A grade card on Ohio State’s 31-20 win over Michigan, which made the 1990s seem like ancient history again:
After a first-quarter meltdown when Michigan’s defensive line dominated Ohio State’s offensive line, the Buckeyes regained their footing in the final three quarters and looked much like the offense which had been highly productive in the previous two weeks. OSU had 350 yards total offense, 226 of it on the ground, after being held to -6 yards in the first quarter.
J.K. Dobbins, who had 101 yards on 15 carries, went over 100 yards for the fourth time in his freshman season. Quarterback J.T. Barrett ran for 67 yards before leaving the game with a knee issue and Mike Weber’s 25-yard touchdown run with 1:44 to play clinched the game. It was Weber’s fifth touchdown in the last three games.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins completed 6 of 7 passes for 94 yards and led three scoring drives that produced 17 unanswered points after he replaced Barrett with six minutes left in the third quarter. He was calm under pressure, which was helped by the offensive line not allowing a sack while he was in the game.
Like the offense, OSU’s defense started slowly and allowed 105 yards in the opening quarter then got stronger as the game went on.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard looked NFL ready with 2.5 sacks of Michigan quarterback John O’Korn, the Wolverines’ No. 3 quarterback when Brandon Peters and Wilton Speight were healthy. Ohio State had five sacks and limited Michigan to 2.8 yards per carry on rushing plays.
Ohio State’s linebackers struggled to cover Michigan’s tight ends, which has been a recurring story line since the Iowa game. However, three of the top four tacklers for the Buckeyes were linebackers Chris Worley, Tuf Borland and Jerome Baker.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-
OSU’s work on special teams was a mixed bag, with good and bad popping up throughout the game.
Denzel Ward had a blocked extra point. But after giving up only one punt return all season – and it was for only one yard – the punt defense team allowed Donovan Peoples-Jones a 42-yard return that set up Michigan’s second touchdown.
Blake Haubeil had a kickoff go out of bounds and Sean Nuernberger was one of two on field goals. Nuernberger connected from 44 yards but missed from 43 yards.
Falling behind 14-0 by the opening minute of the second quarter probably skews the perception of this game a little.
The first quarter was so bad it was hard to forget. But another way to look at it is that after Michigan went in front 14-0, Ohio State outscored the Wolverines 31-6 the rest of the game.
OSU coach Urban Meyer was angry after the game about Barrett being run into by someone on the sideline, which caused a knee problem to flare up later in the game after he was tackled on a running play.
Barrett says he will be ready to play in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin on Saturday. If he can’t play, that would be something for Meyer to be worried about. But Haskins’ performance against Michigan indicates he would not be intimidated on the big stage.