ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It wasn’t the start Ohio State was looking for and definitely wasn’t the finish it wanted.
An early mistake left Ohio State playing catch-up in a game it desperately wanted to win against Michigan, and it never got the lead when it fell 30-24 to the Wolverines on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. It was the third straight loss against their rivals for the Buckeyes.
Michigan (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) will play Iowa in the Big Ten championship Saturday night, while Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) waits to find out where its postseason destination will be.
The play that got things started in the wrong direction for OSU was a first-quarter interception by cornerback Will Johnson, who stepped in front of a Kyle McCord pass at OSU’s 25-yard line on the Buckeyes’ third possession of the game.
He returned the interception to OSU’s 7-yard line, and four plays later Blake Corum scored on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 Michigan lead.
“If I could have it back I’d probably just burn that one into the ground and live to see the next play. We put our defense in a tough situation there,” McCord said.
Ohio State got a 43-yard field goal by Jayden Fielding late in the first quarter to cut the lead to 7-3. But Michigan put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass from J.J. McCarthy to Roman Wilson to make it 14-3.
Ohio State responded with a 7-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Emeka Egbuka catching a 3-yard touchdown pass from McCord to cut the lead to 14-10.
Ohio State drove from its own 2-yard line to field goal range in the final 3:23 of the first half, but Fielding’s 52-yard field goal attempts was off target.
Michigan scored a touchdown and three field goals in the second half. Ohio State caught up at 17-17 on a 3-yard touchdown run by TreVeyon Henderson with 5 ½ minutes left in the third quarter but never could take the lead.
“We’re all disappointed. We know how much this game means to so many people. So to come up short is crushing. You invest a whole year in this game. You know what this game means at Ohio State. There is a locker room in there that is devastated,” OSU coach Ryan Day said after the game.
Ohio State got to within 27-24 with 11 minutes left in the game on a 14-yard pass from McCord to Marvin Harrison Jr. with 8:05 left in the game.
But Michigan kept the ball for the next seven minutes, and James Turner delivered a 37-yard field goal with just over a minute to play to make it 30-24.
OSU got to Michigan’s 39-yard line on its final possession, but Rod Moore’s interception ended the Buckeyes’ threat.
“Hurts is really the only word for it. To work that hard for that opportunity and just come up a few plays short hurts. There’s no way around that. So it’s a tough feeling. Games like this come down to one or two plays,” McCord said.
“There really aren’t a lot of words to say in a moment like this. It’s one of those games where you put everything in it, and it hurts to come up short,” he said.
McCord completed 18 of 30 passes for 271 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Harrison had five catches for 118 yards. Henderson rushed for 60 yards on 19 carries.
Michigan quarterback McCarthy was 16 of 20 for 148 yards and a touchdown. Corum rushed for 88 yards on 22 carries. Tight end Colston Loveland caught 5 passes for 88 yards.