With the Ohio State University’s run game wearing down the University of Michigan’s defense, coach Brady Hoke realized he wanted to win the game on the last drive and held nothing back.
“We weren’t doing a good job slowing [Ohio State] down,” Hoke said. “We wanted to go win the football game.”
Realizing it was a rivalry game, the Wolverines went for two instead of the extra point, but came up unsuccessful.
“We play the game to win,” Hoke said. “I thought about it, and we did it.”
Defensive back Tyvis Powell read Devin Gardner’s pass and came under Drew Dileo to intercept the ball and seal the Buckeyes’ 42-41 win over the Wolverines in front of a sell-out crowd at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.
Quarterback Braxton Miller knew Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten Conference) had to work hard to increase its winning streak to 24.
“It was a good, hard fought game,” Miller said. “[Michigan] did not let up at all and the record they had did not phase them at all. It is a blessing to have 24 wins in a row.”
Miller made more of an impact rushing as he went for 153 yards on 12 carries and scored three touchdowns, with his longest run at 53.
Carlos Hyde finished 20 yards short of his career-high of 246 against the University of Illinois as went for 226 on 27 touches and crossed the end zone once.
For Michigan (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten), quarterback Devin Gardner bounced back after averaging 157.5 passing in his previous four games by going 32-of-45 for 451 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
In his final home game, senior Jeremy Gallon caught nine passes for 175 and caught a touchdown.
On the ground, Michigan’s defense gave up 395 yards to Ohio State, the most given up since 2003 when they allowed 424 to the University of Minnesota.
“Did we play well enough on defense against the run? No, not even close,” Hoke said.
Michigan showed up from the first possession when Gardner found Gallon on a screen pass for 84 yards and was tackled at the OSU two.
The huge gain made way for Gardner’s run on the option from a yard out to open the scoring.
The Buckeyes responded as Miller found wide receiver Devin Smith as he used his fingertips to hang on for a 53-yard touchdown reception to even the score at seven.
A 37-yard reception by Gallon set up Gardner’s pitch to Fitzgerald Toussaint for a four-yard touchdown to put the Wolverines back in front with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
Miller responded with a 53-yard touchdown run on a quarterback into the end zone to even the score with 0:55 left.
Not long after the second quarter began, Gardner found Gallon as he leaped out and juggled the ball in the right corner of the end zone before gaining full control for a 17-yard touchdown.
On the OSU return, Ohio State’s Marcus Hall and Dontre Wilson, along with Michigan’s Royce Jenkins-Stone were ejected from the game for throwing punches after the kickoff.
“I saw little Dontre and I saw him being mugged and pushed,” Miller said as he was trying to separate Wilson from everyone else. “I was running out there to help him out as the leader and then [a] Michigan player tried to make my head off and I wasn’t having any of that.”
The Buckeyes evened the score as Miller escaped the pocket and went untouched for a 21-yard touchdown to even the score as both teams went into the locker room.
After OSU’s touchdown to open the third quarter, Michigan was in a position to go for a field goal, but Hoke called timeout as Matt Wile attempted the try.
Coming out of the timeout, the Wolverines decided to go for it and Dileo could not come up with the reception.
“We talked all year about making [fourth down conversions] and that was the first one we had an opportunity to make,” Hoke said.
Ohio State took advantage as Miller found tight end Jeff Heuerman wide open for a 22-yard touchdown.
With the Wolverines down 14 and desperate for a score, Gardner would scramble and find Dileo for an 11-yard touchdown reception to pull within seven early in the final quarter.
After strong safety Thomas Gordon’s hit forced Hyde to lose the ball, middle linebacker Desmond Morgan recovered it at the OSU 41.
The Wolverines evened the score at 35 with Butt’s 2-yard touchdown off a roll out from Gardner.
With less than five minutes to go, the Buckeyes drove 65 yards in 2:41 and scored on a one-yard run from Hyde.
The Wolverines made the most of their remaining time as Gardner hooked up with Funchess from two yards out to put them within one with 32 seconds left.
Hoke decided to go for the two-point conversion to win the game.
Gardner threw the ball to the slot and Powell read the play and went under Dileo for the interception to keep Ohio State’s winning streak intact.
Gardner entered the press conference with a walking boot on his left foot, but would not specify on the details of his injury.
Placekicker Brendan Gibbons did not play because of an injury he “tweaked” according to Michigan officials at this week’s practice.
The Buckeyes will play in the Big Ten Championship game on Dec. 7 against the Michigan State University Spartans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Miller will use the upcoming week to prepare for MSU.
“I will watch [Michigan State] on film [this week],” Miller said in a stern manner.
Michigan State enters the game 11-1 overall with an 8-0 record in the Big Ten Legends Division and ranks fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 12.5 points allowed.
In a low-scoring affair, MSU defeated Minnesota 14-3 on Saturday.
The winner of the game will represent the conference at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA., on Jan. 1, 2014.
The Wolverines will wait until Dec. 8 to find out which bowl they will be invited to.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.