Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ohio State's run game comes back to relevance at Michigan

                                  Photo Credit: Geno Green

Responding to adversity is a natural part of human life and for the Ohio State Buckeyes, their test came at Michigan in the 112th edition of "The Game".

After being held to 86 rushing yards on 29 carries in a 17-14 loss on Nov. 21 against Michigan State, Ohio State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten East) responded with a vengeance against rival Michigan (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten East) on Saturday, 42-13 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Buckeyes outgained the Wolverines 369-57 on the ground and 
running back Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 214 yards on 30 carries for two touchdowns and passed Eddie George for second all-time in rushing yards.

Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer poked fun about Elliott passing George.

"Eddie, who's Eddie?" Meyer said in a sarcastic manner. "In all seriousness, Zeke is one of the greatest players I have ever been around."

"It is a dream come true for me, especially with the offensive line being so good in my time here and if you look back at Coach Meyer's history, that's four straight games [against Michigan] we have dominated," Elliott said.

In the week leading up to Michigan, Elliott was the center of media attention in Columbus, Ohio after being frustrated about not getting more carries in the home loss against MSU.

Elliott dressed the issue after Saturday's win and showed remorse for making the statement.

"It was tough on me and the backlash from everything I said [last] Saturday because it was hard on me personally," Elliott said. "There were people questioning my integrity and love for the university. That's not the person I am. I am not selfish, I am selfless."

Quarterback J.T. Barrett made an impact on the ground with 141 yards on 19 carries and two TDs, while going 9-of-15 through the air for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Barrett acknowledged the adjustment of Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warriner's move to the press box to call plays.

"We played faster because we knew we were going to get their base look and the [Michigan defense] eventually got tired," Barrett said. "The d-line was not rushing as hard when we dropped back to pass and me and Zeke saw the creases and took advantage."

The red zone morphed into the save haven for the Buckeyes as all five of their touchdowns on the ground came within that territory.

Ohio State finished 5-for-6 in red zone opportunities, with the failed attempt being a turnover on downs on 4th and goal from the Michigan 3-yard line.

Meyer did not take for granted the red zone success and realized the significance of everything with the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.

"I think one of the reasons why we executed was the respect we had for our opponent," Meyer said. "[Michigan] is an outstanding football team and to do that makes it even extra special."

Winning can be the ultimate cure not only in life, but in football and for Ohio State, things are a tad bit better on this Thanksgiving weekend.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.