Five Things: Michigan

By Chris Lauderback on November 29, 2010 at 6:00 am

Dane's most blatant hold ever (Photo: K. Fitzsimons)Seven straight against That Circus Up North.

A 100-24 scoring edge in three wins over RichRod.

Six straight conference titles.

The Golden Era of Buckeye football  just kept chugging along Saturday thanks largely to a host of seniors, the exploits of Boom Herron and Terrelle Pryor and a suffocating 2nd half performance from the Bullets. It is indeed a great time to be a Buckeye. Oh, and thanks to the picture to the right, I can now clearly see Dane holding. Give me a break. 

Terrelle ties tippy and troy

He wasn't perfect, but with Michigan continuously stacking the box to take away the run in the 1st half, Terrelle made them pay hitting 15 of 21 passes for 196 yards and 2 TD against 1 INT helping his Buckeyes to a 24-7 halftime lead, and eventually a 37-7 win allowing Pryor to tie Tippy Dye and Troy Smith with three straight wins over Michigan as the starting QB.

Pryor got off to an inauspicious start spearheading back to back 3-and-outs to open the game. The first series saw Pryor throw an incomplete duck to Dane on 1st down before making a poor decision on a 2nd down read/option leading to a punt and the next series showcased an out of sync screen on 2nd down thanks mostly to a bad snap before a 3rd and 7 Pryor to Stoneburner connection fell short of the sticks.

After Nate Williams punced on a Denard Robinson fumble deep in OSU territory to turn back a golden Wolverine scoring opportunity, Pryor finally got in gear. On 3rd and 5 from the OSU 14, Pryor found a wide open Sanzenbacher for 39 yards then hit Posey for eight more yards on the next play. After Boom ran for a yard setting up 3rd and 1, Pryor used (gasp!) a great play-action fake then hit Stoneburner with an incredibly well thrown out toward the right sideline, good for 21 yards to the Michigan 17. The throw might have been my favorite of the day as he placed a tear drop throw over the defender into Stoney's outstretched arms showing tremendous touch. Unfortunately, TP and Posey would miscommunicate on 3rd and 10 leading to an incompletion and a 33 yard FG from Barclay. Still, it was a great drive as Pryor and Co. allowed the D to get a breather and put points on the board to grab an early lead.

After the Bullets forced a 3-and-out on the ensuing possession, Pryor put together three impressive plays in a row starting with the insanely sick 3rd and 6 scramble in which he retreated nearly 20 yards before rolling left and upfield, head up, then hitting T-Wash on the left sideline for 13 yards. To see him buy time was not unusual, but to drop that far before rolling left and still keep his eyes downfield was beautiful to watch. Not satisifed with the freakish play, TP took the next snap and rolled right before cutting back left on a 10 yard scamper. Next, with 1st and goal, Pryor unleashed a perfectly placed strike to Dane on a slant for the score and a 10-0 lead. It doesn't get much better than that sequence.

Finally, on OSU's sixth possession of the half following a Michigan turnover on downs, Pryor hooked up with Dane for 25 yards on 3rd and 11 to keep the drive alive. The throw was not a good one, but near enough for Dane to get his circus-on and pull it down. Three plays later, Pryor was the one dazzling the crowd. Staring down 3rd and 5 from the Michigan 33, Pryor spotted a blitz coming from the right side, swiftly stepped up in the pocket then darted laterally to the right drawing a defender in space between himself and Posey running a drag route, coming all the way from outside the left hash. Having created a throwing lane, Pryor hit Posey in stride, allowing him to turn upfield and eventually dive into the endzone for a 24-7 lead with 3:06 left in the half. Fantastic recognition and execution.

When the clock struck zero, Pryor completed 18/27 for 220 yards with 2 TD and a pick. He also added 49 yards on 12 carries putting his stamp on the rivalry with still one more year to go. Looking ahead, it's easy to see Pryor finishing his OSU career with a perfect 4-0 record in The Game. The level of competition has a lot to do with it but damn, a perfect 4-0? Dude is crunk.

a mismatch on special teams

Though things have been far better in recent weeks, there's no denying this has been a rough year for Buckeye special teams. Turns out, Michigan's special teams might be the worst in the history of organized football and therefore, allowing of the Scarlet and Gray to dominate this facet of the game.

Jordan Hall's apparently been promising one all year and his 85 yard kickoff return for a TD couldn't have come at a better time. Having just watched Michigan march 80 yards in 11 plays to cut OSU's lead to 10-7 midway through the 2nd quarter, Hall took a short kickoff inside the left hash, darted through the initial hole sprung by Jamaal Berry and Zach Boren and hugged the left sideline before cutting back at the Michigan 35 on his way to pay dirt. The return was crucial in that it immediately answered Michigan's scoring drive, keeping momentum squarely on the OSU sidelines. The recipe of answering scores to control momentum worked to perfection last year in Ann Arbor, and again this year in Columbus thanks to Hall's shifty return that put OSU back in front by 10 points at 17-7 with just under eight minutes left in the half.

