Ohio St falls 40-34, first loss to Mich since ’03

After all the losses, turmoil and speculation about the future,

Ohio State could cling to one last vestige of a joyous era.

The Buckeyes entered Michigan Stadium with seven consecutive

victories over their biggest rivals, hoping another win over the

Wolverines would give them reason to rejoice amid a frustrating

season.

Instead, Denard Robinson and Michigan snapped a streak Ohio

State had cherished as much as any accomplishment.

Robinson accounted for five touchdowns, helping the 17th-ranked

Wolverines beat Ohio State 40-34 on Saturday for their first win in

the storied rivalry since 2003. The Buckeyes trailed by 10 midway

through the fourth quarter, but nearly stunned their hosts with a

late rally before a last-minute interception sealed their fate.

”It’s a weird feeling,” Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey

said. ”We’re not really used to it.”

The Buckeyes (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) came in as underdogs following a

tumultuous year. Coach Jim Tressel left in May – his downfall

coming when it was learned he knew that several of his players had

accepted cash and tattoos from a tattoo parlor, the focus of a

federal drug-trafficking investigation. Ohio State is awaiting NCAA

penalties stemming from several violations.

Star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, initially suspended for five

games for receiving benefits in violation of NCAA bylaws, left for

the NFL. Interim coach Luke Fickell took over and tried to guide

the Buckeyes through an up-and-down season, but now his future is

uncertain – numerous reports have said former Florida coach Urban

Meyer is on his way to taking over at Ohio State.

Fickell avoided talking about his future after the game.

”Out of respect for the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, I wasn’t

going to think about it and wasn’t going to talk about it,” he

said.

After multiple questions about his status, the emotional coach

pounded the table while trying to change the subject.

”Like I said, it’s about the Ohio State-Michigan game,” he

said. ”It’s been about that since last Sunday. It’s going to be

about that always.”

Center Mike Brewster said after the game that Tressel addressed

the team Friday.

”To be able to see him again, I think it definitely got us

pumped, up,” he said. ”It was an honor.”

The Buckeyes were ready when they took the field, taking an

early lead when freshman Braxton Miller found a wide open Corey

Brown for a 54-yard touchdown. Miller threw for 235 yards and two

touchdowns, and he also ran for 100 yards and a TD.

But Ohio State couldn’t contain Robinson, who went 14 of 17 for

167 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for 170 yards

and two TDs.

Robinson’s 4-yard scoring pass to Kevin Koger gave Michigan

(10-2, 6-2) its biggest lead of the game at 37-27 with 8:32 to

play, but the Buckeyes needed only 1:23 to drive the other way for

Dan Herron’s 4-yard touchdown run.

Michigan was forced to settle for a six-point lead with 1:59

left on Brendan Gibbons’ career-long 43-yard field goal after two

touchdowns were negated by a video review and then penalties. That

gave the Buckeyes a chance to win it on their final drive.

Miller threw deep for Posey down the left sideline, and for a

moment it looked like Ohio State’s No. 8 was going to score a long

touchdown to give the Buckeyes victory No. 8 in row over

Michigan.

But the ball was overthrown.

”I thought he had it,” Miller said.

After converting one fourth down with an acrobatic run, Miller

spiked the ball later in the drive, bringing up fourth-and-6.

Courtney Avery’s interception gave the Wolverines the victory and a

possible bid to a BCS bowl in Brady Hoke’s first season as their

coach.

”I got the best job in the world,” Hoke said.

Michigan ended a drought against Ohio State that lasted more

than 2,900 days. Now it’s the Buckeyes who are trying to recover.

They’ve said they wouldn’t pass up the chance to go to a bowl game

– if the NCAA allows them to play in the postseason – but the

long-term question is who will be coaching them next year.

”If I was on the Board of Trustees, I would give you that

answer, but I don’t know,” Posey said. ”I love Coach Fickell.

He’s a great guy, he’s a great coach and he’s a great leader. I

can’t make that call. All I know is I love playing for the

guy.”

Former Ohio State running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner

Eddie George is expecting a change, saying the fact that Meyer

wasn’t in Ann Arbor with his ESPN crew was an obvious sign that

he’s the next coach of the Buckeyes.

”I think it’s a move they feel like they have to make,” George

told The Associated Press on Saturday morning at Michigan Stadium,

where he was working as an analyst. ”He certainly is the biggest

name out there and his resume speaks for itself. If you’re going to

go after somebody, you want to go after the biggest fish in the

pond and he’s that guy.”