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Florida State chops banged up Michigan for wild Orange Bowl victory

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Dalvin Cook and Florida State taking on Jabrill Peppers and Michigan in the Orange Bowl was pegged early on as one of the best matchups of the season and a bowl that might be better than one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games.

While we didn’t get to see Peppers due to a hamstring injury, we did see plenty of Cook and the Wolverines battling back and forth in a thrilling game that the Seminoles ultimately ended up winning 33-32 after a pair of wild fourth quarter comebacks.

FSU led for most of the contest and used a couple of big plays in the passing game to control the first half. But the Wolverines came clawing back as momentum shifted between both squads in the second half like a game of hot potato. Cook wound up rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown (adding another 62 on three receptions) as he likely closed out his career in garnet and gold not far from where he grew up.

Quarterback Deondre Francois (222 yards, two scores) began the game by leading Florida State on a 75 yard opening drive that ended in the end zone, but his play trailed off in the third quarter and tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Mike McCray.

That pick-six was the spark Michigan needed after coming so close to breaking out some big plays to cut into the lead. After allowing Francois to find the end zone on the next drive to make up for his mistake, the Wolverines rallied behind a balanced attack that busted open several big plays on a tired defense.

Quarterback Wilton Speight found Khalid Hill in the end zone to finish off a quick drive in the final quarter and then Chris Evans rumbled 30 yards run to cap off 15 point outburst in under four minutes to take the lead for the first time all night.

A huge kick return allowed Florida State to get right back into things and snatch momentum back in a flash, finishing a crazy stretch when Francois found Nyqwan Murray in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning points. The extra point was blocked and returned for a defensive score, giving Michigan another slim opening to capture the win.

 

Eventually the talented ‘Noles defense came up with a huge stop on fourth down to seal the victory and cap off one of the best Orange Bowls in a long, long time.

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.

Big Ten defense the story of first half between Michigan and Wisconsin

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In a battle of top 10 Big Ten contenders, Michigan has managed to get to halftime with a 7-0 lead on Wisconsin. Still, the Wolverines have to be wondering if missed opportunities could come back to bite them.

Michigan has missed two field goal tries in the game so far, with Kenny Allen missing from 31 yards and 43 yards on consecutive Michigan possessions. With the way Michigan’s defense has been playing, however, it may not matter. Wisconsin has struggled to get the running game going with Corey Clement (31 rushing yards on nine attempts) and just 34 rushing yards as a team. That includes negative yardage taken by quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who has been under pressure by the swarming Wolverines defense for much of the game so far.

Michigan’s offense has not been particularly sharp against a tough Wisconsin defense either. The Wolverines are just one-for-five on third down. The only touchdown drive of the half for either team came on a 77-yard, 11-play drive with Khalid Hill picking up the final yard for a score. The key play of the drive was a 22-yard run by Chris Evans.

Michigan had a bit of a scare when big Grant Newsome needed to be helped off the field in the first half. The cart to take him off the field had come on the field but he was able to be removed from the field with some help by trainers to the Michigan sideline. Perhaps the moral support from the entire Michigan roster on the field helped him out.