ANN ARBOR, Mich. — At times, Michigan went toe to toe with Ohio State.
Quarterback Shea Patterson and the Wolverines' talented receivers lit up the Buckeyes in the first half. An end to Michigan's streak of losses to Ohio State starting in 2012 looked like it had a chance of ending.
But not for long.
Crucial mistakes and Ohio State's overall talent edge proved decisive in a 56-27 Buckeyes victory Saturday.
Even when No. 13 Michigan scored on its opening drive, it couldn't finish the deal; it missed the extra point. Ohio State answered with a touchdown on its first drive and converted the extra point. Michigan played from behind the rest of the way.
The Wolverines gained 285 yards in the first half, matching the most Ohio State has given up in an entire game. But two mistakes proved critical.
Trailing 21-13, Michigan had the ball at the Ohio State 12-yard line facing third-and-9. Patterson dropped the shotgun snap and Buckeyes nose guard Robert Landers recovered the fumble.
“We knew we were going to have to put up points,” Patterson said. “We needed to score a couple touchdowns in the red area. The turnover by myself was huge. You can't fumble the ball down there.”
Ohio State then faced fourth down at its 43 when Michigan's Khaleke Hudson jumped offside on the punt. That gave Ohio State a first down. The Buckeyes needed only two more plays to score a touchdown.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh elected to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 5 to make it 28-16 at halftime, but the Wolverines got no closer in the second half.
This loss wasn't the gut punch that last year's 62-39 loss at Ohio Stadium was. That game was for a spot in the Big Ten title game and a shot at the College Football Playoff.
That wasn't possible this year because Ohio State had already clinched the Big Ten East. But another lopsided loss to their rivals is not what the Wolverines (9-3) envisioned when they hired Harbaugh five years ago.
When a reporter asked Harbaugh about the gap between his team and Ohio State, he replied, “I'll answer your questions, not your insults.”
Harbaugh then expounded, a little.
“They played really good,” he said of the Buckeyes. “They played better today. We'll regroup and come back and play our next game. Regroup and retool. Get our guys back and prepare for our next ballgame.”
The Wolverines' seniors became the second cycle of Michigan players not to have beaten Ohio State.
“No one's happy,” senior tight end Sean McKeon said. “Definitely really frustrating, especially for the seniors. It's kind of the same thing every year. We've got to execute better. It gets old, but just gotta play better against them.”