Ohio State survives Michigan upset bid
Ann Arbor, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Brady Hoke's gamble didn't pay off and Ohio State still has national championship hopes.
Michigan answered Ohio State's go-ahead touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter with an 84-yard scoring march. Devin Gardner's 2-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess with 32 seconds to play pulled the Wolverines within one and Hoke decided to go for the win.
Gardner's two-point conversion pass was intercepted by Tyvis Powell at the goal line and the third-ranked Buckeyes held on for a thrilling 42-41 win over the Wolverines in another classic edition of the annual rivalry from Michigan Stadium.
According to Michigan players, Hoke asked the seniors if they wanted to go for two points.
"I don't think there was one guy that said no," senior Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan recounted. "Every single person said yes. We were behind the coaches 100 percent."
Junior linebacker Jake Ryan agreed.
"It's a game. We want to win," he said. "That's what we were thinking. That's what coach Hoke was thinking, and we're always going to stick with him."
The Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten), behind the unstoppable running of Carlos Hyde and quarterback Braxton Miller, completed a second straight undefeated regular season under Urban Meyer and this year will get to play for the Big Ten title after NCAA sanctions prohibited Ohio State from postseason play a year ago.
Ohio State will battle Michigan State next Saturday in Indianapolis for the conference championship. The Buckeyes' hope for an opportunity to play for a national championship got a boost when Auburn stunned top-ranked Alabama with a last-second touchdown on a missed field goal return.
"That was a classic game," said Meyer, now 24-0 as Buckeyes coach. "Someone asked a question about what means more, our 24th win in a row or our second straight win against our rival. No question, it's the second win against our rival.
"I want to give (Michigan) credit. They have great players and that was a battle."
Michigan (7-5, 3-5) wrapped up its regular season with consecutive losses and just one victory in its final five games.
The Wolverines rallied from a 35-21 deficit and tied the game with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, the first an 11-yard pass from Gardner to Drew Dileo with 11:15 remaining. After Hyde fumbled two plays later, Gardner finished a 13-play, 41-yard set with a tying 2-yard TD strike to Jake Butt with 5:01 to play.
Ohio State then started the go-ahead drive from its own 35 after the kickoff went out of bounds. Miller wasted no time, breaking free for a 32-yard run on the first play, and Hyde went for five before Philly Brown's 12-yard run to the Michigan 16. Hyde did the rest with runs of eight and seven yards before powering across the goal line from the one for a 42-35 advantage.
Miller and Hyde led an Ohio State ground game that piled up 393 yards. Hyde finished with 226 on 27 carries and Miller contributed 153 with three scores on 16 rushes. Miller also threw for 133 yards with a pair of scores and an interception.
Gardner, despite a gimpy ankle, completed 32-of-45 passes for 451 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a score and Jeremy Gallon hauled in nine passes for 175 yards in defeat.
"This is a team that fights and fights," said Gardner. "We just came up short today."
Ohio State failed to score on a game-opening drive for only the second time this season, but pinned Michigan at its own one with a punt. The Wolverines, though, went 99 yards the other way for the first score of the game.
After picking up a first down to escape the shadow of the goal line, Gardner found Gallon with a throwback screen and the receiver raced 84 yards to the two, setting up Gardner's scoring run from the one on second down.
The Buckeyes came right back and tied it on Miller's 53-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith, who split a pair of Michigan defensive backs to haul in the perfect pass at the five before tumbling into the end zone.
Dennis Norfleet returned the ensuing kickoff inside the Ohio State 10, but a penalty negated the play and the Wolverines instead drove 70 yards for another score. A 37-yard pass to Butt set up Fitzgerald Toussaint's 4-yard TD run.
Ohio State again answered with a quick strike, as Miller broke free on the fourth play for a 53-yard touchdown to tie it with 55 seconds left in an entertaining first quarter.
The offensive explosion continued into the second, as Michigan again took the lead just 32 seconds into the period on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Gardner to Gallon. The Wolverines went 78 yards in just four plays.
Michigan then came up with the first turnover, as a sack forced Ohio State into 3rd-and-17, and Miller's deep throw was picked off by Blake Countess inside the 10-yard line.
The Wolverines had a first down nullified by a penalty and finally had to punt. Ohio State then had a long pass play called back for an ineligible receiver and kicked the ball away, but got it back after another Michigan punt and drove for the tying touchdown.
Miller connected with Jeff Heuerman for 37 yards and finished the 91-yard march with a 21-yard touchdown scamper to make it 21-21 with just over a minute to play in the half.
Ohio State recovered a questionable fumble by Gardner at its own 44 midway through the third quarter and quickly went the other way for the go-ahead score. A 33-yard burst by Hyde led to Miller's 3-yard touchdown run for a 28-21 edge with 6:59 left in the period.
The Wolverines then reached the Ohio State 14 and faced 4th-and-2. Rather than kick the short field goal without regular kicker Brendan Gibbons, Michigan went for the first down and Gardner's pass fell incomplete.
Ohio State went 86 yards on just six plays to extend the lead to 35-21. Hyde broke off runs of 20, 11 and 12 yards during the series and the lone pass resulted in a 22-yard touchdown to Heuerman with just over a minute left in the third.
"It was a good game. A good, hard-fought game," said Miller. "They didn't let up at all. The record they had didn't faze them at all. They came out to play. It's just a blessing to have 24 wins in a row."
Hyde set an Ohio State rushing record against Michigan, surpassing Beanie Wells' previous mark of 222 yards in 2007 ... Gardiner's passing yards were the most for a Wolverine against Ohio State, eclipsing Tom Brady's previous record of 375 in 1998 ... The teams combined for 1,129 yards of total offense, including 603 from Michigan ... Ohio State starting guard Marcus Hall and kick returner Dontre Wilson were ejected in the first half after a minor scuffle, while Michigan linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone was also tossed as a result of the skirmish ... Ohio State has won nine of the last 10 meetings, but Michigan still owns a 58-46-6 edge in the all-time series.
11/30 19:55:54 ET