COLUMBUS — There’s overmatched.
And then, there was Michigan-Ohio State this afternoon.
The Buckeyes picked Michigan apart 42-7 at Ohio Stadium to deliver the Wolverines’ fifth straight defeat in the rivalry, the Buckeyes’ longest winning streak in the rivalry.
Trailing by 14 at the end of the third quarter, freshman Justin Feagin stepped behind center to play quarterback on third and long. Feagin, barely recruited to play quarterback, has not thrown a pass at Michigan. He didn’t on that play and was tackled for a loss.
On Ohio State’s next possession, freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor also faced a third-and-long situation. Instead of buckling under Michigan’s pressure, Pryor slipped away from would-be tacklers on a playground-style scramble before finding his receiver downfield for a 23-yard gain to keep the drive alive and set up another Buckeye score. Even if it would have been a game of touch football, Pryor still would not have been down.
Pyror, who was heavily recruited by Michigan before choosing to play for the Buckeyes, became the first true freshman starting quarterback to win a game in the rivalry.
And with mismatches like that, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez lost his first game in the rivalry to end Michigan’s first bowl-less season in 34 years.
The same problems that have plagued Michigan (2-6, 3-9) throughout Rodriguez’s first year led to their demise in Columbus.
Ohio State (7-1, 10-2) scored three touchdowns of longer than 40 yards. Blown coverages, missed tackles and the Michigan defense’s inability to get off the field on third downs led to big Buckeye gains all day. Two touchdowns were on the first play of the drive, and another was on the second play.
During the Northwestern game, the Wolverine defense already set the school record for most points allowed per game by a defense. Take into account the 42 points the defense allowed today, that makes the average 28.9, which is 5.1 points worse than 23.8 points allowed by the 1962 defense.
And once again, Michigan wasn’t able to respond to the big plays, allowing at least 21 unanswered for the sixth time this season. After the Wolverines scored a touchdown on a one-yard Brandon Minor run in the second quarter, the Buckeyes scored 28 straight to close the game.
The Buckeyes more than doubled Michigan’s offensive output on the afternoon, 416 yards to 198.
Erratic quarterback play.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Nick Sheridan threw for 87 yards and completed eight of his 24 passes. It was the fifth time this season completed fewer than half his passes and the fourth time the Wolverines threw for less than 100 yards. Michigan’s first drive of longer than two minutes came midway through the second quarter.
When Sheridan went down with a sprained ankle in the third quarter, Feagin played in his place, didn’t attempt a pass and couldn’t get a first down. Redshirt freshman Steven Threet missed the game with a shoulder injury. He finished the season with the fewest touchdowns, lowest completion percentage and fewest yards of Michigan’s top quarterback since the late 1980s.
Michigan lost two returns on fumbles.
The teams exchanged fruitless possessions for much of the first quarter until Ohio State running back Chris “Beanie” Wells broke a 59-yard touchdown with just under four minutes left to give the Buckeyes the early edge. He finished the game with 134 yards on 15 carries. The Wolverines squandered an early chance after junior safety Stevie Brown intercepted Pryor on the Buckeyes’ first possession and returned the ball to the Ohio State 13-yard line. But the Wolverines couldn’t move the ball and fifth-year senior kicker K.C. Lopata missed a field-goal attempt, his fifth miss of the season.
The Wolverines moved backward on that possession and that pattern continued throughout the quarter. Michigan finished the quarter with minus-1 yards of total offense, not including 10 yards of offensive.
Four plays into the second quarter, the Buckeyes doubled their advantage on a 53-yard pass from Pryor to Brian Hartline. Minor’s touchdown was the only other score of the half. Pryor finished the game with 5-for-13 for 120 yards with two touchdowns and an interceptions.
But in the second half, it was all Buckeyes. Running back Dan Herron broke a 49-yard touchdown run to put the Buckeyes up 14, to cap a two-play 91-yard drive. It was his first of two touchdowns on the day. His secand came on a two-yard run at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Pryor threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Hartline late in the third quarter, and Hartline caught one from back-up quarterback Todd Boeckman at the beginning of the fourth quarter to end the scoring.
The loss drops Michigan’s record at Ohio Stadium to 21-22-1. It is the Buckeyes’ fourth straight home win against Michigan.