Ohio State vs. Michigan score, takeaways: Wolverines destroy Buckeyes for second straight rivalry win
Michigan has won consecutive games against Ohio State for the first time since 1999-2000
Back-to-back ... and back to the College Football Playoff? No. 3 Michigan upset No. 2 Ohio State 45-23 on Saturday afternoon at Ohio State, demolishing the rival Buckeyes for the second straight season. In doing so, the Wolverines won consecutive games over their biggest rival since 1999-2000, clinched the Big Ten East and earned a spot in next week's 2022 Big Ten Championship Game.
This year's victory came in unexpected fashion, and not just because Michigan was more than a touchdown underdog entering the regular-season finale. There were questions about star running back Blake Corum, who hurt his knee against Illinois last week. Corum began the game with his left knee in a brace; after rushing twice on the Wolverines' first three plays, he never returned. The onus was then placed squarely on the shoulders of quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who responded with a performance unlike any seen from him in a Michigan uniform.
McCarthy threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for 27 yards and another score as he kept Ohio State guessing all game. In the second quarter, McCarthy hit Cornelius Johnson on a short throw to the sideline; Johnson broke a tackle and took the ball 69 yards to the house. On Michigan's next possession, McCarthy again looked to Johnson, throwing deep over the middle and hitting him in stride behind the secondary for a 75-yard score. Coming out of the half, he found Colston Loveland down the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown. A quarterback who had struggled to push the ball vertically all season was suddenly dropping bombs as the Buckeyes secondary not only gave up major gains but committed numerous pass interference penalties.
Meanwhile, Ohio State's offense led by QB C.J. Stroud was stopped cold in the second half. The Buckeyes scored 20 points and Stroud threw two touchdowns before halftime, but they were held to a field goal in the second half with Stroud throwing a pair of interceptions.
Ohio State outgained Michigan 315-214 in the first half with a 124-10 rushing edge, but the Wolverines flipped the script completely over the latter 30 minutes, outgaining the Buckeyes 316-177 with a 242-19 edge on the ground. The result was Michigan's first victory in Columbus, Ohio, since 2000.
Game of McCarthy's life
McCarthy was a five-star prospect out of high school, one many Michigan fans clamored to see more of during the 2021 season. He was viewed as the Wolverines' quarterback with the highest upside, but even after he earned the starting job in 2022, we hadn't seen much of it to start the season. Michigan was still an offense that leaned heavily on its running game with Corum emerging as a star and Heisman contender. McCarthy was more of a complement, who wasn't asked to push the ball downfield often, and when he did, results were mixed at best.
Michigan came into Saturday's game ranked 86th nationally in explosive play rate in the passing game at 14.3%, and its 12 pass plays of 30+ yards ranked 99th nationally. Against Ohio State, McCarthy completed passes of 33, 45, 69 and 75 yards. The Wolverines had five explosive passing plays in only 24 attempts for a rate of 20.8%. That would be tied with Oregon for the eighth-highest rate of the season.
So, how did this happen? Ohio State dared Michigan to throw deep. The Buckeyes saw how the Wolverines worked all season and decided, if Michigan was going to pull off the upset, McCarthy would have to be the one to do it. And he did.
Ohio State routinely stacked the box to take away the run, showing little respect for McCarthy or Michigan's pass catchers as it defended them with man coverage. But the Wolverines burned the Buckeyes, repeatedly. We finally saw why McCarthy was so highly rated out of high school. If this is what McCarthy can do, Michigan's overall ceiling is much higher than previously thought.
Ohio State's secondary is a major weakness
To come to the defense of the secondary a bit, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and the Ohio State staff were asking a lot of it in The Game. It's difficult to play man against anybody, and while the Buckeyes defensive front was getting pressure early, the Wolverines offensive line did a much better job as the game wore on. That left Ohio State's defensive backs in coverage longer than planned, and they paid the price for their game plan.
Still, warning signs were apparent a few weeks ago. Penn State came out running what looked like a Baylor-style Air Raid from the days of Robert Griffin III against the Buckeyes and threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Last week, it was Maryland throwing for 318 yards and two touchdowns. All the warning signs were there, but nobody previewing the game thought Michigan and McCarthy could exploit it. We were all wrong.
