COLUMBUS, Ohio — Michigan football hasn’t won in Columbus since 2000, could the undefeated Wolverines change the narrative?
Yes, yes they could. The Wolverines went into the ‘Shoe and dominated the Buckeyes on their way to a 45-23 victory.
The maize and blue were without Blake Corum, who had two runs on Saturday, but Michigan found a way to keep the score close in the first half and then come out of the gates swinging in the second.
J.J. McCarthy showed why he was a five-star recruit out of high school and he carried the team on his back. Donovan Edwards carried the load in the second half and had two huge runs to seal the deal.
Here are our five takeaways from the big win.
No Blake Corum, run game struggled until the end...
Photo: Isaiah Hole
Michigan’s Heisman-caliber running back gave it a go on Saturday against Ohio State, but he was clearly in pain and ran the ball two times for six yards before sitting down for the remainder of the game.
To make matters worse, Donovan Edwards played in the game and did a good enough job, but he had his own hand injury that hampered him.
The Wolverines were without their best player and obviously, that really hurt the run game. Michigan entered halftime with 10 total yards on the ground.
The Wolverines were a little more creative in the second half. It helped that J.J. McCarthy had such a great game throwing the football against the Buckeyes, which helped set up the run in the third quarter. Once he started hitting on the deep shots, Ohio State had to respect the pass and not load the box up like it was doing the entire first half.
Donovan Edwards changed the narrative in the second half, mainly his game-sealing 75-yard touchdown and 85-yard run in the fourth.
But this was not the usual Michigan offense we are accustomed to seeing.
Michigan finished the game with 252 yards running the ball on two lump-sum plays on Saturday.
....But J.J. McCarthy had the game of his life
Photo by: Isaiah Hole
It may not have started out well, J.J. McCarthy started the game 3-for-10 throwing, and looked like Michigan would struggle to throw the ball again. McCarthy was missing high and the Wolverines dropped a couple of passes.
But then a light turned on.
The five-star quarterback looked exactly like that five-star quarterback Michigan fans thought they were getting. The deep ball that haunted Michigan all season finally became a factor.
McCarthy completed four passes of 30 yards or more. McCarthy hit Cornelius Johnson and Colston Loveland on beautiful throws that went for touchdowns and the ball was precisely on the money.
The sophomore was effective on the ground as well. He was able to use his legs to get outside of the pocket to make some throws, extend plays, and pick up valuable yardage on the ground.
With no Corum, McCarthy was asked to shoulder the load and that’s exactly what he did. He made throws and went into a hostile environment and beat the No. 2 team in the nation.
He ended the game by completing 50% of his passes for 263 yards and three passing touchdowns. He ran the ball for 27 yards and one touchdown.
Michigan struggled in the trenches until it didn't
Photo by: Isaiah Hole
Let’s start out with the bad.
The Wolverines had no Blake Corum and the run game was really bad in the first half. It didn’t appear like the O-line was opening any holes for the running backs and Michigan was stuffed at the line at various times.
Defensively, Michigan wasn’t able to sack C.J. Stroud once and pressure was limited in the first half. Stroud had all day to throw the ball and Michigan was lucky that its secondary did a great job. The Wolverines were getting gashed against the Buckeyes’ run game. Ohio State had 124 yards rushing in the first half against the Wolverines’ defense.
But the second half adjustments were a thing of beauty.
I give a ton of credit to J.J. McCarthy for throwing the ball to open up the running game, but the Michigan offensive line played more like the O-line we are used to seeing. The line was much more physical and opened up lanes for Edwards to make plays.
The Wolverines never sacked Stroud in the game. But the D-line did a better job of forcing pressure to get Stroud outside of the pocket and make him uncomfortable. Braiden McGregor stepped up in the second half and played some meaningful snaps.
The one thing Michigan did was stop the running game. The Buckeyes managed to gain 13 yards on the ground in the second half and that put even more pressure on Stroud to make plays.
Secondary did its part to slow OSU down
Photo by: Isaiah Hole
Ohio State is a passing juggernaut and the Buckeyes are going to get their yards.
The key to stopping Ohio State was slowing down, or limiting, the passing attack. C.J. Stroud made some fantastic throws and Marvin Harrison Jr. showed why he’s one of the best in the country.
But the Wolverines did exactly what was needed. Michigan played tough-nosed football and forced the Buckeyes’ receivers to make tough catches. Will Johnson has really ascended into a premier corner for the Wolverines as a true freshman.
With Michigan being up so big, the Wolverines went into prevent mode, and Stroud’s stats were a little inflated at the end of the game. While Michigan did intercept Stroud twice, he ended up throwing for 349 yards but the Wolverines did a fantastic job of limiting the passing game and getting that offense off the field.
The Game lived up to the hype
The score got a little inflated at the end, but this was a really great game for different reasons.
For Michigan fans, this was the first win in Columbus since 2000 and this is back-to-back victories for the Wolverines against the Buckeyes.
While Ohio State went into meltdown mode in the fourth quarter, it was evident both teams are really good. I said going into the game the loser has a shot to make the College Football Playoff.
Even though Michigan crushed the Buckeyes, Ohio State has plenty of talent maybe there could be a rematch in the CFP.