Amara Darboh

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No. 2 Ohio State clips No. 3 Michigan in overtime classic; waiting for Big Ten East continues

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No. 2 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) battled its way back from a double-digit lead in a game that saw Urban Meyer outcoached by Jim Harbaugh for much of the afternoon, and came away with a wild victory in double overtime that will be remembered for years to come. Ohio State’s double-overtime victory over No. 3 Michigan (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) moved Ohio State one step closer to an appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game next weekend, but the Buckeyes no longer control the fate of the division. Instead, the hopes of a Big Ten East Division crown rest in Happy Valley, where Penn State is taking on Michigan State.

Curtis Samuel ripped off a 15-yard walk-off touchdown run after Ohio State managed to survive by the slimmest of distances on a fourth down play. JT Barrett took the ball and ran for a hard-fought first down on a fourth and one play, down 27-23. Forward progress would come into play to help the Buckeyes stay alive, giving Samuel a chance to celebrate a wild win. And wild it most certainly was.

Barrett took the ball up the middle for a touchdown run on Ohio State’s first possession of overtime, but it was Michigan that would pull out the fourth down dramatics with the game on the line at the end of the first overtime. On fourth and goal, Wilton Speight connected with Amara Darboh in the back of the end zone to keep things going, with a successful PAT to tie the game and force a second overtime. The Wolverines struck first in the second overtime with a 37-yard field goal by Kenny Allen, which set up the situation for all the marbles and bragging rights for a year for the Buckeyes.

Special teams was a disaster for the Buckeyes all afternoon. Tyler Durbin missed two field goals, including a supposed chip shot in the fourth quarter that would have tied the game at 17-17. It missed wide left, just as a field goal try in the first half sailed on the opening offensive series for Ohio State. Punter Cameron Johnston was stopped well shy of a first down on a bizarre fourth-and-seven fake punt attempt from the Ohio state 19-yard line. Michigan’s offense took advantage of the short field position with a Khalid Hill touchdown pass from Wilton Speight five plays later, building a 10-point advantage (17-7) early in the third quarter.

Barrett ended the day with 124 passing yards and a game-high 125 rushing yards. Michigan was limited to 91 rushing yards as a team. Ohio State had just 81 yards of offense in the first half but ended the game with 330-310 advantage in total offense. For Michigan, turnovers were the difference, with three turnovers leading to 14 points, including a first half pick-six.

Special teams also cost Ohio State at the end of the first half. After Malik Hooker picked off a pass by Speight and returned it a short distance for Ohio State’s first score of the game, Jabrill Peppers returned the ensuing kick to the Michigan 45-yard line, giving the Wolverines great starting field position late in the first half to answer. They did just that with a well-run touchdown drive to turn a 7-3 deficit into a 10-7 halftime lead.

With the win, Ohio State now must wait to see how Penn State does against Michigan State this afternoon. If Penn State beats the Spartans, then the Nittany Lions will play for the Big Ten Championship thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with Ohio State. That will conclude Ohio State’s regular season at 11-1, but the Buckeyes may still be in an excellent position to secure a College Football Playoff berth after entering this weekend ranked second behind Alabama. It is unlikely Ohio State will fall in the rankings and should feel good about their odds of being chosen for the playoffs even as a non-division champion. It would be the first time a non-division (and non-conference) champion would reach the College Football Playoff in its third year of operation.

Michigan should still be an attractive option in the New Years Six bowl line-up, perhaps for the Rose Bowl, but that may also depend on what happens with Penn State. Whatever happens, the Wolverines will be a very formidable foe for whomever they face in the bowl season. And who knows, maybe crazy things happen and Michigan sneaks right back into the playoff picture?

Michigan powers ahead of Ohio State just before halftime

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Malik Hooker picked off a poor pass over the middle under duress from Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown late in the first half. It was the only touchdown of the half for either team,but the Wolverines responded in the final minutes to take a 10-7 halftime lead in Ohio Stadium in a crucial game for Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff scenarios.

After it seemed Ohio State scored a momentum-shifting touchdown, Michigan answered in a big way. Jabrill Peppers returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to give the Wolverines starting field position at the Michigan 45-yard line, and Speight completed six straight pass attempts to move the ball down to the seven-yard line in the final minute of the half. The Buckeyes buckled down on the next few plays to prevent the Wolverines from pushing across the goal line until third down when Khalid Hill finally pushed one yard for a go-ahead touchdown.

Ohio State whiffed on a chance to pick up points on their first offensive series. Despite working their way 72 yards down the field after starting at their eight-yard line, Ohio State was stopped just inside the red zone and had to settle for a field goal try, but Tyler Durbin pushed his 37-yard try wide left.

Speight had the one costly mistake but has had a solid first half by completing 15-of-20 attempts for 141 yards. Amara Darboh is Michigan’s leading receiver with 47 yards on five receptions. Jake Butt has added 38 yards on three catches as well. Ohio State has managed just 81 yards of offense so far against the Wolverines and will have to find a way to get things going on that side of the football in order to come back, unless the defense can score another touchdown.

A Michigan win would give the Wolverines the Big Ten East Division crown and send them to their first Big Ten Championship Game next week in Indianapolis to play Wisconsin. If Ohio State battles back and wins, it opens the door for Penn State later this afternoon to wiggle their way to Indy.

