Repeat performance | Michigan routs Ohio State, again ends Buckeyes' Big Ten title hopes

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

For the second straight year, Michigan brought misery to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

As hard as it is for the Buckeyes to swallow, Saturday's 45-23 loss to their archrivals was more painful than last year's loss.

In 2021, the Wolverines had home field, snowy weather that favored them and a Buckeye team weakened by illness. That 42-27 loss could be written off as a blip, not necessarily a signal that the rivalry had swung back to Michigan.

Replay:Michigan beats Ohio State, Wolverines remain undefeated | Final: Michigan 45, OSU 23

Ohio State band:Bach in business, the Ohio State band performs one last crescendo at halftime vs. Michigan

But to lose in a blowout in ideal weather to the underdog Wolverines at Ohio Stadium, where Ohio State hadn't lost to the Wolverines since 2000? Armageddon has arrived.

The Buckeyes' undefeated season has ended, and they will watch Michigan (12-0) play for its second straight Big Ten title, though next weekend's game is probably more than Ohio State can stomach. The Buckeyes (11-1) might still have an outside chance to qualify for the College Football Playoff, but save for a chance for a rematch against the Wolverines, that feels hollow for now.

Nov 26, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Michigan Wolverines linebacker Michael Barrett (23) waves the Michigan flag following their 45-23 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

"This was not the outcome we envisioned," said Ohio State coach Ryan Day. "I thought we had a really good (week) of preparation. I thought we were building towards playing really well in this game. We were playing really well in the first half. I felt really good going into the second half, and we just didn't execute well enough in the second half."

Michigan, ranked No. 3 in the CFP standings, won with a formula few expected. The Wolverines like to bludgeon opponents on the ground, which it did last year in running for 297 yards in Ann Arbor. Star running back Blake Corum started after injuring a knee last week but left after only two carries. Ohio State, ranked No. 2, held Michigan's running game in check in the first half before collapsing in the fourth quarter.

Donovan Edwards provided the knockout punch with a 75-yard touchdown run for Michigan's final score and added an 85-yarder to add further insult.

Earlier, it was the Wolverines' ability to exploit OSU's season-long pass-coverage issues for three long scores that allowed the Wolverines to hang in and take the lead when it looked like the Buckeyes might grab the upper hand.

"They were trying to stop our identity of playing smash-mouth football," said Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy. "They were trying to stop the run, so they let passes get deep."

Michigan receiver Cornelius Johnson catches a touchdown pass.

Cornelius Johnson had touchdowns of 69 and 75 yards from McCarthy in the first half. Those plays kept Ohio State from having a bigger lead than the 20-17 one the Buckeyes had at halftime.

Michigan took the lead for good on another big play to score on its opening possession of the second half. The Wolverines drove to the OSU 45 when tight end Colston Loveland slipped behind safety Lathan Ransom for a 45-yard score to take a 24-20 lead.

Michigan then drove 80 yards in 15 plays to take a 31-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. Safety Ronnie Hickman was called for pass interference on a third-down incompletion in the end zone to set up a McCarthy 3-yard keeper for the score.

Ohio State tight end Cade Stover is unable to catch a pass while being defended by Michigan linebacker Jaylen Harrell.

Ohio State's offense couldn't respond. The Buckeyes managed only one field goal in the second half as C.J. Stroud's Heisman Trophy bid took a blow. He completed 31 of 48 passes for 349 yards with two interceptions that ended the Buckeyes' final two drives.

“I think when you looked at the first half,  physically, we were playing very well up front, especially on defense," Day said. "Then, in the second half, it was more of the same: too many big plays. You look at the game, it was way too many big plays.”

Michigan receiver Cornelius Johnson catches a pass behind Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg.

The game couldn't have started any better for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes took the opening kickoff and drove 81 yards for a touchdown.

But Ohio State found the end zone only one more time. A fourth-down incompletion at the Michigan 34 ended one drive, and others fizzled quickly.

The Buckeyes didn't attempt a deep pass until late in the first half, and it paid off. Marvin Harrison Jr., who dropped his first pass of the season earlier in the half, got behind Michigan's Gemon Green for a 42-yard touchdown to put Ohio State ahead 20-17.

Michigan receiver Cornelius Johnson avoids a tackle by Ohio State defensive end Jack Sawyer on his way to a 69-yard touchdown.

Then came the disastrous second half, which will start another long year of regret and soul-searching in Columbus.

“I’m going to obviously have to look and see where all the breakdowns were," Day said. "But it wasn’t just in one area. Missed tackle on the first play, and then we got beat on a double move on the second play. And then there were some missed fits on the run game."

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