Rapid Reaction: Michigan breaks Buckeye hex, clinches B1G East
Jim Harbaugh finally has led Michigan to its first Big Ten East Division title. His Wolverines are finally heading to Indianapolis for a crack at a conference title and, with a win there, would book a place in the College Football Playoff.
Most of all, the ultimate “Michigan man” finally defeated Ohio State on a snowy Saturday in Ann Arbor thanks to an old-fashioned rushing performance by Hassan Haskins and crew that would have made Harbaugh’s old coach, Bo Schembechler, proud.
Harbaugh’s Wolverines toppled the Buckeyes 42-27 for Michigan’s first win over its archrival since 2011 (the game was canceled last year after a COVID-19 outbreak).
Haskins ran for 5 touchdowns and his backfield partner, Blake Corum, returned in a big way after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury. Haskins tied the school record for rushing TDs in a game, set by Ron Johnson against Wisconsin in 1968.
The Wolverines got all 6 of their TDs on the ground and rushed for 299 yards, 169 by Haskins and 87 on just 6 carries by Corum.
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who came into the game with 10 sacks on the season to share the B1G lead with teammate David Ojabo, got to Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud 3 times to help UM stifle Ohio State’s lethal passing attack.
OSU, No. 2 in the CFP rankings, got knocked out of Playoff contention and saw its run of 4 consecutive Big Ten championships come to an end. The Buckeyes had beaten the Wolverines 8 years in a row and 15 of the previous 16 meetings.
Stroud hit running back TreVeyon Henderson for a 10-yard TD on a 4th-down swing pass to bring OSU within 35-27 with 4:45 left in the game. That was the second 4th-down conversion on the drive for the Buckeyes. The score also set a record for Henderson, whose 19th TD from scrimmage this season broke a tie with Maurice Clarett (2002) for the most ever by a Buckeyes freshman.
Stroud threw for 382 yards and 2 TDs for the game.
Haskins scored his 4th TD of the day from 2 yards to give UM a 35-20 lead with 9:14 left in the game. He helped Michigan rush for well over 200 yards on the day.
On the first play of the 4th quarter, Stroud hit Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a 10-yard pass to convert on 4th and 4 in the red zone. Three plays later, TreVeyon Henderson scored from 1 yard to close OSU’s deficit to 28-20, capping a 17-yard drive.
No. 5 Michigan started the second half the same way it did the first half, with a touchdown on its first offensive drive. In the third quarter the Wolverines struck quickly, covering 81 yards on 3 runs, including Corum’s 55-yarder. Haskins scored on a 13-yard run on the next play for a 21-13 lead.
On the following UM drive, a shoving match broke out when OSU’s Cameron Brown got entangled with Roman Wilson in the end zone. Wilson grabbed Brown’s legs and Brown threw Wilson’s helmet, with several players on both teams getting involved to add more spice to a rivalry always high in emotion. Brown was flagged for a personal foul and Haskins punched it into the end zone for a 1-yard TD run on the next play for a 28-13 lead.
Stroud threw a ball up for grabs and R.J. Moten nearly intercepted it but dropped it with 40 seconds left in the first half. The Buckeyes took advantage of their second chance on that possession with Noah Ruggles hitting a 30-yard field goal, reducing OSU’s deficit to 14-13 in the final seconds of the half.
Cornelius Johnson’s 37-yard catch from Cade McNamara led to Haskins’ 1-yard TD dive and a 14-10 Wolverines lead with 3:51 left in the second quarter. The Johnson catch was the first deep throw of the day for Michigan, which had mostly been conservative with its playcalling.
The Buckeyes punched it into the end zone on Stroud’s 25-yard TD pass to Garrett Wilson for a 10-7 lead with 9:12 left in the second quarter.
OSU, which entered No. 6 in the FBS in passing offense and No. 1 in total offense, turned to its ground game early. On their second drive, the Buckeyes ran 7 times for 56 yards before Hutchinson sacked Stroud on 3rd down, leading OSU to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Ruggles.
The Wolverines demonstrated their game plan quickly, running very effectively on their first possession. Wide receiver A.J. Henning scored on a 14-yard reverse run to cap a 75-yard, 10-play drive; UM gained 60 yards on the ground including 38 yards on 4 runs by Haskins.
After a 3-and-out for the Buckeyes, Michigan received a punt and started the next drive at the OSU 39-yard line. But the Buckeyes denied UM when safety Bryson Shaw intercepted McNamara at the goal line on 1st down.