Another year, another victory for No. 1 Ohio State (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) against No. 13 Michigan (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) in the Jim Harbaugh era. The Ryan Day era picks up right where the Urban Meyer regime left off in this series. The Buckeyes roared past the Wolverines in Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon with a 56-27 beat down of their rivals from north of the state border. Behind a strong running performance by J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State extended its winning streak over Michigan to eight straight, sending yet another senior class off without a loss to Michigan.
Dobbins rushed for a career-high 211 yards and four touchdowns. This was the second time Dobbins eclipsed the 200-yard mark on the ground, and he moved up the school’s all-time rushing list earlier in the game, moving past Ezekiel Elliott and moving in behind two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin. In the process, Dobbins may have made his own case to head to New York to lay claim to his own Heisman Trophy.
In a showdown of former SEC quarterback who transferred to the Big Ten, Justin Fields certainly had a better performance compared to Michigan’s Shea Patterson. Fields didn’t have an excellent day with completion percentage, but the passes he did connect on were huge. Fields still ended the game with 302 passing yards and four touchdowns with one touchdown pass to four different Buckeyes (K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson). Patterson had a rough day throwing the football but also had a 300-yard day (305 yards) but with just one touchdown pass. Patterson was also dropped for a loss of 20 yards in the game and had a crucial red-zone fumble in the first half.
The 56 points given up by Michigan was the most points allowed to an opponent in Michigan Stadium in regulation in program history. Illinois scored 65 points in 2010 for the most points scored by a visitor in Michigan Stadium, but 20 of those points were scored in overtime of a thrilling 67-65 victory by the Wolverines.
For Ohio State, the ultimate goal falls above simply beating Michigan. The top-ranked Buckeyes appear to be locked into position for a run to the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State now will prepare for its third consecutive Big Ten Championship Game. But first, the Buckeyes will sit back and watch to find out just who they will be playing. Ohio State will meet the winner of today’s Minnesota-Wisconsin game, which will crown a division champion in the Big Ten West to determine Ohio State’s next opponent. The Buckeyes will essentially lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win next week, but even a loss may not eliminate an Ohio State team that will end the regular season with good quality wins against a top 10 Penn State and a top 15 Michigan to go along with an earlier win this season against Wisconsin and Cincinnati.
The loss for Michigan will knock the Wolverines out of the running for a possible spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup, so a landing spot in the Citrus Bowl may be in the cards for Jim Harbaugh his program. Harbaugh is now 0-5 against Ohio State. The Wolverines will visit Ohio State next season.