Preview and prediction for the biggest Rivalry game of the day between Ohio State and Michigan
BetOnline customers who follow college football closely will remember what happened to John Cooper, former coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, when he intimated that the annual rivalry game with Michigan was like just another football game, and then proceeded to get dominated. When Jim Tressel arrived, that attitude changed. And it was the same with Urban Meyer.
Now Ohio State has been on a run where they have won 15 of the last 16 meetings, and Jim Harbaugh (0-5 vs.Ohio State) is the guy taking the heat on the Wolverines' side.
This game is not just for a lot of pride this Saturday. The stakes here are very real.
The winner will have the inside track to get into the four-team college football playoff. At the moment, Ohio
State is second in those rankings, while Michigan is fifth, and in a position to leapfrog over OSU with a victory. And the last hurdle to getting to the playoff would be a date for the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin.
That would be some sweet payback, and tremendous satisfaction for Michigan.
The Maize and Blue have lost only one game, that at the hands of Michigan State, and don't think it hasn't been widely discussed that this is the same Spartan team that went to Columbus and got clocked last week. Even with people wondering if the Buckeyes might be caught in a "look-ahead," they simply took the ball and ran... far away from the guys in green. By halftime it was 49-0, and CJ Stroud already had six touchdown passes.
Think about that - against a team that in Week 10 was the third-ranked squad in the land (in the Associated Press poll), the quarterback could take the second half off, knowing that he had seized the lead in the Heisman race already. Indeed, Stroud (32 of 35 for 432 yards) is the -200 favorite at BetOnline, which lists Ohio State as the road favorite in this contest:
Ohio State Buckeyes -7 (-113)
Michigan Wolverines +7 (-107)
Over 64.5 Points -110
Under 64.5 Points -110
Of course, Heisman voting may not necessarily be fair to begin with. And it was interesting, as the ABC broadcast team was trying to figure out some way to perk up the discussion in the second half of the Ohio State-Michigan State game, how Kirk Herbstreit, a former OSU quarterback, danced around the question as to whether Stroud benefited more than other candidates might because of the superior personnel around him, while the Buckeyes, by and large, were playing against personnel that was vastly inferior.
Yes, that's a problem when you're giving out individual awards but the individuals are not in comparable circumstances or playing comparable schedules.
The fact is that Michigan has a big task, as even though they really bring the heat from the outside pass rush with future NFL star Aidan Hutchinson, they are facing an offensive that is sixth best in the nation in "sacked" percentage. So if Stroud gets time on enough occasions, he'll do some business.
Look - Ohio State has rolled up 560 yards per game. No one has held them below 469 (that was Penn State). Even in the game they lost, against Oregon, they had 612 yards. And last week, a season-high 655 against Michigan State, with almost all of that damage done in the first half.
Cade McNamara hasn't done a bad job at QB for Michigan. He's averaged eight yards an attempt. He has a stellar 14-2 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. And he did burn Michigan State for 383 yards through the air. But he won't be taking over the game, and he will have a hard time if he's pressured. Stroud has the weapons around him where he can explode, and that includes a ground game averaging almost six yards a carry.
So when you look at this number and you see that the #5 team is getting a touchdown, general principles might dictate that you grab it. But this isn't the best Michigan team OSU will have disposed of. And the Buckeyes have gone to Ann Arbor and won three consecutive double-digit decisions.
We're okay with laying the points here, as Harbaugh continues to be frustrated and Ohio State moves on to the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin.
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