A grade card on Ohio State’s 62-39 win over Michigan in a game that had Buckeyes fans celebrating intensely but also wondering where this had been the rest of the season.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins said he was “licking my chops” when he saw Michigan playing man-to-man coverage on Ohio State’s receivers. He wasn’t wrong. The sophomore completed 20 of 31 for 396 yards and six touchdowns. He was so good he was still adding to his touchdown pass total after the game was over. Upon reviewing film, Ohio State decided that Parris Campbell’s 78-yard touchdown run was actually a short pop pass and gave Haskins a sixth touchdown pass.
Haskins established Big Ten records for most passing yards in a season (4,208) and touchdown passes in a season (42).
Campbell and freshman Chris Olave each caught two touchdown passes. The offensive line did not allow a sack and paved the way for OSU to gain 184 yards rushing. Ohio State had 567 yards total offense against a Michigan defense that came into the game ranked No. 1 nationally in fewest yards allowed per game at 234.8.
About the only criticism of the offense was the decision to use back-up quarterback Tate Martell in two situations inside Michigan’s 10-yard line which both ended in field goals instead of touchdowns.
Ohio State gave up 424 yards and 39 points but had positive performances in four areas that had been trouble spots most of the season.
After struggling to get sacks in recent games, OSU had three on Saturday. Similarly, the Buckeyes limited big plays after giving up too many of them in several games. Michigan had only one running play of more than 15 yards.
Linebacker and defensive back have been the two most criticized areas for Ohio State this season, but both groups played well against Michigan. All three starting linebackers stepped up in the big game. Tuf Borland led OSU with 10 tackles. Malik Harrison (7 tackles, 2 tackles for losses, 1 sack) played the best game of his career and Pete Werner broke up what looked like a sure touchdown pass to tight end Zach Gentry. Safeties Jordan Fuller and Brendon White had interceptions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Olave’s blocked punt, which Sevyn Banks picked up and returned for a touchdown in the third quarter put Ohio State firmly in control of the game at 34-19. It also seemed to rattle Michigan. Three plays later quarterback Shea Patterson threw an interception, which led to another Ohio State touchdown a minute and a half later.
About the only special teams flaw was Demario McCall mishandling a kickoff late in the first half to set up a Michigan touchdown which cut Ohio State’s lead to 21-19.
Ohio State scored first and led the entire game to beat its biggest rival for the seventh season in a row and for the fourteenth time in the last 15 years on a day when Michigan was an almost unanimous favorite. Ohio State appeared to have more talent, more speed and a better game plan than Michigan. Almost everything was working for OSU. The biggest question was why this hadn’t happened sooner.