Like so many years in the past, this was supposed to be the year in which the Wolverines had a chance.
The Michigan Wolverines came into the game ranked fourth in all of college football, up there in the standings with football machines such as Alabama and Clemson. Their defense was ranked first among the teams considered, and starting quarterback Shea Patterson looked like the long-awaited answer to the program’s continuous search for constancy at the position. They had only suffered one loss so far in the season, and had put up staggering scores against usually formidable Big Ten opponents such as Penn State and Wisconsin. What they did not count on was the offensive firepower of a motivated Ohio State.
The Ohio State Buckeyes came into the rivalry game as underdogs for the first time since the early 2000s. An upsetting loss early in the season to unranked Purdue knocked the Buckeyes down in the rankings, and barely winning against Maryland the week before playing Michigan rattled the team that could most often dominate the Big Ten without issue. Ranked 10th, Ohio State entered rivalry week with the chip on their shoulder of being favored to lose, as well as their usual Buckeye strut. This proved to be a winning combination.
The first half of the game was competitive, with the momentum switching back forth. At one point late in the first half, the Buckeyes muffed a kickoff that led almost directly to a Wolverine touchdown. The momentum nearly shifted in Michigan’s favor, but the second half brought a different story.
Ohio State rolled over the top-ranked Michigan defense. Freshman wide receiver Chris Olave broke out with 21 points on the day, and sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. racked up 396 passing yards. The game ended with a 62-39 rout, with the Buckeyes on the winning end.
This game, which took place on Nov. 24, set records for both the Ohio State Buckeyes and the history of the rivalry game. Since the two teams first played in 1897, it took Ohio State 27 years to score 62 points. The 2018 Buckeyes did it in one afternoon. The Michigan defense, which had been a destructive force all season, did not sack Haskins at all. They gave up an average of 8.5 yards against the Buckeyes after only giving up a 3.97 average to all other season opponents combined. Ohio State has won 16 of the last 18 matchups between the two, and Jim Harbaugh has officially become the losing-est Michigan head coach against them.
Ohio State will continue on to play Northwestern University for the Big Ten title, while Michigan’s season has ended until bowl game season. Ohio State has an outside chance at making the NCAA playoffs, though they did only move up to sixth in the ranking.
This year’s rivalry game was a huge success for an Ohio State team that had its rough spots during the season. But it was more than just business as usual, it was a historic destruction of the rival Michigan Wolverines that will be talked about for years to come.