M v OSU IS A GAME SOME CALL THE GREATEST RIVALRY IN SPORTS:  This premise is widely accepted as fact in the sports world, and is often spouted by media as a colorful descriptor of the event. It is always accepted as boilerplate by the partisans supporting either side of the contest, and may irritate some opposing factions.

There are many reasons the game continues to be remarkably notable. Both OSU and M have huge contingents of the most dedicated and hard-edged fans in the college football world.   Both consistently fill huge stadiums, and both have often, from the distant past to date, been the cream of the crop in the Big Ten, and in competition for the Big Ten Championship.  This game used to be for all the marbles, but now it is now only the gate to the Big Ten Championship game.  Most of its luster is still there.

Many times the Big Ten Championship, and some good things beyond that, spring from winning “The Game” for both sides.  That was certainly true again this year, and many times the season has been ruined for one side or the other, by the loss of that last game, as was Michigan’s fate for this 2018 game.

With Saturday’s loss to the Buckeyes, the Wolverines Big Ten Championship dreams slammed to earth like a punctured blimp.

BO AND WOODY: Not a little of the aura of this game stems from two unique, and highly talented Coaches on both sides of the ball during the 10-years war.  Both were quirky, driven, highly determined, and sometimes quick tempered. This uniquely talented pair were highly familiar with each other, as M’s Bo Schembechler was for a time an Assistant at OSU.

Too say that OSU’s Woody Wilson Hayes, was an engaged adversary is understatement. He would not stop in Michigan while riding back to the anointed land in the Ohio Valley, despite needing gas. It would be fun to say that he ran out, but he stretched past the border on fumes.  Mention Michigan and he, too, was automatically fuming.  He referred to Michigan to as that school up north.

The “War” started in 1969, when Bo took over the Wolverines. He thumped Woody 24-12. Woody’s  response afterwards was along the line of Damn you, Bo! you will never have a bigger win.  Right on, Woody!  It was true. Just drop Bo from the statement, and the same sentiment applies to Meyers right now.

Nothing irked Bo more than the selection of OSU over M to perform in the 1973 Rose Bowl.  A 10-10 tie against OSU resulted in the injury of M QB Dennis Franklin.  On this basis, the Big Ten Athletic Directors selected the Buckeyes.

To say Bo, his team, and fans were disappointed is gross understatement.  To say that they were outraged is closer to reality. Ohio spent New Year’s Day in Pasadena, and the Wolverines stayed home.

It seems Coach Hayes could not control his enthusiasm at times.  Whacking an opposing player during a bowl game cost him his Head Coaching job.

The most fun I have ever had at an OSU game was watching Woody destroy the yard markers as he energized the M crowd in Michigan Stadium in 1971.  An official’s call of an interception during a home game at Michigan Stadium, created an episode of Woody v the Yard Markers. It was a splendidly outrageous rage that destroyed the markers, and turned on the crowd’s after burners. Subsequently, M RB Billy Taylor sprinted into the end zone to secure the win.  I miss Woody.  It was more fun to beat Woody than anyone else at least until now. Now Urban is my favorite victim, but until today he has hit us for six in a row.

OSU had beat us 13 of the last 14 before Saturday. Michigan went into the game 10-1 overall this season and 8-0 in the Big Ten.  Ohio State was 10-1 overall this season and 7-1 in the Big Ten. If this game is to stay a great game, the Wolverines are going have provide better competition last Saturday.  The Wolverines have lost of the last 14 of 15 to the Buckzillas, and 7 straight to Meyers.

SATURDAY’S GAME BELONGS WITH THE REST OF THE GREAT ONES, BUT SADLY ONLY FOR THE BUCKEYES:  The Wolverines were thoroughly nailed by the Buckeyes in Columbus again, and the Bucks have again earned the right to challenge for another Big Ten championship at Indianapolis, this time facing Northwestern.  This week I will be a Northwestern fan.

Michigan went into the game 10-1 overall this season and 8-0 in the Big Ten.  Ohio State was 10-1 overall this season and 7-1 in the Big Ten. You know the result.

The Wolverines are now 10-2 and OSU is 11-1

Technically, the Wolverines tied OSU for the East Division Championship, but the spoils  mostly belong to the Buckeyes.

They play on for the whole Big Ten enchilada, and they earned this one.  They were the better team on the field without question.

