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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Buckeyes Hammer Michigan 37-7
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

OSU_Mich5Ohio State overpowered the Michigan Wolverines 37-7 Saturday at Ohio Stadium, and claimed a share of the Big Ten title for the sixth straight year. The Buckeyes sent off another class of seniors unbeaten against the Wolverines as Jim Tressel improved his record to 9-1 against Michigan with his seventh consecutive win in the series.

The OSU defense came up big when it counted, holding the Wolverines without a point on their two long first quarter drives, while the Buckeyes were struggling to get going on offense. Michigan turned the ball over on downs, and again on a Denard Robinson fumble, allowing the Buckeyes to build a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

When Michigan scored a touchdown to draw within three at 10-7, the Buckeyes answered immediately on Jordan Hall's 85-yard kickoff return TD, and the defense would let it get no closer from that point on. OSU cornerback Travis Howard had an interception and a fumble recovery as the Buckeyes won the turnover battle 3-1.

Terrelle Pryor threw touchdown passes to Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posy, and Dan Herron rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown, as the Buckeyes scored all their points in the middle two quarters and coasted home on the strength of a defense that allowed just one sustained Michigan drive in the second half.

Robinson, the mercurial Wolverine quarterback, rushed for 105 yards on 18 carries and completed 8 of 18 passes for 87 yards, but he suffered dislocated fingers on his non-throwing hand on a  hit by Adam Bellamy, and after trying to play through it, went to the sidelines for good in the 3rd quarter.

A Date in the Sugar vs. the SEC?

With the convincing victory, Ohio State (11-1, 7-1) is virtually assured an invitation to one of the BCS bowl games. They entered the game ranked No. 8, and two of the teams ranked above them (Boise St., LSU) lost this weekend. Asked after the game about making the BCS cut, Tressel replied, "Yeah, I think we're a top ten team...There's 10 BCS teams, right?"

Right, Coach. And while the cherished Rose Bowl bid belongs to Wisconsin, the Buckeyes are probably headed to the Sugar Bowl where the opponent could be Arkansas, or possibly South Carolina, should Auburn lose to the Gamecocks next week in the SEC Championship Game.

Rick Ticked

OSU_Mich14It was less jovial in the visitors' locker room, where embattled Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez was testy answering questions concerning his future in Ann Arbor.

"I'm ticked," said Rodriguez, “What, do you want me to go jump out there and hold hands with all the Buckeye fans and sing Kumbaya? I wish we would have played better"

Someone should tell Rodriguez that it's "Carmen, Ohio", the OSU alma mater, that the Buckeyes sing with their coach after each game, but whatever....he may not have to learn any more about it. The game wasn't even over before the speculation began swirling about whether Jim Harbaugh could be lured from Stanford to take over the helm in Ann Arbor.

Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon is on record as saying he will wait to do his evaluation of the program after Michigan's bowl game, but for the sake of recruiting, if the decision is going to be thumbs down, the university may decide to make their move sooner instead of later.

A Slow Start, Then a 2nd Quarter Explosion

OSU_Mich12While Robinson and the Wolverines were putting together 10 and 12-play drives in the first quarter, the Buckeyes were going three-and-out on their first two possessions. A 39-yard completion to Sanzenbacher got them going on their third try though, and a 21-yarder to Jake Stoneburner put the Buckeyes in position to open the scoring with a 33-yard Devin Barclay field goal three plays into the 2nd quarter.

An 18-yard punt by Michigan set the Buckeyes up at the Wolverine 35-yard line, and they would convert five plays later on a slant to Sanzenbacher from seven yards out for the score. With the score 10-0, the Wolverines would mount their only touchdown drive of the afternoon, as Robinson rushed for 42 yards and threw for 21 more in the 10-play 80-yard march. They were halfway through the 2nd quarter, and within three points, but whatever confidence they gained from that drive would be short-lived.

OSU sophomore tailback Jordan Hall took the ensuing kickoff at the 15-yard line and broke past a great block by fellow-kick returner Jaamal Berry and sprinted down the left sideline. He cut back inside to avoid the kicker and breezed in for the score to make it 17-7. If there was one turning point in the game, that was it.

