5 Answers Michigan at Ohio State

Nathan Williams

Ohio State beat Michigan thanks to a hot start by its quarterback and the ability of the Buckeye defense to bottle up one of his counterparts on the other side of the ball after halftime. We look at those questions and more in this week's "5 Answers".

1. Will Braxton Miller bounce back?

Ohio State's sophomore quarterback got off to a hot start, hitting Devin Smith for a 52-yard pass on the fourth play of the game to give the Buckeyes first and goal at the Michigan 8-yard line.

His arm was key on the Buckeyes' second scoring drive, too, as he went 5 for 6 passing for 55 yards en route to a 41-yard field goal by Drew Basil.

Miller was 11 for 13 for 156 yards passing in the half but added only 33 yards while completing 1 of 4 in the second. The Wolverines managed to keep him mostly contained on the ground aside from a 42-yard run in the third quarter. He finished with 57 net yards on 20 carries, a total brought down by four sacks.

"I think they contained me really well," he said. "(They stopped) me from running outside. On the third downs, they'd do some tricky type of things with the nose standing up and having four guys on one side and two on the other side. That kind of confused me a little bit, but other than that it was good."


2. How much can Denard Robinson do?

Michigan's senior star took the first snap of the game at quarterback and logged a 30-yard run that featured a couple of broken tackles. Robinson's speed and toughness was on display late in the second quarter when he ran through tackle attempts by Christian Bryant and Travis Howard then sped away for a 67-yard touchdown run, but his big plays were few and far between.

He alternated at quarterback with junior Devin Gardner, who threw all of Michigan's 20 passes on the day.

Robinson told reporters his elbow injury was healed to the point he could throw, but the coaching staff chose not to exploit it.

"We went with the plays coach was calling and we thought would be successful," he said. "However, I do feel comfortable throwing the ball."

Once the Ohio State defense stopped worrying about him putting it in the air, they zeroed in on Robinson and rendered him ineffective in the second half. He finished with 122 yards on 10 carries and lost a fumbled. He had a net loss of two yards after intermission.

"We treated him kind of as a running back this game," defensive end Nathan Williams said. "We knew he could pass the ball but we were more concerned about his running ability. We knew he was going to run the ball when he was in, so the second half we really adjusted and stopped them when we needed to."


3. Can the Buckeyes stay ahead of the chains?

Overall, Ohio State again struggled on third down, converting only 4 of 13 opportunities. Third-and-long was less of an issue this week than it was at Wisconsin in the Buckeyes' previous game, but they were not great in any particular down and distance.

They only converted two of their five third downs that required less than seven yards while going two for eight in greater distance than that.

The down was something of a disaster much of the day as Michigan produced three sacks and a turnover, but two of the long conversions were key.

Miller kept Ohio State's first field goal drive alive by finding Corey "Philly" Brown for 19 yards on a third-and-14 put the ball at the Michigan 24 in the second quarter, and Carlos Hyde put the Wolverines on the ropes with a 13-yard run on third-and-7 in the fourth quarter. After Hyde added 10 yards on the next to plays, the Buckeyes were able to run out the clock.

The Buckeyes did not face a third down on their second touchdown drive or their second field goal drive.


4. Will tight ends play a notable role?

Nope.

Ohio State's tight ends did not catch a pass, but they were whistled for illegal procedure twice.

Michigan blocking tight end Mike Kwiatkowski logged a rare catch (for six yards) while red zone target Devin Funchess was shut out. Gardner took a shot downfield for Funchess on the Wolverines' last possession, but his pass was off target.


5. Which linebacker has the biggest impact?

Ohio State's Ryan Shazier and Michigan's Jake Ryan both had big games in The Game, but the Wolverine sophomore gets the nod for forcing a pair of fumbles.

Ryan notched nine tackles, including a sack and two for loss. He was key in helping contain Miller but wasn't able to help prevent the Buckeyes from exploiting the weakness of the interior defensive line of Michigan.

Shazier was credited with five stops, including a sack and 2.5 for loss. His sack came of Gardner on a blitz on a third-and-long in the second quarter. He also threw Robinson for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-3 to end Michigan's first possession of the third quarter and give the Buckeyes positive field position to set up their go-ahead field goal.

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