Michigan Falls Short Against Ohio State
The University of Michigan football team could not hold a two-touchdown lead in the first half, falling to No. 8 Ohio State, 31-20, in the regular-season finale on Saturday (Nov. 25) inside Michigan Stadium.
Senior John O'Korn started at quarterback and went 17-for-32 passing for 195 yards and one touchdown. Chris Evans saw plenty of action, accounting for 101 all-purpose yards (67 rushing, 34 receiving), while Karan Higdon, Khalid Hill and Sean McKeon all scored touchdowns.
The Michigan defense was led by sophomore Rashan Gary and senior Mike McCray, who tied for the team lead with 10 tackles.
After a pair of three-and-outs, the Wolverines were the first to break through thanks to some clutch plays from O'Korn. He started the game having missed on his first three attempts but was good on the fourth, throwing a dart down the seam to Zach Gentry for 27 yards on a third-and-8. Facing a third-and-11 in the red zone, O'Korn motioned Evans out wide and threw it to him for a 13-yard gain, setting up Michigan at the two-yard line. It was Michigan's brand of smash-mouth football, though, that led to the team's first points via a two-yard touchdown run from Hill.
Aiming to keep the wind at their back for a punt, Ohio State elected to call a timeout with two seconds left in the first quarter. It did nott matter, as Donovan Peoples-Jones broke several tackles for a 42-yard return. After tacking on six more yards due to a defensive holding penalty on the return, Michigan started at the Ohio State five-yard line and took advantage, going up 14-0 on a three-yard play-action touchdown pass from O'Korn to McKeon.
The Buckeyes responded in the second quarter. One play after Josh Metellus could have ended the drive with an interception in the red zone, quarterback J.T. Barrett escaped the pocket on third down and scored on a 21-yard scramble. Barrett threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh on Ohio State's next possession to tie the score at 14 heading into halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, O'Korn hit sophomore Kekoa Crawford on a screen pass that went for 43 yards, putting the Wolverines in scoring position once more. Higdon scored three plays later, but the extra point was blocked, making the score 20-14.
Ohio State answered again, grabbing its first lead of the game, 21-20, on a one-yard touchdown run from J.K. Dobbins. That lead became 24-20 after a 44-yard field goal from Sean Nuernberger with 10:21 left in the game.
The Buckeyes had a chance to stretch the lead to a full touchdown, but Nuernberger missed from 43 yards out, turning the ball over to Michigan with 2:47 left in the game. However, O'Korn threw an interception on the first play of the drive, and Ohio State turned it into points, making it a two-possession game at 31-20 after a 25-yard touchdown run from Mike Weber.
Michigan finished the regular season with an 8-4 record and will play in a bowl game for the 46th time in program history. The Wolverines will learn their destination next Sunday (Dec. 3) following the announcement of the College Football Playoff field.