Meanwhile, RichRod's special teams featured some random dude with a weird last name handling the punting duties, the result of suspending his starter for a violation of team rules. The weird last name guy (Broekhuizen) unleashed an 18 yarder to set up a Buckeye TD and for his final act, a 24 yard boot out of bounds setting up a Barclay FG. In fact, Tate Forcier performed much better than the guys on scholarship to punt, getting off a 52 yarder late in the 3rd quarter.

Speaking of Barclay, the, shall we say experienced, kicker calmly drilled 3/3 field goals (33, 36, 23) while RichRod refused to even try a FG knowing his kickers had combined to hit just 4/13 on the year with Broekhuizen connecting on only 3/9 and Brendan Gibbons going 1/4. That, my friends, is a combined level of suck that is hard to match.

To see a team so thoroughly outclassed on special teams, by a special teams group that is profoundly average, was just another example of how I refuse to believe the hype that RichRod is making enough strides to stay on as coach.

boom joins the 1,000 yard club

Unbelievable. With Boom Herron needing 107 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, it didn't look like he'd have a shot to reach the milestone at halftime after Michigan routinely put eight or nine in the box holding Boom to five carries for -1 yard in the process.

The 2nd half was a different story however as Boom got loose for 176 yards on 17 carries (10.2 ypc) including a 98 yard sprint for six that was reduced to an 89 yard run after the ref took mercy on RichRod's soulless team and called a joke holding call on the best example of WR downfield blocking you've ever seen in your life from Dane. Boom still managed to make his way to the endzone, however, with a 32 yard burst on OSU's first possession of the 2nd half pushing the Bucks in front 31-7. On the day, he totaled 22 carries for 175 yards, the 3rd highest rushing total ever by a Buckeye in The Game. Think about that for a second. The dude was still getting hammered by the Buckeye faithful after four games for not showing good enough vision and too often falling victim to arm tackles at the line of scrimmage.

Boom's big day added to not only his dynamic and surprising season but also to his lore in the rivalry. The 4th year junior is now 4-0 against Michigan. Check out just how dominant he's been against the hapless Wolverines:

  • 2008: 8 rush, 80 yards (10.0 ypc), 2 TD
  • 2009: 19 rush, 96 yards (5.1 ypc), 2 rec, 17 yards, 1 TD
  • 2010: 22 rush, 175 yards (7.9 ypc) 1 TD
  • Career: 49 rush, 351 yards (7.2 ypc), 2 rec, 17 yards, 4 TD

Boom has now found the endzone in 11 straight games and brought his season rushing total to 1,068, putting him over 2,000 for his career. Yesterday only solidified what I've been saying for weeks, Boom has been this season's offensive MVP, serving as a reliable 2nd option to take pressure off Pryor. And while it's great to see him pop an 89 yard dash, it's the fact he's more than willing to pound the ball all day for short yardage that makes him so valuable. He just keeps coming at defenses then when finally presented a crease, he hits the hole with velocity and did a great job of improving both his vision and shakes as the season rolled on.


The 1st half saw Michigan move the ball effectively at times but big plays by the Bullets held the Wolverines' high powered offense to just a 2nd quarter TD and the OSU defense would only grow stronger in the 2nd half holding RichRod's crew scoreless. The opportunistic effort allowed OSU to hold Michigan to their lowest scoring output since the 42-7 thrashing dished out in RichRod's first trip Columbus back in 2008.

The Buckeyes had a hard time slowing Robinson in the early going allowing the Michigan offense to run 12 plays on their opening drive (45 yards) and another 10 on their 2nd possession (56 yards). Both times, however, the Buckeyes came up big when Michigan approached the red zone as Hines put the wood on intended receiver Kevin Koger snuffing the first drive on 4th and 8 before Orhian Johnson made up for some early missed tackles forcing a Robinson fumble at the Ohio State 12 yard line that Nate Williams pounced on to kill the second scoring chance.

Michigan's third series was a quick 3-and-out though Michigan mistakes were the chief cause. Michigan's fourth series would yield their only points of the game with Robinson rushing for 42 of the 85 yards on the drive and making a key throw on 4th and 2 to Stonum for 13 yards. Rolle was there in coverage but didn't see the ball coming leading to the conversion. Good and pissed off from surrendering points on the previous drive, the Bullets allowed just 20 yards on the ensuing possession with Rolle blowing up a 2nd and 6 run by Vincent Smith for -2 yards before Jermale Hines did work in converage on both 3rd and 4th downs leading to the second of four Turnover on Downs on the day. Michigan's final drive of the half would last just four snaps with playmaker Travis Howard smothering a forced fumble by Ross Homan. For the half, the Buckeyes allowed a ridiculous 258 yards but just seven points thanks to the key plays, most notably those two turnovers.

Halftime would not slow the momentum as the Bullets held Michigan to 93 yards in the 2nd half with 68 of those coming on a meaningless 4th quarter drive that produced a turnover on downs and zero points. On Michigan's other five drives after halftime, they combined for 25 yards on 17 plays with an interception, three punts and another turnover on downs.

