The Michigan Wolverines played one of their best games of the season, and it was not enough to take down an Ohio State team that lost starting quarterback J.T. Barrett to a knee injury in the second half. The No. 9 Buckeyes dug out of a 14-0 hole in the first half and once again defeated their rivals from that state up north, 31-20, as they now prepare for a shot at a Big Ten championship.
With Ohio State leading 24-20 late in the fourth quarter after missing a field goal, John O’Korn passed the ball downfield where nobody but Ohio State players were in proximity for an easy interception. J.K. Dobbins started the late drive with a six-yard run and then Mike Weber broke free for a 35-yard touchdown by getting a good burst of speed and having the perfect angle to use to his advantage.
Barrett was forced to leave the game in the second half with a reported meniscus issue that he has been playing with recently. In his place stepped Dwayne Haskins, who performed admirably the way Cardale Jones once did against the Wolverines in relief just a few seasons ago. Haskins completed six of his seven passes for 94 yards and he took off for 24 rushing yards as well. Freshman running back Dobbins led the Buckeyes ground game with 101 rushing yards as Ohio State established the advantage on the line of scrimmage. Barrett’s status moving forward will be something to watch as Ohio State gets ready for next week’s game.
It was also just another frustrating example for Michigan fans just how much work there is still to be done in order to compete with Ohio State and for a Big Ten title. Granted, this season was always expected to be a step back from a year ago and the focus should have been shifted on 2018, but Jim Harbaugh needs to get the quarterback situation settled. He clearly does not have his Andrew Luck in Ann Arbor yet.
Ohio State will now play in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis next week. The Buckeyes continue to have a slight pulse in the playoff race as they prepare to take on Wisconsin next week. With two losses, even a Big Ten championship is not going to be enough to automatically slot the Buckeyes into the playoff, so Ohio State may still need a bit of help.
Michigan will wait to learn what bowl game they will be playing in after finishing the season in fourth place in the Big Ten East with losses to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State (and Wisconsin).
The first quarter was an exhibition of pure domination by the Michigan Wolverines. Then J.T. Barrett and Ohio State showed up to play in the second quarter. The Wolverines took a 14-0 lead on the Buckeyes early in the second quarter but Ohio State has forced a 14-14 tie at halftime.
Down 14-0 and mere moments after escaping a disaster with a sure interception being dropped by Michigan, Barrett got the Buckeyes on the board with a 21-yard touchdown run.
Michigan tied the game at 14-14 after getting Michigan’s defense to buy in on a handoff, allowing J.T. Barrett a chance to toss a ball over the middle to Marcus Baugh for a 25-yard touchdown.
Ohio State was held to negative offensive yardage in the first quarter by an inspired Michigan defense, but the Buckeyes reversed the roles in the second quarter by getting their offense in sync and moving. For a moment, Ohio State actually had more offensive yardage than Michigan until a botched play led to a loss of yardage as Barrett fell on a loose football.
John O’Korn got the start at quarterback for Michigan, and he has completed nine of 16 passes for 63 yards and a score. O’Korn became the focal point of a controversial replay that was ruled Michigan was just short of picking up a first down. Whether he did or did not make the first down was still fair to question as there was no camera angle that definitively offered a concrete verdict. Sound familiar?
Michigan fans were not pleased with this outcome.
We’ll see what happens in the second half. Ohio State is still heading to the Big Ten championship game regardless of the outcome in Michigan Stadium, but the Buckeyes must win in order to remain a blip on the playoff radar for another week.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed starting quarterback Brandon Peters has been entered into the concussion protocol after being taken out of Saturday’s road loss at Wisconsin. Because of the concussion protocol, it is unknown if Peters will be available for Michigan’s regular-season finale at home on Saturday against Ohio State.
“He’ll be evaluated again by the doctors this week to see if he would be cleared for contact,” Harbaugh said, according to The Detroit News. “[John O’Korn] has remained diligent every single week to preparation and the game plan, always sitting on a spring ready to play.”
If Peters is unavailable for Saturday, the offense will be placed back in the hands of O’Korn. Wilton Speight has not been cleared to for contact practices yet as he continues to recover from fractured vertebrae earlier this season.
Michigan’s offense seemed to get a much-needed jolt when Peters was inserted in the offense in place of O’Korn, who had also replaced an injured Speight. Without Peters, Michigan’s offense has not been able to find much offensive success this season, and that could pose a significant problem this week against the rival Buckeyes, who will be playing to remain on the College Football Playoff radar.
As Michigan heads into November, Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh has an important decision to make if Michigan is going to finish the season on a strong note. He’s just not ready to show which way he is heading with it.
Harbaugh is holding off on sharing his decision on what to do at quarterback. After replacing John O’Korn with Brandon Peters in Saturday’s win against Rutgers, Harbaugh is in charge of a bit of a quarterback debate in Ann Arbor with just a handful of games remaining. The offense, which has been sluggish at best all season long under Wilton Speight and O’Korn, seemed to have a bit of a spark on Saturday once Peters got on the field. Of course, Michigan was playing at home against Rutgers so the barometer to determine whether or not this was legitimate hope for a sudden offensive turnaround is highly questionable.
Peters completed 10 of 14 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, but again, it was against Rutgers. With Michigan staying home this week for a primetime showdown with Minnesota with the Little Brown Jug on the line, Harbaugh has suggested both O’Korn and Peters will get playing time against the Gophers. He only went so far as to say Peters is “likely” to get the start over Peters, but the decision is split nearly right down the middle.
Michigan has the Big Ten’s 9th-ranked offense and 11th-ranked passing offense through eight games played this season. Michigan is 3-2 in Big Ten play and has lost head-to-head against second-place Penn State and third-place Michigan State in division play. Michigan will host Minnesota this week and play the next two game son the road against Maryland and Wisconsin before ending the regular season at home against Ohio State.
Michigan saw a bit of a spark on offense two weekends ago in a road win at Purdue when John O’Korn took over at quarterback in place of an injured Wilton Speight. With the Wolverines coming off a bye week ahead of a game against in-state rival Michigan State, Jim Harbaugh says O’Korn will be getting the start this week and beyond while Speight remains unavailable.
Various rumors were spreading online about Speight potentially being done for the year, but Harbaugh did not go so far as to confirm those reports. Instead, Harbaugh played it safe by going on a much shorter timeframe to worry about. Regardless of how long Speight is out, Harbaugh should trust O’Korn to run the offense in the meantime. Whether it was a one-game spark against a young program still in the early stages of competing or not, O’Korn has what it takes to lead Michigan’s offense for as long as he is needed. In fact, he may end up keeping the job anyway if he performs well by the time Speight is able to play again.
Speight had completed just 54.3 percent of his pass attempts this season with three touchdowns and two interceptions, but both of those interceptions occurred in the season opener against Florida. But he had gone the last two games without a touchdown pass before leaving the Purdue game early.
O’Korn completed 18 of 26 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown with an interception against Purdue in a 28-10 victory in Big Ten play.
Michigan hosts Michigan State this week and travels to Indiana and Penn State the next two weeks.