Big Ten: Wolverines' leaders fail in final bid to unseat OSU

  • Article by: ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Updated: November 18, 2007 - 12:05 AM

The Buckeyes unleashed Chris Wells and their running game on Michigan, whose core of seniors wound up a disappointing 0-4 against their top conference rival.

SPORTS FBC-OHIOST-MICH 3 DE
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Ohio State players celebrate their 14-3 victory over Michigan at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, November 17, 2007. (Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Photo: Eric Seals, Mct

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ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Jim Tressel became the first Ohio State coach to beat Michigan six times in seven years, and the seventh-ranked Buckeyes' 14-3 victory Saturday over their archrival gave them consecutive outright Big Ten titles for the first time in a half-century.

Chris Wells ran for a career-high 222 yards and two touchdowns and Vernon Gholston and the Buckeyes' defense dominated.

"Our defense was not going to let Michigan control the game on the ground," Tressel said. "I wish our offense could have scored more, and that we could have been a little more consistent, but today 14 points was enough to win the Big Ten."

The Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1) are likely headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997. They also hold on to slim hopes of climbing back into the BCS title game.

"I might have come from here, but now I bleed scarlet and gray," said Gholston, who had three of Ohio State's four sacks. "Coming from Detroit didn't make this any bigger. When you go to Ohio State, you don't need anything to make the Michigan game big."

A win would have put No. 23 Michigan (8-4, 6-2) in Pasadena for the fourth time in five years.

Meanwhile, a news conference is scheduled for Monday, at which Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr will announce whether he will continue coaching or retire. Carr refused to discuss his future with reporters Saturday. "There will be a day to discuss that," he said. "And this isn't it."

For Michigan quarterback Chad Henne, tailback Mike Hart and tackle Jake Long, stellar careers will end with an 0-4 record against Ohio State and a woeful offensive performance in their final game at the Big House.

Michigan (8-4, 6-2) led 3-0 after the first quarter, but the Buckeyes controlled the game by stopping a one-dimensional offense and handing the ball off to Wells early and often.

Wells put Ohio State ahead with a 1-yard run early in the second quarter, and a 62-yard score made it 14-3 on its first snap after halftime. He had a career-high 39 carries, the most by a Buckeye against Michigan, and he ran for more yards than anybody had for them in the history of the series.

"He wanted to take this game on his shoulders and carry us, and that's what he did," Tressel said of Wells.

Henne was ineffective because of a shoulder injury and Hart was unable to run against a defense that didn't have to respect the pass. Henne finished 11-for-34 for 68 yards. Hart had 18 carries for 44 yards rushing.

No. 20 Illinois 41, Northwestern 22: Illini finish with victory, eye Jan. 1 bowl

CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — A week after leading his team to an upset of Ohio State, Illinois quarterback Juice Williams led the Illini a step closer to a New Year's Day bowl with a 41-22 victory Saturday over Northwestern.

Williams ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 220 yards and another score for the 20th-ranked Illini (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten).

Northwestern (6-6, 3-5) started the day with a good possibility of landing in a bowl. But with 10 Big Ten teams eligible, the Wildcats needed a seventh victory to improve their case. They couldn't stop the Illini offense, which piled up 541 yards.

Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher was intercepted by safety Kevin Mitchell on their first possession. Illinois went 71 yards the other way, capped by a Rashard Mendenhall touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Mendenhall, the Big Ten's leading rusher, finished with 124 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns. A sneak by Williams on the next series made it 14-0.

Indiana 27, Purdue 24: Starr's kick spoils rally, lifts Hoosiers to key victory

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