It was a bad weekend to be Buckeye.
Ohio State suffered its second consecutive loss to Michigan, its most lopsided rivalry defeat since 1993 and its worst home loss in the all-time series since 1976. In the process, the Buckeyes are eliminated from Big Ten championship contention and don’t control their own destiny in the College Football Playoff race.
The Buckeyes will need championship game losses from either TCU or USC, who both boosted their stock with wins over the weekend, even to be considered in the final four-team field. And while Ohio State is waiting for those results, it’ll have to stomach another potential maize and blue win in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.
But before then, here’s Eleven Warriors’ final regular-season stock report as the postseason looms on the horizon.
The mercurial Michigan head coach can confidently say last year’s rivalry win was no fluke, and he’ll get no pushback on the subject. The weather for The Game was sublime, as far as late November goes, and there have been no whispers of a flu outbreak on the Buckeye roster. Not to mention, Michigan was without its best offensive player (Blake Corum) and best defensive player (Mike Morris) for most of the game. Harbaugh gets his second straight win over Ohio State as head coach, his first at Ohio Stadium, and now has a chance at back-to-back Big Ten championships and CFP appearances. Not a bad weekend for The Khakis.
McCarthy had hardly been a lethal weapon passing the ball all season. Until he faced Ohio State. The first-year Wolverine starter threw touchdown passes of 75, 69 and 45 yards on Saturday, finished with his second-most passing yards of the season (263) and tied a career-high with three touchdown tosses. Oh, and he tacked on a fourth total score on the ground. McCarthy only completed 12 passes on the day, but that was enough to outduel C.J. Stroud and get a road win in his first start in The Game.
So much for Blake Corum’s injury having a major impact on The Game. Corum only took two carries all game, and even though Ohio State limited Michigan to just 10 rushing yards in the first half, it finished with a whopping 252 and three scores before all was said and done. That was due primarily to backup running back Donovan Edwards, who racked up 205 yards and two touchdowns in the second half alone. Most of that came on touchdown runs of 75 and 85 yards in the fourth quarter as Michigan put the game well out of reach.
Chip Trayanum At RB
While it’s hard to say any Buckeye truly boosted their stock on Saturday, Chip Trayanum’s rock-solid performance at running back was a pleasant enough surprise to warrant a place on this list. The former Arizona State RB, who began his Buckeye career as a linebacker, had only received one carry in scarlet and gray before Saturday. However, he led Ohio State with 14 rushes for 83 yards against Michigan. Trayanum averaged 5.9 yards per carry, and perhaps if the Buckeye defense didn’t give up four touchdowns on Michigan’s seven second-half possessions, he could’ve made a bigger impact down the stretch.
Caleb Willliams for Heisman
We have a new favorite in the Heisman Trophy race. Stroud’s shot at the award effectively ended with the loss to Michigan, but USC quarterback Caleb Williams had another huge game to put himself out in front of the pack. Williams finished with 265 total yards and four total touchdowns in a win against Notre Dame, giving him 44 touchdowns for the year and upwards of 4,000 yards of total offense. The Trojans' win and Buckeyes' loss also clears the way for a straightforward path to the CFP in Lincoln Riley’s first year in LA.
CALEB WILLIAMS. ARE YOU SERIOUS pic.twitter.com/x1anIT2R7v— ESPN (@espn) November 27, 2022
The Horned Frogs are now one of just three unbeaten teams in the country after blowing out Iowa State by 48 points on Saturday. TCU is headed to the Big 12 Championship Game, and even if it drops that game, it still has a solid chance to earn a CFP berth for the first time in program history. Sonny Dykes has led the program to its first 12-win season since 2014, the last time it knocked on the door of a playoff berth, and the Horned Frogs are in a great position to kick that door down in 2022.
For the first time in program history, the Boilermakers have clinched a berth in Big Ten Championship Game. Kirk Ferentz and company squandered their chance to represent the Big Ten West Division by losing Friday’s matchup with Nebraska, which left to Purdue to earn an opportunity to take the conference crown after beating Indiana, 30-14, over the weekend. Unfortunately for Purdue, it will have to take on the reigning Big Ten champ and red-hot Wolverines in next week’s matchup, and the West Division has never won a Big Ten Championship Game.
Everything milestone the Buckeye head coach has reached thus far will now be overshadowed by his 1-2 record against Ohio State’s archrival. Day has now lost back-to-back games to Michigan, the first time the program has done since 1999 and 2000, and the home defeat is Ohio State’s first to Michigan in 22 years. Day has only dropped five games since taking over the reins as head coach in Columbus, but two of them have come at the hands of Harbaugh and company. The fact that Day’s play calling, roster construction and coaching hires have been ridiculed won’t help him either over the next year.
However, the Buckeyes still have an outside shot to backdoor their way into the CFP, which could help boost Day’s approval rating among Buckeye fans.
Ryan Day leaves the field after his second straight loss to Michigan pic.twitter.com/eHUj7V417L— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) November 26, 2022
Allowing 42 points in a loss to Michigan last year was enough for nearly the entire Ohio State defensive coaching staff to lose their jobs. Of course, it wasn’t that single game alone, but it might as well have been as far as Buckeye fans were concerned. Jim Knowles was supposed to give Ohio State a defense that could beat Michigan in a rematch, and through most of the season, it looked like that was a real prospect. It didn’t come to fruition on Saturday, though, as Michigan put up more points on the Buckeyes than last year.
Knowles’ defense gave up five touchdowns of 45 yards or more, allowed the Wolverines to score 28 points in the second half alone and finished with 530 yards of total offense for the day. That’s not going to cut it if Ohio State hopes to have success against the nation’s elite teams, which Michigan certainly proved to be on Saturday.
Stroud's Heisman campaign
With a Buckeye win, it seemed likely that Stroud would surge further ahead of the pack as the favorite to take home the Heisman this season. It would’ve been a long time coming, as Troy Smith was the last Ohio State player to do so 16 years ago. But the program will have to wait for its next Heisman Trophy winner, as Saturday’s less effectively stomped out Stroud’s chances to win the most prestigious individual honor in the sport.
As Stroud said in his postgame interview, many fans may now remember him as a quarterback who never beat Michigan and never won a Big Ten championship. He won’t have a Heisman Trophy to show for his time in Columbus, either.
C.J. Stroud on how he wants people to remember his OSU career: I dont know. People are gonna say I never won The Game. I understand. People are gonna say I never won a Big Ten championship. I understand.— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) November 26, 2022
The tight end known affectionately as Farmer Gronk was a breakout success story for Ohio State all year long, but Saturday was far from his brightest moment as a Buckeye. Stover failed to haul in several balls that hit his hands against Michigan, with one of them coming in the end zone and another resulting in a late interception as the ball tipped off his fingers. Stover’s blocking was also less than stellar throughout. Despite an otherwise standout season for the Buckeyes, Saturday may have demonstrated why he could use another year of development before going pro.
Ohio State’s loss should’ve strengthened Clemson’s own path to the CFP, but the Tigers suffered their second loss of the season, this time to South Carolina, to likely snuff out their shot at a playoff berth. Clemson will still play in the ACC championship against North Carolina next weekend. Still, it would be a two-loss champion in one of the weakest Power-Five conferences this season when the committee decides on its four-team field.
Despite two losses entering the weekend, LSU was the first team out of the playoff committee’s top four. That will change on Tuesday, as the Tigers suffered their third loss of the year on Saturday. LSU dropped to Texas A&M by a 15-point margin, and although they still have a shot at knocking off No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers won’t be headed to the playoff in Brian Kelly’s first season at the helm.