It was far from easy, as is ofttimes the case when it comes to The Game. But, ultimately, it ended the same way Ohio State’s previous 23 games had — with Buckeyes on the correct side of the scoreboard.
Behind the one-two workhorse punch of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, Ohio State was able to hang on in the face of hated rival Michigan’s furious fourth-quarter rally and stake its claim to a 42-41 win in the Big House. The Buckeyes took a 35-21 lead into the fourth quarter only to see it evaporate on the strength of a pair of Devin Gardner touchdown passes, the second of which came with 5:01 remaining and knotted the score at 35-all.
An OSU touchdown nearly three minutes later was matched by UM with :32 left. Eschewing a game-tying extra point that would’ve nearly guaranteed overtime, Brady Hoke made the gutsy — and correct — call to go for two and the likely win. Gardner’s pass, however, was intercepted at the goal line, securing what was a wildly-entertaining win for the Buckeyes.
The victory capped the second straight undefeated season for the Buckeyes, who have not lost under second-year coach Urban Meyer. This is the eighth time in the past nine games — that have officially counted — OSU has beaten That School Up North, which still holds a 58-44-6 edge in the ultimate gridiron grudge match.
Miller and Hyde combined to rush for 379 yards, 153 for the former and 226 for the latter. Hyde’s total is a record for an Ohio State player in The Game, while Miller ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more.
Gardner passed for 451 yards and four touchdowns — three of which came in that wild fourth quarter — in what was the Wolverines’ fifth loss of the season.
The win extended OSU’s school-record winning streak to 24 straight. It’s tied for the 27th-longest winning streak in FBS history, joining Boise State (2009-10), Princeton (1949-52), Minnesota (1903-05), Nebraska (1901-04, Yale (1894-95; 1882-84) and Harvard (1890-91). They are now five games away from tying Michigan’s record of 29 for a Big Ten school set from 1903-05.
The win also kept alive the Buckeyes’ hopes for a shot at a BCS title. They don’t however, control their own destiny. If Alabama and Florida State win out, it will be the Tide and Seminoles vying for the crystal regardless of what the Buckeyes’ do in the Big Ten Championship game against Michigan State next weekend.