Sunday, November 28, 2021

Michigan 42, Ohio State 27


Jim Harbaugh and Juwan Howard (image via NY Post)

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Holy Mary, Mother of God. I don't think I have been that anxious about a Michigan victory since the Wolverines beat Washington State following the 1997 season. I predicted an Ohio State win (shame on me), but I thought Michigan had a chance. What I did not expect is, well, an ass-whooping. When I say an ass-whooping, I don't mean on the scoreboard or really physically (although there was some of that). I just mean it was like Michigan did whatever they wanted to do the whole game. Run the ball? Yes. Trick plays? Yes. Get after the QB? Yes. Stop the run? Yes. Prevent big plays? Yes. This wasn't a fluke victory whatsoever. Michigan looked like the better team from start to finish.

Aidan Hutchinson is the MVP! Before the game, I thought Michigan's best player had to be the team's best player on Saturday in order to win. Michigan couldn't afford to get a dud of a game from Hutchinson. His effort doesn't allow for many duds, but if a team pays enough attention to him, they can slow him down with double- and triple-teams. Unfortunately for Ohio State, they didn't seem to respect Hutchinson's ability to affect the game, and he responded with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 quarterback hurry. As the game wore on, you could also see that he (and the other pass rushers) sped up Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud's internal clock, and he started to rush throws. Nick Petit-Frere, Dawand Jones, and Thayer Munford all really struggled with Hutchinson.

Hassan Haskins is the MVP! Before the game, I thought Michigan would have to run the ball very well to keep OSU's tempo offense off the field. I didn't think they would run it that well. Haskins ended up running 28 times for 169 yards and 5 touchdowns. Five touchdowns. Five of them. Five. Five touchdowns. Who scores 5 touchdowns in one game? That's ridiculous. He had zero negative yardage plays, and he just kept busting out for chunk run after chunk run. That was an incredible performance.

What was Ohio State doing? I really have no clue what Ohio State was doing defensively. I guess Kerry Coombs gave up the defensive play calling because he sucked, and then the play calling still sucked. Down the stretch everyone knew Michigan was going to run the ball to try to ice the game. Michigan lined up with one or two tight ends, and Ohio State just . . . kept . . . like . . . not matching Michigan's numbers. It wasn't even that they weren't respecting the quarterback run. They were leaving themselves light in the box and didn't adjust to Michigan's personnel, and this was at the most critical time (Michigan's last full drive) when the Buckeyes absolutely needed to get a stop. I absolutely expect Ohio State to have a new defensive coordinator in 2022.

QB talk. Cade McNamara finished 13/19 for 159 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception. It was not a game-winning performance, but McNamara did what he needed to do by moving the ball down the field. With the way Michigan was running, McNamara just needed to distribute the ball and keep the offense moving. I thought he took whatever was there except the interception. That wasn't him. I could tell as soon as he caught the snap that he was rushing into something, because he sped up his footwork and delivery; sure enough, he failed to see the backside safety cheating over and threw into double coverage. If he had slowed down his read, he probably could have hit Donovan Edwards on a wheel route for a touchdown. Luckily, he seemed to realize that he needed to revert back to his game manager role, and he did a nice job from there on out. I thought J.J. McCarthy (1/1 for 31 yards; 2 carries for 12 yards) did well in a somewhat limited role, and the coaching staff did a good job of sprinkling him in.

Kudos to Josh Gattis. I've been harsh on Gattis over the past couple years, so I feel it's necessary to single him out for praise in this one. Gattis seemed to hit his stride the last couple weeks of the season. Michigan broke a bunch of tendencies and expectations, using some plays they've only flirted with. I think things really opened up for the team this season when Gattis started using running backs in the passing game, whether splitting them out wide, motioning them, or simply running them out of the backfield. It's not easy to defend five receivers, and I've practically been begging Harbaugh - not just Gattis, but his predecessors, too - to use guys like Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards, Chris Evans, Ty Isaac, etc. as receivers. Edwards and Haskins each had 2 receptions and totaled just 17 yards through the air, but their presence out wide opened up some things for the other receivers.

