4 takeaways from Michigan's triumph over Ohio State
The impressive win is Jim Harbaugh's first in the series as Wolverines head coach and sends Michigan to its first-ever Big Ten championship game.
Here are four takeaways from the stunning result at the Big House.
Harbaugh's dream plan
There might not be a coach in college football who preaches physicality more than Harbaugh, which had to make Saturday's display even more pleasing for the 57-year-old.
The Wolverines didn't just beat Ohio State, they absolutely pummelled their rival with a dominant running game and powerful pass-rush on defense. Hassan Haskins ran wild for 169 yards and tied a school record with five rushing touchdowns. Michigan fell just three rushing yards shy of 300 as a team.
Aidan Hutchinson was a monster on the defensive end, registering three sacks and living in the backfield throughout the contest. He now has 13 sacks on the season, breaking the Michigan single-season record and likely cementing him as a top-five selection in the 2022 NFL Draft in the process.
Whatever Harbaugh said in the locker room at halftime clearly worked, as the Wolverines scored a touchdown on all four second-half possessions before kneeling out the victory at the end.
For a man that could only return to the program after restructuring his contract following last season, Saturday's win has to be the most satisfying of Harbaugh's coaching career at the collegiate level.
More big-game struggles for Ohio State
Ohio State ends the regular schedule with at least 10 wins for the ninth straight season - outside of last year's shortened slate due to COVID-19. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, losing their two biggest games on the schedule will be the talking point heading into the offseason.
The blueprint for both Oregon and Michigan in wins over the Buckeyes was to run the ball into the teeth of the defense. The Ducks ripped off 7.1 yards per carry to finish with 269 in the road win in September, while the Wolverines averaged 7.2 per rush on Saturday.
C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba once again put up big numbers in the loss, but the freshman quarterback was under pressure all day. That caused Ohio State to convert just eight of 18 third downs, below its usual 54% total that ranks second nationally.
There's no doubt this Buckeyes team is among the most talented in the country, but their struggles in stopping the run and lack of execution on third down against the toughest opponents were too much to overcome.
Ohio State fans certainly won't agree, but Michigan winning on Saturday was almost essential for the health of the rivalry. The Buckeyes had owned the Wolverines since 2003, only losing once in the last 16 contests entering this year's game. Only six of those games resulted in a scoreline within seven points. The number of streaks that Michigan ended shows just how incredible a program Ohio State has become in recent years.
The Wolverines' victory went a long way towards re-establishing the rivalry as the best in the sport.
Michigan in driver's seat for playoff
Not only is Michigan headed to the Big Ten title game for the first time ever, but the Wolverines are now on the cusp of their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Harbaugh has yet to bring Michigan to the championship semifinals during his tenure, while rivals Michigan State and Ohio State have both done it. That should change when the latest rankings drop on Tuesday, as the Wolverines could very well swap spots with the Buckeyes and take over at No. 2.
Should Wisconsin beat Minnesota later in the day, the Wolverines will have a rematch with the Badgers, one that Harbaugh and his program certainly should feel good about. Earlier in the season, Michigan stormed into Madison and absolutely pummelled the Big Ten West team 38-17.