Considering the weather conditions, plus their stellar pass-rush and being in Ann Arbor, everything was in-line Saturday afternoon for a Michigan football upset, and they didn’t disappoint.
It was a snowy, cold Michigan afternoon which I am sure played right into what Harbaugh hoped. Ohio State’s high octane offense wouldn’t be able to shake loose like they had the week prior against Michigan State. Michigan’s defense, specifically the secondary, is far better than the Spartans, which played a significant role containing the Buckeyes’ stellar group of pass-catchers.
The Wolverines’ cornerbacks were up to the task; although the Buckeyes receivers all produced, Michigan managed to limit the big game-wrecking splash plays.
Buckeyes’ top pass-catcher Jaxon Smith-Njigba hauled in 11 balls totaling 127 yards, Garrett Wilson made ten catches totaling 119 yards and a score, plus Chris Olave pulled in down seven for 88. Ohio State trailed the whole way, which led to more of an unbalanced offense, and Michigan tried to keep everything in front of them, which always leads to a plethora of yardage.
Quarterback CJ Stroud threw for 394 yards and two touchdowns, and running back TreVeyon Henderson galloped for only 4.4 yards per carry, 74 yards on 17 carries, nearly half of his usual average.
Hassan Haskins and Aidan Hutchinson pace Michigan football over Ohio State with career days.
This is exactly what head coach Harbaugh needed from his two stars for Michigan to complete the upset.
Haskins scored a whopping five rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines. Haskins is a power back and the prototypical Harbaugh-scheme running back that seems to always fall forward on first contact. Haskins is a punishing runner and continued to wear down the Ohio State defense running for 169 yards on 28 carries.
Blake Corum served as the change of pace back, running for 87 yards on six carries. Corum had missed a few games due to injury and wasn’t utilized as the stellar 1-2 punch Michigan often used its top pair of rushers earlier in the season, but he was exceptionally effective nonetheless.
Quarterback Cade McNamara only completed 13 passes for 159 yards while throwing one awful interception trying to force the football into triple coverage while in the red zone on Michigan’s second drive of the ball game.
Aidan Hutchinson made three sacks along with seven total tackles to pace the Wolverines defense, and David Ojabo chipped in with one sack, but it came with dramatic fashion late in the ball game to seal the deal.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Hutchinson produced 15 quarterback hurries Saturday, which is the most by any player since 2014 when PFF started tracking the stat. Hutchinson leads all edge-rushers with an overall grade of 93.8 on the season. With a tremendous showing Saturday, Hutchinson has launched himself into not only the Heisman Trophy conversation but also perhaps being the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Finally, with a victory over Ohio State and the plethora of college head coaches expected to sign contract extensions, Harbaugh may have just secured his job for years to come. Heading into the 2021 season, Harbaugh took nearly a 50% pay cut, expect that number to rise significantly this offseason.
Michigan football still has work to do; they will finally appear in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game on Saturday, December 4th squaring off with Iowa at 8 pm Est. Michigan controls its destiny and has a clear path to the College Football Playoff.