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No. 3 Michigan pulls away late to rout No. 2 Ohio State, remain unbeaten

Michigan receiver Cornelius Johnson turns upfield to score a touchdown past Ohio State defensive back Cameron Brown.
Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson turns upfield to score a touchdown past Ohio State defensive back Cameron Brown in the first half Saturday. The No. 3 Wolverines beat the No. 2 Buckeyes 45-23.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)
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After Michigan beat Ohio State with stunning ease for the second straight year, Wolverines defensive back Mike Sainristil grabbed a huge maize and blue flag and rushed with teammates to the block “O” in the middle of the Ohio Stadium turf.

Sainristil forcefully planted that flag in the 50-yard line, and then the Wolverines mugged for the cameras.

Ohio State players leaving the field barely looked their way.

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Again, Michigan was the best team in “The Game,” this time by a score of 45-23.

Behind career performances by J.J. McCarthy and Donovan Edwards, the No. 3 Wolverines (12-0, 9-0) advance to the Big Ten Conference championship game next Saturday against Purdue with hopes for a second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance firmly in their control.

As for the No. 2 Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1), they will have to hope they can back into the CFP after again crumbling in their most important game.

Coach Jim Harbaugh and Michigan ended an eight-game losing streak against their fiercest rivals last year with a cathartic 42-27 victory in the Big House. Now they have a two-game winning streak in “The Game” for the first time in 22 years.

“Could not be more proud,” Harbaugh said. “Knew the team was focused and determined as they have been all season. This is a locker room of heroes.”

No. 21 Oregon State took advantage of mistakes by No. 9 Oregon to rally for a 38-34 win, while Texas A&M upset No. 5 LSU 38-23 to hurt the Tigers’ CFP hopes.

Maybe the biggest hero was McCarthy, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score. Edwards busted the game open with two long fourth-quarter touchdown runs.

Playing almost the whole game without injured star running back Blake Corum (knee), Michigan was still able to beat Ohio State in Columbus for the first time since 2000.

McCarthy, a second-year quarterback who won the starting job from incumbent Cade McNamara early in the season, came up huge when Michigan needed it most. McCarthy passed for 263 yards and didn’t commit a turnover.

“He was just on fire in every way — throwing the ball, running the ball,” Harbaugh said. “So focused and determined. It was a team that was focused and determined.”

Michigan running back Donovan Edwards, left, celebrates with Roman Wilson after Edwards scored Nov. 26, 2022.
Michigan running back Donovan Edwards, left, celebrates with wide receiver Roman Wilson after Edwards scored. Edwards had touchdown runs of 75 and 85 yards late.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

McCarthy’s previous longest pass completion this season was 42 yards, but against the Buckeyes he threw three touchdown passes of at least 45 yards, the most scoring passes of 45 yards or more in the history of the 105-game series.

He connected on scoring passes of 69 and 75 yards to Cornelius Johnson in the first half, then hooked up with Colston Loveland in the second half for 45 yards and the freshman tight end’s first career touchdown reception.

“I thought he did a good job of making some throws under pressure,” said Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who was hired to fix the Buckeyes’ defensive failings in last year’s game. “Now, we knew he could throw the ball. I just thought he played well when he had to.”

USC quarterback Caleb Williams passed and rushed for multiple touchdowns, shining in the national spotlight as the Trojans defeated Notre Dame.

On a third-and-10 play from the Ohio State 13-yard line early in the fourth quarter, McCarthy was on the run from Zach Harrison when he lofted a pass to the end zone toward Ronnie Bell, who drew a pass-interference call on safety Ronnie Hickman.

That put the ball on the Ohio State two-yard line, and three plays later the 19-year-old quarterback from suburban Chicago bowled over a tackler for another touchdown and a 31-20 Michigan lead.

The Buckeyes settled for a field goal by Noah Ruggles to get the score to 31-23.

Then Edwards put the game away for Michigan.

Michigan defensive lineman Cam Goode celebrates the Wolverines' win over Ohio State on Nov. 26, 2022.
Michigan defensive lineman Cam Goode (99) celebrates the Wolverines’ win over Ohio State.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

Corum’s backup, who was playing with a heavily wrapped and injured hand, raced through a hole in the right side and went 75 yards for a touchdown with 7:11 left.

After Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was intercepted, Edwards was off again, pulling away for an 85-yard scoring run.

“This is not the outcome we all envisioned,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “I thought we had good preparation. I thought we were building toward playing really well.”

Stroud finished 31-for-48 passing for 349 yards with two interceptions.


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