College Football Wrap: Ohio State 42, Michigan 39

The hype, these teams and this contest did not disappoint. The two best teams in college football played Saturday and in my opinion, the better team won, too.

Ohio State had a better game plan, was more physical and out-executed Michigan. Think about this: the Buckeyes coughed up three turnovers, which led to 10 points. Take away two bad snaps by a club-handed OSU center and the Buckeyes win by at least two touchdowns.

Everything that was wrong with Michigan’s defense last year was on display again in this game. Poor run defense, tackling and dumb mistakes plagued UM for four quarters. The tackling and dumb mistakes were on the Wolverines, but credit must be given to Jim Tressel and the OSU offense for the way Michigan’s run defense was shredded for touchdown runs of 52 (Chris Wells) and 56 (Antonio Pittman) yards. Tressel used spread formations with four and sometimes five receivers to get the Wolverines’ talented group of linebackers back on their heels. That created gaping holes for Wells and Pittman and UM did the rest with shoddy tackling. This was a defensive unit that was giving up just over 29 yards on the ground per game coming into this contest and left Columbus surrendering 202.

Troy Smith should have cemented his claim for the Heisman Trophy tonight. While I thought he was a little careless on the two OSU fumbles (although both not his fault), Smith picked apart the UM secondary, was accurate the entire game and displayed great mobility getting outside the pocket. Smith threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns while connecting with playmaker Ted Ginn Jr. eight times for 103 yards and a 39-yard touchdown. Both Smith and Ginn got Morgan Trent turned around like a top on more than a handful of occasions. I thought the stat of the game for Smith was how he connected with eight different receivers, including four different teammates on his touchdown throws.

Mike Hart and Chad Henne should not be overlooked in Michigan’s loss. Hart rushed for 140 yards on 23 carries and scored three times. Henne, although not as accurate as Smith was, threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Mario Manningham (six catches, 85 yards) was superb too, although OSU did a nice job of keying on him after the opening drive. While I thought UM was extremely balanced on offense, I’m surprised that they didn’t run Hart even more in effort to keep OSU’s offense off the field. Although you can’t argue with the passing lanes that were created by offensive coordinator Mike DeBord’s scheme, which allowed the Wolverines to pass more than they usually do. While I thought the Buckeye secondary would play a lot better, give credit to Henne for throwing a couple of frozen ropes.

In the end, the Buckeyes played fundamental ball and had a tremendous game plan on offense to remain balanced. While UM will kick itself for not making better adjustments after giving up 28 points in the first half, the effort given for the late Bo Schembechler shouldn’t be overlooked.

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