Jim Harbaugh says Michigan ‘got very lucky’ over apparently failed fake punt game by Ohio State

In the aftermath of Saturday’s loss to Michigan, one of the biggest questions Ryan Day received was why Ohio State didn’t do it on a 4th-and-5 at Michigan’s 43-yard line in the third quarter.

Ohio State was trailing 24-20 and needed a shift in momentum, and Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud could be seen begging day and night to keep the offense on the field. The Buckeyes’ decision to punt the ball only gave them 23 yards of field position when Jesse Mirco’s punt ended up in the end zone for a touchdown. Michigan ended up driving 80 yards in 15 plays for a touchdown, taking 7:50 off the clock in the process leading the score, and the Buckeyes never recovered as they eventually lost 45-23.

However, upon further review, it looks like Ohio State was really going to go in this situation – not the way anyone expected.

Jim Harbaugh revealed as much during his initial media briefing on Big Ten Championship Game Week on Sunday that he and his crew discovered that Ohio State was indeed planning to run a fake bet. The video of the play indicates that Ohio State long snapper Mason Arnold should have kicked the ball to linebacker Mitch Rossi, who could have had an open lane to run on first down and then some, but Arnold ended up catching the ball at Mirko. Instead, forcing Mirco to quickly respond to catch the shot and take off the ball with three lunges at him.

“We got very lucky,” Harbou said. “They had a fake. And they had us. I mean, they made us cold. We were ready for that. We knew the fake was coming only by the staff in there. We had four practices and four meetings. And none of us saw it. Nobody saw it in the field, And we got cold.

“I think their snapper snapped to the wrong guy, and he cut it to the punter instead of the fake, but it would have been a big win. We got very lucky. They were actually doing it and would have made a fourth down conversion. We’re kicking ourselves for not Getting to know her properly… We were very lucky.

“It’s not a question of a coaching decision. They decided — was it really right to work with. We had the wiring to stop. We could really stop him. And then when they hooked him up with their punter, we really had to block him.”

The pot came after Arnold was penalized for an illegal foul, making it 4th-10 instead of 4-5, but it is possible that Rossi would have had the first forfeit of play. The Ohio State staff seemed built for a fake, with both Marvin Harrison Jr. and Julian Fleming starting wide in the outfield in place of the Buckeyes’ more popular starting shooters, Jayden Ballard and Josh Proctor.

However, Ryan Day did not acknowledge the potential fake when asked after the match about the betting decision.

“I think in games like this, you have to play field positioning,” Day said. “And 4th and 5th around midfield, they were 4th and 3rd and 4th and 2nd, I think you might as well shoot there. I didn’t feel like we were desperate at that point. And so I felt like it was the right thing to do.”

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