The Collision Course: Ohio State vs. Michigan Preview
It’s once again that time of November in Columbus. The leaves have begun to fall, cold has set in and Michigan will make their dreaded appearance. Whether you say TTUN, *ichigan, or Michigan you can not disagree with the fact that, like always, this game will have massive implications not just for bowl season, but possible championship runs. Before I get any further, for the sake of convenience and better flow of the article, I will refer to them as Michigan (I know, sue me!). This year it seems like the Buckeyes and Wolverines have been on a collision course, each only losing a game apiece. This year it has become apparent that this collision at the end of the season will make and break dreams, and that this matchup will be winner take all, the possibility of a Big Ten and maybe even national title.
Defense: As much as I hate to say this, Michigan has the advantage. Ohio State is coming off of a horrible defensive outing at Maryland, having surrendered 535 total yards, including a 298 yard rusher and 51 points. Michigan comes off a game against Indiana where the defense gave up 385 yards and only 20 points. However, Michigan’s defense has yet to go up against an offense with the speed and the ability to split you out five wide and spread you out like Ohio State can. Michigan’s only loss of the season at Notre Dame and home win against Wisconsin are the examples of this that stick out.
Notre Dame’s offense struggled for the first three games of the season before Ian Book was named starter, averaging just 23.3 points per game and 365.3 yards, which is average. The biggest difference between Ohio State and Notre Dame in these three games is that Brandon Wimbush couldn’t through the ball for Notre Dame like Dwayne Haskins can for Ohio State.
The other example is Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s offense is not good. They are one dimensional and rely on Jonathan Taylor’s run game too heavily because Alex Hornibrook can’t throw the ball. So Michigan took out the run game and Wisconsin’s offense couldn’t score. Ohio State’s offense is a lot more pass heavy and explosive with more offensive weapons and speed than Wisconsin. If the Buckeyes successfully establish the run and pass on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how Don Brown and the Michigan will respond.
Now onto Ohio State’s defense, which has been messy to horrible at times this year. Now, the games the defense has struggled in this year have, thankfully, been against kinds of offenses unlike Michigan’s. Nebraska, Maryland and Purdue like to run offenses that attack the edge, get defenders out of position, and force great one on one tackles in the open field. This is the biggest struggle and weakness for the Ohio State defense. However, Michigan, much like Michigan State, runs a pro style offense with a heavy dose of inside run and play action passing. Ohio State excelled against Michigan State, granted Shea Patterson is not injured and can throw more accurately than Lewerke can, and their run game is more explosive, but Ohio State should have some confidence and an easier time containing the offense than Maryland’s or Purdue’s.
Offense: Ohio State has the advantage. The Buckeyes have averaged a solid 542 yards per game along with 41.6 points per game. Michigan, on the other hand, averages 429.6 yards per game along with 36.6 yards per game. Michigan’s defense is stout, but has yet to face an offense as high powered as Ohio State. I believe the Michigan defense will give up more than their average of about 13 points per game if Ohio State successfully runs and throws the ball on Saturday. Michigan’s offense isn’t bad either, but I think this Buckeye defense is up to the challenge. Now, I know some of you are probably laughing at my statement about the Ohio State defense, but I believe this because there is no better motivation than pure hate. Pure hate is definitely what this team has for Michigan. I expect both offenses to play well, but I think Ohio State has more firepower than Michigan in this regard.
Now, to the biggest reason I think Ohio State has the advantage in this football game. It goes back to the above paragraph where I mentioned pure hate. The hate that is stoked up by this rivalry will motivate this Ohio State team to play their best football they’ve played this season. Along with the emotion this game brings will come the feeling of being disrespected. Even though Urban Meyer has said he won’t discuss being a 3.5 point underdog at home, these players are young adults and spend time on social media and in the real world and have heard about this. They most likely not have only heard, but have discussed this amongst themselves and have come to the realization they’ve been disrespected.
Another factor to the feeling of being disrespected were Michigan running back Karan Higdon’s comments on this game. If you have yet to hear, when asked if he would guarantee a win he said, “Yeah, I do. I do, that’s how I feel. I believe firmly in my brothers, this team and this coaching staff. As a captain, I'll take that stand. Why not?”
Mike Weber has already been vocal about what was said and clearly feels the Buckeyes have disrespected and I am sure the rest of the team does as well. If you remember right, Mike Hart made a similar guarantee when he came to Michigan and finished 0-4 against the Buckeyes, showing what Ohio State thinks of “guarantees.” While I believe the Buckeyes will focus more on things they can control, those are both things that will be in the back of their heads and driving their motivation to beat their arch rival. I take the Buckeyes in this game behind a sellout Ohio Stadium crowd, however it will be close and come down to the wire.
Ohio State wins by less than a touchdown.