for this game

Wells, Ohio State beat Michigan, clinch Big Ten title

Nov 17, 2007 - 11:47 PM ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) -- Chris "Beanie" Wells ran over, around and through Michigan, likely sending Ohio State to the Rose Bowl while saddling Lloyd Carr with yet another loss to Jim Tressel.

Wells rushed for a career-high 222 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as No. 7 Ohio State clinched its third straight Big Ten Conference title with a 14-3 victory over 23rd-ranked Michigan.

The Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) have beaten the Wolverines (8-4, 6-2) four straight times in this storied rivalry. Ohio State had not posted four consecutive wins over Michigan since 1960-1963, when legendary coach Woody Hayes roamed the sidelines in Columbus.

But the Buckeyes clearly have gained the upper hand under Tressel, who has coached Ohio State to back-to-back outright conference titles for the first time since 1954-55.

"I guess it must be difficult to win five (in a row)," said Tressel, who improved to 6-1 against Michigan since taking the post at Ohio State in 2001. "I don't know if anyone has ever done that."

Tressel's success in this intense annual showdown stands in stark contrast to the shortcomings of Carr, who fell to 6-7 all-time against the Buckeyes.

"We had an opportunity to do something special for us - winning this game and everything that goes with it," Carr said. "When you fail to do that, the disappointment is very difficult."

The third-winningest coach in Michigan history, the 62-year-old Carr has received harsh criticism in recent years, and it has been widely speculated that he is set to retire.

But the embattled Carr refused to comment on the rumors regarding his future.

"It really doesn't matter about me personally," he said. "It's about our team. It's disappointing, certainly.

"There will be a day to discuss that (retirement), and this isn't it."

Tressel, who guided the Buckeyes to a national title in 2002 and an appearance in the BCS championship game last season, likely has coached Ohio State to its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1996.

Ohio State still has an outside chance at playing in this year's BCS title game.

"Coming up here and winning, it means a championship and a Rose Bowl," Tressel said. "It was quite a day for us. I wish we would have moved the chains a little bit more and scored more, but 14 points today means a championship."

The Buckeyes appeared in eight Rose Bowls under Hayes, who guided Ohio State to four national titles from 1951-1978.

Renowned for his "three yards and a cloud of dust" approach on offense, Hayes would have loved Ohio State's performance in this one. The Buckeyes rushed for 230 yards while limiting the Wolverines to just 91 yards of total offense.

"This is the kind of game the folks in the trenches will decide," Tressel said. "Our offensive line did a great job and the defensive line did a great job - and if you win in the trenches, you'll win the game."

It was the first time Michigan failed to generate 100 yards of offense since a 97-yard performance against Purdue on October 20, 1962. The three points marked Michigan's lowest scoring total in this series since Ohio State's 28-0 victory in 1962.

"When we watch the film, everything is going to be right there," Wolverines star running back Mike Hart said. "We had too many missed assignments, too many dropped balls, missed blocks, bad cuts. We just didn't put it together as an offense today."

"This is the worst I've ever felt leaving the football field, other than games where friends of mine got hurt," Michigan safety Jamar Adams added. "We lost the championship in our house."

The key figure in Ohio State's conservative attack was Wells, who recorded a career-high 39 carries.

"Nothing we do in life will compare to this moment," the sophomore said.

The 235-pound Wells gave the Buckeyes the lead for good with 10:08 remaining in the first half, plowing into the end zone from a yard out to make it 7-3.

Wells made it 14-3 on Ohio State's first play of the second half, racing around the left edge for a 62-yard score.

"Beanie Wells is a difference maker," Tressel said. "He wanted to put the team on his back and carry them. He's the best back in the Big Ten in my eyes."

The Buckeyes' top-ranked defense took over from there, thwarting Hart while constantly applying pressure on Wolverines quarterback Chad Henne.

Defensive end Vernon Gholston recorded three sacks while linebacker Marcus Freeman had nine tackles to pace the Buckeyes, who improved to 57-41-6 all-time against the Wolverines.

"It's big, winning four in a row," Gholston said. "Not too many teams have done it. You look at this series with its tradition, it means a lot."

Hart battled a sore ankle throughout the contest and finished with just 44 yards on 18 carries. Henne was wildly ineffective due largely in part to his injured throwing shoulder, completing 11-of-34 passes for 68 yards.

"We have no excuses here," Carr said. "But I think it's fair to acknowledge that Chad, he was not throwing the football like he has. Mike Hart was not at full speed, that's fundamental."

The senior trio of Hart, Henne and star left tackle Jake Long - all of whom could have foregone this season to play in the NFL - opted to return to Michigan in an effort to avenge last season's 42-39 loss to the Buckeyes.

But the day once again ended in disappointment for Michigan's seniors, who ended their collegiate careers with an 0-4 record against Ohio State.

"They beat us the last four years," senior lineman Adam Kraus said. "That means they've been the better team. I think we can bounce back. We haven't won a bowl game since I've been here, either. I'm looking forward to going out with a bowl win."