Saturday, November 22, 2008
OSU Routs Michigan 42-7, Buckeyes Get Big 10 Share
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It took five big plays to give Ohio State an unprecedented fifth straight win over rival Michigan. Noted Wolverines nemesis Chris "Beanie" Wells had two of those, including a 59-yard touchdown run and 134 yards rushing to help the 10th-ranked Buckeyes beat their archrivals 42-7 Saturday, the first time in 105 meetings that they've strung together five wins.
Ohio State's margin was the biggest by either team in the rivalry since Woody Hayes was prowling and growling on the sidelines in a 50-14 rout of Michigan in 1968.
Freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor threw two TD passes, Brian Hartline caught two scoring passes and Dan Herron ran for two more scores to give the Buckeyes (10-2, 7-1) their third win in a row and a share of their fourth straight Big Ten title.
"If you watched their films, the teams they played did not run four yards, five yards, four yards, five yards," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, now 7-1 against Michigan. "They either ran minus-1 or hit big ones, whether it was run or pass. ... Sometimes they have overcommitted and some people have hit some big ones."
The lopsided defeat put a fitting cap on the worst season in Michigan's 129 years of intercollegiate football.
In coach Rich Rodriguez's first season, the Wolverines (3-9, 2-6) lost the most games in school history, missed a bowl trip for the first time in 34 years and had the first losing season in 41 years.
Asked how the season would be remembered, Rodriguez said, "Hopefully (we will) remember it as a blip on the screen, a one-time happening."
Junior tailback Brandon Minor, who scored Michigan's only touchdown, said: "You can't really blame Rich Rod because everybody on the team did not buy in like they're supposed to. We have a couple of guys not going hard. We'll correct that most definitely. That ain't going to happen on my watch as a senior."
Michigan largely held its own — except for those five big plays.
After the Buckeyes' first three possessions ended in an interception and two three-and-outs, Wells burst through a hole on the first play and went untouched 59 yards for the score.
Early in the second quarter, Pryor looped a deep ball over the middle that Hartline ran under and took 53 yards past safety Stevie Brown for a 14-0 lead.
Michigan punched it in on fourth-and-goal to go into halftime down just 14-7, but two long drives to start the first half ended with punts.
After the first punt pinned Ohio State at its 9, Wells went 42 yards on the first play, and Herron went for a 51-yard score on the next play.
Rodriguez called Wells "a first-rounder" in the NFL draft. Told that Wells was only a junior, Rodriguez smirked and repeated, "He's a first-rounder."
Tressel said the game turned on those two long runs.
"The turning point was when they punted us down to the 9 and then two plays later we scored," he said. "That was huge. A big run by Beanie, and then a big run by 'Boom" Herron. That really made a difference."
Zoltan Mesko's second punt of the half, a low line drive, was returned 80 yards by Ray Small — who missed the last two games while in Tressel's doghouse for unspecified problems. Pryor threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Brian Robiskie on the very next play and the Buckeyes were up 28-7 after just three offensive snaps in the second half.
Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan, who struggled to throw the ball accurately all day, left briefly with an injury and was replaced by Justin Feagin, who was also ineffective.
Sheridan completed eight of 24 passes for 87 yards, and was sacked twice.
The Wolverines made life tough on Pryor early. Brown intercepted a weak pass in the left flat and returned it 34 yards, but the offense went backward and K.C. Lopata shanked a 35-yard field-goal attempt.
Pryor finished just 5-for-13 for 120 yards and two TDs passing, and was held to minus-7 yards rushing.
But with Ohio State making the most of its big plays, that was more than enough.
The Buckeyes added two more fourth-quarter scores, on Herron's 2-yard run and an 18-yard TD pass from senior Todd Boeckman — who was replaced as the starter by Pryor in the fourth game.