Victor Oluwatimi is the nation's best center
While Michigan struggled to run early, it wasn't Oluwatimi at fault. He was one of the few Michigan offensive linemen not struggling with numerous Ohio State defenders crowding the box. When things opened up a bit late and Michigan was able to find room on the ground, it was Oluwatimi opening the hole or sealing it on both of Donovan Edwards' long touchdown runs.
First, Edwards broke free for a 75-yard run with Oluwatimi sealing off the linebacker. A few minutes later, when Edwards broke loose for an 85-yard run to put the finishing touches on the game, it was once again Oluwatimi sealing the defensive tackle and opening the lane.
Oluwatimi has been the best center in the country all season, but like all offensive linemen, he toils in obscurity. This is the proper time to acknowledge his greatness after playing so well in a huge game. He'll get another acknowledgement when he wins the Rimington Trophy awarded to the country's best center.
Stroud lost the Heisman
Heisman voting is too heavily skewed toward late-season performances, but it's even more likely to be the case this year as seemingly every favorite for the award has struggled down the stretch. There's a real chance that voting will come down to the best performance in a conference championship game next week -- a conference championship week in which Stroud will not suit up.
Stroud threw for 349 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but only one could be blamed on him. He tried to do too much with his team trailing late and paid the price for a wrong decision when he tried to flip a ball to Xavier Johnson while being sacked. The second pick was essentially a Hail Mary throw when the game was over. This loss certainly can't be pinned on Stroud, but that's not the way this works.
Ryan Day's seat is warming up
You might think it's nuts that a coach who has gone 45-5 in his four seasons could be in trouble, but this is college football where "nuts" is relative. Day has only lost five games, but two of those losses have come to Michigan. He's the first Ohio State coach with a losing record against the Wolverines since John Cooper.
There are three goals at Ohio State: Beat Michigan, win the Big Ten and win the national championship. Buckeyes generally understand not winning a national title, but if a coach goes two straight seasons without beating the Wolverines or dominating the Big Ten? Well, I'll just say you don't want to let it happen a third time.
Final.— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) November 26, 2022
Donovan Edwards again!
Edwards breaks loose for an 85-yard touchdown right up the gut! Michigan is up 45-23 with 3:19 to play. This one is over. Michigan is going to beat Ohio State for the second straight season and has outscored the Buckeyes 28-3 in the second half. Ohio Stadium is stunned.
LET'S FREAKING GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 26, 2022
Stroud picked off!
CJ Stroud is picked off trying to do too much. Facing a 3rd down, Stroud steps up and runs into the pressure. He panics and flips the ball to Johnson, but Johnson deflects it into the air and it's picked. There are only 4 minutes left.
OUR BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 26, 2022
Donovan Edwards to the house
Wow. After finding little room to run all day, Donovan Edwards goes through the B-gap and there's NOBODY left to beat. Victor Oluwatimi seals the linebacker and Edwards streaks 75 yards down the sideline for six. Michigan is up 38-23 with 7:11 to play.
Ohio State gets a FG
C.J. Stroud threw his best pass of the day to Emeka Egbuka, splitting the safeties and the linebackers in a way few can, and the connection got Ohio State into the red zone. Then it stopped. He floated a ball to an open receiver on 3rd down but Michigan's Mike Sainristil got his hand in there at the last second to break it up. Ohio State settles for three. It's 31-23 with 7:23 to play.
Mikey Sainristil with the HUGE pass breakup!— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 26, 2022
Michigan misses a long FG
Michigan went deep on the first play of the drive and drew a pass interference flag that put them into Ohio State territory, but the Buckeyes defense held firm from there. The Wolverines don't get anything after that, and Jake Moody's 57-yard FG attempt sails left of the uprights. The Buckeyes get the ball back with good field position at the OSU 39, down 11 with 9:21 left to play.
Michigan forces a punt
There's some debate about whether Ohio State should go for it on 4th and 3 at the OSU 33, but Day doesn't hesitate. He punts. Michigan gets the ball back at the UM 27 with 11:46 to play and an 11-point lead. The Wolverines are one long drive away from heading to Indianapolis and ruining Ohio State's season for the second year in a row.
Mike Barrett 😤— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) November 26, 2022
Michigan is up two scores
JJ McCarthy is tired of throwing touchdowns. This time he runs it in, and Michigan is up 31-20 after a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that has left Ohio Stadium stunned. There's a lot of game left to play, but the Buckeyes are down two scores and haven't scored since late in the 2nd quarter.