Kudos to Mike Macdonald. Macdonald still made some maddening mistakes in this one. Michigan still doesn't handle tempo well, and they had trouble numerous times getting lined up, getting the signals, etc. But every defense has a weakness, and Macdonald did enough variation between zone and man to keep Ohio State guessing. He also kept the pressure on Stroud to make plays while not allowing Ohio State's receivers to get over the top for huge plays. The defense kept almost everything in front of them, and the longest play of the day - a 39-yard fade to Chris Olave - simply beat almost perfect coverage by D.J. Turner II. I kept waiting for OSU's Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Garrett Wilson to break tackles and create a huge play, but Michigan did a great job of rallying to the football.

How were the refs? There was a lot of consternation going into the game that official Kevin Schwarzel - a noted OSU fan - was going to give Michigan the raw end of the deal. It seems that concern was somewhat unfounded. Michigan was only penalized 2 times for 20 yards, while Ohio State got 10 penalties for 66 yards. There were some questionable calls on completions/incompletions, but the terrible production crew at Fox Sports rarely showed replays of any controversial calls. Michigan did get away with a couple uncalled pass interference plays, too. While the officiating was far from perfect, at least for once, it didn't seem to go against the Wolverines.

I'm happy for Jim Harbaugh. I've been a Jim Harbaugh defender for the most part, but his record against Michigan State and Ohio State isn't where it should be. Nobody was satisfied or happy about being winless against OSU and basically trading wins with Michigan State. But as a Michigan and Jim Harbaugh fan, it would have been very disappointing to see him go his whole career at Michigan and get canned for not beating Ohio State. Maybe it's because I'm a coach or maybe it's just because I'm a Michigan alum/fan, but watching the game on television, I just really enjoyed the smile on Harbaugh's face and the celebration on the field after the game.

Beat Iowa. With Minnesota knocking off Wisconsin, the Wolverines will now play the Hawkeyes in Indianapolis next Saturday at 8:00 p.m. EST. A Michigan win would almost certainly secure a spot in the College Football Playoff. A Michigan loss would almost certainly leave them out. Win or go home (or, well, to a bowl game).


  1. This one felt like Michigan and Harbaugh win is supposed to win. On our last drive, I was talking to the tv and laughing. They’re gonna run, I’d say to the tv, “he’s gonna run it”. “How can you dopes not know he’s gonna run it. Do you guys watch film? Did you not watch the Washington game?

    And that’s exactly what it felt like like they were thinking. “We’ll just sit here in this defense that isn’t working because sooner or later, they’ll throw it up.

    But no, because Harbaugh.

    Pretty dumb!!!!

    Thank you, I’ll take it.

  2. Excellent write up Thunder

    Lots of kudos to go around. Hutch, OL, Haskins, GATTIS, MacDonald, and yeah Jim MF Harbaugh! I thought we could win, and picked us close, but ohio was bullied. Ryan Day's defense seemed to fold, hoping their offense would bail them out ... but that wasn't happening!

    Great win, and I am happy to say I am Indy bound to watch The Team win the B1G Championship


    1. Have fun in Indianapolis. I wish I could go.

    2. THANKS! It'll be my first game since RR's GatorBowl fiasco, so I am due. This will get very expensive, but we're also hoping to make the playoffs

      Last time I thought MICHIGAN was going to win multiple National Championships was when I skipped the Rose Bowl in 97, living in Orange County ... Don't want to make that mistake again!

    3. Michigan is going to win multiple national championships?

    4. For someone who claims others struggle with reading comprehension, you sure do misunderstand often (and misinterpret) (and misrepresent)

      Anyway, I'm heading to Indy as we speak. Wish we could meet up Lank. I'd actually like to buy you a meal, and discuss Michigan football (in the most respectful manner) 😇


    lol. Great win! So satisfying and what a scene at Stadium & Main.

    Plenty of credit to hand out in this one but it was won in the trenches. Strange to say when OSU passed for 400 yards but Ojabo and especially Hutchinson absolutely stepped up on the day. Hutch cemented it - the best DE in Michigan history.

    On offense it was the OL the OL the OL. Absolutely dominant. In the pass game - no pressure all day, again. McNamara was warm and cozy even though he's a Nevada boy in 25 degree weather. And the run game...they've been dominant at times this year and yesterday was the pinnacle of it. Haskins is getting tons of credit but every back was popping off, running through gaping holes. The OL was so good even a guy who falls over in grass could run for 8 yards between the tackles LOL. Great to see Corum back too, and Henning and McCarthy and even Cade got in a good run.

