The Ohio State Buckeyes head up that old familiar path to the north to square off against the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, in what some would say is the best rivalry in all of sports. A couple of stout defenses should highlight the matchup, which is set to be a good one. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is still on the hunt for his first win in the rivalry game in his fifth season back at his alma mater, while OSU’s first-year head coach Ryan Day also looks for his first win in the game.
With a fair point spread of 8.5 in Ohio State’s favor and a total of 50, this could be Vegas fireworks. Or with Ohio State’s obviously better offense, it could be extremely predictable. Can Michigan’s offense dial it up against a fantastic defense? Or will this be another empty attempt by Harbaugh and the boys? All of that and more remain to be seen on Saturday.
The debate over which team is actually the best in the nation has been a great one this season. And one that OSU has remained in all season, with the likes of LSU and Clemson staying in the conversation as well. Ohio State leads the nation in yards allowed per play, only giving up 3.2. They also lead the nation in points per game at 49.4, and that goes up to 51.8 on the road. Their average scoring margin is +38.9, also good for tops in the nation.
Quarterback Justin Fields is coming off an ankle injury but aims to return in the rivalry game and is probable for the matchup. Under Fields and backup Chris Chugunov, OSU ranks ninth in the country in completion percentage. The Buckeyes’ rushing game has been even better, as they rank fourth in the country with 5.9 yards per attempt. They rush for an astounding 6.8 yards per attempt on the road and are easily the best running team on the road in the nation.
Get The Big House Rockin’
The Wolverines offense is going to need that home crowd behind it Saturday if it wishes to keep up with the likes of Ohio State. Michigan does rank 11th in scoring margin on the season, coming in at +17.4. Unfortunately for them, that’s about three touchdowns shy of what their opponent’s margin is. 21.5 points more. Wow. That’s 21.5 points more for a top 10 scoring margin team in the nation.
Michigan’s defense enters just below OSU’s, giving up only 4.0 yards per play, which is good for third in the nation. At home, the Wolverines only allow 3.4 yards per play, which is exactly what OSU gives up on the road. Josh Uche must continue to get after the quarterback, while quarterback Shea Patterson and running back Zach Charbonnet need to have the offensive game of their lives.
It Could Be Upsetting
Could it be? Is Harbaugh going to defend his home turf and finally pull out a victory in the rivalry game? More importantly, can the Wolverines keep it within 8.5 points? This should be a close game, with both teams pumped up, playoff implications, the rivalry. There’s a lot on this game for both teams, and in my estimation, it stays close for four quarters. Michigan surprises everyone and covers, maybe even pulls off the unthinkable upset. The Wolverines get the nod to cover here.