No. 3 Michigan beats No. 2 Ohio State 30-24 for 3rd straight win in rivalry

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — With more than two years of excellence being questioned and their coach banned from the Big House, J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum and No. 2 Michigan stared down Ohio State again and earned a victory that will go down as one of the biggest in the history of college football’s winningest program.

Rod Moore’s interception in Michigan territory with 25 seconds left sealed a 30-24 win for the Wolverines on Saturday, running their win streak over the Buckeyes to three games while staying unbeaten with coach Jim Harbaugh serving out a suspension.

McCarthy, a third-year quarterback who could leave Michigan having never lost to Ohio State, said Harbaugh’s message to the Wolverines on Friday night echoed that of his old coach, the late Bo Schembechler.

“The whole mantra: the team, the team, the team,” McCarthy said. He said Harbaugh told them: “We are that team.”

Moore’s pick set off a celebration on the home team’s sideline. McCarthy took a knee, Michigan fans poured over the brick walls onto the field and the Wolverines (12-0, 9-0) were off to their third straight Big Ten title game.

In a season of high expectations that now has a championship-or-bust feel, Michigan is a victory away from a third consecutive College Football Playoff appearance.

“We’re not done,” said Corum, who ran for 88 yards and two TDs.

For coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1), it’s another year of lamenting a loss in the most important game on the schedule for Ohio State and wondering what has happened to the program that spent a decade and a half dominating Michigan.

Day is now 1-3 against the Wolverines, losing his last three. Before that skid, Ohio State had won eight straight and 15 of 16 against Michigan, including a 7-0 record under Day’s predecessor, Urban Meyer.

“We’re all disappointed,” Day said. “We know what this game means to so many people. To come up short is crushing.”

McCarthy went 16 for 20 for 148 yards and a touchdown.

“In critical situations, I’m going to out the ball in your hands,” offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore — filling in for Harbaugh — said he told McCarthy before the game.

The 119th Ohio State-Michigan game — the 13th top-five matchup between the schools and yet another with Big Ten and national championship implications — was guaranteed to be memorable even before it kicked off.

With Michigan being investigated by the NCAA for allegations of in-person scouting and sign stealing, and Harbaugh finishing a three-game suspension imposed by the Big Ten, the circumstances around The Game were unprecedented and the animosity between the rivals never higher.

“There’s a lot of thoughts and things that I would love to say, but all I know is this team is as good as any team in the country and they prove it every week,” said Moore, who replaced Harbaugh for the fourth time this season.

The sign-stealing scandal has caused fans all over the Big Ten, especially in Columbus, Ohio, to call into question Michigan’s resurgence under Harbaugh since 2021.

“No one cried. No one whined,” Corum said. “The job has to get done no matter what.”

The only sign of Harbaugh was on the pregame videoboard montage. Moore seemed to make all the right moves.

Michigan went 3 for 3 on fourth downs, implemented its backup quarterback for a couple of plays to gain 22 yards on the ground and executed a halfback pass to set up a fourth-quarter field goal that put Michigan up 10.

After Ohio State cut the lead to 27-24 with 8:05 left on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kyle McCord to All-American Marvin Harrison Jr., Michigan proceeded to drain seven minutes off the clock and James Turner kicked a 37-yard field goal to make it 30-24 with 1:05 remaining.

“We’ve got to get off the field,” Day said.

McCord, Harrison and the Buckeyes had 1 minute to go 81 yards with no timeouts. They made it to the Michigan 37 before McCord’s second interception of the day on a wobbly pass toward Harrison closed it out. McCord was hit as he threw.

As expected with two of the best defenses in the country, it took a while for the offenses to get rolling.

Will Johnson picked off McCord deep in Ohio State territory to set up a fourth-and-inches touchdown dive by Corum. Michigan converted two more fourth-and-shorts on a touchdown drive that ended with McCarthy threading a needle to Roman Wilson from 22 yards out.

The Buckeyes weren’t sure Wilson held on, but the call was confirmed by video review.

Badly needing a response down 14-3 in the second quarter, Ohio State marched 73 yards and McCord hit Emeka Egbuka for a 3-yard score.

It went to the half that way after Day elected to try a 52-yard field goal on fourth-and-2 from the Michigan 34. The kick that went wide left as time expired.

After Michigan opened the second half with a 50-yard field goal by Turner, Ohio State asserted itself with a 75-yard drive, finishing it off with eight straight runs and a tying 3-yard touchdown by TreVeyon Henderson.

McCord was 18 for 30 for 271 yards.

Then it was Michigan’s turn for a long drive that Corum capped with a 22-yard touchdown, his school-record 22nd of the season.

Michigan has 44 Big Ten titles and claims three national championships during the AP poll era, dating to 1936, and leads the overall series with Ohio State 61-52-6.

The Wolverines became the first college football program to reach 1,000 wins last week, but very few of those will rank ahead of Saturday’s against the Buckeyes.

“Team 144 is the ultimate team,” Moore said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Ohio State: The last time the Buckeyes lost three straight in the rivalry was 1995-97, when John Cooper was leading the program and the Wolverines seemed to dash Ohio State’s national championship hopes almost every year. Cooper went 2-10-1 against Michigan in what was otherwise a Hall of Fame career.

Michigan: The Wolverines played most of the second half without Johnson, who went out with what Moore called a lower leg injury, and the entire fourth quarter without All-American guard Zak Zinter.

Zinter’s left leg injury was serious and he needed to be carted off late in the third quarter. On the very next play, Corum broke off a long touchdown run.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Last year, the Buckeyes snuck into the playoff after losing The Game. The back door will be much harder to get through this year with a crowded field of CFP contenders.

“The worst part is it’s out of our control,” McCord said.

Michigan: The Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis against No. 20 Iowa.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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