With all of the big names Ohio State had to offer – Urban Meyer on the sidelines, Braxton Miller at quarterback, Carlos Hyde busting through the middle and speedy receiver Devin Smith, it came down to a freshman cornerback, Tyvis Powell, to make what might turn out to be the biggest play of the season for the Buckeyes, intercepting a Devin Gardner pass to deny a 2-point conversion and keep his team undefeated with a 42-41 win.
No one thought it would be easy to come out of Michigan Stadium with a win that will guarantee them another 12-0 regular season, and more importantly keep their hopes of going to the national championship game alive. The cards fell in the right way, and Alabama lost, which means an undefeated Ohio State needs to beat Michigan State and hope the polls and computers sway their way, giving them the number 2 spot and not to Auburn or Missouri.
Urban Meyer didn’t want to leave things to chance. He went to his roots, which means running through the middle, and limiting the passing game. Braxton Miller threw only 15 times (completing six passes), going for 133 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He ran for 153 yards on 16 carries, scoring three touchdowns, joining Carlos Hyde (226 yards, 27 carries) in a ground demolition, gaining a total of 393 yards in rushing plays.
It took a rare offensive effort from a now 7-5 Michigan team that completely fell apart in the second half of the season to make this one of the biggest games in the rivalries history. It was the first time both teams put up more than 40 points, as Devin Gardner completed four touchdown passes and ran for another one himself. Brady Hoke decided this was all about the win on that final play – national championship and things like that weren’t on his mind. He gambled, and Gardner was intercepted for the first time in the game – an interception that doesn’t go into the stat books, but might be the most important play we’ll see this season in the Big Ten or anywhere in the nation.
The events that ended the game erased those from halftime, when a brawl caused the ejection of three players – right guard Marcus Hall and kick returner Dontre Wilson from Ohio State, linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone from Michigan. Hall raised two middle fingers to the Michigan fans while walking towards the tunnel at halftime, resulting in Michigan players responding and the situation getting a little bit out of hand.
It came down to a risky decision by Brady Hoke. Some say the felt his job on the line, and wasn’t risking an overtime loss, wanting to add another win over the Buckeyes to help him with the Athletic Director. Bravery is often commendable, even when it doesn’t work out. It just seems like such a big, risky and slightly weird decision to make on the final play of the biggest game of the season, especially when this isn’t the team that’s proven it can rise to any challenge it faces.
We felt like we could win the game right there. I threw an interception that cost us the win, that’s what I will remember from this game. It’s hard to say if Ohio State will remember how they won the game, or how they partied in the bus after they watched Auburn stun Alabama with that field goal return for the touchdown, changing the entire picture of the BCS standings.