The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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December 1, 2013

Jon Hall's Buckeye Notebook: Ohio State eeks out win

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Having already punched their ticket to the Big Ten Conference Championship next Saturday in Indianapolis, it was only fitting that in meeting for the 110th time, the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0,8-0) and Michigan (3-5, 7-5) would go down to the final seconds.

The final key play had Buckeye fans found their national title hopes teetering on the brink. Somehow OSU had just enough in the tank against its rivals. In pinball-like fashion the Buckeyes snatched a 42-41 decision out of the hands of the Blue and Maize to extend the nation’s longest win streak to 24 in front of 113,511 at the Big House.

Another instant classic was made in the series as Buckeyes defensive back Tyvus Powell intercepted Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner on the Wolverines attempt to go for the win on a 2-point conversion after scoring with 32 seconds left. However, Ohio State came up big on defense on a day where there wasn’t much played by either side for the thrilling win.

It was Gardner who threw connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess to make it 42-41, but instead of kicking for the tie, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke called timeout and went for the lead.

As Hoke said afterward, “We played the game to win.”

OSU rode quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde as it has most of the season. It is why Ohio State remains unbeaten for at least one more week before tangling with Michigan State in the Big Ten title game this Saturday at 8:17 p.m.

The Michigan State game is essentially a play-in game to the BCA National Champion as No. 1 Alabama fell to No. 4 Auburn, 34-28.

Miller ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns while throwing for 133 yards and two scores, Hyde ran for 226 yards to help Ohio State win for the ninth time in 10 games against Michigan.

With Miller and Hyde  having rushed for over 100 yards it marks the first time Ohio State has had multiple 100-yard rushers vs. Michigan since 1967 (Jim Otis & Rudy Hubbard).

Ashtabula’s own and OSU coach Urban Meyer is now 2-0 versus Michigan (7-5, 3-5) and finished the conference with a perfect mark for the second-straight season, and the fourth time since 2002. Along with Michigan State (11-1, 8-0 who beat Minnesota 14-3, Saturday) prior to ’02 (Iowa and Buckeyes, 8-0), the last time the Big Ten had two teams finish the year with perfect conference records was in 1943 when Michigan and Purdue were 6-0.

“That was an instant classic,” Meyer said. “I want to congratulate our players. Someone had asked me what was more important  — our 24th win (in a row) or our second win (in my tenure). There is no question to that. Our second win against our rivals. I want to give them credit. They have great players and great coaches. It was a battle. A great game-classic. I just have great respect for this rivalry.

“Instantaneously what I thought about is 1986-87 when coach (EarIe) Bruce was here and coached his final game. I had a flashback to what I have witnessed in person (as a graduate assistant under Bruce) and what I certainly did witness I also saw on TV.

“I think (former legends, Michigan) Coach (Bo) Schembechler and Coach (Woody) Hayes, who was in my generation when I grew up, would have looked out and seen two teams that played as hard as they possibly can. This is what this rivalry is all about.”

“C.J. Barnett was joking about how he was going to make a play and be on the HBO series (Greatest Rival in Sports No.1 all-time). So to go and make this play that was our season on the line,” Powell said. “So, 12-0, Gold Pants, and Big Ten Championship it just hit me — wow! Knowing what they were going to do it allowed playing with more confidence and you are able to move faster because you can anticipate what is going to happen.”

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