BRIEF GAME COMMENTARY: The Buckeyes dominated the whole affair as they continued to hurry the Wolverines Quarterbacks, and managed to put Shea Patterson out of commission late in the game.  The Buckeyes had 318-yards passing, and 249 passing for a total of 567-yards of total offense. The Wolverines had 240-yards passing and 161 yards rushing for a total of 401-yards.

The habit of running Karan Higdon on first down was predictable, and usually stuffed. Later in the game, he gained a chunk of yardage.  Karan had 15 carries for 72-yards, and a long of 24-yards. Chris Evans went 8 carries for 33-yards rushing, and caught a TD pass. Tru Wilson rushed 7 times for 32-yards.  He was effective on a drive late in the game. Mason had a one-yard TD.

While sometimes the receivers such as Nico Collins were sharp, there were drops.  Most notable was a Zach Gentry drop of a sure TD that appeared catchable.  Unfortunately, it appeared that Zach might have been concussed on an incompletion hit that drew an unsportsmanlike penalty.   Donovan Peoples Jones grabbed 7 for 64-yards, and is always a receiving asset. Nico Collins collared 4 for 91-yards and two TDs.  He was the best receiver on the day for the Wolverines.  Chris Evans caught 3 for 35 yards and a TD.  Black, Martin and Higdon all had a reception.  Black caught the first M catch of the day.  The defense had trouble containing the OSU offense as the stats confirm.  Without doubt it was their worst game of the season.

In a way the Wolverines are a one trick pony on offense and defense.  To pass they must run.  On defense they are not as expert at zone as man defense. Shea was often hurried, and the run was often stopped.  The vaunted Don Brown half time adjustments did not stem the tide.

Karan Higdon had 15 attempts for 72-yards.  Many of those attempts were stuffed on first down.

It appears that defensively the Wolverines are susceptible to being spread out.  As Indiana showed the week before, and OSU last year, crossing patterns were difficult to stop.  The blitzes often did not get to the mark. Buckeyes QB, Dwayne Haskens was magnificent. He was 19 of 30 for 318-yards, and 5 TDs.  The Wolverines had 4 TFLs, no sacks.

Shea Patterson hit 20 of 34 for 184-yards, and 3 TDs, as he tried to evade a relentless and successful pass rush.  The hot rush also the caused M QB Joe Milton to throw another later.  Milton also got a rushing TD.  Branson Peters was in for a series and got a red zone completion. The offense went 5 of 10 in the red zone.

Both interceptions by OSU ended up inside the M 25-yard line.  A blocked punt returned for a TD aided the Buckeye dominance.  Inexcusable.  They later also missed on their onside kick effort, and a couple of two-point extra point conversions.

Tyree lead the defense with 8 solo tackles,  and 4 TFLs.  Josh Ross had 7 solos, and 5 TFLs. Bush, Winovich, Gary, Metellus and Kemp had several tackles, and there were others with one, but the unit had no sacks.

This loss was unfortunately a full team effort, and that includes coaching, up to and including, Coach Harbaugh. They team fell apart in the 4th quarter, and that is sad.

HOW THEY SCORED: OSU received the KO and went to work. M-0, OSU-7.

Michigan controlled over 12 minutes of the first quarter, but only came away with a pair of field goals by M’s Moody (31 and 39-yards) to make it 6-7, All did not seem lost.  M-6, OSU-7

OSU answered with a drive that included  a 27-yard crossing pattern, and which culminated in a deep pass into the end zone of 24-yards.  M-6, OSU-14.

They hit again with an 8-play, 79-yard drive which featured a 33-yard screen pass for the score.  M-6, OSU-21.

The Wolverines conducted an 8-play,70-yard drive featuring a Shea Patterson 15-yard draw, and a 23-TD  catch by Nico Collins.  M-13, OSU 21.

Then good fortune struck for the Wolverines.  OSU’s McCall fumbled the KO at the OSU 9, and it was recovered by M’s Nate Schoenle.  At 00: 54 on the Second Quarter clock, Chris Evans caught a 9-yard TD. The attempted two- point conversion failed.  The score was M-19, OSU 21.

With 00:41 left in the first half, and assisted by PI penalties, the Bucks moved to the Wolverine 1-yard line with a 7-play 74-yard drive. M held, and the Bucks settled for a 19-yard FG before the clock hit 00:00.

