Ohio State senior right tackle Isaiah Prince did not want to look at the scoreboard.
He said, before the game, the offense made that deal, that it would not look at the scoreboard, at how many points the unit was putting up against Michigan.
“We said we were going to stick together and play the best we can together,” Prince said.
As the fans flooded onto the sidelines as the clock hit zeros, Prince saw what the scoreboard read: No. 10 Ohio State 62, No. 4 Michigan 39.
The scoreboard showed the most complete performance that Ohio State has had this season in the game it needed to happen in most.
For redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, he knew what the expectation was. He said the coaching staff gave the players a blueprint to succeed against the Wolverines.
This blueprint led to 567 yards of offense against the No. 1 total defense in the country, limiting a defensive line of redshirt senior Chase Winovich and junior Rashan Gary to zero sacks, recording only two tackles for loss. This blueprint led to Ohio State disrupting Michigan junior quarterback Shea Patterson, recording three sacks and five tackles for loss.
But this is the same blueprint that Ohio State has had in games like this in the past. In the first time the Buckeyes have been the underdog since the 2015 National Championship against Oregon, Jones admitted something his team has lived by this season.
“We play down or play up to our competition and we definitely played above and beyond today,” Jones said.
Head coach Urban Meyer said there is never such a thing as a “bad win.” No matter the opponent, whether it is Michigan, Indiana or Maryland, he said “it’s really hard to win a college football game.
And, just like any other game, the Buckeyes came into the game knowing which areas the offense and defense alike could exploit, areas of weakness.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon said he saw that Michigan played a lot of press-man coverages, allowing for receivers to find space to run from the slot.
The Buckeyes mercilessly attacked the Wolverines with the mesh route, which led to redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins completing 19 of 30 passes for 318 yards, throwing five touchdowns and breaking single-season conference records in the process.
Jones said he saw a zone blocking scheme that gave Ohio State a unique ability to get into the backfield, keeping Michigan to 3.4 yards per rush in the first half along with getting Patterson and Michigan senior running back Karan Higdon on the ground consistently.
“That gave us an advantage because we knew their game plan and we just sacked them,” Jones said.
All in all, this was the game that brought everything together, encapsulated the potential, the level Ohio State wanted to be playing at for the entire season.
“That was a love game,” Meyer said. “That was one of those things that you hear the word ’brotherhood,’ and why do you really play? Why does a true soldier fight? It’s not for the hatred of those in front of you; it’s for the love of those behind you. And that’s a great quote that we live by, and they proved it today.”
But Ohio State had something to prove too. It had to prove that it was still in the conversation of being worthy for playoff contention.
Because that’s all Jones had been hearing about. It’s something he said can be ignored, but he knows it’s there and he uses it as fuel.
“Hearing the outside noise talking about how we can’t do this, we can’t stop that, that definitely fueled us 10 times more than what you guys even know,” Jones said. “We all carried the burden of people saying that we are not good.”
The playoff conversation returned Saturday afternoon after the Buckeyes put up 62 points, the most points it had scored in the history of the rivalry and the most points Michigan has allowed in a regulation game in its history.
Even with the success, Dixon still believes the offense has not peaked.
“For us, we always think we can do better,” Dixon said. “We always think we can be better, so I still don’t think we are at the best level we can be, but it’s better. We are moving in the right direction.”
Prince did not expect any huge numbers offensively, any stifling numbers from the Ohio State defense. He came in praying, simply, just for a win.
“I prayed before the game and I said ‘I don’t really care what happens here in this game as long as we come out with a win for my senior day, it would make me the most happiest person,’” Prince said.
When Prince looked at the scoreboard, he saw a win, but he said he also still saw a possibility to achieve every goal Ohio State had prior to the start of the 2018 season.