Michigan football entered Columbus as a favorite for the first time since 2004 with hopes of establishing itself as the Big Ten’s best team.
All it found was more of the same against Ohio State.
A meltdown, a collapse.
Dwayne Haskins threw for 318 yards and five touchdowns and No. 10 Ohio State completely handled No. 4 Michigan in every area, clinching the Big Ten East, keeping Jim Harbaugh winless against Urban Meyer and sending the Wolverines’ playoff hopes out the window in a 62-39 thrashing.
Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) will play Northwestern in Indianapolis on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game. The Wolverines (10-2, 8-1) will now await their bowl assignment, which will come Dec. 2.
Michigan has now lost seven straight games in this series and is 1-14 against Ohio State since 2003. The 62 points scored was the most the Wolverines have surrendered in the history of the rivalry.
Ohio State outgained Michigan, 567-401.
U-M spent most of 2018 as the nation’s No. 1-ranked pass defense. Ohio State didn’t care. The Buckeyes, who came into this game with the No. 2-ranked pass offense, put the Wolverines on their heels early and often and Michigan never had a response.
Ohio State’s first drive of the game featured wide-open crossing routes and resulted in a quick, easy touchdown. The tone was set from there.
Whenever Haskins needed to make a throw, he made it — often to a wide-open wide receiver with plenty of space to roam.
Michigan tried to mix in zone, but it didn’t work. The Wolverines had trouble with pass interference and holding and more trouble keeping up with Ohio State’s receivers all game.
Ohio State had its share of mistakes, but the pass offense took whatever it wanted.
U-M’s line play, on both sides of the ball, vanished in this game. Harbaugh’s game plan early was clearly to establish U-M at the line of scrimmage and push the Buckeyes — who gave up nearly 400 rushing yards last week — around.
That never happened.
Ohio State sold out on the run, Michigan struggled to protect Shea Patterson and the Wolverines’ conservative game plan resulted in unfinished early drives and an early deficit that was never repaired.
The defensive line, meanwhile, also got pushed around. Michigan failed to pressure Haskins, which helped make life much easier for the Buckeyes’ passing attack.
Chase Winovich was healthy enough to play, but no one up front did enough to limit Ohio State from gashing the Wolverines’ constantly.
U-M cornerback David Long was carted off the field with a leg injury, though he did return to the sideline. Linebacker Devin Bush Jr. was helped off the field to the locker room after a leg injury, he never returned.
But this was about more than injuries.
Michigan had a chance to put its foot down and get one giant step closer to ending the program’s Big Ten title drought Saturday.
Instead, the Wolverines turned in their worst game of the season on the biggest stage of the year. A total meltdown that featured a litany of small errors and some giant ones, too.
Zach Gentry dropped a touchdown and two other first downs. Michigan missed too many tackles. The punt team allowed a block for a touchdown. Parris Campbell had a 78-yard jet sweep touchdown. The Wolverines were gifted a touchdown in the final of the second quarter and then promptly allowed Ohio State to drive right down the field to add a field goal before halftime.
Michigan was outclassed in every area on the field and on the sideline Saturday.
Harbaugh is now 0-4 against Meyer with two lopsided losses. Nowhere near good enough in the year’s biggest moment.