Andy Gottesman / Lantern multimedia editor
Ohio State sported jerseys dating back to 1942 during Saturday’s meeting with Michigan, but the game’s result continued a tradition established in the last decade.
The No. 8 Buckeyes rolled to their seventh consecutive win over rival Michigan, beating the Wolverines, 37-7, and clinching a share of their sixth straight Big Ten title in front of 105,491 fans at Ohio Stadium.
As part of the Nike Pro Combat series, OSU wore custom-designed uniforms to honor the 1942 national championship team.
The 2010 Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1) likely won’t be a part of any title game, but moved a step closer toward a BCS bowl invite with their ninth win in the last 10 games against Michigan (7-5, 3-5).
“It’s always the same feeling,” linebacker Ross Homan said. “Every time we beat Michigan, it’s always a great feeling and a success.”
It took the Buckeye offense a quarter to warm up on a chilly Columbus afternoon. After a scoreless first frame, OSU exploded for 24 points in the second quarter.
Devin Barclay opened the scoring with a 33-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 74-yard OSU drive.
“They put in some schemes that we hadn’t seen before, and it took us a little while to adjust to them,” senior offensive lineman Bryant Browning said. “I thought as the game went on, our offense was more effective.”
An 18-yard punt placed the Buckeyes’ next possession at the Michigan 35-yard line. Five plays later, quarterback Terrelle Pryor found Dane Sanzenbacher for a 7-yard touchdown.
Michigan responded with an 80-yard drive, culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by Michael Shaw, but Jordan Hall returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to push the OSU lead to 17-7.
“Words can’t explain it,” Hall said. “I’ve been waiting for it so long. We’re supposed to give the ball to the ref after we score, but I don’t even know where I put it.”
The Buckeyes then cashed in on a lost fumble by Michigan running back Vincent Smith with a 60-yard touchdown drive. Pryor connected with DeVier Posey across the middle, and the junior receiver dove into the end zone to increase OSU’s advantage.
Pryor completed 18 of 27 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Posey hauled in five catches for 81 yards.
Turnovers hindered Michigan’s first-half productivity. The Wolverines twice turned the ball over on downs and also lost a pair of fumbles.
“We took advantage of their turnovers,” Pryor said. “Normally if you win the turnover margin, you have a good chance of winning.”
Despite outgaining the Buckeyes 258-229, Michigan trailed 24-7 at halftime.
Quarterback Denard Robinson, widely considered the Heisman trophy favorite throughout the first half of the season, rushed for 105 yards before intermission. However, coach Rich Rodriguez said at halftime that the sophomore dislocated a couple of fingers on his non-throwing hand. Robinson sat out Michigan’s final drive of the first half and much of the second half.
“It wouldn’t have been much of a problem, but he likes to grip it with that hand and he couldn’t get any feeling back,” Rodriguez said. “He tried to go back in the second half but he just couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate because he was playing well today.”
Sophomore Tate Forcier, whom the Buckeyes picked off four times in Ann Arbor, Mich., in last year’s matchup, took over. He threw an interception on the first play after halftime.
The Buckeye running game struggled before the break. Dan “Boom” Herron totaled minus-1 yards on five first-half carries.
His fortunes changed in the third quarter.
Herron scored from 32 yards out on OSU’s opening drive of the second half, his 11th straight game with a touchdown.
“It was a strange game offensively where we kind of led with the pass in the first half and all of a sudden we got a couple turnovers and we are looking more at leading with the run the second half,” coach Jim Tressel said. “It wasn’t like all of a sudden a snowstorm came in or something. It was just that’s not what we needed to do and we always talk about we do what the team needs, and first half we needed to throw it.”
Michigan punter Will Hagerup didn’t travel to Columbus after being suspended for what the team called “a violation of team rules.” After backup punter Seth Broekhulzen pinned the Buckeyes at their own 2-yard line, Herron thundered down the sideline to the end zone.
A holding call against receiver Dane Sanzenbacher near the end of the run turned a 98-yard touchdown into an 89-yard pickup. Herron’s rush tied the school record for longest play from scrimmage. Gene Fekete gained 89 yards on a carry against Pittsburgh in 1942.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty but I don’t make the calls,” Sanzenbacher said. “I wouldn’t change what I did if I could do the play again, if that makes it any better. Sorry to Boom to steal his touchdown. I was just trying to help clear the way for him to get into the end zone.”
Herron finished with 22 carries for 175 yards, the third time he has topped the century mark in the last four contests.
The game resembled the last trip the Wolverines made to the Horseshoe, when they fell 42-7 in Rich Rodriguez’s first season in 2008.