No. 1 Ohio State put a beating on No. 13 Michigan in the 116th Game, extending the Buckeyes’ streak to eight straight wins against the Wolverines, and 15 of the past 16. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day got his first win as a head coach in the rivalry, and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s losing streak extended to five against the Buckeyes, who keep their undefeated season rolling into the Big Ten Championship Game against No. 10 Wisconsin Saturday. Here are The Lantern’s five takeaways from The Game:
Junior running back J.K. Dobbins had one of the worst performances of his career against Michigan in 2018, with 13 touches for 47 yards.
Dobbins had nearly six times as many in a career-best game Saturday, setting personal bests with 211 rushing yards, 260 total, and four touchdowns.
“I know he was sick to his stomach about the fumble [against Penn State], and he wore that on his sleeve all week,” Day said. “He just had a look in his eye today. He was not gonna be denied.”
All 79 yards from scrimmage on Ohio State’s opening drive were chewed up by Dobbins, who converted a third-and-14 on a 28-yard catch-and-run to set up his first score a play later.
His pace never let up, as Dobbins found the end zone again on runs of five and six yards in the first half, when he racked up 103 yards on the ground.
Not yet satisfied with an already dominant performance, Dobbins opened the second half with back-to-back chunk gashes of 41 and 21 yards on a run and catch, and the resulting touchdown by redshirt senior wide receiver K.J. Hill put the Buckeyes up with a commanding 35-16 lead.
Dobbins galloped 33 yards to paydirt in the final quarter to put the nail in the Michigan coffin for the eighth straight game, and the La Grange, Texas, native finished in second place behind only Archie Griffin with 4,113 all-time Ohio State rushing yards.
Second half switch
Michigan redshirt senior quarterback Shea Patterson accrued more first half passing yards than any other gunslinger has gathered in an entire game against Ohio State’s defense Saturday.
Patterson went 4-for-24 with 55 yards in the second half.
“They’ve got some really good receivers. Patterson’s really talented. Their offensive line did a good job protecting, I thought,” Day said. “But I thought at halftime, our defensive staff made some really good adjustments.”
After a 28-16 halftime game, Ohio State used its defensive improvement to storm out to a 42-16 advantage en route to a 56-27 blowout.
Michigan finished the second half with 111 total yards on offense, mounting just one drive longer than 25 yards.
Fields has Heisman moment
A sprained MCL put Justin Fields down for the second straight game, but it didn’t keep him out for long.
With Buckeye fans’ hearts in their mouths, the sophomore quarterback ran back on the field in the third quarter, scrambled left with a restrictive new brace on and dropped a 30-yard dart into the back of the end zone.
Awaiting the pass was freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who caught one of four Fields’ touchdown strikes on the day in a performance that left his coach and teammates raving.
“I thought it was a magical moment. I thought it was a Heisman moment,” Day said. “For him to go down, take that injury, puts the brace on, comes back out, and makes a throw that we didn’t design that way. There were some plays we designed that played out just the way we thought they would today. That was not one of them.”
Fields launched a 57-yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver Chris Olave in the first quarter to break the ice after a 3-for-9 start, hitting Hill and senior wide receiver Austin Mack for touchdowns of six and 16 yards in the second half.
The Georgia transfer is just seven touchdowns away from Dwayne Haskins’ single-season record 54 total touchdowns set a season ago.
Day cements spot
Riding high through 11 victories to open his time as head coach at Ohio State, Day accomplished a great deal for the Buckeyes.
Those accomplishments could have paled with a loss to archrival Michigan.
Capturing a 56-27 win in his first rivalry game as head coach, Day has used his skills as an offensive coordinator to put up at least 56 points in back-to-back contests against top 5 Michigan defenses.
“This is all a blur right now. To say that there’s not stress coming into a game like this would be a lie,” Day said. “There’s so much riding on a game like this, and you understand and you feel the weight of everybody involved with it. To win like this, it’s a relief.”
Day has now capped off a perfect regular season in his first season as a college football head coach, with wins against four opponents currently ranked in the College Football Playoff top 25.
With the help of four new defensive assistant coach hires, including Broyles Award semifinalist and co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, Day led the worst total defense in school history in 2018 to become the No. 1 total defense in the nation.
Overpowering offensive line
Dobbins noted that his performance on the ground would not have been possible without his offensive line, and the group turned in a grand performance against Michigan, Day said.
The Buckeyes dismantled the Wolverine defensive line on the ground to the tune of 264 rushing yards and protected their quarterbacks with just one sack on the day from a front seven that averages three per game.
“Every game, we come in with a look in our eyes, dominate, be fierce, be nasty,” redshirt senior offensive guard Jonah Jackson said. “This game is extra special because you prepared so long for it. Once we threw the pads on, once we were out there, it was time to get right.”
Ohio State’s offensive line performance is something it could look to improve against No. 12 Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. While the Buckeyes mounted 264 rushing yards against the country’s then-No. 1 rush defense, they allowed five sacks from the Badgers’ defensive line.
Ohio State’s season continues against the Badgers at 8 p.m. Saturday in Indianapolis.