A grade card on Ohio State’s 30-27 double overtime win over its biggest rival, Michigan, on Saturday. The view from the summit of the mountain was spectacular but there were a few stumbles in the climb to the top.
After moving the ball well before missing a field goal on its first possession of the game, Ohio State’s offense went into a deep sleep which it did not come out of until it was almost too late.
The Buckeyes gained 72 yards on their first series of the game and then picked up only 81 yards over the next 2 1/2 quarters. The offensive line struggled for much of the game, including allowing eight sacks of quarterback J.T. Barrett. OSU converted only 3 of 16 third-down plays.
But in the fourth quarter, it was like someone had flipped a switch. Ohio State gained 177 yards overall in the final quarter and overtime after having only 153 yards of offense in the first three quarters. It had 110 yards rushing in the final quarter plus overtime after running for only 96 yards until then.
Barrett, who was 9 of 23 for 57 yards in the first three quarters, connected on 6 of 9 passes in the fourth quarter and overtime for 67 yards. The intermediate and deep passing game was mostly ineffective, but in the fourth quarter and overtime Barrett had completions of 16 yards, 14 yards and 13 yards.
Ohio State’s defense scored one touchdown on an interception by Malik Hooker, set up another one on a pick by Jerome Baker and recovered a fumble at its own two-yard line. It kept Ohio State in the game by holding Michigan scoreless until the offense began to show some signs of life in the fourth quarter.
After going up 17-7 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, Michigan did not score in the last 15:37 of regulation time.
Hooker’s interception was the seventh one OSU’s defense has returned for a touchdown this season and the third he has taken to the end zone this year. Freshman Davon Hamilton came up big in the big game with seven tackles and a fumble recovery.
OSU’s defense held Michigan to 91 yards rushing, an average of 2.1 yards per carry. The Wolverines had only one running play that gained more than nine yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
With two missed field goals from short range and a fake punt that went terribly wrong, OSU’s special teams would have shouldered much of the blame if the Buckeyes had lost. They also let Jabrill Peppers get loose for a 44-yard kickoff return, which helped Michigan score its first touchdown.
But after missing twice, Tyler Durbin kicked a 23-yard field goal with one second left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Punter Cameron Johnston averaged 46.0 yards per punt.
It was one of the most memorable Ohio State-Michigan games in the long history of the rivarly. The fan experience, especially for Ohio State fans, was off the charts. But OSU certainly wants to be sharper the next time it plays, hopefully in the College Football Playoff.