Michigan-Ohio State: Biggest plays, reactions and best moments

Nothing less than a berth in the Big Ten championship game and a shot at the College Football Playoff was on the line when the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines faced the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes.

A quintessential part of Rivalry Week, The Game is as historic as it is high-stakes. The 118th edition was a tale of halves. Michigan struggled in the first half but found its offense on big plays in the second half.

It's the Wolverines' first win in Columbus since 2000.

Here are the scenes, moments and top plays from Saturday at The Horseshoe:

Final takeaways

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy had taken criticism all season for errant throws and a passing game that was not working, but he stole the game Saturday against Ohio State. McCarthy became the first player to throw for three touchdowns and rush for one against the Buckeyes since Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd did it in 2014. McCarthy connected on huge plays all game, including 45-, 69- and 75-yard touchdown passes.

It was the first time in the past 15 seasons that Michigan has had passing touchdowns of 40 or more yards in a game and it was the first time Ohio State had allowed three pass TDs of 45 or more yards since 2014.

McCarthy had said earlier in the season that he felt the passing game was close to clicking, and now it clicked in the most critical moments of Michigan's season.

For the Buckeyes, however, their offense stalled in the second half, gaining just 17 yards in the third quarter on two possessions. The first drive of the fourth quarter wasn't much better, resulting in negative 8 yards and a punt. Ohio State punted on three consecutive series in the second half and saw its halftime lead disappear.

Injuries played a part in Ohio State's lack of success on the ground, with former linebacker Chip Trayanum coming out of the game as the Buckeyes' lead rusher. It looked as though the offense was going to take some momentum back in the fourth quarter when quarterback C.J. Stroud connected with Emeka Egbuka for 44 yards down to the Michigan 15-yard line, but Ohio State got only a field goal out of the drive.

The Buckeyes' high-scoring offense had been its strength most of this season, but in the second half against the Wolverines it couldn't keep them in the game. -- Tom VanHaaren

Edwards to the house, Part 2

After another Ohio State turnover, Edwards went 85 yards for another score.

Edwards to the house

After Mike Sainristil made an amazing pass breakup to keep Ohio State out of the end zone, Donovan Edwards needed one offensive play to build on Michigan's lead.

The big plays continue for Michigan. The Wolverines have scoring plays of 45, 69, 75 and 75 yards.

Getting tricky and building a lead

Michigan put together a 15-play drive that ate up 7:51 in the game. The Wolverines got tricky when Kalel Mullings completed a jump pass to Luke Schoonmaker for a first down. Then, McCarthy and Donovan Edwards finished the drive.

Another big play for Michigan

Another drive and another long ball. This one was a 45-yard score from McCarthy to Colston Loveland.

Takeaways from the first half

Ohio State's running back rotation has been a storyline all season because of injuries, and it took a new twist Saturday. Miyan Williams started while TreVeyon Henderson sat, but Chip Trayanum, a converted linebacker with one carry entering the Michigan game, emerged as the team's next ball-carrying option.

Trayanum led all rushers with 64 yards on eight carries in the first half, including a 24-yard dash to set up an Ohio State field goal. The Akron, Ohio, product was an ESPN 300 recruit who played running back at Arizona State, logging 127 carries for 692 yards and 10 touchdowns. But he had been used primarily on defense for the Buckeyes, recording 12 tackles entering Saturday. At the start of pregame warm-ups, Trayanum conducted some drills right behind Williams.

Freshman Dallan Hayden, who had boosted Ohio State with 248 rushing yards and four touchdowns the previous two games, had only one first-half carry for 5 yards. Ohio State finished the half with Trayanum, not Williams or Hayden, as its featured rusher. The Buckeyes also lined up wide receiver Xavier Johnson in the backfield, and the senior had an 18-yard gain on an end-around.

Coaches often save something for big games, and Ohio State had waited for the right time to unleash the 230-pound Trayanum. He's a surprise standout of a fascinating first half at Ohio Stadium. -- Adam Rittenberg

With a little over five minutes remaining in the second quarter, Michigan had just 1 rushing yard and finished the first half with just 10 yards on the ground. The Wolverines were averaging 243.8 rush yards per game, but star running back Blake Corum was coming off of an injury against Illinois and has been limited in this game. Corum had two carries in the first drive of the game for Michigan, but he hasn't seen a snap since. His primary backup, Donovan Edwards, is also dealing with an injury.

The Wolverines had five rushing touchdowns in the win against the Buckeyes last season, but it has been the passing game that has kept Michigan's offense rolling. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy has thrown touchdown passes of 69 and 75 yards to Cornelius Johnson.

Both were the longest touchdown passes Ohio State has allowed since November 2021, when it faced Nebraska. Johnson became the first player with 150 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in a half against Ohio State since Alabama's Devonta Smith did it in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

The Wolverines' offense in the first half has been counter to the run-heavy scheme we are used to seeing, but it has Michigan right in this rivalry game against the Buckeyes. -- Tom VanHaaren

Buckeyes answer right back

Another big play for Michigan

After scoring Michigan's first touchdown, McCarthy found Johnson deep for the touchdown, giving the Wolverines their first lead of the game. Johnson has TD catches of 69 and 75 yards so far in the game.

Entering today, Michigan had one TD of 50 or more yards this season and has now done it twice in this game. The Wolverines are also the first team with multiple 65-yard touchdowns against Ohio State in Columbus since Oregon State did it in the 2018 season opener.

Wolverines finally answer

After struggling to do much of anything on offense, the Wolverines got in the end zone after J.J. McCarthy found receiver Cornelius Johnson, who broke several tackles for the long TD.

Scary stat for Michigan

The Wolverines have struggled running the ball so far. They were held to 1 yard rushing in the first quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Michigan hasn't defeated a top-five team while running for that few yards in a quarter since at least 2004.

Big catches, big score

First Stroud connected with Harrison, who made a one-handed grab. Later in the drive, Stroud hit Emeka Egbuka for the score.

LeBron is ready

Corum, Edwards seem ready


The LeBron gear

The Buckeyes are again wearing cleats from LeBron James' shoe line with Nike. It's one of the best pieces of gear this week.