Michigan entered Saturday's game with the fourth-best rushing defense in the country. But against rival Ohio State, it sure didn't look like it.
The Buckeyes had a monster day rushing the ball, with Ezekiel Elliott going over 200 yards and J.T. Barrett going for more than 100 yards, as they responded well from a terrible offensive performance against Michigan State to blow out the Wolverines, 42-13.
Ohio State's win temporarily kept its hopes of reaching the Big Ten Championship Game alive. The Buckeyes need the Spartans to lose to Penn State to win the Big Ten East title.
Elliott — who ripped Ohio State coaches for only giving him 12 carries in last week's loss, in which the Buckeyes gained just 132 total yards — carried the ball 30 times for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Barrett flashed incredible dual-threat capabilities, rushing 19 times for 139 yards and three touchdowns and completing nine of his 15 passing attempts for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The game started as a defensive struggle, and Michigan got the first big field-position win by pinning Ohio State at its own six-yard line. The Wolverines looked to take great advantage, forcing a three-and-out and a punt from the Buckeyes’ end zone, but Michigan committed a roughing-the-punter penalty, giving Ohio State a first down. Two plays later, Elliott rushed for 66 yards down to the Wolverines’ 10-yard line, and two plays after that, Barrett rushed into the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown.
On the ensuing Michigan drive, Jake Rudock threw for 69 of the Wolverines’ 72 yards, setting up a field goal.
On the drive after that, Barrett rushed for gains of 25 and 16, setting up Elliott for back-to-back rushes, the second a five-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-3 game.
Rudock started off the next drive rolling again, totaling 33 passing yards before a crucial pass-interference penalty on third and 10 from about midfield kept the Michigan drive going. The next play was a 25-yard pickup on a pass from Rudock to De’Veon Smith, and Rudock hit Jehu Chesson on third and two from the 10 for a Wolverines touchdown, slicing the Buckeyes’ lead to 14-10 just before halftime.
The Buckeyes kicked off the second half with a beautiful scoring drive, Elliott racking up 52 total yards on the charge. Barrett picked up a key first down to take Ohio State to the Michigan 25-yard line before pitching a touchdown pass to Jalin Marshall, who made a great catch to put the Buckeyes in front, 21-10.
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Ohio State’s defense continued to shut down Michigan, and the Buckeyes got the ball back, going on an immensely lengthy 84-yard drive. Facing fourth and one from the Wolverines’ 17-yard line, Urban Meyer elected to go for it and gained four yards on an Elliott rush. Barrett went 13 yards on the next play, diving into the end zone for a touchdown to make it an 18-point lead for the visitors.
Rudock hit Chesson and Amara Darboh on back-to-back passes for 21 and 39 yards, respectively, to get the Wolverines to the Buckeyes’ 11-yard line. But the Ohio State defense wouldn’t allow Michigan to punch it in, forcing a field goal to make it 28-13.
But Ohio State wasn’t done yet. On the next drive, Barrett found Michael Thomas for a huge 39-yard pickup. Barrett then rushed for a gain of 10 before Elliott took it nine yards and scored his second touchdown of the day. The next Ohio State drive went for another seven points, with the Buckeyes capitalizing on a pass-interference penalty to get Barrett into the end zone for the third time, making it an official crushing, 42-13.
Ohio State totaled a whopping 371 yards rushing and out-gained Michigan, 484-364.
The Buckeyes improved to 11-1 with the victory. They'll await the result of the Michigan State-Penn State game to determine whether they'll play for a conference championship or simply await their bowl destination.
The Wolverines will just wait to hear their bowl assignment after finishing the regular season at 9-3.