ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team defeated rival Ohio State 35-21 in front of an NCAA record crowd of 112,118 fans at Michigan Stadium today (Saturday, Nov. 22). The victory secured Michigan's first outright Big Ten Conference championship since 1997 and avenged back-to-back losses to the Buckeyes in 2001 and 2002. The win also earns Michigan the Big Ten's automatic Bowl Championship Series berth.
Edwards' touchdowns -- on pass plays of 64 and 23 yards -- helped U-M to a 21-0 lead.
After having leads of 21-0 and 28-7, the Wolverines saw their lead challenged early in the fourth quarter when the Buckeyes scored 14 straight points to make it 28-21. Senior tailback Chris Perry (Advance, N.C./Fork Union Military, Va.)
put the game away though when he scored his second touchdown of the day with 7:55 remaining. The Maize and Blue defense then went on to preserve the win.
Fifth-year senior quarterback John Navarre (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy HS) had a great game as he completed 21 of his 32 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, with just one interception. With his second touchdown pass of the day he tied Elvis Grbac (1989-92) for first on Michigan's career touchdown passes list with 71. Braylon Edwards (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallgher HS) had seven receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Perry rushed for 154 yards on 31 carries to go with his two touchdowns as he constantly found ways to beat Ohio State's top-ranked rush defense.
Ohio State opened the contest with the ball at its own 25-yard line but went three and out when Ernest Shazor (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King HS) made a tackle for no gain on third and short. Michigan's first possession, which began at its 23-yard yard line, did not fare much better. After gaining one new set of downs the Wolverines had to punt to OSU. Adam Finley's (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) 42-yard punt pinned the Buckeyes on their 14-yard line.
OSU picked up two first downs and moved out to its 44-yard line before kicking the ball back to Michigan, and the Wolverines began their drive at the 11-yard line. Perry quickly took over by racking up 33 yards in four plays on two rushes and two screen passes. The Wolverines moved the ball into OSU territory as Steve Breaston (North Braddock, Pa./Woodland Hills HS) turned a short pass into a 12-yard pickup. A crucial third-down conversion on a catch and run by Edwards ushered the Maize and Blue to the OSU 33-yard line. Again on third down, Michigan converted with a four-yard carry by Perry that set up first and goal on the six-yard line. After two rushes failed, the Wolverines turned to some trickery. Out of the huddle Breaston lined up under center while Navarre was split wide. Breaston took the snap and ran an option to the right where he kept the ball and barreled into the end zone. Garrett Rivas (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit HS) knocked through the extra point try to give U-M a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. The drive spanned 89 yards in 18 plays and took 7:04.
Stranded at its 35-yard line after failing to convert on yet another third down, OSU returned the ball to Michigan at its 26-yard line. Perry rushed through the middle for 10 yards on first down. Two plays later, Navarre drilled Edwards in the chest near midfield where he shed Will Allen and Nate Salley and outran the rest of the OSU secondary to paydirt for a touchdown pass of 64 yards. The play marked the longest touchdown pass in Navarre's career. Rivas' extra point was true and gave U-M a 14-0 advantage with 13:33 to play in the first half.
The Buckeyes managed to move the ball to midfield on their ensuing possession, but they were stopped on third and one. Punter B.J. Sander tried to pin the Wolverines back, but his kick bounded into the end zone for a touchback. Breaston earned 10 yards on a crossing route. A few plays later, Navarre threaded the ball through to Carl Tabb (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron HS) over the middle for an 18-yard gain. On the next snap, Ohio State tripped up an again open Tabb, giving the Wolverines 15 yards on the pass interference call. Facing third down on the OSU 23-yard line, Edwards hauled in a high pass for a touchdown as he ran a post route on the left side against Chris Gamble. Rivas' point after made it 21-0 for the Wolverines with 5:49 remaining in the half. The penalty-ridden drive saw OSU take 30 yards in penalties while U-M took 20.
