ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan defeated Ohio State for the first time under Jim Harbaugh with a 42-27 win Saturday.
The Wolverines had lost 15 of the past 16 meetings, but they battered the Buckeyes for the first time since 2011 in an emphatic victory. Michigan took the lead to start the game and, despite briefly losing the lead in the second quarter, came out on top with 28 second-half points and a strong finish in the November snow.
“These guys have been disrespecting us, stepping on our jerseys, talking about hanging 100 on us,” Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson said. “Doing all the rah, rah and all the talk, but we’re about it today.”
The Michigan defense gave up 458 total yards to Ohio State’s potent offense, and quarterback C.J. Stroud had 394 yards and two touchdowns. The Ohio State offense had some self-inflicted mistakes, though, that didn’t help their cause as the offense had a season-high seven offensive penalties.
Michigan’s pass-rushers have been applying pressure to opponents all season, and David Ojabo and Hutchinson were able to wreak havoc in this game as well. Hutchinson had three sacks and set a Michigan single-season sack record with 13.
Hutchinson said he visualized this win in his mind before the game and how the game would be dictated and what it would feel like to finally get a win over Ohio State.
“This was it right here; visualized storming the field, I wanted the goal posts to go down but I don’t think they’re down,” Hutchinson said. “All that, just crying, we did it and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for years now.”
The Buckeyes were coming off of a game against Michigan State in which the offense scored 56 points with 655 total yards of offense. It was a completely different outcome Saturday, and despite racking up some big yardage, Ohio State never gained enough momentum.
“We kept fighting, but we weren’t able to turn the tides and like you said, that’s always a big part of the game. I felt like even getting three points at the end of the half, then getting the ball back, if we would’ve come down and scored with that first possession we would’ve gotten so momentum going,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “But we didn’t, and they came right down and scored. Then you just felt like you could never get the ball back on offense and that’s a bad feeling, as well. You start to force it a little too much and don’t establish the run when you’re in that situation, so this one hurts.”
Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud was visibly upset in the postgame press conference, hanging his head saying he put his heart and soul into this game and he vows to correct the loss. Safety Bryson Shaw called the defense’s performance embarrassing and ridiculous. He gives Michigan credit for winning the game. The Buckeyes didn’t give their best shot.
The Michigan players had spoken throughout the season about how this team is different and said the players aren’t flinching in big games and big situations as they have in the past.
“I told you guys at the Big Ten media day that we were emphasizing this game more,” Hutchinson said. “Everyone seemed to have a lot of questions about that in terms of how we we’re doing it and I told you to trust me, we were doing it. You go out there, you see how we played in that dominant fashion. There you go.”
That was evident during the third quarter when the entire Michigan sideline was jumping and dancing to the music in the stadium, a sight that hasn’t been seen — Michigan with some confidence — in this rivalry for quite some time.
“This is everything I’ve dreamed of,” Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara said in the postgame TV interview. “This is everything that any guy who’s committed to Michigan over the last five years — this is why they come.”
The Michigan offense was able to capitalize on its opportunities to help put the game away for the Wolverines. Running back Hassan Haskins had 169 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the game. He became the first Michigan running back to rush for at least three touchdowns against Ohio State since Mike Hart did it in 2006.
The Wolverines had 299 yards rushing as a team, which was the most rushing yards a Ryan Day-led Ohio State team has ever allowed, and it was the first time Michigan has gone over 200 yards rushing against the Buckeyes since 2011, in Michigan’s last victory over the Buckeyes. It was the run game that kept pounding and kept pushing the offense ahead in this match.
The game was never in question for Michigan, and it was a stark contrast to the past two meetings between the two teams, in which Ohio State outscored Michigan 118-66. After a loss to Michigan State, questions arose about whether Harbaugh could get his first win in six tries against the Buckeyes.
Harbaugh got that win, and his players emphasized that they knew how much this meant to their coach because of the criticism he has received in the past and the importance of this rivalry.
“You guys should have seen him in the locker room after the game, I’ve never seen him more happy, more excited. Not just for himself, but his excitement for the players, how much he knows it means, not only to the players, but the coaches and everyone involved,” Offensive lineman Andrew Stueber said. “He’s gone through some tough times, he’s faced a lot of adversity since he’s been coach here. To see him finally beat Ohio State, as a team, as a unit, we knew what this team was capable of and it all starts with him.”
This is a turnaround season for the Wolverines after winning only two games last season, and this win puts Michigan in the Big Ten championship game, representing the Big Ten East, and gives it a shot at a spot in the College Football Playoff.
“We’ve been saying all year that this team is different,” McNamara said. “And I think today we proved that.”