By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
The #19 Michigan Wolverines had a shot to ruin a perfect season in their arch-rival’s stadium and an outside shot at a BCS bowl. That didn’t happen, and probably won’t now as the Wolverines turned the ball over four times, falling to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 26-21 in Columbus.
“Too many turnovers. We had three (actually four) turnovers in the second half,” said senior captain Denard Robinson. “In order for you to win this game, you gotta have control of the ball.”
As for the result, Michigan didn’t start or end well. On the first drive of the game, the Buckeyes scored, taking the early lead, but Michigan wasn’t going to let it stand.
Carlos Hyde took the ball for the Buckeyes and encompassed 146 yards on 26 carries for that lone touchdown. He may have had one touchdown on the day, but he accounted for many short yardage plays, on second and third downs, pushing the Wolverine defense to the brink.
“In the end, we had too many four and five yard runs bleed through their (offensive line),” said Head Coach Brady Hoke.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t execute,” said senior safety Jordan Kovacs, who seemed the most upset after his regular season career comes to an end with a loss.
The Michigan offense was looking good on their second drive after a quick three and out.
Surprisingly, Robinson started for the Wolverines at quarterback, but it was a wishy-washy switch throughout the game, as Gardner would come in and Robinson would come out.
We didn’t see much of the Gardner-Robinson package in the backfield, which some say, hurt the Wolverines chances of beating the Buckeyes.
The largest crowd in “The Game’s” history, 105,899 were able to witness the first perfect season for Ohio State since 2006, the last time they went to the National Championship.
When they went that year, they lost. This year, this is it for them. The Buckeyes season is now over. Michigan still has another game to play. All of the Buckeye fans can thank Jim Tressel for the NCAA bowl ban, after allegations came forward that players sold memorabilia for tattoos and other items.
Tressel and the 2002 Championship team were honored during the game. The crowd cheered as he was lifted up and given a standing ovation. All of that, for a man who’s the reason their season ended Saturday.
Quarterback Braxton Miller of the Buckeyes was hit hard and often, being sacked four times for losses. The first hit came from Jibreel Black, on the blind side.
Jake Ryan contributed on one, as well as a fumble on the same hit. It was like a bowling ball hitting a pin at the end of the lane as you can hear the sound of the pin getting shattered.
“It hurt,” said Roy Roundtree, when asked about the loss, who caught a 75-yard touchdown reception that tied the game at seven (after the PAT). All momentum was taken away after that score, but a long drive by the Buckeyes ran that momentum back up at home.
The first quarter ended with a Drew Basil 41-yard field goal, who was the difference on the scoreboard today. He kicked four of five field goals which helped the Buckeyes to the win.
Michigan responded to the field goal in the second quarter with a touchdown, re-taking the lead. Gardner found the end zone from two yards out after a 25-yard drive.
The defense found themselves on the next OSU drive, but the offense couldn’t follow suit right after. It looked like the Buckeyes were going to go into halftime with the lead after a 14-yard pass from Braxton Miller to Philly Brown.
That didn’t happen, and on two plays, Robinson accounted for 75-yards in two plays, the important one being a 67-yard touchdown run in just :50 seconds.
The lead was still in favor of the Wolverines even though Basil kicked a 52-yard field goal at halftime.
From then on, the game started to shift. The Buckeyes went into the locker room with the last points of the first half.
The only points of the third quarter came from Basil’s foot, a 28-yard field on their first possession of the quarter. Basil would miss a 39-yard field goal on their very next drive, but it wasn’t the lone difference.
A final field goal in the fourth quarter again by Basil, this time a 25-yarder, capped the game, as Michigan couldn’t find the rhythm that they had earlier in the first half.
As the clock wound down the final seconds of the game, fans rushed the field, pushing and shoving many of the Wolverines players, flipping them off, trying to tackle them, showing no class whatsoever. Hoke couldn’t get to Urban Meyer to shake hands, who mentioned to the media that “…it’s not a story,” after the press conference.
That kind of epitomized the day, as the Buckeyes accounted for nine penalties on the day for 74 yards, while Michigan only had five for 54 yards. It was a yellow-flag ridden game, the way a rivalry, especially this one, should be played.
Michigan will meet on Monday at 4:00pm, and then go from there, as they await their bowl bid in the postseason. As for Ohio State, they head into their offseason, with a perfect season, 12-0, without a precious bowl game, quite possibly would’ve went to the National Championship, if it wasn’t for Tressel.
Stay tuned to MichiganJournal.org for updates on the Wolverines postseason, and as always, Go Blue!
To read the original article that appeared online only in The Michigan Journal, on Saturday, November 24, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org