Three Key Stats: Ohio State Sells Out to Bottle Michigan's Run Game, but Big Plays, Penalties, Spell Doom for the Buckeyes

By 11W Staff on November 27, 2022 at 10:15 am
Donovan Jackson and Paris Johnson leave the field after losing to Michigan

Welcome to the morning after one of the worst days of your year.

It's still painful. It should be. Here's your autopsy.

10 Rushing Yards

Ohio State sold out against Michigan's potent rushing attack, and it largely worked early as they limited the Wolverines to 10 yards on 11 carries in the first half (0.9 per). Michigan earned a single yard on the ground in the first quarter and then added nine more in the second, while the Buckeyes racked up 124 yards on the ground in the first half.

The problem is that Ohio State left points on the field throughout the first half, taking a 20-17 lead into the locker room despite piling up 315 total yards, nearly doubling Michigan's number of offensive snaps, and racking up 16 first downs to just four for the Wolverines.

The other problem from Ohio State's perspective in the first half and throughout the game was big plays, which…

69, 75, 45, 75, 85

In 11 games coming into Saturday's clash, Michigan had exactly zero plays of 70 yards or more on the season. In Ohio Stadium, the Wolverines cashed in on three touchdowns of 70+ yards and had another go for 69 yards.

Indeed, big plays were the story of the game for an Ohio State defense that routinely left one safety high or played cover-zero to stop Michigan's run game, and the results were spectacularly disastrous.

The first long score, coming midway through the second quarter, with Ohio State holding a 10-3 lead, saw the Buckeyes pressure Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy with a blitz, but off his back foot, he was able to find Cornelius Johnson on a hitch near the Michigan sideline. Cam Martinez missed the tackle, and Johnson went 69 yards to tie the game.

That play was a killer because it came on 3rd-and-9, and the Buckeyes were on the verge of forcing their third-straight three-and-out of the game.

McCarthy would again find Johnson two minutes later on blown coverage for a 75-yard touchdown to make it 17-13, Wolverines.

In the second half, three of Michigan's four scores came on long strikes: a 45-yard throw and catch from McCarthy to Colston Loveland and two late Donovan Edwards runs to ice the game away, the first a 75-yarder one play after the Buckeyes had cut Michigan's lead to one score, and the second an 85-yarder with 3:19 to play for the game's final points.

Ohio State went 11 games living by the big play on offense. Saturday, they died by the big play on defense.

9 for 91 Yards

Penalties stood out among the many frustrating aspects of Michigan's romp in the Shoe yesterday. For the game, Ohio State was whistled nine times for 91 yards, many of them either ending Ohio State drives or giving life to Michigan drives that appeared to be sputtering out.

Indeed, in the second half, when Michigan outscored Ohio State 28-3 to put the game away, the Buckeyes were whistled six times for 71 yards. Michigan, meanwhile, went penalty-free in the second half.

Whether it was a pass interference call that led to a Michigan touchdown or a needless personal foul that snuffed out a Buckeye drive, penalties loomed large as this game was being decided.

You could make a really strong argument that if you had a team with Ohio State's talent and Michigan's discipline, you'd have a monster of a team. Instead, Ohio State will have to reflect on its lapses and meltdowns for another painful year.

Bonus Stats & Info

After being held to 10 rushing yards in the first half, Michigan racked up 242 rushing yards for an average of 10.1 per carry in the second half… Ohio State ran 42% of its plays from Michigan's side of the field, while the Wolverines ran just 28% of their plays from Ohio State's side of the 50… Michigan averaged an astounding 10.9 yards per passing attempt to Ohio State's 7.2 yards per attempt… The Wolverines went for an average of 11.4 yards on first down in the game… Ohio State's second-half possessions went: punt, punt, punt, field goal, interception, interception… C.J. Stroud suffered his first game with multiple interceptions of the season and for just the second time in his career… After going three-for-three on third down on the opening drive, Ohio State went 2-for-13 on third down the rest of the game… For the first time in the long and storied history of Eleven Warriors, Michigan has a win against Ohio State in Columbus… In just four seasons, Ryan Day has already lost more games to Michigan than Jim Tressel, and Urban Meyer combined to lose in 18 years… Tom Brady was a rookie in the NFL the last time Michigan beat Ohio State in back-to-back seasons… The announced attendance was 106,787.

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