Five times, Ohio State and Michigan have met in Ann Arbor when both owned top-six national rankings. The Wolverines are 3-1-1 in those affairs, last winning 35-21 in 2003, when they were fifth and the Buckeyes fourth.
Three of those meetings occurred in the 1970s, with a victory for each and a 10-10 tie in ’73.
Recent history, however, has not been kind to Michigan, which has dropped 15 of the past 16 to its southern enemy. The Wolverines are 1-7 at home in that stretch, with a 40-34 victory in 2011. Average score: Ohio State 33.1, Michigan 21.9.
Fox gets the national feed for Saturday’s Big 10 showdown (12 p.m. ET), and oddsmakers price the Buckeyes as favorites of more than a touchdown.
NCAAF · Sat (11/27) @ 12:00pm ET
|Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1 SU, 6-4-1 ATS)
How about a big bucket of icy-cold water across your mugs for a dose of reality, Wolverines fans?
In his past seven games, OSU quarterback CJ Stroud has thrown for 28 touchdowns and had two passes picked off, both at Nebraska. That’s 245 attempts.
Before Saturday’s thumping of Michigan State ended in the Horseshoe, second-generation Vegas bookmaker Kenny White had pronounced Stroud the Heisman Trophy winner with his performance.
White was referring to Stroud’s six first-half TD passes. Six. He didn’t play in the second half.
The wealth of talent around Stroud includes receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba (1,132 yards, 16.4-yard average, six touchdowns), Garrett Wilson (15.7 average on 60 catches, 11 TDs), and Chris Olave (14.6, 58, 13).
To top off all of that, Stroud has a 1,000-yard rusher, in TreVeyon Henderson, in the backfield with him.
No. 6 Michigan Wolverines (10-1 SU, 9-2 ATS)
How will the Wolverines be able to defend Ohio State?
The Buckeyes, with Stroud at the controls, are impressive. Their average of 362 passing yards is fifth in the country, which improves to third (at 405 yards) over their past three tilts.
They average the magical 10 yards per attempt on the season. Among teams that pass regularly, that’s No. 2 in the game to Coastal Carolina’s 11.3. Such a double-digit rating makes NFL scouts salivate.
On the season, the Bucks have completed 70% of their pass attempts, No. 7 in the nation. Over their past three that’s 76.3%, second to Mississippi State (81.1%).
Are the Wolverines ready for that stress test? Perhaps, at least on paper. They’re seventh in allowing 5.8 yards per pass attempt, tied for second (at 4.8, with Notre Dame) over their past three games.
Michigan’s pass offense, though, is mediocre, at best, with 230 yards a game, which drops to 174 at home. Can the Wolverines run against a defense that allows an average of 104 yards (10th) and 3.1 yards per run (11th)?
Coach Jim Harbaugh could use Blake Corum, who injured an ankle against Indiana on Nov. 6 and hasn’t played since. There’s been speculation he might be available for Ohio State.
Hassan Haskins, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior from St. Louis, has run for triple figures in four of his past six games. Can he produce a sustained running attack, chewing minutes off the clock to keep Stroud off the field?
If Ohio State gets out of the gate anywhere near the way it did last week against the Spartans, it will be a long day for Harbaugh. Passing will be difficult, and asking a ground attack to catch up to a two- or three-TD deficit is asking too much.
Michigan Vs. Ohio State Pick
We think it will help Ohio State that this isn’t under the lights in the Big House. As if the Buckeyes need any more boxes checked. They have dominated, and any hype saying that will not continue is pure rubbish.
Unfortunately for Michigan, once again, it gets its rival at an inopportune time, when its offense is operating at peak efficiency, rated No. 1 in the country at 0.664 points per play.
Our Pick: Ohio State -8 (BetMGM)