Game Twelve: Michigan Wolverines
Location: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, OH) 12pm EST, ABC
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez
Michigan Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: WR Junior Hemingway, TE Kevin Koger, OT Patrick Omameh, P Will Hagerup, CB Cullen Christian, DT William Campbell, S Marvin Robinson. OL Elliott Mealer, TE Brandon Moore, QB Devin Gardner, OL Christian Pace, CB Courtney Avery, DL Jibreel Black, S Ray Vinopal, WR Jerald Robinson were all on Ohio State's recruiting radar but were not offered scholarships by Ohio State.
When Michigan Is On Offense VS Ohio State's Defense ~ In year 3 of the Rich Rodriguez era, Michigan has developed into an explosive offense that can score on anyone at anytime. Michigan is averaging close to 37 points a game, just behind Wisconsin and Ohio State in the conference in scoring offense. Michigan is averaging 250 yards passing and rushing, so any Ohio State fan who thinks the Ohio State defense will be able to just shut down Michigan as they have in recent years is mistaken.
The key to Michigan’s offense lies solely on the shoulders of QB Denard Robinson. Robinson is leading the conference in rushing with over 1500 yards on the ground, and is averaging a little over 340 yards per game offensively. Robinson has improved his passing this season, but it will be imperative for Ohio State to shut down Robinson in the running game first and foremost.
Ohio State is very stout against the run, leading the conference in rushing defense at allowing only around 86 yards per game. Without a strong complimentary running back to assist Robinson, look for Ohio State to sell out against the run, playing press coverage on Michigan’s wideouts. Michigan is battling injuries at the position, allowing Ohio State to try and force Michigan into a pass-oriented attack versus their preferred ground-first mentality.
Edge: Even. Denard Robinson will have his moments of brilliance against Ohio State, but I would be remiss if I did not consider the fact that Robinson has battled injuries throughout this season. Considering how fast and physical the Ohio State defense is, it will not surprise me if backup QB Tate Forcier makes an appearance to spell Robinson at some point(s) during the game.
When Ohio State Is On Offense VS Michigan’s Defense ~ To say that Michigan’s defense is bad is like saying water is wet. Let me put it in perspective – Michigan has allowed 34 or more points seven times this season. In the Rich Rodriguez era, the Michigan defense has allowed 18 times in 35 games played, with this game, as well as a bowl game, still to go this season. Michigan is even resorting to using stuffed animals on the sideline to help inspire the defense (no joke).
Michigan’s defense ranks last in the conference, allowing 445 yards per game. Michigan’s rushing defense allows an average of 181 yards per game, while the secondary compensates at allowing 264 yards per game through the air. Michigan’s defense ranks 112th in the country.
Looking at Michigan’s defense, I agree with Chris Spielman’s statements from his radio program on 11/22/2010 who believes Michigan’s 3-3-5 scheme needs to be completely scrapped in order for Michigan to become competitive within the conference again. Furthermore, Spielman made the statement that Michigan has one player, DT Mike Martin, who could start at Ohio State. The rest of Michigan’s defense are the type of players who could fill out special teams rosters, but would not start for just about any other team in the conference.
Ohio State is behind Michigan in total offense, averaging over 446 yards per game. QB Terrelle Pryor should be able to run when he wants to, while finding WRs Dane Sanzenbacher, DeVier Posey, and TE Jake Stoneburner easily. RB Daniel “Boom” Herron currently has 893 yards heading into this game, and I look for Ohio State to focus on pounding the ball with Herron throughout the second half. Herron should be a 1000 yard rusher by the conclusion of this game.
Big Edge: Ohio State. I would say that Ohio State’s offensive options against Michigan are similar to when I go to Costco for lunch – do I want the hot dog and soda, or do I want the slice of pizza? Both are extremely satisfying, and sometimes I have both, if I am in a gluttonous mood. Look for Ohio State to be in a similar mindset of picking what they want to do against Michigan, and simply pound the ball like Wisconsin did last week. (For those of you who may not have seen or heard about it, Wisconsin essentially ran the entire second half against Michigan, after taking a 24-0 at the half)
Intangibles: Ohio State is going for their seventh straight in the rivalry, and Jim Tressel’s ninth win in his ten year career at Ohio State. Could this possibly be Rich Rodriguez’s last game if Michigan loses again? For pocketbook reasons, Ohio State is selling out to corporate interests and wearing special uniforms to honor their 1942 national championship team. Justin Boren gets another opportunity to play against his former team, on Senior Day in Ohio Stadium.
Edge: Ohio State. With a sixth straight Big Ten championship in the balance, I do not believe Ohio State will come out flat for this one.
Prediction: I have been fortunate to have been in Ohio Stadium for both the 2002 and 2004 Ohio State/Michigan games, and I am excited to see this one in person too, with my good friend Sean (thanks for the ticket!). While the 2002 game meant more in the standings, and the 2004 Ohio State victory started the streak, there is something special about actually being there in person to see Script Ohio and the dotting of the “I”. And it goes without saying that tailgating at Ohio State is an experience in and of itself.
Michigan has the offensive talent to keep pace for a while, but Ohio State will seize control of this game by the half, then put it in cruise control with the running game for the second half to secure at least a share of The Big Ten title. I am going with Ohio State 42, Michigan 21.