Michigan Report Card: Offense
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Is 118 points over two games good? A 56-point performance by Ohio State's offense led the Buckeyes to a 56-27 win over Michigan, a larger margin of victory than last year even if it didn't feel as easy at times.
Much like the past few contests in the rivalry game, Michigan could not do much to stop Ohio State's offense as they seemingly scored at will. There were some new wrinkles to the rivalry game this year with Ryan Day as head coach instead of offensive coordinator and a new quarterback, but it didn't stop Ohio State from dominating the game for the second consecutive year. After another impressive performance from the Buckeyes' offense, find out how they graded out in Ohio State's 56-27 win over the Wolverines.
It was a Heisman moment for Justin Fields.
After completing a pass to Austin Mack, Fields had his left leg hit by one of his offensive linemen and was down in pain on the Michigan Stadium turf. He walked off under his own power and went straight to the sideline medical tent as Chris Chugunov warmed up on the sideline, ready to play out the rest of Ohio State's 35-16 lead if called upon to do so.
Just seven plays later, however, Fields strolled gingerly back onto the field with a noticeably larger brace enveloping his left knee, and like nothing ever happened, he rolled from the pocket, set himself up on that hobbled left leg and hit Garrett Wilson for a 30-yard touchdown placed perfectly in the back of the end zone.
Fields didn't have the greatest passing game. Completing just 56 percent of his passes, Fields was having trouble early on hitting his receivers, but he was able to turn it on when things mattered. After finding Chris Olave for a 57-yard touchdown pass, Fields was 9-of-14 the rest of the way as the Buckeyes continued to grow their lead over the Wolverines.
Fields' 302 passing yards were the second most he's had this season, but his completion percentage and rushing yards both ranked near the bottom among his performances this season. However, in a rivalry game like this, it isn't the body of work that matters. It's those big moments; the long touchdown throws, finding a receiver for a tight sideline pass, and especially displaying the toughness to come back in after aggravating an MCL sprain to hit a perfect touchdown pass.
This wasn't Fields most impressive statistical game of the season, but so far this season, what moment will be remembered for years to come? Six touchdowns against Miami (OH) was impressive, sure. So was the systematic dismantling of Wisconsin's defense. There's a lot of season to be left played as well where Fields could have more jaw-dropping touchdowns or maybe even a game-winning play against better competition in the College Football Playoffs. But, in the annals of The Game and Ohio State lore, no play will reverberate more than seeing Fields grind out an injury to come back in and finish off the Wolverines.
Besides, as Fields said, "I think it just means more in Columbus."
Justin Fields wasn't the only player on Saturday to leave his mark in the rivalry game.
J.K. Dobbins exploded for 211 yards (on 31 carries) and added four rushing touchdowns, both career highs for the junior. Much like the Penn State game, Dobbins set the tone early, accounting for all 75 of Ohio State's yards (four carries, one reception) on the Buckeyes' opening drive.
Michigan knew Ohio State was going to use Dobbins often, yet there was nothing they could do about it. The offensive line was opening up holes that were a country mile wide and Dobbins was making tacklers miss with agile movement, not to mention his breakaway speed that he used on a handful of runs.
Dobbins appeared to carry over some of his fumbling issues from the Penn State by losing the ball on his first carry, but he was able to corral the ball back en route to a 34-yard gain.
This was another master class performance from Dobbins going up against a good Big Ten rushing defense, and seeing this game from Dobbins should strike fear into the Wisconsin Badgers who will be seeing him again in Indianapolis next weekend.
Master Teague III was only able to add 29 yards on 12 carries, but with Fields and Dobbins both balling, this wasn't a game where he needed to have a big impact.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
In a repeat of last season, Ohio State fans have Chris Olave to thank for getting the Buckeyes going against Michigan. As mentioned, Fields had trouble getting going, but seeing Olave racing down the Ohio State sideline with his man in pursuit gave Fields the perfect opportunity to inject some life into Ohio State's passing offense, and it was just what the doctor ordered.
Olave finished with two catches for 68 yards, but the real standout was Garrett Wilson who hauled in three catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Early completions of 41 and 47 yards to get the Buckeyes into the Michigan red zone helped Ohio State jump out to their 28-16 half time lead, and a 30-yard touchdown in the second half started to put an exclamation point on the win.
Besides Wilson's muffed punt, there were no noticeable mistakes from Ohio State's receivers. Compare that to Michigan's receivers who were dropping balls that were hitting them right in the hands, and it was close to a perfect day for the receivers. Given that they still won by 29 in Ann Arbor, I'm feeling generous today.
The offensive line was not much of a talking point against Michigan, and that was a good thing.
They allowed Dobbins to take over the game with massive holes by bullying Michigan defenders, and the Wolverines really could not do anything about it.
Pass protection held up well even if Fields was struggling to hit targets early, but he only took one sack the entire game and generally had time to throw in the pocket. Pressure never really got home and things tightened up after the first couple of drives.
Also a credit to the offensive line is that the atmosphere in Ann Arbor never got to them. The Buckeyes only took two procedural penalties, one intentional, and the other a false start by Jake Hausmann. It was a raucous crowd at least early on, but the sound never hindered communication even when the play needed changed at the line.
Branden Bowen did get beat early on a sack of Fields and Thayer Munford got called for a holding penalty but both drives still ended in touchdowns, so they won't get killed for it in their grade.