Jim Harbaugh finally gets over hump as Michigan topples Ohio State in testy thriller
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After nearly two decades of almost complete domination, heartbreak and humiliation, the University of Michigan finally found a way to beat its archrival Ohio State, bullying the Buckeyes to the tune of 42-27 at a snowy, delirious Michigan Stadium.
The win sends the Wolverines (11-1) to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis for the first time ever and keeps the school’s bid for a first-ever College Football Playoff berth alive. It was also coach Jim Harbaugh’s first victory over Ohio State since returning to his alma mater in 2015.
Ohio State had won 15 of the previous 16 games — and 17 of 19 — in this series. The Buckeyes fall to 10-2 and will have to settle for a non-playoff bowl game.
The lopsided nature of this historic rivalry had left Michigan fans wondering if the tides would ever turn. As Ohio State had morphed into a true national power, the Wolverines were stuck in neutral.
Saturday was Michigan’s day though, as it manhandled the Buckeyes along both lines of scrimmage. The Wolverines rushed for 299 yards as running back Hassan Haskins had five touchdowns. Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson delivered three sacks, drew numerous holding penalties and made a strong case to be the No. 1 overall draft pick in next year’s NFL draft. His buddy David Ojabo added one of his own on Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud.
Haskins was incredible, gaining 169 with a darting, patient style that the Buckeyes couldn’t stop. The Michigan offensive line was tougher too, controlling their highly touted opponents.
The Buckeyes were the faster, more skilled team on the outside. But this is the Big Ten, and while the game has changed this was a throwback to the days of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler — where a cold, windy day and a light snowfall made the field and ball slick.
Michigan was able to consistently move the ball on the ground, jumping out to a 7-0 lead and a 14-13 advantage at the half. The Buckeyes, fresh off blowout victories over Purdue and Michigan State, weren’t able to produce the long, game-breaking plays.
The Wolverines scored touchdowns on their first four second half drives (and five consecutive), repeatedly extending their lead to 15 points, enough to fend off a Buckeye rally and set off an epic, and long-coming, celebration in Ann Arbor.
While Ohio State’s receivers, especially Jaxson Smith-Njigba and Chris Olave were almost impossible for the Wolverines to cover, they were able to contain them to mostly underneath routes.
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