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OSU extinguishes Michigan’s college football playoff hopes

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OSU extinguishes Michigan’s college football playoff hopes

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The Game. This is what college football fans call the clash between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes, in arguably the biggest rivalry in college football. A game consisting of two 10-1 teams, both with Big Ten and national title implications. The stakes could not have been much higher for this top 10 clash in college football.

After a 24-17 road loss against Notre Dame, the Wolverines had won 10 in a row and were playing the best football in the Big Ten. Dismantling Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State consecutively, giving up a total of 27 points to these three ranked opponents. The Wolverines had the number one ranked defense in the country consisting of college stars and future NFL first-round draft picks, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush and Chase Winovich, which allowed the Wolverines to be favored by four points going into Columbus.

The Ohio State Buckeyes were not exactly red hot going into week 13. They, similarly to Michigan, had only one loss, but had been in two one-score games over the previous three weeks against unranked opponents. Having a defense without defensive end Nick Bosa, the potential number one pick in the NFL draft, the Buckeyes often ask a lot of their first-year starting quarterback, Dwayne Haskins. Luckily for the Buckeyes, the redshirt sophomore has delivered. Racking up 36 total touchdowns through his first 11 games and making himself a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy.

The stage was set, the no.10 Ohio State Buckeyes were to kickoff at the Shoe on a 40 degree day in Columbus, Ohio. Wolverine quarterback Shea Patterson began the game off by being sacked and throwing an incompletion, forcing the Wolverines to punt the ball on just the fourth play of the game. Dwayne Haskins, on the other hand, was not so unsuccessful––accounting for 60 yards of the Buckeyes 62 yard touchdown drive.

The Wolverines answered on their next two offensive possessions, but had to settle for field goals making the score 6-7. Dwayne Haskins found an answer, throwing his second and third touchdowns in consecutive possessions making the score 21-6 with only 3:18 remaining in the half.

It was on the following possession that Michigan’s Shea Patterson started developing a rhythm, completing three straight passes to start the drive which concluded with a 26 yard touchdown to wide receiver Nico Collins, and cutting the Buckeye lead to eight. Six seconds later Shea Patterson threw another touchdown pass to running back Chris Evans following a muffed kickoff by Ohio State’s Demario McCall. The score was 21-19, and would stay similar to this going into the break with the Buckeyes only managing to tack on a field goal before the half.

The Wolverines were only down five at the half despite being greatly outplayed on both sides of the ball. The second half started out in the hands of Haskins who was forced to punt after only managing to gain one first down. Michigan’s offense was even less successful gaining only one yard on their opening possession of the half. Haskins was able to drive down the field on the next possession but was stopped for no gain on Michigan’s two yard line. After Ohio State settled for a field goal, it was still a one score game in Columbus.

The possession was also scoreless for the Wolverines, caused an inaccurate pass by Shea Patterson on 3rd down, intended for Zach Gentry. Punter Will Hart for the Wolverines was hoping to pin the Buckeyes deep, but similar to the rivalry game in 2014, this did not happen. Instead it got blocked and was returned 33 yards to the house, making the score 34-19. A crushing blow for the Wolverines.

Patterson needed a strong drive if the Wolverines were going to have any chance of a comeback. But a horrific start to the drive faced Michigan a 3rd and 12 on their own 18 yard line, when Patterson’s pass was intercepted. One play later, Ohio State running back Mike Weber scored a two yard touchdown to extend the lead to 41-19, putting the game to bed with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

Over 12 minutes later the lead was 23 points for the Buckeyes when head coach Urban Meyer elected to pass the ball with fewer than six minutes left on the clock. This resulted in Haskins sixth touchdown of the afternoon reminding Michigan fans of 1986, when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes went for two against the Wolverines when up previously 50-14. Hayes was asked after that game why he went for two, and he responded, “Cause I couldn’t go for three.”

There had always been bad blood in the rivalry but since Ohio State has now won seven straight and 14 of the last 15, it is starting to become difficult to watch for Wolverine fans. A season with a lot of promise will conclude without a Big Ten Championship or college football playoff appearance. The Wolverines conclude their season in a bowl game against an opponent that will be announced on Dec. second. Until then, the Wolverines can only watch as a season with so much potential slipped through their fingers once again.

 

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