Haskins liked matchups as he studied Michigan video

Bill Rabinowitz,Tim May
Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. flips a pass during the first quarter. The third-year sophomore threw for 318 yards and five touchdowns against the nation's No. 1 defense. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Dwayne Haskins Jr. splashed onto the scene last year when he relieved injured quarterback J.T. Barrett and led Ohio State to a comeback victory over Michigan in Ann Arbor.

His debut in the rivalry as a starter was even more dazzling. Haskins was nearly flawless in throwing for 318 yards and five touchdowns in Ohio State’s 62-39 victory.

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Michigan had the No. 1-ranked defense in the country, but when Haskins studied video of Michigan and its pass defense based on man-to-man coverage, he knew Ohio State’s No. 2 offense could exploit it.

“I was licking my chops,” he said. “I see the one-high covers, and that’s a quarterback’s dream.”

He said his biggest responsibility was to read Michigan’s blitzes and set the protection accordingly. Haskins wasn’t sacked and seldom hit, thanks to a sterling performance by Ohio State’s offensive line.

“I spent hours in the film room just trying to pick the blitzes up,” he said. “And once we picked it up, receivers make plays and I’m going to put it there. It was a great overall team effort.”

Haskins broke two Big Ten season records by a pair of former Purdue quarterbacks. He surpassed Curtis Painter’s record of 3,985 passing yards set in 2006 and Drew Brees’ mark of 39 touchdown passes set in 1998.

“I’m not done yet,” Haskins said. “I want to be one of the best ever to do it when I get done playing here at this university. This is a dream come true for me. I have no words to say about all we’ve done this year.”

Campbell: It was a pass

The scorers in the press box said that 78-yard touchdown play by Parris Campbell was a handoff from Haskins. But Campbell said, “It was a flip in the air. A pass. They’ve got to change it.”

The officials were looking into it as evening fell on Ohio Stadium, because it would be a sixth touchdown pass for Haskins, which would tie an Ohio State record, and add to his total of 318 passing yards.

One thing that won’t change was the charge Campbell gained out of the play that pushed Ohio State’s lead to 48-25 early in the fourth quarter. He crossed left to right on a dead run in front of Haskins before getting the ball.

“As I turned the corner, I saw Johnnie Dixon and Rashod Berry, both terrific blockers, they secured the edge for me,” Campbell said. “I had one guy to make him miss, and the rest is history.”

He went down the sideline in front of the Michigan bench.

“It’s huge,” Campbell said. “It’s a play that’s going to go down in history. Ten years from now, 15 years from now, when I bring my son back to the Woody (Hayes Athletic Center), he’s going to see that play. And that makes me feel good just because I was able to something like that.”

OSU players stay quiet

Ohio State’s players kept a low profile this week when Michigan didn’t exactly shy away from expressing confidence. The Wolverines had called their victories over rivals that had beaten them in recent years as a Revenge Tour, and this was supposed to be the final stop. Running back Karan Higdon took the bait when an interviewer asked if his confidence could be construed as a guarantee.

Asked whether he was tired of hearing how good Michigan was, Campbell replied, “Of course. Especially during a rivalry game. The Team Up North this. The Team Up North that. We heard it all week. We kind of laid low and worked our tails off in practice, had a game plan and executed it.”

Added Haskins, “We didn’t need the revenge tour. We didn’t need the guaranteed win. We know what this game means to our school, to our teammates and to our coaches.”

Dixon enjoys ‘easy’ TD

Johnnie Dixon got banged up early but returned to leave his mark. After Haskins had staked the Buckeyes to a 14-6 lead with TD passes to freshman Chris Olave, he looked for Dixon next.

Haskins didn’t have to look hard — with just over three minutes left in the second quarter, Dixon had rolled out of two-receiver set on the left side to circle over the middle and found himself open. Haskins hit him for the 31-yard TD pass.

“I was the primary, so I know he saw me,” Dixon said. “I couldn’t really see him — I’m short and all those linemen are mighty tall, so I couldn’t really see Dwayne. ‘Is he gonna throw it?’

“But I knew that’s the No. 1 read on that play and I knew he would get it there no problem. … It’s amazing. You work so hard throughout the week, and to have something come, I say, so easy, feels good.”

Vindication for line

Much of the pregame hype centered on whether the Ohio State offensive live could handle the onslaught from a Michigan defensive front, led by Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, that was first nationally in total defense. The Wolverines had no sacks and gave up 567 total yards, including 318 by the pass.

“We did our job,” right tackle Isaiah Prince said. “That’s our job, it’s to go out and score points, the offensive line’s is to block, the receivers’ job is to catch the ball, the running backs’ job is to run.”

But it was as comprehensive a performance as the offense has had, and that’s keeping in mind a 52-51 win at Maryland the week before.

“I think it’s just the preparation, and all the adversity — this team has been through so much adversity this year, I don’t think there is anything anybody can do to stop us,” Prince said. “I think we took that personal, all the adversity we went through, and put it all out today.”

Knox injured late

Ohio State senior right guard Demetrius Knox suffered an unspecified lower leg injury in the closing moments. He had to be taken from the field on a cart, giving the O-H-I-O sign as he left, but otherwise looking forlorn.

He left the locker room on crutches.

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