The Ohio State Buckeyes are undefeated, yet will go un rewarded this season.
No shot at a BCS national championship and no opportunity to play in the Big Ten championship game. But for one afternoon in November none of that mattered. A win in The Game againt the rival from the north is the only thing that mattered to the Buckeyes on Saturday. With the 26-21 victory over Michigan though, Ohio State caps a 12-0 season and leaves no question just who is the best team in the Big Ten this season, with the Big Ten Championship Game scheduled for next week.
The game was very much a back-and-forth affair in the first half before Ohio State’s defense calmed things down in the second half. The Buckeyes waltzed right down field on the game’s opening possession, highlighted by a deep pass over the middle form Braxton Miller and capped by a short touchdown run by Carlos Hyde just minutes in to the game. Michigan answered with Devin Gardner completing a pass along the right sideline to Roy Roundtree, who needed just one block to run 75 yards for the touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Gardner gave Michigan a lead early on in the second quarter with a short touchdown run of his own, but Ohio State’s Braxton Miller led the Buckeyes to a late second half touchdown to seemingly seize the momentum with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Philly Brown with 90 seconds until halftime. Little did we know at the time, the next 90 seconds would provide more excitement.
Michigan took the lead when Denard Robinson broke loose form a pair of Buckeye defenders, one coming at him from each side at the same moment, to dash 67 yards for a touchdown and the lead with 40 seconds left in the half. A 52-yard field goal from Ohio State’s Drew Basil though gave the Buckeyes something to hang their specially designed helmets with bright green Buckeye stickers to hang on at the break. And at the break Ohio State’s defense made the adjustments.
Michigan tested Ohio State right out of the half by attempting to go for a first down on a 4th and short on their own side of the field on the opening possession of the second half. Ohio State was not fooled on the option with Robinson under center and stuffed the Wolverines behind the line of scrimmage. Ohio State did not allow much in the second half for Michigan, who were shutout in the second half as the Buckeyes used a pair of Basil field goals to take and build on a lead to inch closer to a perfect season.
A late interception thrown by Gardner gave Ohio State an opportunity to run some clock while, and that is exactly what they did.
Ohio State ends their season without a loss, but due to NCAA sanctions will go no further. In a somewhat ironic twist, the Buckeyes honored their undefeated 2002 team led by coach Jim Tressel, who was a part of the celebration. Nobody will question where Ohio State stands in the Big Ten this season, especially having beaten both schools playing in the Big East championship next week. The time to second-guess administrative decisions is best determined by those following or leading the program. There is little doubt an undefeated Ohio State would not be in the BCS title mix.
As for Michigan, all eyes are set on the bowl season. Where they land remains to be seen, but one thing we do know is that Michigan vs. Ohio State should be a lot of fun to watch in the coming years as these two programs continue to build solid rosters through bitter recruiting battles.