The domination started with Howard intercepting a Forcier pass on 1st down with Robinson on the sidelines with an injured non-throwing hand. Robinson would take the field on Michigan's next possession and after a 3rd and 2 conversion to Stonum with Torrence playing decent coverage, John Simon and Nate Williams blew up a 1st down run by Michael Shaw before Cam Heyward received a cheap shot from LG Ricky Barnum. No flag on the play prompted Tressel to blast an official about how the zebras could flag a block O hand gesture but not a blatant after-the-whistle cheap shot from a guy salty about the unfolding beatdown. No worries. Torrence blanketed Stonum forcing an incompletion on 2nd down and now facing 3rd and 11, Roy Roundtree recorded his 5th drop of the day leading to a Michigan punt. Karma, bitches.

After a Barclay FG made it 34-7, the Bullets forced another comedic Michigan 3-and-out with Rolle racing in untouched on 2nd and 8 dropping Robinson for a seven yard loss. A Robinson run on 3rd and 15 after almost being sacked wasn't enough for a conversion and a 24 yard punt capped the possession. You can't make this stuff up.

After another Barclay FG made it 37-7, the Bullets had one more 3-and-out in them, culminating with Williams batting down a 3rd and 4 pass setting up Tate's 52 yard punt. Forcier would fare better on his next possession marching the Wolverines to the Buckeye six yard line but Hines was again the man in coverage breaking up a 4th and goal pass intended for Droptree. Finally, on Michigan's last opportunity, Williams had one of those series' where he almost singlehandedly causes a 3-and-out as he sacked Tate for -9 on 1st down before nearly picking off a pass as he dropped into coverage on 3rd and 11.

Coming into the game, I think many honest Buckeye fans thought Michigan would score in the ballpark of 20 points but the Bullets weren't having it. Instead, they forced three turnovers, held UM to 5/15 on 3rd down and 1/5 on 4th down while holding the opponent to under 21 points for the 60th time since 2005 (57-3).

A swarming effort saw four Buckeyes tie for the lead in tackles with Chekwa, Homan, Hines and Rolle picking up eight stops each. Hines was a "star" on the day also breaking up three passes while Rolle tacked on two TFL. Williams, probably my favorite defender, was on fire with six stops (2.5 TFL), a fumble recovery, two pass breakups and a sack. Gentlemen, your gold pants are waiting for you.

how can brandon not euthanize the richrod era?

Saturday was a debacle. At least when Cooper was losing The Game at a ridiculous pace, the Buckeyes were virtually always competitive and quite often, the better team on paper. Looking at RichRod's resume, he can't even seem to keep The Game close. A 30 point margin this year, an 11 point deficit last year in a game that was not as competitive as the score would indicate and a 42-7 spanking in his first taste of the rivalry. As noted earlier, that's a 100-24 cumulative ass kicking.

Observers love to correctly point out his offense has taken root with the Wolverines putting up some pretty solid yardage and point totals but at what price? The fact is, he's put all his eggs in a fragile dreadlocked basket and when Michigan plays physical teams, that fragile dreadlocked basket can't stay on the field for 60 minutes. It also seems reasonable to think that even after Robinson, should Rodriguez somehow survive that long, his offense is simply not going to get it done against the big boys in this conference over the long haul. Further, even his great offense performed worse as the season went on. They faced the bullies of the conference and got beat down, losing handily to OSU, Wisconsin and Michigan State while also dropping double-digit losses to Iowa and Penn State.

So, I guess that means the signature win is UConn back in September? Now, I know OSU hasn't beaten anyone worth a damn either, but we're clearly talking about programs at dramatically different levels of performance with no end to this divide in sight. I mean, we're talking about the worst defense in the history of Michigan football. We're talking about a team with not even a marginal field goal kicker. A team with a QB that simply isn't big enough to survive a full season of Big Ten football. A team that has endured more than its fair share of personnel defections. A program that has gone from three wins to five to seven. It sounds like improvement but when you watch those five losses, I'm not so sure.

The guy is simply not up to the standard that Michigan football has worked so hard to create. The only way I can understand Brandon keeping RichRod is if he isn't able to get the coach he wants, which I assume is Jim Harbaugh. Standing pat instead of settling would be the best move since settling is what got Michigan in this mess to start with. Personally, I'm not one of those Buckeye fans that wants Michigan to get better for the sake of the conference or rivalry (not that I don't understand/respect that viewpoint). I hope they suck forever. Period. Nebraska can pick up their slack for all I care.

That said, I have to believe Brandon and his army have already, or will be, putting out feelers on Harbaugh to see if he'll take the job. If so, doesn't Brandon have to can RichRod and allow Harbaugh to start recruiting Big Ten caliber players to replace the Big East talent currently dotting the roster? Assuming Harbaugh would want to coach Stanford in their bowl game, that would mean Brandon can wait til January 1st to dump Rodriguez which is when his buyout drops from $4 mil down to $2.5mil.

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