Michigan thumps OSU for 2nd straight rivalry win

NCAAF

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Michigan‘s J.J. McCarthy wasn’t the most decorated quarterback on the field entering the clash Saturday with Ohio State, and he wasn’t even the biggest star on his own team.

He left Ohio Stadium as a Michigan legend, though, along with running back Donovan Edwards. McCarthy threw three long touchdown passes and added a scoring run early in the fourth quarter, and Edwards broke off two long TD runs, as No. 3 Michigan beat No. 2 Ohio State 45-23, its second straight upset in the rivalry. Playing almost the entire game without star running back Blake Corum, Michigan had five touchdowns of 45 yards or longer and four of 69 yards or longer to stun the Buckeyes.

The Wolverines (12-0) won at Ohio Stadium for the first time since 2000, which also represented their last winning streak in the rivalry (two games). Ohio State had won 29 consecutive Big Ten home games before Saturday, stretching back to the 2015 season. The matchup marked just the fourth time since 1935 that both Michigan and Ohio State entered their game without any losses or ties. Ohio State (11-1) came in 6-0 at home against Michigan when both teams held AP top-five rankings.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who lost his first five games to Ohio State, has now won consecutive contests. Ohio State coach Ryan Day fell to 1-2 against the Wolverines.

Down 20-17 at halftime, Michigan held Ohio State to 17 yards in the third quarter to take control. After the Buckeyes cut their deficit to eight points midway through the fourth quarter, Michigan struck right back with a 75-yard Edwards touchdown run. Edwards tacked on an 85-yard TD run as Ohio State fans headed for the exits.

Michigan advanced to the Big Ten championship next week in Indianapolis, where it will face Purdue, Illinois or Iowa. The Wolverines can win consecutive outright Big Ten titles for the first time since 1992.

Purdue can clinch the Big Ten’s West Division with a win over rival Indiana later Saturday. If Purdue loses, Illinois can clinch the division by beating Northwestern. If both Purdue and Illinois lose, Iowa will advance for the second straight season.

Ohio State must wait until next week to learn whether it qualifies for the College Football Playoff as an at-large selection, which it last did in 2016.

The Buckeyes’ defense, which had shown significant improvement this season under coordinator Jim Knowles, simply had no answer for McCarthy and an aggressive Wolverines offense.

McCarthy completed three of his first nine pass attempts but then began finding gaps in an Ohio State defense that had allowed only two passing touchdowns of 45 yards or longer all season before Saturday. Midway through the second quarter, he found Cornelius Johnson, who beat cornerback Cameron Brown and raced for a 69-yard touchdown.

The sophomore McCarthy then found Johnson for a 75-yard touchdown and helped Michigan regain the lead in the third quarter with a 45-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Colston Loveland. McCarthy had operated a mostly conservative passing plan in his first season as the starter, and Michigan came in with only one passing touchdown of 50 yards or longer. He came in averaging only 177.5 passing yards per game, which ranked 11th in the Big Ten and well behind Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud (271.9 YPG), who remained a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

Stroud passed for 349 yards and two touchdowns but struggled to attack downfield other than a 42-yard TD to top receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. late in the first half. He threw two interceptions in the final five minutes.

McCarthy became the first player with three passing touchdowns and a rushing TD against Ohio State since Clemson’s Tajh Boyd in the 2014 Orange Bowl.

Both teams played short-handed at running back. Corum, who suffered a left knee injury in last week’s win over Illinois, left the game after two carries on Michigan’s first possession and did not return. Michigan had only 10 rushing yards in the first half.

Ohio State starter TreVeyon Henderson sat out with a lower leg injury, while Miyan Williams returned from injury but was not overly effective. The Buckeyes leaned on Chip Trayanum, a linebacker who played running back at Arizona State but had only one carry for Ohio State before Saturday. Trayanum finished with 83 yards on 14 carries.

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