The biggest rivalry in college sports, and possibly all of sports, will see another phenomenal matchup Saturday, as the Ohio State Buckeyes head north to square off against the Michigan Wolverines. It will head coach Ryan Day’s first shot at the rivalry game, while Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has been here five times in his tenure at Ann Arbor. Unfortunately for Harbaugh and the Wolverines, he is 0-5 in said contests.
This may be the year for Michigan, though. While the Buckeyes are ranked ahead of the Wolverines and their record is better overall, both teams come in with superb defenses and dynamic offenses as well. Ohio State leapfrogged LSU in the AP poll this week, and they come in ranked No. 1 in the nation, while Michigan sits not too far behind at No. 13. The Buckeyes are favored by 8.5 points in the contest, with the over/under set at an even 50.
Making The Rivalry Boring
Ohio State has dominated this rivalry in recent years. The Buckeyes have won seven straight against Michigan, five of those against Harbaugh. They’re looking to even the record in their historic battles, as Michigan owns the overall series record 58-50-6. The Buckeyes come in leading the country in points per game at 49.4, while they also average an insane 51.8 on the road, also tops in the nation. OSU’s defense comes in at third in the country, giving up only 10.5 points per game.
Behind running backs J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague III, the Buckeyes’ rushing attack ranks third in the nation behind Navy and Air Force, averaging 282.7 yards per game on the ground. Dobbins has 1,446 yards on the season to go with 15 touchdowns.
Quarterback Justin Fields is probable for Saturday’s matchup with an ankle injury, which is great news for OSU. Fields has tallied 2,352 passing yards on the season, completing a phenomenal 69.4 percent of his passes.
This game is a must-win for Harbaugh. As most people know, at Michigan, you can win every game of the season, but if you lose this one too many times, it can mean your job. The Wolverines come into this one with a ranked team that has firepower. Their defense ranks ninth in college football in points allowed, coming in at 16.2 per game. Although that’s a full touchdown behind OSU’s defense, the Wolverines can still hold their own.
Offensively, Michigan scores a lot less than OSU but still ranks 27th in the nation, scoring just over 33 points per game. The Wolverines spread the ball out a little bit to everyone, as no one player’s individual stats will blow you away. Led by freshman running back Zach Charbonnet, Michigan’s rushing attack has been above average on the season. Michigan’s defense ranks third in the nation in yards per play, coming in at 4.0; unfortunately, OSU ranks No. 1, only allowing 3.2.
The Best In The Big House
These tenacious defenses will both likely show up on Saturday. The question remains, can Michigan muster the offense to keep up with Justin Fields and OSU’s dynamic offense? This game should bring out the best in both teams. Ohio State is 8-3 against the line this season, while Michigan is 7-4. Ohio State is 3-1 on the road against the line, while Michigan is 4-2 at home. Look for the Wolverines to keep it close in this matchup, maybe not close enough to win, but close enough to cover the 8.5. The pick is Michigan in the Big House.
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