Three Key Stats: Ohio State's Rush Defense Stands Tall, Turnovers Keep the Buckeyes Breathing and Penalties Cripple Michigan

By Eric Seger on November 26, 2016 at 7:57 pm
Three key stats to Ohio State's 30-27 win over Michigan.

In a back-and-forth, heart-stopping affair that went undecided until the game's final play, Ohio State beat Michigan 30-27 in double overtime on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

Curtis Samuel's 15-yard touchdown run around left end into the north end zone gave the Buckeyes the victory after a marathon game that saw Michigan dominate for more than three quarters but falter when it mattered most.

The Buckeyes will not get a chance to play for the Big Ten Championship despite going 11-1 because of their loss to Penn State but still make a convincing argument for the College Football Playoff.

As we wait a week for Ohio State's postseason fate, here are three key stats from its win over Michigan, the fifth in Urban Meyer's tenure.

Michigan Rushes 43 Times For 91 Yards

Ohio State didn't get to Wilton Speight too often on Saturday, sacking him only twice for a combined loss of 16 yards. Even taking those yards out of the equation, the Wolverines only ran it 43 times for 107 yards.

But since college football puts sacks into the team's rushing total, Michigan averaged a mere 2.1 yards per carry against Ohio State. De'Veon Smith tallied its longest rush on the day at 16 yards but he needed 21 carries to finish with 60 yards. Fullback Khalid Hill scored from a half-yard out in the third quarter to put Michigan ahead 17-7 but his three carries only went for three yards in the game. Star Jabrill Peppers ran it four times for four yards, including the five-yard loss he took inside the 10-yard line on third down when Sam Hubbard denied his zone read attempt.

Michigan dominated time of possession for most of the game but Ohio State's defense rarely broke against its rushing attack.

Michigan's Three Turnovers Keep Ohio State Alive

Ohio State did not score a point against Michigan until the second quarter. The Buckeyes didn't remove the zero on their side of the scoreboard until Malik Hooker grabbed a fluttering pass by Speight and returned it 16 yards with 4:03 left before halftime.

Speight also dropped a snap at the 1-yard line early in the second quarter following Peppers's interception of J.T. Barrett. Ohio State recovered and the momentum shifted.

Jerome Baker picked off Speight in the third quarter with Michigan leading 17-7, an athletic play where he leaped into the throwing lane after sitting back in his zone. Officials whistled Michigan for offsides on the next play and Jim Harbaugh flipped out, throwing his headset and getting an unsportsmanlike penalty.

Two plays later, Mike Weber scored from a yard out to make it 17-14 and keep Ohio State alive.

The Buckeyes scored 14 points off of three Michigan turnovers, while the Wolverines were denied after taking the ball away once.

Penalty Yards: Michigan 59, Ohio State 6

Michigan committed seven penalties for 59 yards in the game. Officials called Ohio State for two for just six yards.

The Wolverines kept Ohio State in the game with mistakes in the back end, like a hold on Samuel that kept a drive alive on 3rd-and-15. Harbaugh's tantrum put the Buckeyes in perfect position to score and cut the deficit to one possession.

Every time Michigan looked like it could pull away, a mistake changed that.

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