One week after posting just 132 yards against Michigan State and drawing fire from its own Heisman Trophy-contending halfback, No. 8 Ohio State's offense was back in full bloom Saturday as the Buckeyes throttled No. 10 Michigan 42-13. Ohio State gashed the Wolverines defense in the running game, rolling up 371 rushing yards on the nation's fourth-best rushing defense. The Buckeyes punted on the game's first series, then scored touchdowns on six of the next seven. Five Ohio State touchdown drives went for 75 yards or more.
No amount of pregame hammering could help the Wolverines. Michigan's defense, which was allowing 100 yards per game entering Saturday, simply could not stop Ohio State. The Wolverine rushing offense also struggled. Michigan managed just 55 rushing yards on 24 carries. Quarterback Jake Rudock tried to keep Michigan close, completing 19/32 passing attempts for 263 yards before being knocked out of the game on a Joey Bosa fourth-quarter sack.
Bosa wasn't done after knocking out his former high school teammate: On the next series, he tipped a pass from backup quarterback Wilton Speight, intercepted the pass, then stiffarmed Speight before being tripped up.
With the game in hand early in the fourth quarter, Michigan fans began filing out of the Big House. Ohio State fans stayed for some good-natured trolling.
Ohio State is still alive for a conference title and Playoff berth. There's reason to celebrate.
Three things to know
1. Everyone heard Ezekiel Elliott. Ohio State' halfback was not happy after receiving just 12 carries in last week's loss to Michigan State, and made his feelings known. While pundits spent the week asking if OSU coach Urban Meyer would bench Elliott over those comments, Meyer did the opposite: He listened and adjusted. The result: Elliott ran 26 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Both Ohio State's championship hopes and Elliott's Heisman Trophy campaign were revived.
2. Michigan isn't there yet. The turnaround in Ann Arbor in Jim Harbaugh's first season has been remarkable. The Wolverines won four more games overall, three more games in the Big Ten, and climbed into the College Football Playoff Top 10 in November without any significant change in personnel. Harbaugh did it largely on the back of a top-notch defense, ranked in the nation's top four in total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and passing yards allowed. But Michigan's defense had no answer for Ohio State Saturday, and the Wolverine offense could not keep up. Michigan came a long way in 2015, but it still has work to do to compete with the Big Ten's best.
3. The waiting is the hardest part. Ohio State finishes the regular season 11-1, and has an outside chance of a College Football Playoff berth if it can get into the Big Ten Championship Game and beat the Iowa Hawkeyes. The only thing standing in Ohio State's way: Michigan State, which would finish ahead of the Buckeyes in the Big Ten East with a win over Penn State Saturday afternoon. If the Spartans lose, Ohio State punches its ticket to Indianapolis. If MSU wins, however, the Buckeyes are likely relegated to a New Years' Day bowl appearance.