ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson pushed his fingers into his face with frustration as he awaited questions from the media.
For he and the Michigan defense, this feeling was all too familiar.
Ohio State (11-0) had just finished off its 15th victory in the last 16 tries against Michigan, 56-27, and for the second consecutive season hung 50 points on his team.
The Wolverines had to listen to what was left of the crowd chant “O-H-I-O” for the final 10 minutes of regulation time.
Miscues, turnovers, blown coverage’s, not executing. The list goes on for the Wolverines as it now has felt routine for this game to go this way for over a decade.
“I didn’t see this coming,” Hutchinson said, tapping his finger on the table. “We just didn’t execute like we wanted to.”
The problem is, this team hasn’t executed in this game since Jim Harbaugh arrived. Now, it’s about where this program goes from here, when visible proof of a victory against this university’s archrival has yet to be seen under Harbaugh.
Whatever the gap has been against Ohio State, Harbaugh believed calling the gap “talent” based was wrong.
“I’ll answer your questions, not your insults,” Harbaugh quipped after being asked about a talent gap. “They played better today.”
Regardless of a talent gap, the Buckeye’s skill players simply outplayed Michigan on offense. J.K. Dobbins rushed for a career day, totaling 217 yards on 31 carries with four scores. Justin Fields threw the ball excellently, hitting deep routes time and time again. He finished with 302 yards on 14-of-25 passing with four touchdowns.
Michigan rushed for just 91 yards. Shae Patterson played well, throwing for 313 yards with a score, but had a costly fumble and only completed 18-of-43 attempts. It simply wasn’t enough to compete with the No. 1 team in the country.
However, it wasn’t all bad to start the afternoon for Michigan.
For the Wolverines, it couldn’t have been a better start. Patterson went a perfect 4-of-4 for 32 yards to get the Wolverines into scoring position. After a late hit call, Giles Jackson scored on a 22-yard end-around capped off by a dive at the pylon. Quinn Nordin missed the extra point, but momentum was in the Wolverines’ hands.
It was smooth, efficient and flat out looked easy. The crowd was roaring, and OSU seemed uncomfortable.
After J.K. Dobbins broke off a 34-yard run, a group sack on Justin Fields had the Buckeyes looking at a third and 14. Michigan needed to get off the field but didn’t. Dobbins ran a Texas route and was wide open in the middle of the field, gashing Michigan for 28 more and scored on the following play. 7-6 Buckeyes seems close, but it felt like a major loss for the Wolverines.
OSU kept it coming two possessions later. Michigan safety Josh Metellus allowed Chris Olave to get behind him and Fields who had all day to throw, didn’t miss him. Fifty-seven yards and seven more points.
Michigan needed someone to step up and in a hurry. Patterson did just that.
He found tight end Sean McKeon up the left sideline all alone for 41 yards and one play later it was Donovan Peoples-Jones for 25 yards on a slant and score. In the snap of your fingers, Michigan was back in the game down one and the crowd had life.
But with the way this game was going, when a punch was thrown the other side jabbed right back. OSU threw the next one on a wheel route for Garrett Wilson who went 41 yards deep into Wolverine territory. Then Dobbins rushed for 6 yards on scamper and bolt through the eventual opening hole in his line, making it 21-13 early in the second.
Then, the mistakes came.
Mind-numbing errors for the Wolverines occurred as Patterson fumbled a snap in the red zone and OSU recovered. Then when the defense was coming off the field, the punt return unit jumped offsides and gave OSU a first down. Two plays later, OSU was in the end zone again after covering 52 yards.
Mental errors, big plays against and turnovers came back to haunt the Wolverines from early-season woes. That can’t happen in the biggest game of the year.
Yet it did, and that set the tone for the remainder of the afternoon.
“The first half we came out firing and things were rolling a little bit offensively,” Patterson said. “It’s very frustrating to not be able to get this win. I just love my teammates and coaches and everything about this university.
“So yeah, it’s very frustrating.”
Michigan showed some life in the second half, getting the score to 42-27 and the ball. On a fourth and one, however, the Wolverines ran the wildcat and Hassan Haskins missed a clear hole and was tackled behind the line.
More of the same: errors and missing chances.
This team once again couldn’t get out of its own away against a team that didn’t need the help. Yet, they held their hand to help them up every time the Wolverines had a chance to keep the Buckeyes down.
The result was another embarrassing loss, one that has been nearly routine for more than a decade.