The 112th matchup of storied rivals Michigan and Ohio State did not go as expected. Prior to Saturday, the matchup between the 10th-ranked Wolverines and eighth-ranked Buckeyes was expected to be even and intense.
The first half lived up to that billing, but the second half turned into a one-sided bloodbath. Ohio State outscored Michigan, 28-3, to close out a 42-13 win, its 11th in 12 tries against the Wolverines.
In the wake of the blowout loss, the Daily breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly from Michigan’s regular-season finale.
There truly wasn’t much good on Saturday for the Wolverines, and like a rose, much of the small amount of good came with at least one thorn.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Jake Rudock and redshirt junior wide receiver Jehu Chesson continued to impress and make a case for careers in the NFL. Rudock completed 19 of his 32 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. He now has 2,739 passing yards on the season, a total that just three other Wolverines have matched. With another 261 yards in the bowl game, he could become just the second 3,000-yard passer in school history (John Navarre, 2003).
But thanks to a hard hit by the 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, defensive lineman Joey Bosa, Rudock’s performance will be marred by the shoulder injury he suffered in the fourth quarter. The severity of the injury is not yet known.
On the receiving end of eight of Rudock’s passes was Chesson. One of the Big Ten’s best receivers in the second half of the season, Chesson caught eight passes for 111 yards and Michigan’s lone touchdown.
The Wolverines also shined in secondary. Junior cornerback Jourdan Lewis — a potential All-American — recorded six tackles and his first sack this season, and the pass defense held 2014 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year quarterback J.T. Barrett to just 9-for-15 passing for 113 yards.
Of course, the good pass defense came with the thorn of a putrid run defense. Entering the game fourth in the nation in rushing yards allowed, everything fell apart for the Wolverines. Heisman hopeful running back Ezekiel Elliott broke loose for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, and Barrett added 141 yards and three touchdowns of his own.
In total, all the strong pass defense in the world couldn’t make up for the 369 yards and five touchdowns that the Buckeyes gained on the ground.
On the other side of the ball, Michigan’s 57 yards on 25 carries was, well, bad. After a strong start, all of the Wolverines’ running backs faded in the second half of the season. The longest run Michigan had all game was just eight yards, the lowest single-game high of the season.
Rudock’s injury could be in either ugly or bad, depending on the severity. Though Senior Day might not have been as big for him as it was for more tenured Michigan players, Rudock had embraced what Michigan was all about after being spurned by Iowa, and with him getting better every week, the Michigan community fully embraced him.
But if his career at Michigan were to end on a crippling sack by Bosa — a former high school teammate — it would make for an ugly finish for Rudock.
The Wolverines allowed a season-high 42 points and were outscored 28-3 in the second half, just the second time they had been outscored after halftime all season.
Ultimately, the ugliest part of the game Saturday was the final score. The 29-point loss was the Wolverines’ worst since falling to Notre Dame, 31-0, on Sept. 6, 2014. Saturday’s game against the Buckeyes was so dominant that thousands of red-clad Ohio State fans descended to the bottom of the Michigan Stadium’s bleachers to chant, dance and celebrate the victory before the game was even over.
With 11 wins since 2003, the Buckeyes continued their most dominant stretch over Michigan in history, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh begins his tenure in Ann Arbor 0-2 against the Wolverines’ rivals.