Saturday, November 25, 2017

Barrett plays the majority of the game with a knee injury in Ohio State's 31-20 win over Michigan

                                                    Photo Credit: Ohio State Athletics

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Exit J.T. Barrett, Enter Dwayne Haskins.

The redshirt freshman quarterback looked more like a seasoned pro going 6-of-7 for 94 yards through the air as Ohio State won its sixth straight game over Michigan in a 31-20 in front of 110,000-plus fans at Michigan Stadium.

When Barrett came out of the game with a right knee injury in the early stages of the third quarter, Haskins found a rhythm with wide receiver and roommate Austin Mack with a 27-yard reception, which led to a one-yard touchdown run from J.K. Dobbins to take a 21-20 lead with 1:34 seconds left.

"It was unreal because I was not nervous given I had my offensive line and receivers behind me the whole entire way," Haskins said. "I love my receivers, but I have a special connection with Austin and we had to make a play and delivered."

Haskins' performance ended up being overshadowed as Barrett's knee injury turned out to occur pregame with a cameraman, but revealed it was not the first down it occurred before the season opener against Indiana.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was visibly angered about how there were too many people on the sidelines and how it could have been prevented.

"I am so upset with myself because it was a non-football injury and there was too many damn people on the sideline," Meyer said with a stern look. "A guy with a camera hit him in the knee and I am going to find out who did it. I am so angry right now.

Ohio State fought through early adversity with -6 total yards in the first quarter, but Barrett steered the course and led the way from a 14-0 deficit to even the score at 14 and finished with 15 carries on 67 yards and a touchdown before leaving in the third quarter.

The Wolverines came into Saturday's game ranked third in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense with 261.2 yards allowed on average, but yielded 350 to the Buckeyes.

"Our offensive line and tailbacks really did a good job rushing on one of the best defenses in the country and to get 226 [rushing] yards on Michigan is a big deal," Meyer said. 

Dobbins finished with his fifth 100-yard game of the season on the ground (101 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown).

Game Recap:

The tone would be set early as OSU’s defense put nine players in the box to focus on Michigan’s run game and worked on the first drive as John O’Korn overthrew a wide open Tyrone Wheatley Jr. across the middle on third-and-7, which forced a three and out.

With little to no signs of life on offense, Michigan struck first as Khalid Hill scored up the middle on a two-yard run, which was aided by a “Bush Push” from O’Korn to go up 7-0 at the 6:02 mark of the first quarter. Chris Evans put most of the work in beforehand with a 24-yard run to get the crowd excited, which continued with a 13-yard reception to get into a first-and-goal situation.

The confidence transferred over to the Wolverines defense as Khaleke Hudson and Lavert Hill’s tackle on Parris Campbell led to a five-yard loss, while Gary’s sack for a loss of three yards on Barrett highlighted another Buckeye three and out.

A 42-yard punt return from Donovan Peoples-Jones helped set up an O’Korn three-yard playaction touchdown pass to tight end Sean McKeon to put Michigan 14-0 at the start of the second quarter as Ohio State looked rattled on the other side of the sidelines.

With their backs against the wall, Barrett engineered a six-play, 48-yard drive on the ground, highlighted by a 21-yard touchdown off the edge as the Buckeyes appeared on the board for the first time with 9:50 left in the first half.

After a Michigan punt, Barrett continued to carry the torch with a gashing 26-yard run, which set up a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcus Baugh to even the score at 14.

The status quo looked to be back in effect for Ohio State’s offense and its defense stopped Michigan once more as it appeared ready to cash in to take the lead.

With momentum on their side on third-and-5, Barrett failed to control the snap from under center, but recovered the fumble for a loss of 17 yards, which could have ended with Michigan getting the ball from the OSU 22.

The second half began as a punt fest on both sides until O’Korn connected with Kekoa Crawford on a screen pass, which turned into a 43-yard reception to put Michigan at the OSU seven-yard line. The Wolverines used Crawford’s play as a platform as Karan Higdon scored from two yards out on the ground to take a 20-14 lead.

Up 21-20 after Dobbins' one-yard TD, Ohio State playbook appeared to look limited for Haskins, third-and-4 provided a vital moment as he went on the run and delivered a pass to a cutting K.J. Hill for 29 yards, which set up a 44-yard FG conversion from Sean Nuernberger.

The Wolverines felt the pressure down 24-20 with 10:21 left in regulation and needed an offensive spark, but could not deliver as O’Korn overthrew Chris Evans on fourth-and-4 at the Buckeyes 39-yard line as another golden opportunity to get into field goal range evaporated.

After an interception from O’Korn, Mike Weber put the finishing touches with a 25-yard run to give Ohio State more momentum going into the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin in Indianapolis on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. ET.

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