Michigan goes for 2, loses 42-41 to No. 3 Ohio St
Michigan had a shot to pull off one of the biggest upsets in its
storied series against Ohio State.
And, the Wolverines didn’t want to take their chances in
Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner’s 2-point conversion pass
with 32 seconds left and the third-ranked Buckeyes held on for a
42-41 victory on Saturday in one the most thrilling games in the
Big Ten’s biggest rivalry.
”We felt like we could win the game right there,” Gardner
said, looking and sounding as saddened as any athlete after a
Gardner threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess to make
it 42-41, but instead of kicking for the tie, Wolverines coach
Brady Hoke went for the lead with his offense.
”We played the game to win,” Hoke said.
The coach and his slumping team almost did, but Gardner couldn’t
zip a pass to Drew Dileo in traffic near the goal line and Powell
came up with it.
”During the timeout, coach (Hoke) asked the seniors if we
wanted to go for 2, and every one of us said, `Yes,”’ Michigan
left tackle Taylor Lewan recalled.
Buckeyes cornerback Roby Bradley recovered the onside kick to
seal Ohio State’s 24th consecutive victory and keep its national
championship hopes alive.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer insisted the streak was not as
significant as winning his second game in as many tries against
”No question – the win over our rival is better,” he said.
Braxton Miller accounted for five touchdowns for Ohio State
(12-0, 8-0) and Carlos Hyde ran for a 1-yard score with 2:20 left
to make it 42-35.
The Buckeyes left Ann Arbor knowing they will play Michigan
State in the Big Ten title game next Saturday in Indianapolis,
needing to beat the Spartans – and have No. 1 Alabama or No. 2
Florida State lose a game to have a chance to reach the BCS
national championship game. No. 4 Auburn later helped Ohio State
out by defeating the Crimson Tide by returning a missed field goal
100 yards on the final play for a 34-28 victory.
The Wolverines (7-5, 3-5) finished fifth in the six-team Legends
Division, won by the Spartans, and will wait to find out what
lackluster bowl they’re play in to close Hoke’s third season in
charge of college football’s winningest team. They lost five of
their last seven games in the regular season.
”I’ll be very excited to see the next game to see if we play
with the same passion that they had (against Ohio State),” Hoke
Michigan started strong as a 16 1-2-point underdog and didn’t
wilt when Ohio State went up 35-21 late in the third quarter one
drive after Gardner threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-2 when
Hoke opted against attempting a 31-yard field goal.
”They didn’t let up at all,” Miller said.
Michigan, though, couldn’t make a pivotal play in a shootout
that could’ve been its most surprising win in the rivalry since Bo
Schembechler’s first team at Michigan beat what Woody Hayes said
was his best Buckeyes squad in 1969.
”I threw an interception that cost us the win,” said Gardner,
who limped into a news conference with a protective boot on his
left foot. ”That’s what I will remember.”
When the Wolverines look back at the game, they’ll lament how
their defense played.
Miller ran for 153 yards and three TDs and threw for 133 yards
and two scores. Hyde ran for 226 yards to help Ohio State win for
the ninth time in 10 games against Michigan, but he fumbled in the
fourth quarter to help the Wolverines tie the game for a fourth
time with 5:01 left.
Both teams scored at least 41 points for the first time in their
series that dates to 1897.
”That’s an instant classic,” Meyer said.
Gardner was 32 of 45 for 451 yards and four TDs, connecting nine
times for 175 yards and a score to Jeremy Gallon, and ran for a
1-yard TD that gave Michigan the first lead in the high-scoring
game that went to halftime tied at 21. Gardner fumbled in the third
quarter and Ohio State took advantage of the turnover on the
ensuing drive with a Miller’s go-ahead, 3-yard TD.
It was a slug fest – literally for a few moments.
The teams exchanged pushes and a couple of punches in the second
quarter after a Michigan kickoff.
The Buckeyes lost starting right guard Marcus Hall and kick
returner Dontre Wilson and the Wolverines lost backup linebacker
Royce Jenkins-Stone to ejections. All three players were flagged
for unsportsmanlike conduct and had to leave the field after a
skirmish. Hall and Wilson appeared to throw punches. Jenkins-Stone
tugged Wilson’s helmet off and tossed it to the turf. While walking
off the field and toward the tunnel, Hall put both arms into the
air and flashed a familiar obscene gesture, extended middle
fingers, to the Michigan crowd.
”We don’t like each other, that stuff is going to happen,”
Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan said.
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage