Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jay LaPrete/AP/Shutterstock (13638987u) Ohio State defensive lineman Ty Hamilton, left, tackles Michigan running back Donovan Edwards during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Columbus, Ohio Michigan Ohio St Football, Columbus, United States – 26 Nov 2022
No. 3 Michigan 45, No. 2 Ohio State 23
What a win for Michigan. It is one thing to beat Ohio State, who has been your sworn enemy for as long as anyone can remember, but it is another thing to punch them in the mouth in their own building. The Wolverines went beyond what their identity is and did it without star RB Blake Corum. Corum exited the game after carrying the ball just twice, continuing to struggle with a knee injury. Michigan has been a heavy run team all season and the game plan coming in was expected to correlate with that. However, they got big plays from unexpected sources. QB J.J. McCarthy put up multiple big plays in the game, catapulting Michigan to a monster finish. His three touchdown passes were all on deep balls, the first two being 69- and 75-yard strikes to Cornelius Johnson. The third coming on a 45-yard pass to TE Colston Loveland. The story of the game for Michigan, however, was RB Donovan Edwards. Corum going down was supposed to spell struggles for the Michigan run game. That was not the case, as Edwards put up a career day with two massive touchdowns at the end of the game. Edwards finished with 216 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. After trailing by three at halftime, the Wolverines outscored Ohio State 28-3 in the second half. This was as good as Michigan has played all year, and it likely punched them a ticket into the College Football Playoff.
If you looked at Ohio State’s numbers, you would not think they got smacked the way that they did. C.J. Stroud did not have an all-around bad game, and they got production from their skill players. The difference came in the second half, where Stroud really struggled, and Ohio State could not move the football with any consistency. Stroud threw two costly picks in the second half that cemented the game for Michigan. Stroud finished with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns on 31-of-48 pass attempts to go along with the two interceptions. Emeka Egbuka hauled in nine passes for 125 yards and a score, while Marvin Harrison Jr. put up seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown of his own. The Buckeyes found production, but most of it came in the first half. Michigan caught them off guard with unexpected big plays on the offensive side. Ohio State got beat over the top too often as they were preparing for the run. However, when Michigan ran, they opened up significant holes with a backup running back. The Buckeyes just did not have it today and completely came apart in the latter half of the game. This loss likely cost them a spot in the playoff.
No. 21 Oregon State 38, No. 9 Oregon 34
This was an epic collapse for the Ducks on both ends. We came into the game knowing Oregon’s defense was among the weaker in college football, but they looked especially sloppy at the end of this game. They were outscored 28-3 from the three-minute mark in the third to the end of the game. The game looked over midway through the third quarter until the switch flipped for Oregon State. Oregon was in command early on and dominated most statistical categories. Oregon had more total yards, turned the ball over less, and controlled time of possession by a wide margin. However, some late-game mistakes cost them, the most notable being a muffed snap on a punt giving Oregon State the ball at the Ducks’ 2-yard line. This is Oregon’s second loss in their last three games, costing them a shot at the Pac-12 title. A hobbled Bo Nix looked better from the pocket despite losing a dimension of his game. He threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns on 27-of-41 passing. His top targets, Troy Franklin and Chase Cota, also had solid days. Franklin pulled in eight catches for 78 yards and a score, while Cota caught nine balls for 136 yards and a touchdown himself. The Ducks will look back on this game with regret as it was theirs for the taking, and they let it go late.
You would not believe me if I told you the winning quarterback of this game had a stat line like Ben Gulbranson. Gulbranson finished 6-of-13 for 60 yards and two interceptions. Clearly not a good day. However, Oregon State dominated on the ground. Damien Martinez carried the ball 15 times for 103 yards on the day as the team’s leading rusher though not contributing one of the five rushing scores the Beavers put up. Oregon State got rushing touchdowns from Isaiah Newell (2), Gulbranson (2), and Deshaun Fenwick, who had one of his own. Oregon State did nothing more than take advantage of Oregon’s mistakes. The first half was ugly for the Beavers, but the second half was magnificent in the sense of playing cleaner football and taking the opportunities that Oregon gave them. This was a great way to end the season for Oregon State, winning a rivalry game at home against a top-10 team in the country.
No. 6 USC 38, No. 15 Notre Dame 21
After most people counted the Trojans as an afterthought, USC has a real shot at the College Football Playoff after Saturday night. USC’s offense looked explosive against a very good Notre Dame defense, and QB Caleb Williams did nothing but improve his case for the Heisman Trophy. USC dominated offensively for most of the game in both yards and time of possession. The Trojans ran the ball down the throats of the Fighting Irish for over 200 yards on the night, with RB Austin Jones leading the way. Jones finished with 154 yards on 24 carries. Caleb Williams made some magical plays on the ground accumulating three rushing touchdowns and 35 yards. Williams was incredibly efficient with the football, going 18-of-22 for 232 yards and a touchdown showing how dynamic this offense has been all season. This was as well as the USC defense has played all season, especially holding down the run game. Notre Dame could only put up 90 yards on the ground all night, limiting RB Logan Diggs to 34 yards rushing. USC got out in front early in the game and kept the momentum throughout. Putting it in perspective, USC has been almost perfect all season, with their only blemish being a one-point loss to Utah, a game in which they scored 42 points. The win tonight over a very good Notre Dame team only strengthens their case for the CFP as they head to the Pac-12 Championship.
Notre Dame could not finish offensively. QB Drew Pyne did not throw an incompletion until early in the fourth quarter, and they still could not muster up enough offense to take down the Trojans. The difference in the game was the ground game. Notre Dame simply could not run the ball effectively against a generally poor USC defense. Logan Diggs scored a touchdown but averaged less than three yards per carry. Pyne had a day to be proud of despite the loss. His accuracy was impeccable, going 23-of-26 for 318 yards and three touchdowns. His one blemish came on a late-game interception that ultimately sealed the game for the Trojans. Star TE Michael Mayer was extremely productive, hauling in eight balls for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and the Irish finished the season 8-4, navigating a tough schedule. After dropping the first two games to Ohio State and Marshall, Notre Dame started playing real solid football the rest of the way, and despite the loss, they looked as if they could compete with anyone in the country. The Irish offense only slightly lagged behind one of the best in the country. That is something to hang their hat on.