolverines’ formation. For once, a timeout worked. The Buckeyes knew one of two plays were coming and they picked the right one. Tyvis Powell stepped in front of Drew Dileo on a quick slant and intercepted Gardner’s pass to thwart the play and preserve the lead. Sure, there was still an onside kick to defend, but with Michigan’s starting kicker out with injury, it was unlikely the Wolverines could get another score in such a short amount of time.

The No. 11 Michigan State Spartans (11-1, 8-0) await in next week’s Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Sparty is coming off a 14-3 home win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Mark Dantonio’s squad has come a long way since struggling in the early portion of the season and Michigan State boasts possibly the nation’s top defense. You’ll remember last year’s knock-down drag-out battle in East Lansing. Buckle up. Here comes another one.



Jagon1119's picture

Always my favorite article post game.   Nice job Michael.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Too close for comfort. Wild roller coaster game but a Win by 1 in AA is still a win.
Now we have to get ready for their tougher little bro.

popeurban's picture

Too close, but games like that are what make being a fan so much fun.  Thank god we were on the right end.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

No doubt. We also need to be battle tested and play close games that test us...but not against crap opponents. Im willing to look past it though because its a road win in the biggest rivalry in sports.

will0327's picture



Norwalk's picture

Why so angry Will? I don't see anyone complaining in the posts above yours. Maybe you meant to post this in one of the Fire Fickell threads.

Buster Hymen's picture

Unfortunately this is how 2006 played out. It was a shootout to the end because neither teams' defenses could stop anyone. Then the Bucks went and got smacked in the title game.
Hopefully they win against Sparty and the defense can sharpen up that passing defense. They're gonna need it no matter what bowl game they play.

KLF Buckeye's picture

That Beau Bishop tweet makes it sound like Wilson and a scUM player were jawing before the game. Anybody got more information on that? 
Would this be why scUM planned to encircle and provoke Dontre?

Brutus's picture

Just posted this elsewhere.  The tweet above says that Wilson was jawing with Norfleet.  I'm watching the game again right now and it turns out that Norfleet is the guy that horse collared Wilson on the return that started the whole fracas.  Ironically, after Norfleet makes that tackle and pops up all proud of himself, he bails and Wilson is surrounded by literally half of the UM coverage team, only two of which who were even involved in the play.  So yes, I think the incidents are connected.  I don't know if scUM "planned" anything, but I certainly think they instigated the whole thing.  They had no justification whatsoever to surround Wilson that way, I don't care what Wilson might have said during the pregame.

cinserious's picture

Not only did they all surround him but when Wilson tried to run out of the circle they chased him and surrounded him again! All this was well after Dontre was down by contact the first time. WTF?!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

sharks's picture

I've seen him act up for two years now (and not just against OSU)- for being a special teamer only, that Norfleet guy has a big mouth.

A man got to have a code...

aabuckeye's picture

One game at a time! 

poop's picture

Our defense is.......woof! I'm not sure what to expect against Sparty, even if it is a Jim Bollman coached offense. WTF is going on with that staff?

zbd's picture

Any SEC team would be favored by 40 points if they played.  Our defense is terrible......even against terrible Big Ten teams.

DaiTheFlu's picture

Why are the Mods not banning trolls like this? This idiot is in every thread saying asinine things like this and getting hundreds of DV's. The guy adds nothing to any topic and has no reason not to get his shit banned.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

Seattle Linga's picture

You may want to email them that's a great question. Now that bama's season is basically over they must not have anything better to do then troll our UNDEFEATED TEAM and site. 
Is there anything to do in bama anyway?

ATXbucknut's picture

ZBD, the odds out of Vegas as of tonight put OSU at 2.5 over Auburn. 

cinserious's picture

This 2013 Buckeye team still keeps winning. They are eerily similar to that of 2002.  Both disrespected by the national media.
2002 with a strong defense and a few key offensive players were called 'Luckeyes' but still kept on winning. 2013 with a strong offense and a few key D-players are constantly called 'overrated' and 'untested'.
2002 seldom used young nickelback Will Allen, an unlikely hero intercepts scUM with 1sec on the clock to preserve the victory and send OSU to the BCS Title Game. Fast forward to 2013 The Game, Tyvis Powell, another seldom used young nickelback, became the hero by intercepting ichigan's 2pt try to preserve the win and keep the Buckeye's title game hopes alive.
If history is any indication, maybe, just maybe in 2013 just like 11 years ago we will play in a wild and wonderful National Championship game for the ages against a certain 'world-beating', unstoppable team from the state of Florida.  Favorites beware...

