COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Where was that all season?

The question will be asked beyond Saturday when an at-times inconsistent, sometimes-struggling, always-hard-to-figure-out Ohio State performed what has become a ritual in these parts: beating Michigan.

Except this time at a packed Ohio Stadium, it wasn't just a defeat. It was a humiliation for the opponent. It was also a rehabilitation for the No. 10 Buckeyes and their coach.

It was a statement that will be heard all the way to Grapevine, Texas, in that College Football Playoff Selection Committee meeting room.

"Definitely [a statement]," said OSU senior receiver Parris Campbell playing in his last Michigan game. "That was kind of an immediate reaction for me."

More on that in a moment. Ohio State's 62-39 win left a large part of the 106,000 folks at The Shoe wondering if the for-now No. 4 Wolverines will ever compete in this series again.

Ohio State sent Michigan back home with more doubts than answers, more questions than confidence. Gone in a flash was a top four CFP ranking. Gone was the swagger associated with the nation's No. 1 defense.

The cement continued to harden around the identities of both coaches in this series.

Urban Meyer keeps owning Michigan and the Big Ten. Jim Harbaugh still can't win the big one -- or at least the biggest one.

Most of all, it felt like the rejuvenation that comes with beating your biggest rival. Ohio State wasn't through until it put the most points ever on Michigan in regulation. The 62 points scored by OSU beat the 58 that Cornell laid on UM … in 1891. It was also the most points ever scored on a Harbaugh-coached team going back to his starter job at the University of San Diego.

The jaw-dropping result was the seventh straight win in the series for Ohio State, the most for either side since 1909 when Michigan completed a nine-game streak.

That begs the initial question: Where has this version of the Buckeyes been all season?

"At Ohio State, you can almost lose every game, but this one you have to win," wideout Johnnie Dixon said. "I don't know how it went back in the day. I don't know what kind of talking went on. I just know that guys this week played with a different chip on their shoulders.

"I don't know if it was just Michigan. I think we still have some things missing in the game. I think we're getting closer to it."

Just in time, it turns out. 

The Buckeyes clinched the Big Ten East and will play Northwestern next Saturday for a shot at a second consecutive Big Ten title.

Who would have thought that when Meyer began the season suspended for three games after the unsightly Zach Smith situation? Who would have bet on the Buckeyes to bounce back after a 29-point loss at Purdue on Oct. 20?

If Meyer was looking to lessen the stress in his life, who would have thought he'd be at his best on Saturday, health-wise or football-wise. The distressed Meyer of a week ago on the sideline against Maryland gave way to the coaching genius who has above him perhaps only one name in college football, Nick Saban.

As for Harbaugh, the result raises different questions. He is now 2-7 in four years against Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame. After a season-opening loss to the Irish, Michigan won 10 in a row and climbed to the top four in the CFP.

This was arguably biggest game of -- at least -- his college career. He failed miserably.

"It means a lot to me because I've shared this for seven years and really longer than that," Meyer said. "The respect I have for this rivalry and the opponent [is obvious]. How do you show respect? You don't talk about it. You just work so hard at it. We work this game 365 [days] a year."

Michigan will have to wait another 365 days to break the streak. That means at kickoff next year at the Big House, Michigan will have gone more than 2,900 days without beating Ohio State.

The Wolverines defense that had been giving up 123 passing yards per game was shredded for 318 yards and five touchdowns by Dwayne Haskins. The No. 1 defense that surrendered only 19 touchdowns all season gave up eight on Saturday.

"I was licking my chops," Haskins said. "I see the one-high [safety] covers and that's a quarterback's dream."

Campbell explained: "Whenever we see single-high safeties, we automatically know they're playing man across the board."

Campbell went out like every fifth-year senior should in this series. He led the way with five catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Campbell added another score on a 78-yard jet sweep.

Freshman receiver Chris Olave had a breakout game for Ohio State, catching the sixth and seventh passes of his career, both for touchdowns. Olave also blocked a punt. All that after playing exactly 49 offensive snaps in the previous 11 games.

"A football team is a living object," Meyer explained "It's always moving. It's always changing. This guy is hurt. This guy is in a situation. This guy maybe can't have the skill set. My job as a coach is to make sure they work hard in practice. It's been a chess match all year, especially on defense."

That Ohio State defense is only in this position because Maryland QB Tyrrell Pigrome missed a wide-open Jeshaun Jones on a two-point conversion pass attempt to win the game in overtime last week. In that 52-51 victory, the Buckeyes defense surrendered 535 yards. 

"We kind of always know the team wants to play this well," Campbell said. "We want to play this well collectively. We just couldn't get things to click. The emotions and passion that went into this game,  the preparation that went into this game. Obviously, it was perfect timing."

Maybe all it takes for Ohio State is to see Maize and Blue.

Going forward, which version of Ohio State are we supposed to believe in? The defense that lost to Purdue by 29 and allowed an average of 449 yards per game over the last month or the rejuvenated bunch that sent the Wolverines back to Ann Arbor, Michigan, wondering if the entire season has been sort of a sham?

After a season-opening loss to Notre Dame, the Wolverines ripped off 10 wins in a row, sharpened the nation's best defense and made Ohio State an underdog for the first time in 52 games.

For now, the Big Ten's playoff hopes are damaged but not quite dead. In fact, CBS Sports bowls expert Jerry Palm has projected Ohio State into the fourth spot in the field -- at least for now.

But after the 115th version of this game, playoff position is hardly the headline. In this season of tribulation, Meyer was able to master another spanking of TTUN (The Team Up North). For at least another week, his Buckeyes can dream of all the possibilities.

"Today," said Olave, who tasted that potential after a Michigan for the first time, "is definitely unbelievable."