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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Buckeyes Fall To Michigan...Finally
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

Braxton_Mich2It had to happen eventually.

Michigan finally ended their seven-year streak of futility against Ohio State with a thrilling 40-34 win in front of 114,132 Saturday in Ann Arbor. Denard Robinson played a near-flawless game at quarterback for the Wolverines, and Braxton Miller’s 335 yards of total offense for Ohio State wasn’t enough to overcome the Buckeyes’ defensive struggles.

The Buckeyes took an early lead at 7-0, and led 24-23 at the half, but Robinson drove the Wolverines to a touchdown following the second half kickoff and the Ugly Hats would not trail after that point. The loss was Ohio State’s third straight as they finish with a 6-6 mark, 3-5 in conference play. Michigan ends the season with a perfect 8-0 home record, and their 10-2 overall mark could land them an at-large BCS berth.

Buckeye players revealed after the game that they were addressed in Columbus by Jim Tressel before boarding the buses for the ride to Ann Arbor Friday afternoon. They described it as an emotional and motivational talk, and several players reported wearing the initials “LF” and “JT” on their wristbands for this game, in honor of Tressel and Luke Fickell. The program and its followers now look ahead with great anticipation to the announcement of Urban Meyer as the new coach, but Fickell remains highly-regarded by players and administrators alike, and he will reportedly be offered an opportunity to stay on with Meyer’s staff.

Robinson_Mich1Experience Trumps Youth at QB

Robinson accounted for five Michigan touchdowns, rushing for two and throwing for three more while rolling up 342 yards of total offense without throwing an interception. He was 14 of 17 passing, and proved as elusive as ever in rushing for 170 yards on 26 carries. He repeatedly frustrated an OSU defense that was desperately trying to get a stop at crucial times. The fact that Michigan punted only twice in the game tells you how that went most of the day.

As productive as Miller was, he left some points on the field with several errant throws, including an overthrow of a wide open DeVier Posey (pictured below) in the final minute that might have won the game for the Bucks. Miller was 14 of 25 passing for 235 yards and two touchdowns, including a 54-yard strike to Philly Brown that opened the scoring on the first OSU possession, and a 43-yard throw to Posey that gave the Buckeyes the lead at the half.

Miller also missed an open Posey for what would have been an touchdown in the second quarter. He continues to dazzle with his running though, and OSU fans can scarcely hide their excitement thinking about what Urban Meyer will be able to accomplish with a more seasoned Miller over the next few years. Watching  a maturing Robinson in action is a glimpse into the future for Braxton, and their match-up in Columbus a year from now should be something to see....again.

Posey_Overthrown_MichIn Jim Bollman’s last regular season game as offensive coordinator at OSU, he opened up the playbook with some screens and some throws to the tight end, in addition to the overall focus on throwing the ball down the field and deep. Granted, this is not the same group we saw in September...the return of Posey and a more comfortable Miller make those calls easier to execute...but you have to wonder where the aggressiveness on offense has been for the first 11 games, and what difference it might have made in a few of those frustrating losses.

On to the Urban Meyer Era.....

Defense Down

It’s hard to blame the offense for this loss though. No one expected them to put 34 points on the board. This one was on an OSU defense that has struggled all year after losing seven starters off the 2010 team, and another important starter (Nate Williams) to a season-long injury. The last time Ohio State gave up 40 points in a game, Urban Meyer was on the opposite sideline as the Florida Gators hung 41 on Ohio State in the BCS title game in January of 2007.

Luke Fickell’s defense began the game without regulars Andrew Sweat and Christian Bryant, and then Sweat’s replacement Ryan Shazier got banged up and played hurt the rest of the way. By the end, Ohio State was down to their third-string safeties, and Shazier literally limping to the finish line. Michigan wisely picked on the Buckeyes’ weakest links, and had success going down the middle at the inexperienced spots in the secondary, and rushing at the edges of the defense and away from the strength of the OSU defensive line.

Posey_Mich1One Comeback Short

Ohio State broke a streak of three straight games in which they fell behind early by getting on the board first. Philly Brown broke wide open down the middle and hauled in Miller’s pass for a 54-yard score to break the ice. But Michigan answered on a 41-yard dash around left end by Robinson to tie the game, and then a safety and a 26-yard TD pass to Junior Hemingway put the Wolves on top 16-7 after a quarter.

OSU drew within six on a Drew Basil field goal after Miller overthrew Posey in the end zone, and then the Buckeyes grabbed the lead at 17-16 on a spectacular run by Miller from 19 yards out. The Wolverines came right back with a 9-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Robinson going in untouched from the 6-yard line, and the lead changed hands again.

The Buckeyes would assume their last lead of the day just before the half when Miller rolled right and threw back across his body, down the middle to a streaking Posey, who hauled it in for a 43-yard touchdown. The back-and-forth continued on the first second half possession for Michigan, with Robinson again connecting for the score, this time to Martavious Odoms from 20 yards out, a completion made possible by the complete absence of an Ohio State pass rush, and a confused OSU secondary.

A muffed punt snap by Michigan set the Buckeyes up on the UM 30-yard line, but the Buckeyes couldn’t convert for seven after having a 1st-and-goal inside the five, and Fickell settled for another Basil field goal to make it 30-27.

With the Buckeyes within three and desperate for a stop early in the 4th quarter, the defense once again couldn’t stop Robinson and the Wolverines. Michigan took just four minutes to drive 75 yards for another score, and it looked like the Bucks had breathed their last gasp. But Miller hit his tight ends Jake Stoneburner and Reid Fragel once each on the ensuing drive, and the Buckeyes took just 1:23 and five plays to go 80 yards for another TD, and again draw within three points.

One Last Chance

Ohio State finally got a call or two to go their way with Michigan trying to put the game away in the final minutes, and a bizarre series of events gave the Buckeyes one last shot at the win. An apparent TD run by Robinson was overturned by replay, and with 3rd and goal from the one foot-line, a TD run by Robinson was nullified by two major penalties, forcing a field goal to make it 40-34. That left just over two minutes for Miller and the Buckeyes to mount a final drive.

Miller stretched for a first down on a 4th down play on the first series, but the game would end before they got another one. On 3rd and 6 from their own 35-yard line, and the seconds ticking down under a minute, Miller spiked the ball to stop the clock, a call that the coaches later said was Miller’s decision, but that Miller claimed came from the sidelines. Either way, it set up another 4th down try, and Miller’s pass glanced off the hands of Devin Smith and was picked off to seal the victory for the Wolverines.

Fickell_MichStay Tuned

Ohio State’s postseason plans are on hold for the moment. There is talk that the Gator Bowl would like to match them up against Florida, but bowl game preparations are the last thing on the minds of the Ohio State people. The NCAA could still rule them ineligible for postseason play, and all the OSU people want now is to know their future, and to put the nightmare of 2011 behind them as Meyer takes over. They have been trying to get the NCAA to expedite the final decision on sanctions, and it’s still possible they will hear something this week.

A team meeting for players has been called for Sunday evening, and an announcement of the Meyer hire is expected within the next several days.

It has been almost 3000 days since they were able to celebrate a victory over Ohio State in Ann Arbor, and it took a disaster of a season in Columbus for them to celebrate this one. Brady Hoke and the Wolverines are to be congratulated for breathing life back into the greatest rivalry in college football. Urban Meyer and the older, wiser Buckeyes will be waiting for them in Columbus next November.



OSU Official Box and Stats



on Twitter at @dwismar


(photo credits: Jim Davidson, Dan Harker -


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