(3) Michigan Wolverines at (2) Ohio State Buckeyes
Michigan: All season long, they’ve cruised to many victories. Their offense was clicking on all cylinders especially after Jim Harbaugh decided to start Wilton Speight and many thought it was a questionable move but, he’s the head coach for a reason and he’s done a good job with coaching quarterbacks. Look at what he did with Andrew Luck in his tenure at Stanford and he rejuvenated Alex Smith’s career in San Francisco while coaching the 49ers. Big Blue was a preseason favorite to reach the College Football Playoff and their offense as I said in the beginning had many questions but, they came into the year with a very loaded and stingy defense that has allowed only 4.1 yards per play. Despite their loss to Iowa a few weeks ago, they still remained number three in the playoff rankings. Everyone will say that they haven’t played anybody but let’s take a look at their resume this season. They’ve defeated three top-ten teams in the nation this year (Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin) and three of their ten wins came by ten points or less. This is the biggest game for this school in ten seasons when they faced Ohio State and Saturday afternoon, they travel to the horseshoe in Columbus where they haven’t won a game in 16 years.
Ohio State: Truthfully speaking, I really didn’t know what to expect from Ohio State this season. They lost a lot of their team from the 2015 campaign and they returned a total of six starters. But as every year, they were still a favorite to reach the playoffs and that helps when you have a coach like Urban Meyer. He works with what he has around him and this is why he’s considered to be the best head coach in the country not named Nick Saban. As this season started, Ohio State had a lot of questions on both sides of the ball. Without Ezekiel Elliott, how would they be in the ground aspect of the game? And defensively, they lost quite a few defenders and their front seven was very inexperienced. Despite all that, they are 10-1. The talk of the team has been their offense led by J.T. Barrett who has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country this year. Their offense averages 43 points a game and their defense has handled their business as well as they’ve given up only 13 per contest. Their only blemish on their resume this year was the loss to Penn State which was a heartbreaker, but, they have a few quality wins of their own this season (Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Nebraska). Despite the uncertainty coming into the season, here they are with one game to play and facing a team they’ve had much success against.
Michigan Player To Watch: Rashan Gary– I was very high on this kid when I saw the tape on him and he’s made a name for himself this year. Ohio State loves to run those draw plays up the middle. This is where Rashan comes in handy. He can clog those holes and as I’ve described nose tackles in the past, they are what I call “pocket pushers”. Other than Gary, this entire Wolverines defense needs to tackle well in open space or it could be a very long day.
Ohio State Player(s) To Watch– The Secondary: The trio of Darboh, Chesson and Butt will scare any defensive coordinator because all three of those guys are more than capable of making plays down the field. Safety Malik Hooker will probably have his hands full with the tight end and Gareon Conley is a corner that has been very productive this year. Both those two have been two of the best at their position. Limiting this trio of receivers is extremely essential.
Prediction: It’s come down to this. I’ll try my absolute hardest to break down the scenarios as we approach tomorrow. Besides this game having many implications for the College Football Playoff, this will also determine who will win the Big Ten East. If Michigan is victorious, they will win the East and book a trip to Indianapolis next week for the Big Ten title game. If Ohio State wins, they would need a loss by Penn State to claim the East because Penn State owns the tiebreaker over them having beat them already. If Penn State does defeat Michigan State tomorrow, they will be the champs of the Big Ten East. I’m picking Ohio State to win this football game. Ohio State 20 Michigan 17