(10) Ohio State v. Michigan

(10) Ohio State v. Michigan
Michigan Wolverines

(10) Ohio State v. Michigan

Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Kickoff: 12noon
TV: ABC

At 3-8, Michigan comes into Ohio Stadium with their worst record ever.  First year Head Coach Rich Rodriguez has struggled all season trying to transition Michigan’s traditional offense into his own high powered offensive style.  Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he simply doesn’t have the right weapons to run the new offense.  Don’t feel bad for the Wolverines, Rodriguez has a slew of young talent coming into Michigan in 2009 but for now, the Maize and Blue just aren’t there yet.  On the other hand, Ohio State is playing for another Big Ten title and a possible Rose Bowl invitation.  The Buckeyes haven’t exactly lived up to expectations this season but have played themselves into a position to four-peat as Big Ten Champs.  There is a lot at stake in this game.  The Buckeyes are playing for more hardware and Michigan is playing for pride.  That alone makes the Wolverines a very dangerous team.  Don’t expect Ohio State to come out with a bunch of new plays that we haven’t seen all season and put up 50+ points on the Wolverines.  Instead, expect a lot of the same ball controlling “Tresselball” schemes.  “Close to the Vest,” they say.

By Pete Quint

OSU “O”

Ohio State fans have been clamoring for the offense to open up ever since freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor took over the quarterback position.  But even in blow out wins over Michigan State and Northwestern, head coach Jim Tressel has kept things “close to the vest” and ran his ultraconservative offense.  Don’t expect this week to be any different as the old “three yards and a cloud of dust” play calling continues.  Likely, Pryor will not throw for more than 12 passes the entire game while running back Beanie Wells will get the majority of the action and rush for over 150 yards.  There will be a few long pass plays early on in the game but if the Buckeyes get any sort of lead going into the second half expect to see a lot of Beanie-to-the-left, Beanie-to-the-right, Beanie-down-the-middle.  The senior laden Michigan defense was much ballyhooed at the start of the season but has since regressed to a mere shadow of its once proud self.  Leading tackler linebacker Obi Ezeh (96) and sack master Brandon Graham (9) are a nasty duo but the Wolverines haven’t been very successful blitzing the linebackers and rely on their defensive line to get most of the pressure.  The Buckeye offensive line should be effective against the defensive line’s bull-rush giving time for Pryor and Wells to find open lanes to run.  It won’t be easy but the Buckeyes are ready for this kind of battle. 

OSU “D”

Michigan is banged up.  Starting quarterback Steven Threet isn’t expected to play, running back Brandon Minor will start but is nursing a bad shoulder and running back Sam McGuffie likely won’t be in Columbus due to an unfortunate death in the family.  Taking over for Threet will be sophomore Nick Sheridan.  Sheridan has started three games this season and has come away with mixed results; mostly on the bad side.  With or without Sheridan, the Michigan pass offense is ranked 10th in the Big Ten.  The Buckeye defense is ranked second overall in the conference and is drooling over the possibilities.  Lead by All-American candidates James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins, the Buckeye defense has been stingy all season giving up only 13.6 points per game.  Michigan has averaged 26.5 points over the last four games but hasn’t gotten any defensive help.  Michigan receivers, Martavious Odoms and Greg Mathews are a nice tandem but with questions at quarterback, the Wolverines will have to rely on the running game to produce positive yardage.  It will be a bend-don’t-break gameplan for the Buckeye defense; don’t get beat deep, watch for the run and keep the receivers in front of you.  Michigan will make mistakes and the Buckeyes need to capitalize on every advantage.

Summary

Here’s what Ohio State has on the line going into the game this Saturday; fifth straight victory over Michigan (first time in school history), fourth consecutive Big Ten title, a fourth straight BCS Bowl birth and an outside shot at their first Rose Bowl since 1996.  While much of the national media says this is a ho-hum match-up in the storied rivalry, for Buckeye fans this is a HUGE game.  These kind of winning streaks rarely come around in anyone’s lifetime and the Ohio State faithful is currently living in the history books.  Michigan will give the Buckeyes their all but in the end, Ohio State will be too much.  28 seniors will play in Ohio Stadium for the last time on Saturday and none of them will know what it’s like to lose to “That Team up North”.

Prediction:

OSU  35 – UM 13

Why OSU will win:

Tresselball.  This defense isn’t what the preseason magazines made it out to be.  They’re slow and easily winded.  A big dosage of “Beanie-up-the-middle” will quickly wear down the Wolverine defense allowing Tressel to play his game his way.  It won’t be a pretty win but I promise Woody would be proud.  "To hell with exciting. I'd rather be drab as hell and win." – Woody Hayes

Why OSU will lose:

Michigan has nothing to play for but pride.  They also have nothing to lose.  Both facts make them dangerous and with the emotion of the game, to use an old overused cliché, anything can happen in this game.  Michigan knows what the Buckeyes are playing for and bet that they would love to play the spoiler and prevent any chance of the Buckeyes going to their first Rose Bowl in 11 years.  Putting all the intangibles aside, Michigan will have to play their best game of the season to have a chance at the upset.

Crazy stat of the game:

-Michigan hasn’t won in Columbus since 2000.
-Ohio State has never won five in a row against Michigan.
-For the first time in 38 years, Michigan will not play in a bowl game (1974).
-Michigan leads the overall series 57-41-6 but since 1951, Woody Hayes’ first year as head coach of the Buckeyes, Ohio State holds a 29-26-2 lead.

Michigan players to watch:

Junior RB #4 Brandon Minor
Sophomore QB #Nick Sheridan
Sophomore LB #45 Obi Ezeh
Junior DE #55 Brandon Graham
Freshman WR #9 Martavious Odoms

BrutusReport.com
Tags: Buckeyes Football NCAA Ohio State
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