When you have two college football combatants competing in a rivalry that is as old as the hills, a lopsided victory on the field is unexpected regardless of rankings. Ohio State’s 31-20 win over Michigan was a testament to this tradition, which is substantiated by team statistics.
Perhaps, the leading indicator was provided by time of possession. The Buckeyes finished the contest with a slim margin of 31:17 to the Wolverines’ 28:43. Ball control by either offensive unit was a myth.
Essentially, separation of both teams was illustrated by the passing and rushing attacks. Michigan led the passing category 195 yards to OSU’s 124 with 17 completions out of 32 passing attempts. Conversely, Ohio State did manage a tactical advantage by rushing for 226 yards (48 attempts/4.7 yards per rush) to the Wolverines’ 100 (36 attempts/2.8 yards per rush).
For OSU, the insipidness of their rushing attack under the guidance of quarterback J.T. Barrett IV, which he ran with conviction until an injury in the second half. Unfortunately, Michigan’s defense was not overly concerned about Barrett IV’s arm as much as his legs; the Wolverines were not forced to defend a balanced offense of the Bucks for most of the game.
As the Buckeyes’ second-string quarter quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. entered the fray, his passing ability (along with Michigan’s coaching staff not having a long book on him) was a much needed intangible that propelled OSU to the win. Haskins Jr. completed six passes out of seven attempts for only 94 yards, but his throwing capabilities were efficacious in spreading the Wolverines’ defense enough to assist the running to a higher level of proficiency.
Nevertheless, the Ohio State Buckeyes earned kudos for their diligence in victory but little else. OSU just does not appear to have the mastery necessary in 2017 to truly compete against the likes of Alabama, Miami, Clemson, Auburn, and Georgia. The Buckeyes cannot expect to gain ingress into the College Football Playoff after being outscored 86-40 in flagellations by both the Oklahoma Sooners and Iowa Hawkeyes.
OSU could still find themselves in a decent bowl, though. Of course, a generous payday can only be reached if the Bucks manage to defeat the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers in next weekend’s Big Ten Championship Game. Hopefully, the Buckeyes will be prepared for action because they are not even close to being a juggernaut. For Michigan, redintegration may be a year or so away until Harbaugh can get the (experienced) materiel he needs.