The Game again became another stain on Jim Harbaugh and That Team Up North.
Doubted for weeks of this season’s second half, Ohio State made as commanding a statement as any team in the nation with its overpowering throttling of fourth-ranked Michigan, 62-39, Saturday afternoon inside the sold-out Horseshoe.
How did the Buckeyes punctuate their return to the Big Ten Championship game and give plenty of study materials for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee? Dive inside the Buckeyes’ romp here with “Moments That Mattered” from Ohio State’s latest domination in The Game.
BLOCK THAT KICK
Ohio State had again seized control and momentum, but it turned this contest into a de facto blowout with a magnificent special teams play.
As Chris Olave blocked Will Hart’s punt from inside the Wolverines’ territory, the ball ricocheted directly into the air like a weather balloon, where Sevyn Banks cradled it like an egg toss and raced away from everyone but his jubilant teammates to lift the Buckeyes to a 34-19 lead.
It was a significant special teams moment for the Buckeyes, who had seen their own unit set up the Wolverines with a short, 9-yard field near the close of the first half after a botched kickoff return.
HASKINS BLOWS BY BREES
Dwayne Haskins punctuated Ohio State hanging more than half-a-hundred on the Wolverines with his fourth touchdown pass of the afternoon inside the game’s final 10 minutes when he found K.J. Hill all alone for a 55-32 lead.
Haskins’ toss lifted his season total to 40 and snapped former Purdue quarterback current NFL icon Drew Brees’ 1998 mark of 39. The Buckeyes now own two of the Big Ten’s top three season touchdown passing marks, with J.T. Barrett sitting in third place at 35 in a single year. After another takeaway from the Buckeyes’ defense, Haskins added his fifth scoring strike for a 62-32 bulge.
Fox’s broadcast team emphasized the obvious; that Haskins should be in New York in a couple of weeks for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
FROM PARRIS … WITH JETS
Ohio State took its most commanding lead of the day as senior superstar Pariss Campbell showed the plodding Wolverines what track speed is in the Big Ten.
Taking a sublimely executed misdirection jet sweep, Campbell moved left to right and picked up a key pair of blocks from Johnnie Dixon and Rashod Berry on the right flank. Once Campbell split that crease, Michigan might as well have been running with cinderblocks on its turf shoes. The Wolverines had no one, even defenders with would-be angles, who could catch up to Campbell.
WEAPONS GALORE FOR BUCKEYES OFFENSE:
Michigan entered the game with the nation’s top passing defense and one of the stingiest scoring defenses in all of college football.
Michigan entered the game having not faced any offense that remotely resembled the balanced explosiveness of the Buckeyes’ attack unit.
And Chris Olave showcased this to the Wolverines not once but twice in the opening half, including the game’s initial salvo. The freshman from California scored a pair of 24-yard touchdowns on precision passes from Dwayne Haskins, including the first one at 12:14 p.m. — a mere eight minutes after kickoff and in capping a 57-yard march that elapsed less than two minutes of game clock.
Then, Olave again corralled a Haskins toss for the game’s second touchdown and a 14-6 lead that answered a pair of Michigan field goals.
Yes, these Buckeyes are going to lose some singular talents on the perimeter, but there’s a strong youth movement ahead for the future.
DIXON ROAMS FREE ON GREAT PLAY DESIGN
Lined up all the way on the left side of the line of scrimmage in the slot at Michigan’s 31-yard line, Johnnie Dixon eviscerated the Michigan secondary when he took off unchecked, made his cut from left to right and snagged a pass so open it looked like pass skeleton on the practice field. Dixon grabbed the pass without a Wolverines defender remotely in the vicinity and coasted across the end zone unscathed for a brief, 21-6 lead.
Michigan had allowed just 123 passing yards per game entering the contest and saw the Buckeyes blow past that number by 100 yards — just in the opening half.
WHAT A TURN OF EVENTS
Even as Michigan mustered a touchdown-drive in the waning moments of opening half, Ohio State appeared in full command and held a 21-13 lead.
Then the Wolverines scored the second of their two touchdowns in a dizzying six-second span. Demario McCall signaled for a fair catch near the left corner of the end zone as he received the kickoff. But the ball sailed through his arms, off his chest-plate and bounded past a teammate into the arms of Michigan’s Nate Schoenle.
On the very next snap, Shea Patterson found a wide-open Chris Evans as the Buckeyes’ linebackers busted the coverage on Evans out of the backfield.
However, Jonathon Cooper had a tremendous sack of Patterson on the two-point conversion, and the Buckeyes maintained the lead that they had held since the opening moments of the contest.