The long regional nightmare is over.
After losing its last seven games versus Ohio State, Michigan finally broke through against its arch-rival with a 40-34 win in Ann Arbor on Saturday.
The Wolverines were led by 336 yards of total offense and five touchdowns from Denard Robinson. Michigan's dual threat quarterback rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, bursting out for big runs and grinding tough short yardage, as well. Robinson also completed 14-of-17 passes for 166 yards and three scores, in what may have been his best passing performance of the season.
Fitzgerald Toussaint added 121 rushing yards on 20 carries. It appeared that he scored a touchdown with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, which would have given Michigan a 43-34 lead. However, officials overturned the call on replay, saying that Toussaint's knee was down at the one-yard line before the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. Video replays looked inconclusive, with Toussaint appearing to score on one angle, but down on another angle, but the call on field was overruled and the touchdown was taken off the board.
On the following play, a one-yard touchdown run by Robinson was wiped out by two penalties. Right guard Patrick Omameh was flagged for holding and tight end Steve Watson was called for a personal foul, moving the ball from the OSU 1-yard line all the way back to the 26-yard line. Brandon Gibbons eventually kicked a 43-yard field goal to give Michigan a 40-34 lead.
The Wolverines made a huge goal-line stand to begin the fourth quarter, following a 23-yard run by Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller that put the Buckeyes on the Michigan 5-yard line. But OSU couldn't punch the ball in on its next two plays, gaining only three yards. On 3rd-and-2 from the 2-yard line, Miller was tackled for a two-yard loss and the Buckeyes had to settle for a field goal.
Michigan dodged what could've been a demoralizing loss when Miller overthrew DeVier Posey streaking down the left sideline on the Buckeyes' final drive of the game. Posey had beaten Wolverines cornerback J.T. Floyd and would've cruised in for a touchdown had he been able to make the catch. The Buckeyes gained 15 yards on the next four plays to move to their own 35-yard line. But Miller's final pass was tipped in the air and intercepted by Courtney Avery to seal a much coveted victory for Michigan.
Miller almost matched Robinson in total offense for Ohio State, compiling 332 yards of total offense. He completed 14-of-26 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. But Miller made most of his big plays on the ground, rushing for 96 yards and a score on 17 carries. While some of that yardage came on designed quarterback draws, Miller also frustrated the Michigan defense with scrambles for big yardage when he couldn't find an open receiver.
Just as the final score indicates, this was a closely contested game. Michigan outgained Ohio State in rushing, 296-132, which may have been the difference in the game. But the Buckeyes had the advantage in passing, 236-166, which helped keep OSU close. The highlight may have been the clash between the team's two quarterbacks. Robinson vs. Miller was one of the best battles between quarterbacks this season, and probably one of the best in this rivalry.
With the win, Michigan ends their season at 10-2, its best record since 2006 when the Wolverines finished with the same record. Quite a debut for first-year head coach Brady Hoke. The question now is whether or not the Wolverines will have earned an at-large BCS bid.
Ohio State, meanwhile, finishes with a 6-6 record under interim coach Luke Fickell, its worst record since 1999. But if all the reports of Urban Meyer taking the head coaching job in Columbus are true, the Buckeyes should turn things around quickly.
As the Columbus Dispatch's infamous countdown clock reminded fans for years, it had been 2,926 days since Michigan had beaten Ohio State in football. (Technically, it's been 736 days since OSU beat Michigan, with last year's 37-7 victory vacated in anticipation of NCAA sanctions.) Time to reset that clock.