COLUMBUS -- Junior halfback Curtis Samuel needed to make just two plays late in “The Game” to write his own impressive chapter in the 113-year history of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry at Ohio Stadium Saturday afternoon.
One play after a review upheld a fourth-and-one conversion from junior quarterback J.T. Barrett, Ohio State went to Samuel for the game-winning carry in the 30-27 Buckeyes victory. After taking the ball from Barrett, Samuel hustled around left end, got past the first wave of defenders and sprinted into the end zone for the clinching score.
Samuel ended the day with 54 yards on seven carries, another 32 on four catches and the game-winning touchdown run.
“We fought,” Samuel said. “We fought. It was a long game. It was a hard game. Great blocking by the running backs. Great blocking by the linemen. Great blocking by the receivers. Without them, that play wouldn’t have happened.
“The line, the receivers, everybody understood what was at stake. Everybody trusts me with the ball in my hands. They know I can make a play. I had two pullers coming around, great guys, great blockers, and they filled up. They made it easy for me. All I had to do was turn up the field and get into the end zone.”
Samuel not only ran for the game-winning 15-yard touchdown, but also, kept alive the double-overtime drive with an impromptu play that turned a third-and-nine screen pass to the right of the formation into an eight-yard gain on the left side of the field on the way to a win over the Wolverines.
After catching the football, Samuel appeared to be bottled up by Michigan’s defense, but after reversing field and getting key blocks, he scooted toward the sideline and nearly got a first down.
“I can’t even tell you how that happened,” Samuel said. “I’ve got to go back and look at that one. I know I had to make a play for my team and that just happened.
“No sign of panic at all. I just knew I had to go out there and make a play.”
Offensively, the second-ranked Buckeyes struggled for much of the day against Michigan, but from the latter part in the third quarter, the fourth and both overtimes, they scored three touchdowns to lock up the victory over the No. 3-ranked Wolverines.
“We just know we can play better than that,” Samuel said. “We have a high expectation for each other. We know we’ve got to go out there and perform. We went in at halftime. We knew we didn’t play Buckeye football. We knew we had to come out there in the second half and make some plays instead of just depending on our defense.”