Michigan had its chance to beat its biggest rival, win the Big Ten East Division and put itself in position to make the College Football playoff.
Instead, they choked.
No. 10 Ohio State beat No. 4 Michigan 62-39 at Ohio Stadium to win the division and advance to the Big Ten championship game next week against Northwestern. Here are our takeaways from The Game:
It was a collapse for the ages.
Michigan’s defense, which entered the day No. 1 in the country in total defense, allowing 234.8 yards per game, gave up 564 yards to Ohio State.
Michigan’s pass defense, which also entered the day No. 1 in the country, allowing 123.2 yards per game, gave up 318 yards and five touchdowns through the air.
The Wolverines didn’t record a sack, didn’t even get much pressure on OSU quarterback Dwayne Haskins and couldn’t stop a crossing route if their life depended on it.
It was a disgraceful performance from a defense that had been stellar all season. Now, when we think of this year’s team, this year’s defense, we will think of this game. This ugly, disaster of a game.
The Michigan basketball team hasn’t even allowed 62 points in a game this season.
Ohio State picked on U-M cornerback Brandon Watson all game long, gashed the defense with big plays in both the run and the pass and forced two Michigan turnovers. Michigan has never allowed an opponent to score 62 or more points in regulation - ever.
Every goal this team had was attainable with a victory in this game, but Michigan blew it. It’s sad and not fair, but Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich and Devin Bush will end their Michigan careers without ever winning the Big Ten or beating Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh is now 0-4 against the Buckeyes and has never won the East division, let alone the Big Ten.
Offensive Line Doesn’t Show Up
Ohio State had struggled all season when it came to stopping the run, yet Michigan was unable to get its ground game going at all. There wasn’t much push from the big men up front, and because of it, Karan Higdon only recorded 72 yards rushing.
The problem was that the offensive line wasn’t just bad in the running game, it was bad in the passing game. Quarterback Shea Patterson hardly had any time to throw and was sacked three times.
It’s hard to say whether Ohio State’s defense played surprisingly good or whether Michigan’s offense was surprisingly bad. It was probably a little of both, but either way, it’s another poor performance in a huge game.
Tight end Zach Gentry played what is likely his worst game as a Wolverine. He dropped three gigantic passes, one that would’ve been a touchdown, and two others that would have been key first down conversions. To make matters worse, he left the game in the second half with an injury, as did Patterson, Bush, Gary and David Long.
The only bright spots on offense were some nifty catches by receivers Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones and solid field goal kicking from Jake Moody.
Meyer Out-Coaches Harbaugh, Again
It’s the same story every year, or at least it feels that way. OSU has now beaten Michigan 14 of the last 15 years, and Urban Meyer is now 7-0 against the Wolverines.
This was supposed to be the defining game of Harbaugh’s career at Michigan, but instead, it was just another letdown at the hands of Meyer. The Michigan coaching staff didn’t have their team prepared for the biggest game of the year. It’s tiring, it’s sad and it makes us all miserable. It’s just what Michigan football has become.
Michigan will not make the College Football Playoff or reach the Big Ten title game. Instead, the team awaits its bowl game selection, which will be announced on Dec. 2.
If Ohio State beats Northwestern and makes the playoff, Michigan will likely play in the Rose Bowl.
If Ohio State beats Northwestern but does not make the playoff, Michigan will likely play in another New Years Six game, such as the Fiesta Bowl or the Peach Bowl. Sports Illustrated projects U-M to play LSU in the Peach Bowl.
If Northwestern wins the Big Ten championship game, Michigan will likely fall out of the New Years Six conversation and play in the Citrus Bowl.