The Buckeyes' offense finally responded on its next possession. Quarterback Craig Krenzel was extremely efficient during the drive as he completed eight of his nine passes for 69 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the right corner. He also carried for 12 yards to give him a hand in all 81 yards gained during the 12-play drive that covered 81 yards in 5:05. With the extra point, the Buckeyes had cut their deficit to 21-7 at halftime.
Michigan's running game was effective in the first half, gaining 73 yards on 18 carries against an OSU defense that had only been allowing 50.5 yards per game coming into the contest. Navarre went 12-of-19 for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the first 30 minutes. Four of those completions went to Edwards for 103 yards and two scores. On third down, the Wolverines converted on five of their six tries while the Buckeyes were three for seven.
Breaston broke the second-half kickoff for a 34-yard gain out to the 38-yard line. Back-to-back carries by Perry earned a combined 15 yards and a reception by a wide-open Edwards delivered the Wolverines to the OSU 30-yard line. Perry got the call again and broke into the secondary, where he juked out Salley to the left and bowled over Dustin Fox at the goal line for a touchdown. The extra point made it a 28-7 early in the third quarter. The drive covered 62 yards in just five plays and 1:56.
Ohio State seemed to threaten the Michigan advantage when Krenzel had plenty of time and found a cutting Jenkins for 41 yards down to the U-M 28-yard line. However, the Wolverines' defense stepped up and sacked Krenzel on back-to-back plays for a total loss of 13 yards. With an incomplete pass on third down the Buckeyes were forced to punt the ball away.
OSU regained the ball at the U-M 43-yard line after Michigan had to punt out of its own end zone. A holding call backed up the Buckeyes, but Krenzel scrambled for 14 yards and then hit Jenkins for 26 yards to reach the Michigan 13-yard line. OSU made it 28-14 two plays later on a fade to Holmes for his second touchdown at 6:55 of the third quarter.
While Michigan could not answer the OSU score, it was able to move the ball near midfield and pin the Buckeyes on their seven-yard line with a Finley punt. With a hard hit on first down, Krenzel was injured and left the game. On third and four, backup QB Scott McMullen looked to Jenkins deep, but Jeremy LeSueur (Holly Springs, Miss./Holly Springs HS) was there for a last second pass breakup.
Unable to get a first down, Michigan punted again deep into OSU territory nearing the end of the third quarter. This time the Buckeyes were able to move the ball. In fact, they covered 93 yards in just 10 plays. The key play came when McMullen found a wide-open Holmes for 40 yards down to the Michigan two-yard line. Ross went in from there at 13:53 to cut the Michigan lead to 28-21.
Starting the ensuing possession, Tabb caught a 17-yard pass. Navarre underthrew Edwards and was picked off by Gamble at the OSU 36-yard line, but the Maize and Blue defense held strong and did not allow the Buckeyes to gain any positive yardage. The Michigan offense retook the field at its 12-yard line. Perry earned a much-needed first down on a screen pass to the right for 15 yards. Facing third down on his 46-yard line, Navarre threw deep right to Tyler Ecker (El Dorado Hills, Calif./Oak Ridge HS) for 30 yards down to the OSU 29-yard line. Then Perry broke through the middle for nine more yards. Perry put the final touches on the drive as he ran nearly untouched up the middle and around the left side for a 15-yard touchdown at 7:55 of the fourth quarter. The key drive traveled 88 plays on eight plays in 3:53.
Krenzel reentered the game on Ohio State's next possession. LeSueur's defense was instrumental on the drive, breaking up a deep pass down the right side on first down and batting away another pass over the middle on third down to force an OSU punt. OSU got the ball back on its own 20-yard line, but did not move forward again as Alain Kashama (Montreal, Quebec/Vieux Montreal) sacked Krenzel on third and three with under five minutes to play, forcing a kick.
While only gaining one first down, the Wolverines salted away two minutes of the clock as it read 2:28 when OSU took the ball after a U-M punt at its 19-yard line. The Buckeyes furiously attempted to make a comeback but a tipped pass in Michigan territory landed in the arms of Shazor to quell the final Ohio State possession and secure the 35-21 victory.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423