Michigan did it. They ruined Ohio State’s season, and the Wolverines biggest hopes and dreams are still alive after beating the Buckeyes 42-27. Here are takeaways from the game.
Haskins and Hutchinson have legendary performances
Without running back Hassan Haskins and edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who knows what the trajectory of this game would have been. Yes, this was a team win, but no two players were more dominant than Haskins and Hutchinson.
Haskins rushed for 169 yards and scored 5 touchdowns. Hutchinson had three huge sacks. Hutchinson has been a vocal leader for Michigan all season long and he walked the walk when it mattered most. Haskins is the strong, but silent type, letting his work speak for itself — and he sure worked today.
Michigan’s crowd made a difference
It was LOUD in Michigan Stadium. It might have been cold, it might have been snowing at times, but the weather didn’t dissuade the energy of the Michigan faithful. The fans created a legitimate homefield advantage, and helped draw a couple false starts from Ohio State’s offense. I’ve been covered Michigan since 2016, and this was the loudest it has been at The Big House. The crowd celebrating on the field when the final whistles sounded was one heck of a beautiful sight. Great job, fans. You put in four quarters of hard work.
McNamara rebounded after interception
McNamara threw a costly interception early on with goal-to-go, but settled in nicely after the mistake (one which netted Ohio State a field goal). McNamara hit enough shots, none more important than the 37-yard strike to Cornelius Johnson with Michigan trailing 10-7. This completion put Michigan in the red-zone, and Haskins punched it in shortly after.
McNamara has been steady all season, has helped Michigan win a lot of games, and he should have all the confidence in the world heading into the Big Ten Championship Game.
Shoutout to Michigan’s offensive line
Haskins’ great day wouldn’t have been as stellar if it wasn’t for the Michigan offensive line. Haskins thanked every offensive lineman after the game, and the gratitude was well deserved. Jim Harbaugh said that Michigan knew as early as spring ball that they could run against Ohio State, and that other teams this season didn’t try to challenge the Buckeyes in that manner. Well, Michigan challenged them, and they won in the trenches in a very physical manner. Bully ball, that’s how Michigan won, and that’s what gives Michigan a chance moving forward.
Defense bent, didn’t break
Quarterback C.J. Stroud got his licks in, but the damage he inflicted on the Michigan defense wasn’t fatal. This was a great gameplan by defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Sure, some chunk plays were given up, but nobody really thought this Ohio State defense would be held to just 27 points. All the off-season hires, from Mike Hart to Macdonald, paid major dividends all season long, and that reality became highly apparent against Ohio State.
Time to move forward
One hell of a win, one in which a lot of Michigan fans never expected to occur, a win in which even the most loyal Michigan fan may have to apologize to Harbaugh and the team for not thinking they had a chance. Pundits like Paul Finebaum finally look stupid, and that’s a good thing for the universe.
Michigan will keep this chip on their shoulder, one that they’ve had all year and all off-season long. Their work isn’t done. Jim Harbaugh put it best, this feels like the beginning. Michigan heads to Indianapolis, a Big Ten Championship will be on the line, but so will their berth in the College Football Playoff. We’ll see where Michigan goes from here, but it’s certainly a great day to be a Michigan Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh can finally say “who’s got it better than us?”. On this day, nobody.