First posted at Inside The Shoe
There's something very deceiving about the 6-6 record that Ohio State holds for the 2011 season. A lot of these losses came down to either the final couple of minutes in the game, or were within striking distance the entire day. We lost to Michigan 40-34. Before that margin, Michigan was at first and goal, leading with only a couple of minutes left in the game. Then some magic took place, allowing hope to enter my head.
That magic, came in the form of some very stupid mistakes by Michigan. A holding call, and then a personal foul against the Wolverines pushed them all the way back to around the 20 yardline. In turn, they had to kick a field goal, leading to the final score. Of course, Ohio State had an opportunity to get things going and to win the ballgame with a last minute drive once again.
With that, let's get onto what went wrong and right for the Buckeyes on Saturday.
What Went Right
The Playbook Lives: Ohio State fans had to have been wondering where the hell this type of playcalling had been all season. Ohio State amassed a total of 372 offensive yards and an actually decent amount of passing yards: 235. The playcalling on the first drive was nearly perfect, and for the rest of this game, seemed to be working well against the Wolverines, putting up 34 points. Don't forget the fact that Braxton missed a couple of deep balls that not only could have won the game, but would have added to the score and yardage a lot.
Braxton Miller Shows Improvement: While I did mention that Miller missed a couple of crucial wide open receivers, this team would not have even been in the conversation of a win if it wasn't for Braxton. He went 14/25 (56% completion rate) for 235 yards and 2 TD's while throwing 1 INT that didn't really matter at the end of the game.
Miller also rushed for exactly 100 yards on 16 carries, and had 1 touchdown from that. His jukes, cuts, and spins are going to be remembered for a long time while he's here. He is by far one of the most dynamic runners I've seen in a long time.
Posey Goes Out With A Bang: While the end result wasn't what DeVier Posey had in mind, Posey once again provided a spark for Ohio State, getting open many times and creating separation from corners and safeties. He finished with only 3 catches for 58 yards and 1 touchdown, but it's his blocking that really sealed the deal for me. He had a lot of great blocks on the edge, and was able to spring Miller and some other runners loose thanks to his locking the corners/safeties down.
What Went Wrong
The Spike: In what may go down as the deciding play in this game, Braxton Miller on 3rd and 7 took the snap with time winding down, and proceeded to spike the football onto the turf. Of course, there was a serious miscommunication there, as now Ohio State would face 4th down with a little under a minute to play. The resulting play was intercepted, (even though there could have been a pass interference call on Michigan) and thus sealed the deal for Michigan, snapping OSU's 7-game win streak over the Wolverines.
Where'd The Running Game Go?: Boom Herron rushed for 37 yards on 15 carries. That is incredible, and not in a good way. Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde didn't receive a carry, but the big story alone is that Ohio State didn't run the football, almost at all. 31 total attempts to run the football, but they would not have come close to surpassing 100 yards as a team without Braxton Miller. That's not Buckeye football, and Woody Hayes has to be looking down in shame.
Defense Refuses To Play Defense: This is the softest defense I've seen in a long, long time. I'm not just referring to injuries, which played a huge role not only in this game, but all season. There were many times when Denard Robinson simply made it look easy against the so-called "Silver Bullets". This isn't the same defense that I'm used to seeing from Jim Heacock, and I have to wonder about their intensity and heart.
I'm not one to call players out, (with the exception of Travis Howard), but I was simply stunned when we could not get a stop to save our lives. Michigan's last drive to kick that game icing field goal, was just ridiculous. You put any other Ohio State defense from the Jim Tressel era, and they would have made a stop. I've never seen anything like it. They have some soul searching before the bowl game, and next year. I hope for the best, and I still have a lot of faith in this Buckeye defense. I hope they can turn it around, because 40 points is just incredulous.