No. 9 Ohio State received a boost from an unexpected player against rival Michigan.
Trailing 20-14 in the third, the Buckeyes lost star senior quarterback J.T. Barrett to a knee injury, meaning backup Dwayne Haskins had to come into the game. The redshirt freshman was not deterred by the stage of the Big House, and led his team to a comeback 31-20 victory.
Haskins fits the mold of the usual dual-threat Ohio State quarterback, and he put both his passing and running ability on display against the Wolverines.
OSU ran the ball four straight times after Barrett’s injury but later faced a third-and-13 near midfield. Haskins stepped up and somehow fit in a gorgeous ball to Austin Mack for a 27-yard gain and a first down.
Two plays later, Haskins took off for a 22-yard run down to the 1-yard line, setting up a J.K. Dobbins touchdown run on the very next play that gave the Buckeyes a 21-20 lead.
It ended up being all the Buckeyes would need.
Haskins led a field goal drive on OSU’s next possession, increasing the lead to 24-20. Michigan, on the ensuing drive, moved into Ohio State territory but came up empty when John O’Korn missed an open receiver on fourth-and-4 from the OSU 39.
It was a theme of the afternoon. O’Korn, starting because Brandon Peters did not clear concussion protocol, missed throw after throw. But despite his struggles, he and the Wolverines had a chance in the final minutes.
Still trailing 24-20, the Wolverines regained possession at their own 27 with 2:47 to play after Ohio State missed a field goal. Any hopes Michigan would pull off the upset came crashing down when O’Korn was intercepted by Jordan Fuller. It was a terrible throw on what had to be an incorrect read by the quarterback.
On the third play of the ensuing possession, Ohio State put the bow on another win over the Wolverines with a 25-yard touchdown run by Mike Weber.
The ground attack (226 yards) and defense were the main cogs in the victory, but it doesn’t happen without Haskins. The 22-yard run ultimately set up the winning touchdown, but he was impressive with his accuracy through the air, especially on third down. In addition to the first down throw on the touchdown drive, he kept two fourth quarter drives alive with pinpoint third down throws to keep the OSU offense on the field.
Haskins, who mostly played in garbage time up to this point in the season, finished the game 6-of-7 passing for 94 yards while adding 24 yards rushing on three carries.
Ohio State, which trailed 14-0 in the first half before tying things up before halftime, have now won six in a row in the series and 13 of the last 14. Since taking over as Ohio State head coach, Urban Meyer hasn’t lost to Michigan.
Urban Meyer 6, Michigan 0.
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) November 25, 2017
The Buckeyes, now 10-2 on the year, have a trip to the Big Ten title game against undefeated Wisconsin around the corner. If a few things shake the right way around the country, Ohio State has a chance to sneak into the College Football Playoff once again if it knocks off the Badgers.
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