Countdown Until THE GAME 2018

Saturday, November 26, 2011

THE GAME 2011: Will Michigan Break Ohio State's Winning Streak?

Game Twelve: Michigan Wolverines

Location: Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, MI) 12pm EST, ABC

Head Coach: Brady Hoke

Michigan Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: TE Kevin Koger, OT Patrick Omameh, P Will Hagerup, DT William Campbell. RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, OL Elliott Mealer, TE Brandon Moore, QB Devin Gardner, CB Courtney Avery, DL Jibreel Black, S Ray Vinopal, and 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 ~ Look for Ohio State to sell out against the run. QB Denard Robinson is still a dangerous threat to score anytime in the open field, and is running less this season than under the Rich Rodriguez regime. Robinson is a teriffic athlete, but struggles as a passer. If Ohio State can force Michigan into passing situations, Ohio State can be in this game. If Ohio State allows RB Fitzgerald Toussaint and Robinson to begin running well, this could turn into a blowout.

Ohio State will need to be on guard against play action passes, especially if the safeties are moved up to help with run support. The usually dependable and reliable Ohio State defense has played poorly down the stretch, especially at the linebacker position. True freshman LB Ryan Shazier could be used to spy on Robinson, tracking him all over the field, as Shazier has the speed to keep up with Robinson.

Edge: Even. Michigan has improved to a more diversified offense, but again, Robinson is not going to ever truly scare anyone as a passer, and I expect Ohio State to do everything to keep him in the pocket.

When Ohio State Is On Offense VS Michigan’s Defense ~ Under new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, Michigan has improved tremendously on this side of the ball. DT Mike Martin is Michigan's best defensive player, and will be involved in trying to shut down Ohio State's running game. Like Ohio State, look for Michigan to sell out against the run versus the Buckeyes.

Ohio State's offense relies exclusively on its running game. With true freshman QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State has a mobile quarterback who can make plays with his feet, like Michigan's Robinson. RB Daniel "Boom" Herron has become the linchpin of the offense since his return from suspension. WR DeVier Posey finally came off suspension last week versus Penn State, but it remains to be seen if Ohio State's coaching staff can devise any way of getting Posey the ball. Ohio State ranks 118th in passing out of 120 Division 1 teams.

If TE Jake Stoneburner can be incorporated into the offense against Michigan, Ohio State may have a chance to move the ball. Stoneburner is a match-up problem for defenses, but Ohio State's coaches have not used him well this season; it is doubtful that the coaches will use him any more against Michigan.

Edge: Michigan. Ohio State's predictable and incoherent offense does not inspire too much fear in any opposing defense, let alone a team that has improved as much as Michigan this season.

Intangibles: Michigan has lost every game against Ohio State, dating to 2004. The seniors on the team have never beaten Ohio State, and will make every effort to do so in this contest. Brady Hoke has placed an emphasis on beating "Ohio", making sure the Wolverines focus on defeating their hated rival. Contrast with Ohio State, facing rumors of the hiring of Urban Meyer this week, as well as Ohio State's overall decline over the last month, and it seems as though the odds favor the Wolverines in this area.

Edge: Michigan.

Prediction: My heart is telling me to pick Ohio State, as I believe Luke Fickell wants to end the regular season with a victory over Michigan, in a manner reminiscent of Earle Bruce's finale in 1987. My head is telling me that Ohio State's defensive inconsistencies, as well as predictable offense, plus Michigan's possible BCS bowl opportunities, too much to overlook. I am going with Michigan 21, Ohio State 17.

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