ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ohio State defensive back Tyvis Powell said he'd been well prepared in the short term and in the long run to make the play that clinched Ohio State's 42-41 win over Michigan on Saturday.
When Michigan rolled the dice and went for a two-point conversion and the win with 32 seconds left in the game, Powell cut in front of receiver Drew Dileo and intercepted quarterback Devin Gardner's pass.
The redshirt freshman nickel back (a fifth defensive back in passing situations) said it was like he knew what was going to happen ahead of time.
BIG PICK — Ohio State defensive back Tyvis Powell intercepts a pass intended for Michigan wide receiver Drew Dileo on a two-point conversion try in the closing minute of Saturday’s game in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ohio State won 42-41.
That's because it unfolded exactly as defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs told him it would when Ohio State called a timeout before Michigan's final play.
Coombs' instructions were that Michigan was going to run something called an angle route and throw for the two-point conversion.
"They went out there and ran it and I said, 'Coach Coombs is good,' " Powell said. "I was thinking to myself 'Coach Coombs is a genius.' "
The receiver was not particularly open when Gardner released the pass.
"It kind of shocked me that he threw the ball but I guess that is their bread and butter play on two-point conversions," Powell said.
Ironically, the biggest play of the season doesn't count as an interception for Powell because two-point conversions aren't included in game offensive or defensive statistics.
"I know it's not going to count in the stats, but y'all saw it," he said as reporters surrounded him in the postgame interview room.
The magnitude of the play was not lost on him. But it didn't fully register until a few minutes after he made it.
"When we were taking a shower I was in there talking to Kenny (Guiton), that's when it clicked, it hit me. That was our season there on the line. We had 12-0, the gold pants, chances for the national championship. That just hit me, that, wow, that just kind of saved the season," Powell said.
Powell also had another big defensive play earlier in the game when he recovered a fumble by Gardner in the third quarter. Five plays later, Braxton Miller scored to give OSU its first lead of the game at 28-21.
His plays were the exception rather than the rule for Ohio State's pass defense, though, as the Buckeyes put on another less than stellar performance in that area.
Gardner completed 32 of 45 passes for 451 yards and four touchdowns. The Michigan QB threw for a career-best 503 yards against Indiana but he was coming off a game in which he threw for only 98 yards against Iowa.
Michigan scored on its first three possessions of the game and its last three.
But when the game came down to one play, Powell was ready. He said that was because his coaches had prepared him for situations like this.
"We knew the last play was win or lose and that's how Coach (Urban) Meyer trained us all year," he said. "Win or lose, go out there and give it your best for 4 to 6 seconds. Play as hard as you can. Just make a play. I would just say we were trained for that moment."