COLUMBUS – All those points against Toledo didn’t matter. All those yards against Indiana didn’t matter.
Neither did that fourth-quarter comeback against Penn State. And, most surprisingly, what happened a year ago couldn’t keep Ohio State from losing for a second consecutive season to Michigan, which dominated the Buckeyes 45-23 in the latest chapter of their storied football rivalry on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
OSU had pointed to this game since Michigan won 42-27 last season for only its third victory over the Buckeyes in 20 seasons.
But instead of finding a remedy for last season’s disappointment Ohio State was filled with regret again.
No. 3 Michigan (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) played its way into the Big Ten championship game and almost certainly a spot in the College Football Playoff for a second year in a row.
No. 2 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) finished runner-up in the Big Ten East Division behind the Wolverines for a second year in a row and has only the thinnest of hopes of being one of the four playoff teams.
Ohio State got off to a strong start, marching 81 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown on a 4-yard pass from quarterback C.J. Stroud to Emeka Egbuka after taking the opening kickoff. And it led 20-17 at halftime.
But the Buckeyes could come up with only a fourth-quarter field goal by Noah Ruggles and Michigan went on a roll in every facet of the game in the final two quarters when it outscored OSU 28-3.
“I’m going to have to look and see where the breakdowns were but it wasn’t just one area,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.
The most obvious area to begin that search was Michigan’s ability to produce big plays despite its leading rusher, Blake Corum, being limited to 2 carries for 6 yards because of a knee injury.
Michigan’s two touchdowns in the first half came on a 69-yard touchdown pass from quarterback J.J. McCarthy to Cornelius Johnson and a 75-yard connection between the two of them.
In the second half, McCarthy hit tight end Colston Loveland with a 45-yard touchdown throw and running back Donovan Edwards scored on runs of 75 yards and 85 yards.
“The first thing you want to do in games like this is play great defense. Other than two plays in the first half, I thought we did. But not in the second half,” Day said.
Michigan outgained Ohio State 530 yards to 492 yards overall after the Buckeyes had a 315 to 214 edge in total offense and a 16 to 4 advantage in first downs in the first.
Despite that statistical disparity in their favor, the Buckeyes had to settle for field goals twice in the first half and couldn’t get a first down in a fourth-and-two situation at Michigan’s 34-yard line another time.
“Those were opportunities to kind of jump ahead and we didn’t take advantage of them,” Day said.
Stroud said, “In the first half we were shooting ourselves in the foot. If we scored more points in the first half this game might have been different. And we came out in the second half and shot ourselves in the foot again.”
Day said, “I felt really good going into the second half but we just didn’t execute. I felt like we had a lot of juice coming out of the locker room, but we just didn’t do it.”
Ruggles third field goal of the game brought OSU to within eight points, 31-23, but Michigan answered with Edwards’ 75-yard touchdown run to push its lead to 38-23. Less than four minutes later he went 85 yards for another touchdown.
McCarthy was 12 of 24 for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Edwards gained 216 yards on 22 carries.
Stroud was 31 of 48 for 349 yards and two touchdowns. Emeka Egbuka had 9 catches for 125 yards
and a touchdown and Marvin Harrison Jr. caught 7 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. DeaMonte Traynum was OSU’s leading rusher with 83 yards on 14 carries. Miyan Williams had 8 carries for 34 yards. Dallan Hayden got 2 carries for 7 yards and TreVeyon Henderson did not play.
It was Ohio State’s biggest margin of defeat at home against Michigan since a 22-0 loss in 1976.