M-19, OSU-24 was not bad news as the Wolverines were a second half team.  I assume many thought this true at the time, as it was true, but it just wasn’t to be.

The combatants traded punches as the third quarter began but the Bucks managed 17 points in the quarter to zip for the Wolverines, and that proved the turning point in the game.

In 5:15 minutes of the Third Quarter, the Buckeyes won the game with 17 points, which the Wolverines couldn’t fully answer, and in the fourth it became a turkey shoot for the Buckeyes.  Both Devin Bush, and Rashan Gary were injured in the Quarter.

In the third, a Wolverines’ special team failure resulted in a blocked punt, which was run in from 33-yards out for an OSU TD. Prior to that OSU hit  a 19-yard FG, pushing the score to M-19, OSU-34.

OSU wasn’t done.  Shea Patterson was hurried into an interception, which the Bucks collared at the M-26, and in two plays put it into the end zone.  The long play, of course, was a twenty-yard crossing pass reception. M-19, OSU-41.

M was at the OSU 12, when the Third Quarter ended. It won’t be fondly remembered by Wolverine fans.

M turned that drive which  began in the Third Quarter, into an 8 play, 75-yard TD.  Nico Collins caught a 12-yard pass at the flag which was called a TD, reviewed and upon review upheld.  Very outstanding play by Nico. M-25, OSU-48.

Next came a long and busy 86-yard drive that resulted in an M TD. This drive was notable for a 24-yard Higdon burst, the injury of M’s QB Shea Patterson on a five-yard run, and an earlier 11-yard crossing pattern to Donovan Peoples-Jones.  Brandon Peters threw M RB Chris Evans an 8-yard pass that was to the one.  A review confirmed no TD. Ben Mason bulled over left tackle for the score.  M-32, OSU-48.

OSU answered with a 6 play, 75-yard drive aided by an M face mask call. M-32, OSU-55.

Joe Milton was the M QB at 6:02 of the fourth quarter, and he tossed and interception at the M 25 yard line, and it was returned to the M 4. A Buckeye unsportsman like penalty put back to the M- 19, setting up the final OSU score of the game. It took three plays for a score of M-32, OSU-62.

Joe Milton wasn’t through.  He hit Nico Collins for 43 yards, on  a six-play, 75-yard drive.  Milton ran it in over left end from the 4-yard line for six to make the final score. M-39, OSU-62.

TAKEAWAY:  Whenever it is a great day for the buckeyes in the Horseshoe, it a nasty one or the Wolverines, and Saturday was a gigantic case in point.

Obviously, it was the most disappointing football performance by the Wolverines this season.  It was also the most unexpected.  Who thout beforehand that this great run  would fail to grow to the extent that it did.

The scheme for the defense and offense didn’t work, interceptions were thrown, coverages blown, the OL leaked so much it seemed they need a plumber.  Many of the great attributes gathered by this team over their highly successful season were not on the field Saturday.  They were scrapped off the plate by a great OSU performance, while the Wolverines struggled. This was not a loss that a bad call or one good play engineered.  The Buckeyes owned the day.

They will again be Wolverine proud, and recover their acumen and pride, if they can get up off the ground and win the good New Years Bowl game that is theirs. Now we will see what this team is really made of.

This group needs to heal mentally and physically after this tough loss.  Injuries were a problem. Devin Bush hurt a hip, Grant Perry had a hip pointer,  David long a hip strain.  All three will be back soon according to a reliable source. Zach Gentry had a concussion.  Some injuries were previously mentioned.   Hopefully most will be back for the bowl game.  Injuries were not the reason for the loss, but didn’t help.

While this last game of the regular season was a debacle, the games between the first and last games, are still laudable, and remarkable.

And of course, its always great to be a Wolverine.  Would you rather be a Spartan, a Buckeye, a Scarlet Knight?  Of course not!  But don’t anyone tell me to Buck Up.

Go Blue!

About Andy Andersen

Andy Andersen, Senior Football Writer andyandersen@wowway.com Andy is a Michigan graduate and long time Michigan Football fan, having attended games during the tenures of Fritz Crisler, Bennie Oosterbaan, Bump Elliot, Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez, and Brady Hoke. He attempts to present articles consistent with the concerns and interests of Michigan Fans.