One more time in 2010 Ohio State came out flat on offense, and for a quarter "The Game" wasn't pretty. But then Terrelle Pryor took over, and Ohio State dominated what turned into a yawner in the end. Here are some things that stood out to me:
1) Special teams domination - 2010 will be remembered as the worst special teams in Tressel's tenure, but on this day Ohio State flat dominated. Michigan's kicking has been suspect all year, but their punting had been solid. However, punter Will Hagerup didn't make the trip due to a violation of team policy and the job fell to kicker Seth Broekhuizen who was awful. Meanwhile OSU kicker Devin Barclay was steady as usual, and punter Ben Buchanan had his best game to date. However, the real special teams supremacy came courtesy of Jordan Hall's kick return touchdown.
2) Jordan Hall showed why he was the unsung hero of this year's team - Before the season began I predicted that either Jaamal Berry or Jordan Hall would take one to the house but I was beginning to think I struck out on that forecast. However, Hall picked a perfect time to break one, right after UM scored to cut the Buckeye lead to 10-7. What a year for number seven. Consider all he did in 2010. On punt returns he averaged 10.1 per return, taking one back 70 yards. He averaged 30.0 on kick returns, with today's 85 yarder good for six. Jordan rushed for 161 yards and 2 touchdows, and caught 8 passes for 83 yards and 1 td. In addition Hall threw a touchdown on a halfback option pass, and made 4 tackles on special teams, including forcing one fumble. Not bad for a guy some thought only received an offer because he was Pryor's high school teammate.
4) The running game went from Bust to Boom - After a first half when Ohio State's only ground game came from Pryor, the coaches made some adjustments, and Boom Herron went crazy. A ridiculous holding call on Dane Sanzenbacher kept him from the longest play in OSU history, but Herron still finished with 175 yards. He actually ran for 176 after intermission, since he rushed for -1 in the first half. Give credit to the offensive line for doing a good job after getting pushed around some in the first 30 minutes. Why the coaching staff kept running pitches and stretch plays early on is anyone's guess. I kept screaming at the television to run the dive, and when JT finally decided to do so, Herron took off.
5) The Silver Bullets played hard and fast - In the first half Michigan moved the ball consistently, as Robinson's speed and shiftiness was difficult to stop. However, the defense came up with stops when they needed them, forcing some turnovers and featuring physical play. Eventually it paid off, as Denard got banged up and the Wolverines wilted. I thought Rolle and Hines were especially nasty, and were joined by seniors Chekwa, Heyward, and Homan in showing that the class of 2010 was particularly strong on the defensive side. Junior Nathan Williams deserves accolades as well, and has come on strong in the second half of the season.
6) Big Ten Zebras hit an all-time low - The officiating was just awful, and while I saw both teams catch a few breaks, there is no doubt that the Buckeyes got the shaft more often. The holding call on Sanzenbacher was totally phantom, and cost Herron and the team a touchdown. The unsportsmanlike penalites for players celebrating by forming an "O" with their hands was ridiculous. Can Texas no longer flash the "Hook 'em Horns" sign? Give me a break. I also wonder how Heyward got roughed up under an official's nose with no flag. And Jordan Hall got manhandled when he let a punt roll, yet again, nothing was called. There is no excuse for such terrible officiating.
The rivalry certianly isn't what it once was, but I'm not complaining. After enduring the 2-10-1 of the Cooper era, it is great to know that thanks to Tressel's 9-1 dominance, the Bucks are 11-11-1 over the past 23 years!