ANN ARBOR — All that was missing was the bell and a ringside announcer.
In a wild scene that ended with ejected Ohio State lineman Marcus Hall extending both middle fingers at the crowd, The Game turned into Rivalry Mania.
Hall, OSU freshman receiver Dontre Wilson, and Michigan reserve linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone were tossed after a near bench-clearing fracas in the second quarter of the Buckeyes’ 42-41 win Saturday. Hall and Wilson were among the players seen throwing punches while replays showed Jenkins-Stone ripping Wilson’s helmet off.
"I’m disappointed," OSU coach Urban Meyer said. "I don’t know where it came from. We had a little chat about that. That’s not acceptable."
Meyer said he does not think the Buckeyes will be without Hall or Wilson for next week’s Big Ten title game against Michigan State, though no word had come from the conference office. The Big Ten could rule on potential punishment as early as today.
The mess began with OSU staggering early in the second quarter. Trailing 21-14, players began jawing after a kick return by Wilson, and soon shoves gave way to punches and a handful of players bolting in from the sidelines.
Coaches too tried to separate players.
Asked afterward about his efforts to hold back linebacker Jake Ryan, Michigan coach Brady Hoke smiled.
"Jake probably separated me," Hoke said. "It happens once in a while."
OSU linebacker Ryan Shazier said the skirmish was "not acceptable, but I’m not surprised that it happened."
Nor were Michigan players, who suggested the emotions of the rivalry made Saturday a powder keg.
"It was pretty chippy," UM linebacker Cam Gordon said. "We didn't want to lose one of our guys to nonsense like that, but it's one of those games where it's a lot of emotions to it. Things happen. You have to know how to respond as a team to it."
Said Ryan: "It's a rivalry game. That stuff's going to happen. There's going to be punches thrown, and that's not necessary, but we don't like each other."
As for Hall’s obscene gestures to the Michigan fans, Meyer simply said, "I’m disappointed."
Redshirt freshman Pat Elflein filled in for Hall at guard and teammates said he acquitted himself well. Elflein had the seal block that cleared the way for Carlos Hyde’s late game-winning touchdown run.
"During halftime, Marcus came up to me and gave me a hug, encouraging me," Elflein said. "He was upset, but he was also excited for me that I got the opportunity. He’ll be all right."