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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -Jim Tressel got the best of Lloyd Carr again, maybe for the last time.
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 Michigan’s banged-up offense.
The Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) are likely headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997. They also hold onto slim hopes of climbing back into the BCS title game, but several teams ahead of them would need to go down.
A win would’ve put No. 23 Michigan (8-4, 6-2) in Pasadena for the fourth time in five years, but the loss might send it to a bowl game prior to New Year’s Day.
The game might’ve been Carr’s last regular-season game at Michigan, where the national championship he led the school to in 1997 is a distant memory while his loss to Appalachian State this year and 1-6 record against Tressel are often mentioned.
Carr led many to believe he would retire after this season when he altered his contract last winter and made sure all of his assistants were given unprecedented, two-year deals in the spring. Speculation has run rampant that the 62-year-old will announce his plans within days.
Michigan cornerback Morgan Trent said Carr did not address his future before or after the game.
“We’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else,” Trent said.
For Michigan quarterback Chad Henne, tailback Mike Hart and tackle Jake Long, their 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.
If Carr tried to fire up his team before the game by saying it would be his last Ohio State game, it didn’t work.
Michigan 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 storied series.
The Wolverines struggled on offense in part because Henne was ineffective with shoulder injury and Hart was unable to find room to run against a defense that didn’t have to respect the pass and could concentrate on stopping the trash-talking running back.
Henne, whose throws were usually high or wide, left the field for one series in the third quarter and returned in the fourth. When he made accurate passes, star receiver Mario Manningham and teammates dropped some of them.
Henne finished 11 of 34 for 68 yards.
Hart had 18 carries for just 44 yards rushing, his first game this year under the 100-yard mark. He seemed to be relatively healthy after being sidelined with a badly sprained right ankle.
On a wet day, Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman fumbled twice, losing neither, and threw an interception in the first half.
After that, Tressel let him throw only once in the third quarter and once in the fourth. Boeckman completed seven of 13 passes for 50 yards.
Ohio State has claimed three Big Ten titles in a row, earning the last two alone for the first time since 1954-55.