No. 3 Michigan makes turtle soup of Maryland, 59-3

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No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) had absolutely no problem with their latest opponent, Maryland (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten). The Wolverines picked up a 59-3 victory over Maryland to remain undefeated this season and also assuring Michigan fans another week of steep discounts on steak dinners.

A week after handling Michigan State, it has become more and more clear there is almost nobody in the Big Ten that can slow down Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines. Maryland was down 45-0 before managing to put a measly three points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Can we just fast forward to Michigan-Ohio State already?

Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight had a big afternoon, completing 19 of 24 passes for 362 yards and two touchdowns and a rushing touchdown before getting the rest of the game off. Jehu Chesson (112 yards, 1 TD) and Amara Darboh (77 yards, 1 TD) and Jake Butt (76 yards) were Speight’s top targets. De'Veon Smith carried the football 19 times for 114 yards and three scores.

Maryland lost quarterback Perry Hills to an apparent injury in the first half, and Caleb Rowe was unable to lead the offense against Michigan to much success. Rowe was picked off twice and completed just 12 of 23 pass attempts for 203 yards. Hills became the ninth quarterback this seaosn knocked out of a game by Michigan’s defense. An arguably late hit on Hills was uncalled by Big Ten officials in this one.

Michigan may face an interesting challenge next week when the Wolverines leave the state of Michigan for just the second time all season. Michigan plays at Iowa next Saturday night. The Hawkeyes will be coming off a primetime road game at Penn State. Iowa has held four opponents to fewer than 10 points in a game this season, although Michigan will pose the biggest challenge to the Hawkeyes they have faced all season.

Maryland’s quest for postseason eligibility will not likely be very easy the next couple of weeks. Maryland hosts Ohio State next week and travels to Nebraska the following week. Maryland’s bowl hopes may just have to be on the line in the regular season finale at home against Rutgers.

No. 3 Michigan once again on cruise control, leading Maryland 35-0 at half

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Can we just fast-forward Michigan’s season to the part where they play at Ohio State? The Wolverines are easily on their way to a 9-0 record this afternoon with a 35-0 halftime lead on Maryland in Michigan Stadium. Jabrill Peppers has once again played a small role in the offense in addition to his defensive assignments and special teams duties, but Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight has been lighting up Maryland so far.

Speight has completed 13 of 16 passes for 292 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He has also rushed for a touchdown. De'Veon Smith has rushed for 49 yards and a score. Michigan has already accumulated 402 yards of offense (and 17 first downs) to Maryland’s 143 offensive yards.

Michigan opened the game with a  10-play scoring drive traveling 91 yards. A game-opening kickoff return to the Michigan 49-yard line by Peppers was wiped off due to an illegal block. Michigan even managed to put together over 100 yards of offense on the opening drive due to a personal foul on Kyle Kalis. Amara Darboh caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Speight to finish off the opening drive with a score.

Maryland quarterback Perry Hills left the game to be examined by medical trainers in the first half, leaving the Maryland offense in the hands of Caleb Rowe.

No. 2 Michigan wins in East Lansing for first time since 2007

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No. 2 Michigan (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) overcame an early fight by Michigan State (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) but created some separation in the second half and slammed the door shut on the Spartans in the second half for a 32-23 win. The win keeps Michigan undefeated on the season and on top of the Big Ten East Division and puts the Spartans on very thin ice as it relates to postseason opportunities. It was Michigan’s first win in Spartan Stadium since 2007 and most-lopsided win since 1997 (23-7).

Michigan State’s running game proved to be effective in the first half, but the lack of any threat in the passing game ended up being part of the reason the Spartans could not keep up with Michigan. LJ Scott rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort, but Mark Dantonio‘s game-time decision to go with Tyler O’Connor resulted in a 4-for-10 for 34-yard afternoon, with an interception. Damion Terry and Brian Lewerke would get some time on the field as well, bu the damage was already done by the Wolverines.

Michigan’s offense was just unstoppable, scoring points on all of their first-half possessions to take a commanding 27-10 lead into the halftime break. The box score may not reveal a fantastic performance by Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, but he still passed for over 200 yards and found a way to connect with Amara Darboh for some big gains. Michigan spread the ball around well on the ground too, including De'Veon Smith (2 TDs), Eddie McDoom and even Jabrill Peppers (1 TD, and one two-point conversion fumble returned for two Michigan points). Michigan also just played a cleaner game, with fewer penalties and slightly more success on third down than the Spartans. It all helped put Michigan State’s clock management plan to the scrap heap.

A week after Ohio State slipped up on the road against Penn State, Michigan appeared to leave little doubt who the best team in the Big Ten is as we move into November. It’s the Wolverines right now. Next week Michigan will return to Michigan Stadium and will be a heavy favorite against Maryland. That should leave Michigan at 9-0 heading into the final three games, which will include road trips to Iowa and Ohio State. So there is still work to be done, but Michigan has every reason to feeling confident about their chances right now.

Michigan State is now in serious danger of failing to reach the postseason at all. Today’s loss dropped the Spartans to the six-loss mark, meaning they are just one loss away from being ineligible for postseason play under NCAA rules. Michigan State still has games to play against Ohio State and Penn State in the final two games of the season after getting Illinois and Rutgers in the next two weeks. The last time a power conference champion failed to reach the postseason the following season was in 2010, when Texas took the Big 12 crown and played for the BCS National Championship in 2009 and went just 5-7 the following season. Ironically enough, Texas lost in that championship game to Alabama, the same program that flushed Michigan State right out of the postseason last January.