Fields, Dobbins Power Ohio State Rout of Michigan
The Ohio State-Michigan series has lacked the competitive aura that once made it great for well more than a decade, going on two.
Lacking the realistic hope or actual achievement of an upset, all it offers now is a nip of nostalgia and some scintillating achievement that puts a signature on yet another OSU victory.
So it is that the No. 1 Buckeyes' 56-27 dismantling of the Wolverines on Saturday at Michigan Stadium will likely be known for quarterback Justin Fields thrilling and then terrifying his fan base, and then trolling Michigan's faithful.
Discounting a kneel-down at the end of the first half, Fields directed OSU to four straight touchdowns and five in six possessions to guarantee the win.
Then, as if to ratchet up the drama from a game that had rapidly lost it with the Buckeyes in front, 35-16, Fields went down in a heap after tight end Luke Farrell got blocked into him late in the third quarter.
Visions of J.T. Barrett's broken foot in the waning minutes of OSU's 2014 victory settled uneasily in the stomachs of scarlet-and-gray loyalists as backup Chris Chugunov came on in relief.
But just a few plays later, Fields returned in a clunky knee brace, rolled left and lofted a perfect 30-yard touchdown throw to Garrett Wilson.
There's your Heisman moment, voters.
Fields had to do something dramatic to hold serve against teammate J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and 108 in the second.
Those two were always OSU's most-indispensable talents, not defensive end Chase Young.
Young is an amazing player, but Ohio State's depth on the defensive line makes him a luxury the Buckeyes didn't miss when he sat two games for an NCAA suspension.
Take Fields out of the lineup against a quality opponent -- as OSU fans envisioned when he went down briefly -- and the hopes for a national championship exit with him.
Dobbins has a more capable backup in Master Teague, but it's becoming clear from Dobbins' performances in OSU's biggest games that he is a cornerstone whose absence would take a toll.
He's now gone for 172 yards against Michigan State, 163 against Wisconsin, 157 against Penn State and 211 against Michigan, scoring nine TDs in those games.
Michigan, for all its success throwing on Saturday, had no similar sure thing in the running game like OSU offered Dobbins.
His success so bothered the Wolverines they incurred a 15-yard penalty for removing his shoe after one tackle, trying anything just to get him off the field.
After the Wolverines scored 10 straight points to get within 42-25 with 14:23 left, OSU punted and Michigan tried to continue its rally.
The Buckeyes aborted that, though, holding on a fourth-and-2 carry into the center of the line.
That gave OSU possession at the Michigan 28 with just over 12 minutes left.
Fields took over from there, finding Luke Farrell for `4 yards and then Austin Mack for OSU's fourth passing touchdown and a 49-25 lead.
It only got worse from there, with Michigan committed to four-down offense and Ohio State having none of it.
A short-field after a failed fourth-down gamble set up four Dobbins carries that covered all 47 yards, the latter from 33 yards out for his fourth TD.
Ohio State now advances to the Big Ten title game for a rematch against Wisconsin (10-2), which handily defeated Minnesota in Minneapolis.
OSU won an Oct. 26 game in Columbus against the Badgers, 38-.7
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