- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Braxton Miller
- Devin Gardner
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:
By The Sports Xchange November 30, 2013 5:12 PM
But cornerback Tyvis Powell stepped in front of the intended receiver and intercepted Devin Gardner's pass, and Ohio State was able to hang on for a 42-41 victory Saturday in one of the most thrilling games in the history of the storied Big Ten rivalry. "We talk all of the time about playing to win," Hoke said. "Our guys came to play and fought hard, and we were going for the win." Gardner, who had four touchdown passes and threw for 451 yards, connected with Devin Funchess on a 2-yard score to make it 42-41. Hoke decided not to kick the point and play for overtime, instead relying on an offense that had piled up 603 yards against the Buckeyes. "I don't blame their coach," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "I think that was a great call. I probably would have done the same thing: End it right there and win the game." The Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0 in the Big Ten), behind a powerful rushing attack, held on to win their 24th consecutive game. They face Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game next week. Ohio State senior running back Carlos Hyde had a career-best 226 yards on 27 carries, while junior quarterback Braxton Miller had 153 yards on 16 carries and scored three touchdowns. Meyer credited his senior-laden offensive line, which led the Buckeyes to 526 yards. "I felt like our line was going to go win that game for us, our line and backs. We ran the ball very well," Meyer said. "And Carlos Hyde -- he's as good a back as I've been around." Miller also threw two touchdown passes. "I think we're a lot more balanced than last year," Ohio State senior offensive tackle Jack Mewhort said. "Braxton has really grown up, and blocking for a guy like Carlos Hyde is something special. He makes us look good." Hoke said, "We had a hard time stopping them." Senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon had the best receiving day by a Wolverine against Ohio State, with nine catches for 175 yards and one touchdown. Gardner's huge day was unfortunately ended with the decisive interception on Michigan's final play. "We came just two points from being on the other side of this thing," Hoke said. " The Wolverines (7-5, 3-5), who had lost three of their last four games entering the showdown, led three times against Ohio State. The Wolverines were pinned at their 1-yard line on their first possession but delivered the game's first shocker when Gardner hit Gallon with a quick screen pass, and Gallon popped into an open seam and sprinted 84 yards to the Ohio State 2. Gardner waltzed in from the 1 and Michigan led 7-0 after Matt Wile's kick. Ohio State struck back quickly, with Miller throwing a perfect strike to wide receiver Devin Smith behind the Michigan secondary for a 63-yard touchdown. Drew Basil's kick tied it 7-7 with about five minutes left in the opening quarter. Michigan got a 37-yard completion from Gardner to tight end Jake Butt to set up tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint's touchdown from eight yards for a 14-7 lead. When Miller answered right back with darting 53-yard touchdown run, the game was tied 14-14 in the final minute of the first quarter. Michigan needed only four plays to go 78 yards and take a 21-14 lead in the opening minute of the second quarter. Then tempers exploded, with three players being ejected. Ohio State freshman Dontre Wilson returned the ensuing kick and got involved in a fracas after the tackle that resulted in Wilson and starting offensive tackle Marcus Hall being ejected. Michigan backup linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone, who ripped off Wilson's helmet in the fray, also was tossed. Things settled down following that incident, and Miller scored on a 21-yard scramble to even the score at 21-21 by halftime. The Buckeyes took their first lead of the day midway through the third quarter on Miller's short scoring run that provided a 28-21 advantage. Ohio State made it a 35-21 lead by the end of the third quarter when Miller hit tight end Jeff Heuerman with a 22-yard scoring pass. Michigan drove 83 yards to cut the lead to 35-28 with 11 minutes to play on Gardner's 11-yard touchdown pass to Drew Dileo. Hyde then fumbled and Michigan recovered at the Ohio State 41, with an opportunity to tie the game. Gardner flipped a short touchdown pass to Butt with five minutes left, and Wile's kick made it 35-35. The Buckeyes relied on Hyde to punch the ball in for a 42-35 lead with 2:20 to play, setting the stage for the dramatic finish. NOTES: Michigan K Brendan Gibbons, who suffered an undisclosed injury in practice, did not dress for the game. ... Michigan coach Brady Hoke entered the game with a 19-1 record at Michigan Stadium. He lost for the first time to Nebraska in early November. ... In the 109 previous meetings of these two rivals, Michigan had spoiled an unbeaten season for the Buckeyes five times, with the last time in 1996.