Offense ruled the first half, but defense won the game today for the Ohio St. Buckeyes. Through the first thirty minutes, it was on Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes’ offense to stay close with the Michigan Wolverines. After those first thirty minutes, the Wolverines held a one-point lead. It was here that the game took a trip back in time and became a game that Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler recognized all too well: a game filled with defense where just doing the little things on offense would end up paying off big time.
The most telling fact or stat to come out of the Buckeyes’ splendid second half on defense was that the Wolverines never crossed midfield in those final thirty minutes. Whether it came by turnovers or stops on third & fourth down, the Wolverines could not get anything going on offense after halftime. The Buckeyes had similar troubles on offense, but they were able to put together a couple of full drives. However, a turnover and a missed field-goal kept the Buckeyes’ offense from closing the game.
The first thing the Buckeyes defense did in the second half was eliminate Denard Robinson as a factor in the game. They did on consecutive possessions. First Robinson was stopped on a 4th & 2 when he got the call, and then the Buckeyes caused him to cough up the ball and turn it over just two plays into the following possession. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes only got three points off of all of that.
Next, the Buckeyes’ began to wear down the Wolverines offensive line and that is really when all hope was lost for the visiting Wolverines despite it being a close game. By constantly winning the battle up front, the Buckeyes stopped the Wolverines’ running game cold, during which time Devin Gardner was not the Devin Gardner he was in the first half and could barely complete a pass. In the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes scored a key defensive victory when they stopped a 3rd & 1 rushing attempt from Vincent Smith for a loss and forced the Wolverines to punt. This was key because the Wolverines were approaching midfield and a third down conversion could’ve put fuel to a potential scoring drive. Also, with the fourth quarter already minutes in, time had now become a bigger enemy to the Wolverines than the Buckeyes.
Two more turnovers sealed the game as the Buckeyes forced a fumble during a sack inside the Wolverines’ 20 yard-line and recovered it, leading to a field-goal. They followed this up by intercepting Gardner the next time the Wolverines got the football and were then able to run out the clock.
There were no individual heroes in this second half, but a complete effort by everyone on the Buckeyes’ defense to get the job done in a game where they were going to be asked to that more than once. They came through and were able to close out an undefeated season after getting the necessary offensive assistance.