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Jack Fu's picture

As Buster said above, considering the relative strengths of the offense and defense, this team is much more similar to 2006. For better or worse.

BuckeyeinExile's picture

As one who was born in 84 and had my first game in Ann Arbor be the Biakabutuka game, I started getting nervous on Friday and that lasted through the final gun yesterday. I am still waiting for the rest of my hair to grow back and my blood pressure to get down to normal. It almost felt like 2002 again.
How about a helmet sticker for Pat Elfein coming in seamlessly for Hall? The only time his name was mentioned the rest of the game was when the announcers mentioned how good he was doing, that is a great sign for an offensive lineman.
The biggest disappointment was how good Missagain looked. They finally looked like the team they were billed at starting the season. If only they could have looked that good in a few other games and been ranked yesterday to give us a little help in the polls.

D-Day0043's picture

Hell yeah! Elfien filled in admirably. The O-line didn't miss a beat. For that young man to come off the bench and play at a high level in that atmosphere, in that rivalry, is amazing. That is a true testament to Warriner's coaching ability for having his boys ready. Warriner needs a raise for the fantastic job he has done since he has been here.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

ibuck's picture

Love the win, but why oh why is our D so awful? It looks like they have improved and may be worthy of the name "silver bullets," but then they play like they did in qtrs 1,2 & 4 vs TTUN. Shocking. 

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

zbd's picture

Are Dontre Wilson and Marcus Hall ejected from next week's game too?

Ethos's picture

for the first half unless conference adds more. 

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

Where did you hear this?

The ejection was in the 1st half, so there should not be a carry-over to the next game.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

Ethos's picture


"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

RC's picture

Well if ESPN said it, it must be true. 

chitown buckeye's picture

Honestly this may have been the best thing to happen. A wake up call for all players, coaches, etc... A 1 point victory in that fashion should get everyone's attention going into this week. 

"I'm having a heart attack!"

Chief B1G Dump's picture

I agree. This dose of humility will certainly help focus for Sparty. Should we beat them, you couple this with a month of hearing we dont belong...and youve got a mountain of added motivation. Just like 02.

Seattle Linga's picture

We will need to bring our A game against Sparty because they do have playmakers

cuttyrock's picture

Pat Elfein, Jacoby  Boren, and Taylor Decker are three of are 5 starters on the o lineman. Would like to see who the other two o lineman will be. I feel somewhat better about next year o lineman especially with EW as the o lineman coach.

mshaf's picture

Elflein eased my mind as far as our Oline for next year. He played a good game. If the rest of the number 2 line are as disciplined as him, OSU is ok

Ethos's picture

I hope meyer labels him a champion he deserves it

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

D-Day0043's picture

Absolutely! He definitely deserves to be a champion. I am so impressed with Elfein's performance. That whole line should be graded champions. Those boys are road graders.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Ethos's picture

Will be interesting to see if conference suspends more michigan players for bowl game after they review the tape

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Bucks43201's picture

I thought it was a ballsy decision to go for 2 by Hoke. Kudos to him. But, the play call was not the best choice. If you have a mobile QB, always put him on the run via a roll-out, so he can run the ball in if the pass isn't there. You limit an athletic QB when you keep him encapsulated in the pocket.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

justanotherbuckeye22's picture

This year's  team has  the offense MSU has  no offense

Hovenaut's picture

Expected a beatdown, got my money's worth in a definitive display as to why this rivalry is so great.

Accentuating the positives.....proud of the team for their perseverance in a tough game behind enemy lines. M...igan had nothing to lose and played like it, I give our guys credit for hanging in there.

That's 24 for those counting, and it's now conference title time.

Let's go Buckeyes!

We have filled the Braxton Miller position.

Seattle Linga's picture

UFM will straighten this thing out by next week - thankfully their offense doesn't have as many weapons