Michigan drove to the OSU 37, but turned it over on downs once again, and the Bucks would be able to add another touchdown before the half on the strength of two big third-down completions by Pryor. Sanzenbacher made a great leaping grab of a Pryor pass for a 25-yard gain on a 3rd-and-11 play, and on the next series, Pryor rolled right on 3rd-and-5 from the Michigan 33, and found Posey on a short crossing route that the junior wideout was able to turn into six points with a headfirst dive into the end zone.

One more chance to add to the 24-7 lead before halftime went south when Pryor threw his only interception of the day trying to force the ball in to Posey at the goal line on a 3rd and 18 play. Tressel took the blame for that call later, saying "I got too greedy".

Defense Takes Over

OSU_Mich7In addition to knocking the Wolverines' star quarterback out of the game, the OSU defense punished the Michigan offense with brutal hits all day long. Ohio State held the Big Ten's best rushing team about 80 yards below their per game average, and allowed them just eight first downs rushing. When OSU defensive backs weren't knocking away passes, the Michigan receivers were dropping them.

The 24-7 halftime lead might have seemed safe had we not seen Alabama and Boise St. lose identical leads in Friday's Top Ten action. But the Buckeyes quickly snuffed out any hopes the Wolverines had of a similar comeback when Travis Howard picked off Tate Forcier on the first play of the second half, and started Ohio State on another scoring drive.

A 21-yard Pryor completion to Posey (5 rec, 82 yds) put the ball in Michigan territory, and four plays later Herron bolted over the right side, broke a tackle, and dashed 32 yards to paydirt and a 31-7 OSU lead. Herron's afternoon was a tale of two contrasting halves. The junior tailback had -1 yards on five first half carries before exploding for a 176-yard second half.

Herron had a shot at an OSU record on the next possession when the Buckeyes were backed up on their own 2-yard line after a Wolverine punt. He took the hand-off over the left side, broke a tackle at the line, and found clear sailing down the left side. He went into the end zone untouched, but Dane Sanzenbacher, who had been blocking the lone Michigan defender with a shot at Herron all the way down the field, was called for a phantom holding penalty at the 9-yard line. Herron was credited with an 89-yard run, which still tied the OSU record, and the Buckeyes settled for three points.

More Officiating Nonsense

That was just one example of some curious officiating in this game. The zebras also took exception to the OSU players celebrating their touchdowns by forming an "O" with their hands, as DeVier Posey and Mike Adams (on Herron's TD) were both penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for this seemingly innocuous hand gesture. (It could have been three times, since Hall did it after his kickoff return TD.)

Clearly this was something the OSU players had cooked up in advance, since the thumbs and index fingers on their white gloves were blackened to make the "O" stand out on the white background. Tressel showed the obligatory anger on the sidelines after each call, but the OSU players seemed less than totally concerned about how their behavior was hurting the team.

Sanzenbacher acted like he wasn't sure what the problem was when reporters asked him if it was the "O" symbol that drew the infractions...

"I think they said that was what it was. They didn't want any hand gestures or anything like that and just celebrate with your teammates. So I think it's safe to say we will never wear gloves with anything on them again."

I have no doubt that there's probably a rule against symbolic gestures like this, and the referees may have been doing exactly the right thing according to the letter of the rule book. To this, I have just one thing to say: "Curse you, you joyless curmudgeons of the NCAA!" That is all.

Seniors Shine

OSU_Mich2Several senior Buckeyes made the most of their last appearance in the Horseshoe with standout performances. Defensive backs Jermale Hines and Chimdi Chekwa, and linebackers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle had eight tackles apiece to tie for the team lead.

Chekwa's day was notable, as all eight of his stops were solos. Hines was a key to the pass defense as well as being a reliable run-stuffer. He broke up three passes with one of his better games in coverage. Rolle had two TFL included in his total for the day.

Two more seniors, Devon Torrence and Cam Heyward had six stops each, and both made their presence felt all afternoon.

Sanzenbacher finished his OSU career in style with three catches for 71 yards, including a touchdown, and his best play of the day might have been his downfield blocking on Herron's long run.

Devin Barclay had 13 points on three field goals and four PAT's. The senior kicker didn't miss an extra point all season, and with just the bowl game left to play, he leads the Big Ten in scoring with 115 points.


OSU Athletic Communications - Box Score and Complete Game Stats

ESPN Recap



photo credits: Dan Harker and Jim Davidson -

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