Michigan Blasts Ohio State in The Shoe!

Today’s game was an epic beat down.  This is Michigan’s largest margin of victory over Ohio State since 1976.  It is the first time the Wolverines have won at Ohio State since 2000.  Finally, it’s Michigan’s 2nd win in a row against Ohio State.

The History

The win matters.  How the Wolverines won matters more.  In order to understand the how and the why, we have to look back at history.  It’s important to remember that during the pandemic, the fans called for Jim Harbaugh’s firing.  The Wolverines had put on a pathetic performance that year…in fact it was the worst year of Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan.  Still, Coach Harbaugh had been building something.  He was building a sustainable program.  He consistently brought in talented players that had the right mindset and fit with his football core value of intellectual brutality.  He experimented with different offensive coordinators with mixed results.  His defense was usually a hit until the big games and then they were exposed.  So, Coach Harbaugh was forced to take a closer look at what he could do to compete at the highest level.

The Fix

When things get tough in life, one must not be afraid to revert to what made them successful in the first place.  Coach Harbaugh has won everywhere he has been.  How?  Intellectual Brutality.  What is that?  Dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, power run game, stifling defense, and strategic throwing.  That is the style of football that Coach Harbaugh won with at the University of San Diego, Stanford, San Francisco 49ers and now here at Michigan.  Coach Harbaugh always had an element of the power game while he has been at Michigan, however it was intermingled with some sort of spread attack.  Now, the passing game compliments the run game.  Multiple tight ends are involved.  Defenses don’t know if the tight ends are going to block or run a route.  Coach Harbaugh’s running attack forces defense to play man to man and stack the box thus giving one on one match ups for his quarterback.

Finally, Coach Harbaugh went to his brother and brought the Baltimore Ravens defense to Michigan.  The Raven’s defense is stifling, and team orientated.  The Wolverines new defense stuffs the run and puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback.  It is a multiple defense.  This means the defense can run and odd or an even front at any given time while constantly changing its coverage packages.  This defense does not depend on stars, it depends on teamwork.

A Statement is Made!

Michigan’s win against Ohio State is a statement victory.  It puts all of college football on notice that Michigan football is not just back, but back and here to stay.  Michigan out coached and out played Ohio State in the Buckeye’s own house.  Michigan won by a wider margin this year than last year.  Interestingly, Michigan ran for 188 yards in the 2nd half of last years matchup.  This year, the Wolverines put 242 yards rushing on the Buckeyes in the 2nd half.  While CJ Stroud threw for 349 yards, and Marvin Harrison Junior had 120 receiving yards and a touchdown, the Wolverines held the Buckeyes to just 23 points.  They also sacked Stroud, didn’t allow one person to run over 100 rushing yards and forced two interceptions.

The First Half

Michigan got off to a slow start in today’s game while Ohio State got out of the blocks quickly, scoring a touchdown and a field goal on their first two possessions.  Michigan only managed a field goal on their first possession and then the offense went quiet until the clock read 8:23 in the 2nd quarter.  It was 3rd and 9 and Michigan was staring at their third three and out in a row.  J.J. McCarthy takes the snap and finds Cornelius Johnson one on one with a defensive back and Johnson had a step.  McCarthy uncorks his long ball and hits Cornelius in stride who runs 69 yards in for the tying touchdown.  Ohio State responds with a field goal and there is 5:35 left in the 2nd quarter.

It was first down and once again, Cornelius Johnson beat his man off the line, had a step, stemed into his post route, caught the ball and ran 75 yards for his 2nd touchdown of the day.  The Wolverines just executed back-to-back plays over 60 yards for touchdowns.  But Ohio State had an answer.  CJ Stroud hit Marvin Harrison Jr. for a 42-yard touchdown four plays later.  Both teams traded punts and eventually went to the lockers for half time with Ohio State nursing a three-point lead.

Second Half Set up

Early in the game, Joel Klatt criticized Jim Harbaugh for allowing Ohio State to have the ball first when Michigan won the toss.  He thought it was a mistake to allow the local crowd into the game and give the home team momentum to score and have a dominating defense aided by the crowd.  Coach Harbaugh’s plan paid off in the 2nd half when his offense executed a seven-play drive, culminating in a 45-yard touchdown pass to Colston Loveland.  This touchdown pass was set up by a J.J. McCarthy quarterback keeper for 19 yards.

The End

Both squads traded punts and then J.J. McCarthy and the Wolverines went on an eight-minute touchdown dive.  During the drive, on a third and one, McCarthy hands the ball off to Kalel Mullings who ran to the line of scrimmage, pulled up and completed a 15-yard jump pass to Luke Schoonmaker to get the Wolverines down to the 23-yard line.  Ten plays later, McCarthy runs it in for a touchdown.  Both squads went three and out again and then Ohio State put together another drive.  The defense held the Buckeyes to a field goal attempt.  Then, on the first play of the Wolverines next possession, Donovan Edwards ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run.

Taylor Upshaw ended the Buckeye’s next drive when he snagged a tipped ball out of the air for an interception.  Then, on third and three, Donovan Edwards ripped off an 85-yard touchdown run.  This run effectively ended the Buckeye’s chances at a comeback.

Keys to Victory

The key to victory in this game was J.J. McCarthy’s play.  The Wolverines were without their stud running back, Blake Corum, so the game fell squarely on McCarthy’s shoulders to lead the offense to score and win.   McCarthy had shown us glimpses of his brilliance throughout the season, but he had yet to put a full game together until today.  McCarthy answered the call and led his team brilliantly with his arm and his legs, throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another 27 yards and a touchdown.    J.J. McCarthy is only 19.  The future is bright!

The Wolverines out coached and out played the Buckeyes.  They won on multiple explosive plays.  They won playing methodically.  They won with grit.  They dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and defense holding the Buckeyes to a field goal in the second half.  The Wolverines showed that they are indeed one of the very best teams in the land.  Now, they are off to the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis!

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