COLUMBUS, Ohio – Breaking down No. 2 Ohio State’s 30-27 win against No. 4 Michigan (No. 3 in College Football Playoff rankings) on Saturday:
THE BIG PICTURE: It took two overtimes, but everything is still alive for Ohio State — and for the Big Ten, which could still get two teams into the College Football Playoff, depending on what happens beyond Columbus. But Michigan’s hopes, so close to fruition after dominating most of the way with a stifling defense, are instead finished. The Wolverines looked gassed late in the fourth quarter and in overtime.
Three critical turnovers will haunt them, too – a pair of interceptions by Wilton Speight that led to touchdowns and a fumbled snap at the Ohio State 1 that prevented a probable Michigan touchdown.
WHAT WE’LL BE TALKING ABOUT: After struggling for most of the day against Michigan’s defense, the Buckeyes came alive at the last possible moment in regulation for a 13-play, 77-yard drive that ate up the final five and a half minutes and tied it. Tyler Durbin had missed two field goals, but with 1 second left he hit a 23-yarder to tie it and force overtime. And in the second overtime, Curtis Samuel made two huge plays to push the Buckeyes to the victory.
Ohio State has questions on the offensive line. J.T. Barrett wasn’t efficient passing, but made plays with his feet in the fourth quarter and beyond. Considering the competition, just winning is probably more than enough. But if it comes down to what the selection committee thinks, well, how will the committee evaluate the Buckeyes?
KEY PLAY: On third-and-9 from the 24 in the second overtime, J.T. Barrett threw to Curtis Samuel in the backfield. It was almost disastrous, and then salvaged the game. Samuel started right, but was bottled up.
He darted left, went back right again — and then bouncing off a blocker, he went left, finally finding open room for an 8-yard gain. One play later, J.T. Barrett barely got the first down, extending the possession. And one play after that, Samuel went left and found a seam. Fifteen yards later, the Buckeyes had a 30-27 win.
KEY PLAY, II: On fourth-and-goal from the 5 in the first overtime, Michigan trailed by seven and had to score. Wilton Speight threw low toward Amara Darboh crossing the back of the end zone. The senior receiver gathered the ball in just off the turf and cradled it, a catch. The extra point tied it and sent the game to a second overtime.
THE TWEET: The Game is … meaningful.
Almost time pic.twitter.com/OV5d8MbnVr— Cardale Jones (@Cardale7_) November 26, 2016
USA TODAY Sports