Michigan had just scored a touchdown to go up by six points. The Wolverines had put enormous pressure on Ohio State with a near-perfect first quarter, and they were doing so again in the third quarter. The pressure reached new heights when Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett left the game with a knee injury and the Buckeyes had to turn to their backup quarterback while trailing on the road in a rivalry game.
It didn't take long for redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins to turn the tables and put the pressure all on Michigan in what turned into a 31-20 win by the No. 9 Buckeyes.
With the help of a defensive holding call on a third-and-five, Haskins led Ohio State 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The drive included a 27-yard strike to Austin Mack between two defenders and a 22-yard run down to the one-yard line, where J.K. Dobbins punched it in.
Things looked bleak for @OhioStateFB following J.T. Barrett's exit, but Dwayne Haskins and Austin Mack stepped up HUGE on this drive.- Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 25, 2017
And J.K. Dobbins finished the job. 21-20 Buckeyes. pic.twitter.com/Y6c7nDB7Td
Haskins' four possessions ended in a touchdown, a field goal, a missed field goal and a 25-yard Mike Weber touchdown.
After Barrett left, Michigan's final four possessions ended in a punt, a turnover on downs, a John O'Korn interception and time expiring.
Haskins went 6-for-7 for 94 yards and rushed for 24 yards in relief of Barrett, who had completed only 3 of 8 passes for 30 yards and a TD and rushed for 67 yards and a TD in two and a half quarters. The injury plot thickened after the game, when a furious Urban Meyer claimed that Barrett was initially injured before the game in a collision with a cameraman:
Urban: "I'm upset with myself on JT Barrett. Non-football injury. Guy with a camera on side hit JT in knee pregame."- Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) November 25, 2017
Said they're going to find the guy. @FOX19
Barrett said he will be able to play next week.- Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) November 25, 2017
When Barrett did leave the game later, Haskins outplayed his counterpart, O'Korn, down the stretch, as Ohio State once again had a backup ready to step up in a big situation, bringing to mind the 2014 run behind Cardale Jones after Barrett was injured against Michigan.
Saturday's rivalry game in Ann Arbor couldn't have started worse for Ohio State. Michigan outgained the Buckeyes 105 to -6 in the first quarter. O'Korn led a 13-play, 77-yard touchdown drive on Michigan's second possession, and O'Korn threw a three-yard TD to Sean McKeon early in the second quarter after a big Donovan Peoples-Jones punt return.
The Buckeyes finally woke up afterward, as Barrett and Dobbins led drives of 75 and 53 yards, capped by a 21-yard Barrett TD run and a 25-yard Barrett TD pass to Marcus Baugh.
JT 👉 MB.- Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) November 25, 2017
We've seen this connection many times, and it doesn't get much better than against TTUN.
❌arcus Baugh TD! pic.twitter.com/m27DLSZfnR
Despite the rough first quarter and Barrett's injury, Ohio State ended up running 48 times for 226 yards in the game, while Michigan managed just 100 yards on 36 carries. O'Korn -- who started with both Brandon Peters and Wilton Speight injured -- went 17 of 32 for 195 yards, a TD and the game-clinching Ohio State interception, as he struggled with accuracy all afternoon.
The Buckeyes' offense wasn't always pretty, but they ended up having two capable quarterbacks, with Haskins stepping in seamlessly. Michigan won the first quarter but couldn't outplay Ohio State for a full 60 minutes, and Jim Harbaugh fell to 0-3 against the Buckeyes, who have won six in a row and 13 of 14 in the storied rivalry.
Michigan will finish the regular season 8-4. Ohio State is 10-2 and will get its Big Ten title shot against Wisconsin and maybe a playoff shot if it wins. Given its two blowout losses, Ohio State is unlikely to be a national championship team, but Saturday accomplished a few things: It showed that the Buckeyes continue to be ahead of the Wolverines. And it showed that, as if there was any doubt, the future is bright with Haskins.
Ohio State faced plenty of adversity on Saturday, and yet in the end it proved it remains a step or two ahead of its chief rival.