Coming in as an underdog for the first time since the 2015 National Championship, No. 10 Ohio State came out with something to prove against No. 4 Michigan, recording a 62-39 victory for head coach Urban Meyer’s seventh win against the Wolverines. What everyone expected right? Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game.
Haskins rolls No. 1 pass defense
Michigan came in with the No. 1 total defense in the country, allowing just over 120 yards of passing per game. The Wolverines had also not allowed more than 24 points in any game prior to Saturday’s game against the Buckeyes, but they had not faced the level of pass offense Ohio State has in its first 11 games of the season, with the highest being No. 30 SMU.
Dwayne Haskins took advantage.
He left Ohio Stadium completing 19-of-30 pass attempts for 318 yards, breaking former Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter’s record for single-season passing yards in Big Ten history. He also threw five touchdowns, breaking former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees’ single season Big Ten passing touchdown record set in 1998.
But those stats were not finalized. After the game, a 75-yard touchdown for redshirt senior Parris Campbell, initially called a rush, was credited to Haskins, giving him 393 passing yards on the day with six touchdowns.
Michigan had not faced a quarterback like Dwayne Haskins all season. And, with a clean pocket and receivers continuing to get open on short crossing routes, using their speed to break away from defenders, he showed why he leads the No. 2 pass offense in the country.
Pass rush improves tremendously
The stat sheet shows Ohio State recorded five tackles for loss and three sacks against junior quarterback Shea Patterson and the rest of the Michigan offense. But the performance up front, the consistent pressure in the Michigan backfield, gave Ohio State its most consistent performance for the defensive line since the loss of former All-American Nick Bosa.
In the third quarter, Patterson was chased outside the pocket by sophomore defensive end Chase Young, forcing the quarterback to run outside the pocket, throwing on the run against his body. Even though there was not a tackle for loss or sack on that play, it led to an interception, as junior safety Jordan Fuller took the ball, giving Ohio State its first takeaway of the game.
The pressure from the defensive line also brought good things for junior linebacker Malik Harrison, who had one of the best statistical days of his collegiate career. He had seven tackles and two tackles for loss, including one sack.
Junior defensive end Jonathon Cooper, redshirt junior nose tackle Robert Landers and Young each recorded a tackle for loss, but it was the consistency that created havoc for the Michigan offense all day.
Martell package does not work against Michigan
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Martell entered the game twice against Michigan to give the Wolverines a change of pace in the red zone. To put it bluntly, it did not work.
In the second quarter, with Ohio State leading Michigan 21-19, Haskins drove the Buckeyes down the field. With 12 seconds to go in the half, facing a 2nd-and-goal from the Michigan 2-yard line, Martell entered the game, gaining one yard to the right, and forcing the Buckeyes to take a timeout with seven seconds left. On this drive, Ohio State scored a field goal, giving it a 24-19 lead at half.
On Ohio State’s second drive of the second half, Haskins again drove down the field, bringing the offense to a 1st-and-goal from the Michigan 5-yard line. Martell came in, recording a rush for no gain and handing the ball off to sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins twice for three total yards, forcing another field goal.
When Martell enters the game, opposing defenses know what Ohio State will not do: throw the ball. The redshirt freshman has not attempted a pass since Ohio State’s win against Tulane on Sept. 22, when he entered the game and saw regular snaps when Meyer decided Haskins’ day was done.
Until Martell attempts a pass in the red zone, Ohio State’s Martell package is one dimensional, and, especially with Haskins’ zone-read ability improving, not needed.