No. 9 Ohio State angered after beating Michigan
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Call it Knee-Gate. Or The Bump At The Big House.
Another controversial chapter was added to the storied Ohio State-Michigan rivalry on Saturday, and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer was much more furious than euphoric after his team’s 31-20 victory.
Someone, perhaps a photographer, bumped into Ohio State senior quarterback J.T. Barrett while he was warming up before the game. That caused Barrett’s right knee to lock up.
Barrett managed to play into the third quarter before the knee locked up on him again. Redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins then came to the rescue.
He led No. 9 Ohio State (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) on three scoring drives, lifting the Buckeyes to their sixth straight victory over their biggest rival.
Meyer promised an “all-out investigation” to determine what happened.
“I’m so upset with myself,” Meyer said. “It was a non-football injury. Too many damn people on the sideline and a guy with a camera hit him in the knee. I’m going to find out who.”
Barrett, who vowed to play in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin next Saturday, said his knee had locked up previously but wasn’t expecting it to happen again before the game.
“I don’t know who it was. Michigan has a lot of people on our sideline, whether it be fans or photo people or whoever,” he said. “He bumped into me and my knee kind of shifted in. Somebody tried to squeeze through (between him and the bench) and he hit me. He kept walking. I’m pretty sure he got a little nervous.”
Barrett left the game after getting tackled by Wolverines linebacker Mike McCray with 6:07 left in the third quarter and his team trailing 20-14. Barrett, who fractured his right ankle against Michigan as a freshman, ran for a touchdown and passed for another in the first half.
“He’s just one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around,” Meyer said. “It locked up on him before the game and then they got it to unlock and it locked up at the end.”
Haskins was 6-for-7 passing for 94 yards and also rushed for 24 yards.
J.K. Dobbins gained 101 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown for the Buckeyes, who erased an early 14-point deficit.
“We played our (butts) off against a very good team,” Meyer said.
Meyer has a 6-0 record against the Wolverines, while Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is 0-3 against the Buckeyes.
Michigan quarterback John O’Korn completed 17 of 32 passes for 195 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Sophomore Brandon Peters, who started at quarterback the previous three games, was not in uniform after suffering a head injury at Wisconsin last weekend.
“The hardest part for me is just, you come here to win this game and our senior class wasn’t able to do it. I hold myself responsible for a lot of that,” O’Korn said. “I can’t imagine a worse feeling right now.”
Karan Higdon’s 2-yard run gave Michigan (8-4, 5-4) a 20-14 lead midway through the third quarter. The extra-point try was blocked.
Haskins led Ohio State down the field after Barrett’s injury, setting up Dobbins’ 1-yard touchdown run with a 22-yard scamper. The extra point gave the Buckeyes a 21-20 lead.
Sean Nuernberger’s 44-yard field goal, set up by a 29-yard pass from Haskins to K.J. Hill, made it 24-20 with 10:21 left. Nuernberger missed a 43-yard try with 2:47 remaining.
O’Korn was picked off by safety Jordan Fuller on the next play, and Mike Weber’s 25-yard touchdown run with 1:44 left clinched the Ohio State victory.
The teams were tied at 14 at halftime.
Khalid Hill’s 2-yard scoring run capped a 13-play, 77-yard Michigan drive in the opening quarter.
O’Korn’s 3-yard scoring pass to Sean McKeon on the first play of the second quarter made it 14-0.
The Buckeyes, who were held to minus-6 yards in the first quarter, answered with a 75-yard scoring drive. Barrett finished it off with a 21-yard, third-down run.
Barrett’s 25-yard scoring pass to uncovered tight end Marcus Baugh tied it with 5:54 left in the half.
“As players, I think we let the foot off the gas. I think this game didn’t have to be close,” O’Korn said. “We could have ran away with it. Plenty of opportunities and we just didn’t take advantage.”
NOTES: The Buckeyes are 22-2 in November since Urban Meyer became head coach. ... The teams were playing for the 100th consecutive year and 114th time overall. Michigan leads the series 58-50-6. ... Wolverines LT Mason Cole started his 50th game, tying him with Jon Jansen (1995-98) for most starts by a Michigan lineman. ... Ohio State played its 700th game as a member of the Big Ten Conference.