Ohio State-Michigan | Ray Stein's Bottom Line

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. (7) celebrates his 4th passing touchdown to Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver K.J. Hill Jr. (14) against Michigan Wolverines in the 4th quarter of their game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on November 24, 2018. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

Now that Ohio State has won 14 of 15 against its rival, these victories, stacked like firewood, are starting to blend together. But this one had a familiar feel: The favored team talked the talk leading up to the game but had no answers on game day. Common thread, too: Florida 41, OSU 14 in the 2006 BCS championship. Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis. — Ray Stein

Offense (5)

Considering the level of competition — or at least the hype surrounding it — the Buckeyes were nearly spotless. Dwayne Haskins Jr. was superb, as usual, and the run game dialed up 249 yards, 78 on a back-breaking sprint by Parris Campbell. Above all, this was the line’s moment. Haskins barely felt the heat of Wolverine breath.

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Defense (3)

OSU pass coverage, specifically on deep balls, became an exercise in tangled limbs followed by flying yellow flags followed by 15-yard marches. Some of the calls were sketchy, but most were legit. Overall, though, this was a Picasso compared with previous Velvet Elvises. The Buckeyes applied pressure and stayed in their gaps. So it can happen.

Special teams (4)

Ohio State might have blown the doors off the Michigan bus sooner if Demario McCall hadn’t muffed a kickoff, leading to a gift TD that cut OSU’s lead to 21-19. Special teams ultimately delivered the knockout punch, however, when revelation Chris Olave blocked a punt and Sevyn Banks housed it. Yea, math — Sevyn for Six!

Coaching (4)

Players and coaches insisted that OSU’s underdog status played no role in the team’s fire-breathing attitude on the field. Sure, if you say so. Regardless, the Buckeyes came out alert, prepared and motivated, traits that had gone AWOL at times in recent weeks. It was obvious this one meant a lot to Urban Meyer, too.

Fun (5)

Morning rain made for soggy bratwursts, but the weather cleared out in plenty of time to leave a gray sky and ideal football weather. Once the game started, the Horseshoe made its once-a-year transformation into a boisterous, intimidating venue. They stomped, they screamed, they taunted — they made a real difference.

Opponent (3)

It says something about the quality of Big Ten football in 2018 that the Wolverines could rack up such gaudy defensive statistics on the backs of the league’s dregs, then collapse against the first legitimate offense they see. Shea Patterson is a gamer at QB, but this was no Egg Bowl. What’s your next idea, Jim Harbaugh?

Officiating (1)

The only way Mike Cannon’s crew could have had a worse day is if they had all eaten salads with romaine lettuce. Among the low points was the missed helmet hit on Haskins, which devolved into in an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Meyer. And thank goodness there are no drinking games based on interference calls.

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