COLUMBUS, Ohio — The play was 29 lead, and it will go down in history as how Ohio State beat Michigan in one of the greatest games between the Big Ten’s most storied rivals.
That’s pretty much all Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer wanted to talk about. Everything else about the second-ranked Buckeyes’ 30-27 victory over the third-ranked Wolverines on Saturday was almost too overwhelming for Meyer to sort out so soon after it was over.
Curtis Samuel swept in for a 15-yard touchdown on 29 lead left after Ohio State barely converted a fourth-and-1 in the second overtime, and the biggest crowd ever to watch a game in the Horseshoe began spilling onto the field.
The Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) will have to wait until Penn State plays Michigan State to find out if they will play for the Big Ten title. Still, they added to a resume that already impressed the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Of course, beating “The team up North,” as Michigan is called around here, is enough reason to party — and can be hard to put into perspective.
“I didn’t do a lot of thinking, honestly,” Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett said after the Buckeyes beat Michigan for a fifth straight time. “I just looked around and, man, that just happened.”
The 113th meeting of Ohio State and Michigan became the first to go to overtime. It was filled with drama, thrills and controversy. Michigan went away feeling dejected and cheated.
On fourth-and-1 from the 16 in the second overtime and trailing by three, Meyer decided not to try a tying field goal with Tyler Durbin, who had already missed two short ones in regulation.
Barrett kept it on fourth down and slammed into the back of his blocker, A.J. Alexander, right at the 15-yard line. The first-down call stood up to video review.
“That was not a first down,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I’m bitterly disappointed with the officiating today.”
On the next play, Samuel, who had made a swerving, change-of-direction run to set up the fourth-and-1, skipped through a lane and raced easily into the end zone for the win.
“Been a part of some crazy football games here,” Barrett said. “That one was No. 1.”
Harbaugh drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty earlier in the game after an offside call on Michigan (10-2, 7-2) 3 CFP). He also was angry about a pass interference call on Michigan during Ohio State’s tying drive late and a non-call on a would-be pass interference against the Buckeyes in OT.
The loss likely eliminated Michigan from the playoff race. Michigan could end up in the Rose Bowl, but the biggest prizes are still eluding the Wolverines in their second year under Harbaugh, who dropped to 0-2 against Meyer and the Buckeyes. Michigan has not won the Big Ten since 2004.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight returned after missing last week’s game with a left shoulder injury. He went 23-for-35 for 219 yards and two touchdown passes. He also made three critical turnovers, one an interception that Malik Hooker returned for a touchdown in the first half and another pick by Jerome Baker that set up Ohio State’s second touchdown to make it 17-14 with 1:06 left in the third quarter.
“It’s a bummer, you know, knowing I let the defense down,” Speight said.
Barrett struggled throwing until late in the game and finished 15-for-32 for 132 yards. He also ran for 125 needed yards against a Michigan defense that took almost everything else away.