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Michigan beats Ohio State for a second straight win

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Michigan’s JJ McCarthy wasn’t the most decorated quarterback on the field entering Saturday’s duel with Ohio State, and he wasn’t even the biggest star on his own team.

However, he left Ohio Stadium a Michigan legend, along with running back Donovan Edwards. McCarthy threw three long touchdown passes and added a scoring run early in the fourth quarter, and Edwards called off two long TD runs as No. 3 Michigan defeated No. 2 Ohio State 45-23, his second straight upset in the rivalry. Blake Corum, Michigan, played almost the entire game without a star running back and had five touchdowns from 45 yards or longer and four from 69 yards or longer to stun the Buckeyes.

The Wolverines (12-0) won at Ohio Stadium for the first time since 2000, which also marked their last winning streak in the rivalry (two games). Ohio State had won 29 straight Big Ten home games before Saturday, dating back to the 2015 season. The matchup marked only the fourth time since 1935 that both Michigan and Ohio State entered their game without losses or a tie. Ohio State (11-1) came 6-0 at home to Michigan as both teams held AP top-five finishes.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who lost his first five games to Ohio State, has now won back-to-back contests. Ohio State coach Ryan Day fell 2-1 against the Wolverines.

Michigan was 20-17 down at halftime and held Ohio State for 17 yards in the third quarter to take control. After the Buckeyes reduced their deficit to eight points midway through the fourth quarter, Michigan hit back with a 75-yard touchdown run from Edwards. Edwards launched an 85-yard TD run as the Ohio State fans headed for the exits.

Michigan advanced to the Big Ten championship next week in Indianapolis, where it will face Purdue, Illinois or Iowa. The Wolverines can win back-to-back Big Ten titles for the first time since 1992.

Purdue can win the West Division of the Big Ten later on Saturday with a win over rival Indiana. If Purdue loses, Illinois can win the division by beating Northwestern. If both Purdue and Illinois lose, Iowa will be promoted for the second straight season.

Ohio State will have to wait until next week to know if it qualifies for the College Football Playoffs as an at-large selection, which it last did in 2016.

The Buckeyes’ defense, which had improved significantly this season under coordinator Jim Knowles, simply had no response from McCarthy and an aggressive Wolverines offense.

McCarthy completed three of his first nine pass attempts but then found gaps in an Ohio State defense that had only allowed two pass touchdowns of 45 yards or longer all season leading up to Saturday. Midway through the second quarter, he found Cornelius Johnson defeating cornerback Cameron Brown and dashing for a 69-yard touchdown.

The second McCarthy then found Johnson for a 75-yard touchdown and helped Michigan regain the lead in the third quarter with a 45-yard scoring pass to newcomer Colston Loveland. McCarthy had run a mostly conservative passing schedule in his first season as a starter, and Michigan came in with just one passing touchdown of 50 yards or more. He averaged just 177.5 yards per game, which ranked 11th in the Big Ten and far behind Ohio State’s CJ Stroud (271.9 YPG), who remained a top contender for the Heisman Trophy.

Stroud rushed for 349 yards and two touchdowns but struggled to attack downfield other than a 42-yard TD on top receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. late in the first half. He threw two interceptions in the last five minutes.

McCarthy became the first player with three passing touchdowns and a quick TD against Ohio State since Clemson’s Tajh Boyd in the 2014 Orange Bowl.

Both teams were outnumbered on running back. Corum, who injured his left knee in last week’s win against Illinois, left the game after two carries on Michigan’s first possession and did not return. Michigan only had 10 rushing yards in the first half.

Ohio State starter TreVeyon Henderson was sidelined with a lower leg injury, while Miyan Williams returned from injury but was not overly effective. The Buckeyes were leaning on Chip Trayanum, a linebacker who played running back at Arizona State but only had a carry for Ohio State prior to Saturday. Trayanum finished for 83 yards on 14 carries.

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