ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Hassan Haskins scored five touchdowns and Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks, helping No. 6 Michigan finally beat No. 2 Ohio State 42-27 Saturday to give Jim Harbaugh his first win as a coach against the Buckeyes.
“It feels like the best one,” Harbaugh said.
The Wolverines clinched the Big Ten East and will play in the conference title game next week with playoff hopes in hand after snapping an eight-game losing streak to Ohio State.
Michigan (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten, No. 5 CFP) advanced to the conference championship for the first time. The Wolverines now have a chance to win a Big Ten title for the first time since 2004 and a national championship for the first time since 1997.
Minutes after the game, long-suffering fans filled the Big House turf to celebrate a rare win in the storied series and they were in no rush to leave as music blared.
“Watching the snow fall and the crowd rush onto the field was truly a surreal moment,” Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara said.
Ohio State had a school-record winning streak in the rivalry, taking 15 of 16 to turn The Game into its game.
The Buckeyes (10-2, 8-1) blew their chances to continue their dominance with 10 penalties, many before the snap, and because they simply could not stop Michigan’s running game.
“We haven’t been in this position in forever, so it’s tough,” Ohio State receiver Chris Olave said.
Harbaugh clearly had his team ready to beat the Buckeyes.
After Harbaugh’s pay was slashed in his new deal last winter in part because of his lack of success against the Buckeyes, he reshaped his coaching staff again and renamed a running-heavy period of practice the “Beat Ohio,” drill for to add another layer of focus on the rivalry.
It seemed to work.
Haskins had 169 yards rushing on 28 carries, scoring a go-ahead touchdown late in the second half and four more after halftime to pad Michigan’s lead.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I want to thank each and every one of my linemen,” Haskins said.
Blake Corum returned from a two-plus game absence to run six times for 87 yards, helping the Wolverines gain a total of 297 yards on the ground against a rival that has pushed them around for much of this century.
“It was dominant,” Harbaugh acknowledged. “There was continual movement up front by the guys.”
Harbaugh also seemed to out coach Ryan Day, who had not lost a Big Ten game, by sprinkling in some surprise plays such as a slot-around with A.J. Henning running for a 14-yard run to cap the game-opening 10-play, 75-yard drive.
And in the end, the Buckeyes looked like they had enough when they didn’t put up much of a fight on Haskins’ 4-yard run with 2:17 left that gave Michigan a 15-point lead.
Ohio State’s high-powered offence seemed rattled against Michigan’s new-look defence with first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald making all the right moves. Hutchinson, who set a single-season school record with 13 sacks, was in the backfield all day.
“Definitely should be in strong consideration for the Heisman Trophy,” Harbaugh said.
C.J. Stroud was 34 of 49 for 394 with two touchdowns, including a 25-yard pass to Garrett Wilson that gave the Buckeyes a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. The Buckeyes turned it over on downs on their last possession, failing to protect Stroud. He was sacked four times, doubling the total from any other game this season.
Ohio State’s high-powered offence put up some big numbers through the air and solid ones on the ground, but not on the scoreboard where it mattered most.
“People are probably going to hate me for it, but I know in my heart I put up everything,” Stroud said.
After Harbaugh’s news conference, he was met by athletic director Warde Manuel.
“You hit a home run,” Manuel told Harbaugh.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes had won 26 straight Big Ten games, a streak that trailed only the school’s 30-game run from 2012-15 in Big Ten history. They also won 21 games in a row over ranked Big Ten teams.
Michigan: In his seventh season, Harbaugh finally got the win he has desperately needed. He likely won over people, who have doubted the former Wolverines and NFL quarterback could deliver on the hype that followed him when the former San Francisco 49ers coach came back to his alma mater.
Michigan will jump past Ohio State in the College Football Ranking, putting college football’s winningest program a win away from competing for a national title.
Ohio State: Waits for its postseason fate, likely landing in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Michigan: Plays the winner of the West Division in Indianapolis next Saturday.