Ohio State thumps Michigan football team in regular-season finale
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio - By the end of the third quarter, the Ohio State football fans streamed from Ohio Stadium.
Their apathy showed just how lopsided this rivalry has become.
The 105,491 on hand at Ohio Stadium could have left much earlier. The Buckeyes had their seventh consecutive victory over Michigan, a 37-7 rout, wrapped up by halftime.
As it has been all season, the story of the day was Michigan’s riddled defense.
Although the Wolverines forced three-and-outs on Ohio State’s first two possessions of the game, Michigan couldn’t stop the Buckeyes when it mattered throughout the second and third quarters.
Ohio State finished with 478 yards of total offense.
Throw in special-teams errors, two first-half turnovers, drive-crippling penalties and a smattering of dropped passes and Michigan (7-5 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) didn’t have a chance at the Horseshoe.
Michigan closed its regular season with blowout losses to Wisconsin and the Buckeyes, but will head to its first bowl in three years under coach Rich Rodriguez.
For the Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1), the win Saturday meant at least a share of a Big Ten title for the sixth consecutive season and a probable trip to a BCS bowl.
For the Wolverines, the loss meant more questions about Rodriguez’s job security, more questions about a ragged defense and more questions about a program that can’t seem to play competitive football against the better teams in the Big Ten.
Trailing 24-7 at halftime, Michigan received the kickoff to start the second half. Whatever hope the Wolverines had of scratching back into the game hinged on that drive.
Tate Forcier threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage.
He entered the game in place of an injured Denard Robinson, who had left the game with an injured left hand at halftime.
Dan Herron’s 32-yard touchdown run soon gave Ohio State a 31-7 lead with 12:36 left in the third quarter, and the rout was on.
Special teams problems hurt the Wolverines in the first half.
Filling in for suspended punter Will Hagerup, Seth Broekhuizen’s first offering traveled 18 pitiful yards, and Ohio State took advantage.
The Buckeyes scored the game’s first touchdown on the ensuing drive on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Pryor to Dane Sanzenbacher to take a 10-0 lead,.
Michigan responded with its best offensive drive of the half, compiling an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with Michael Shaw’s 1-yard touchdown run.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Ohio State’s Jordan Hall snatched the momentum back for the Buckeyes with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that put Ohio State in the driver’s seat at 17-7.
The Buckeyes added to their lead on Pryor’s 33-yard touchdown pass to DeVier Posey.