    But 5 TDs is legendary stuff. We'll remember this day from Hassan for a long time. The OL paved the way but kudos to the kid nobody expected anything from. Some said he was too slow. I said he was too big. He didn't shy away or go play RB somewhere that playing time was easier to come by, he shrugged off the top 100 recruits as they came, like he shrugged off a lot would-be-tacklers.

    On the other side, the DEs will get the credit (Harrell and Morris made a couple great plays too when Hutch needed a blow) justifiably but the DTs showed up. Very few big holes for Henderson. The interior held up, pretty good for some schlubs Don Brown converted from DE right? Jeter getting that TFL was a great little moment. Mazi and Hinton -- that's what happens when guys step up as upperclassmen.

    Shout out to the secondary too. Gray's redemption tour is compete, like Chase's revenge tour. Turner has arrived. But also what a day from the safeties. Moten dropped that INT but was otherwise excellent and what a day from Moore and Hawkins, the freshman and the vet, respectively. All excellent, executing the scheme and tackling in space. They've now held in check Dotson and the OSU trio. Bravo.

  4. What a game! 5 TDs in our last 5 drives. Who would have thought that would be us? We are marching on Ohio as though they are N Illinois.

    Hassan Haskins was great but my MVP goes to the entire OL. Haskins was running through huge holes throughout the game.

    Our defense played their best game this year. If not for Ohio WRs who kept making circus catch, this game would have been a blow out before the fourth quarter.

    Best win since God knows when. Happy for Harbaugh and the coaching staff. They truly deserves this victory. Kudos to the team. I though all facets of the game was excellent.

    I just hope that there is no letdown next week. Iowa is going to be a battle in the trenches. They are not going to let our RBs run wild.

    GO BLUE!

    1. That's the kind of OL the old Bo-era guys can be proud of. Mean MFers. Steuber, Keegan, Zinter especially. They play with the proverbial edge. That's feelingsball sure but when they ran over to tell that guy scrapping with Wilson to kindly see his way to the visitors bench - that was a little example of toughness and character that they showed after the snap too. Impolite. Bad hosts.

      Is Iowa going to stop our run game? We'll see about that. Steuber and them may have something to say about that.

  5. Iowa will not score more than 10pts.

  6. Regarding the offensive line: it seems to me Sherrone Moore is the quiet, unsung hero here. Many questioned his taking the helm of the OL, but here we are.

    If I stay on the subject of coaches:

    o Shaun Nua -- the DL came together when it needed to.
    o Jay Harbaugh -- special teams weren't a concern all year; an asset, actually
    o Ben Herbert -- if the team was poorly conditioned, it didn't show

    This is in addition to Gattis, Macdonald, Hart, and the rest as a cohesive unit. I've noted before that earlier versions of Harbaugh staffs felt like patchworks, but this seemed the first (since 2015) where there was so vision, some cohesion.

    1. I think the real take home as far as coaching goes is that the fan narratives are mostly nonsense. We just don't know. But here's something anyway:

      Moore is a star and that's a guy we're going to have to worry about holding onto.

    2. Fan narratives are nonsense; we don't know; yet you then weigh in with your own hot take as if you know. You must be fun at parties.

    3. I would not be surprised if Josh Gattis goes on to a head coaching job somewhere this year. With Michigan's success and his having a few years of play calling under his belt - plus a glut of coaching jobs - I think this is the year.

      So Michigan might hold on to Moore by elevating him to OC when Gattis leaves.

    4. I'd rather not have our new OL coach also take on gameplanning & playcalling

    5. Agree Thunder. That's a viable path. Moore is already listed as (the lone) Co-OC so he'd need to be THE offensive coordinator for it to look like a promotion. No run-game/pass-game coordinator split.

      Though it seems like whoever comes in to take a spot could be given a pass-game coordinator or co-OC title under Moore, if they go this route.

    6. @Anon.

      "We" includes me and "anyway" makes the take-it-for-what-it's-worth/not-much opinion value explicit. You'd think someone who knows how to use semicolons (hat tip) would be better at reading comprehension.

      It's not even a hot take. If you have one of the best OL in the countries and you just dramatically improved a unit previously coached by Ed Warriner, you're going to get notice.