U-M Unable to Upset No. 2 OSU in "Big Game" Classic


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The greatest rivalry in college football history added another chapter Saturday (Nov. 23) as No. 2-ranked Ohio State advanced to the national title game with a 14-9 victory against No. 12 Michigan at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes (13-0, 8-0 Big Ten) advanced to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl by winning the 99th meeting between the two rivals before a record crowd of 105,539 fans at the Horseshoe.

The Wolverines (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) were kept out of the end zone for the first time this year but managed to win the yardage battle over the Buckeyes, 368 to 264. Senior/junior quarterback John Navarre (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy HS) completed 23-of-46 passes for 247 yards and the game-ending interception. Receivers Braylon Edwards (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS) and Ronald Bellamy (New Orleans, La./Archbishop Shaw HS) each gained 100 yards receiving, with Edwards catching 10 passes for 107 yards and Bellamy adding eight receptions for 101 yards. Junior tailback Chris Perry (Advance, N.C./Fork Union Military, Va.) rushed a career-high 28 times for 76 yards.

Defensively, U-M held Ohio State to 124 passing yards and 140 rushing yards. Redshirt freshman inside linebacker Scott McClintock (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon HS) matched his career high with eight tackles and one tackle for loss. Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Victor Hobson (Mt. Laurel, N.J./St. Joseph's Prep, Pa.) contributed seven tackles, three TFLs and one sack.

Michigan took its opening possession of the game and gained a 3-0 lead as junior/sophomore kicker Adam Finley (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) connected on a 36-yard field goal. Navarre kept the 12-play, 41-yard scoring drive alive with a 15-yard pass to Edwards and a 19-yard pass to Bellamy on third-and-long opportunities. Perry carried the ball five times for 11 yards. Fifth-year senior Julius Curry (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS) gave Michigan's offense excellent field position at its 40-yard line following a 12-yard punt return after a defensive stop to open the game.

Ohio State answered the Wolverine scoring drive as freshman tailback Maurice Clarett scored on a two-yard run, giving the Buckeyes a 7-3 lead with 2:56 left in the first quarter. OSU moved 76 yards in 10 plays and consumed 5:30 as Clarett gained 38 yards on four carries and added a nine-yard reception on the touchdown drive.

The Wolverines trimmed the deficit to 7-6 on Finley's 35-yard field goal at the 10:56 mark of the second quarter. Perry contributed 30 yards on nine carries and Navarre converted three of four third-down passes for 33 yards.

Finley kicked his third field goal of the first half, a 22-yarder, with 16 seconds to give Michigan a 9-7 halftime advantage. U-M started at its own eight-yard line and moved to the OSU five-yard line before the drive stalled. Senior fullback B.J. Askew (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain HS) carried six times for 26 yards, Perry added 16 yards on four rushes and Navarre had a 12-yard run to give the Wolverines a first-and-goal at the eight-yard line. Navarre completed five-of-six passes for 72 yards, but a key offensive interference call in the end zone stopped a touchdown pass from Navarre to Edwards. The 19-play scoring drive that covered 88 yards in 8:24 capped a first half that saw the Wolverines score on all three drives, convert eight of 11 third-down tries and hold the ball for 19:54.

After a scoreless third quarter, Ohio State received its best field position of the game and proceeded to take a 14-9 lead as tailback Maurice Hall took the pitch right and scored on a three-yard run. Ohio State took possession at the 8:30 mark and moved 57 yards in eight plays as Craig Krenzel completed two passing attempts for 41 yards and added another 12 yards on the ground. Clarett caught a 26-yard pass from Krenzel that gave the Buckeyes possession at the U-M six-yard line.

The Wolverines started to put together a drive into scoring territory but defensive end Darrion Scott stripped Navarre of the ball and defensive end Will Smith recovered at the OSU 36-yard line. Navarre completed four-of-six passes for 26 yards and converted a third- and fourth-down before the fumble.

Michigan's last-ditch effort to engineer a victory came up short as free safety Will Allen intercepted Navarre's pass at the goal line as time expired. After taking over on their own 20-yard line with 58 seconds left, the Wolverines moved down the field and got to the Buckeyes' 24-yard line before the game ended.

The Wolverines await selection to their 28th consecutive bowl game and 34th all-time bowl appearance.

Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423