Week 13 Preview: THE GAME Michigan vs. tTDS
When: 12:00 PM EST
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Line: Michigan -5
big game noun
Definition of big game
1: relatively large animals sought or taken by hunting or fishing especially for sport
2: an important objective especially when involving risk
A Buckeye is not a large animal, rather it is a relatively unassuming nut. However, this week they are indeed being hunted, taken even, especially for sport. Further, there are certainly important objectives on the line especially involving risk. Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is a BIG Game, this is THE Game.
The winner of which goes on to play in the B1G championship and if number four Michigan wins they keep their playoff hopes alive. For number ten, Ohio State, they may not have that chance, even with a win, but spoiling Michigan’s season may be just as rewarding for some of their fans. Both teams are 10-1 this year but even when one or both teams are down, The Game means everything, to all parties involved.
This marks the final game in the Revenge Tour 2018 regular season and it’s the first time since 2011 that Michigan is favored over the Buckeyes; also the first time since 2004 that this was the case in Columbus. This is the sort of dog eat dog, high-stakes game that every athlete lives for and every fan anticipates as if it’s Christmas Eve.
There might not be a more storied rivalry in all of sports than the one between these two teams. A rivalry that has spanned 121 years and brought us the “Ten Year War” between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, featured the “Snow Bowl”, gave way to the Earle Bruce and John Cooper eras for OSU and is now culminating with Jim Harbaugh facing off against Urban Meyer for the fourth time in Jim’s tenure. While Coach Harbaugh might be 0-3 against the Buckeyes so far, there seems to be something different in the air around this team, this year. Harbaugh has a chance to notch 11 wins in the regular season, something that hasn’t been done @ Michigan since 2006 while under Lloyd Carr.
The Wolverines have been on a mission since their season-opening loss to Notre Dame and have done nothing but put up statement win after statement win. In this game, winning at all is a statement, but could Michigan do to OSU what they did to Wisconsin, Penn State, and MSU? We will break things down in an attempt to find out below.
Michigan vs Ohio State Statistical Analysis
First, we will look at some key statistics.
|Team||Record||Avg Point Diff||Off YPP||Off YPG||3rd Down %||Def YPP||Def YPG||Def 3rd Down %||T/O Diff.||PPG||PPG Allowed|
|Team||Rec.||2ndO Wins||S&P+||S&P+||Rk||Off. S&P+||Rk||Def. S&P+||Rk||ST S&P+||Rk||Last Week||Chg|
Before we dig into the numbers it’s worth noting that stats mean very little, other than potentially being indicators, as we look to them as a predictor for college football games. In rivalry games, this couldn’t be truer. That said, this section’s pure focus is to try to look at stats as predictors for the game upcoming. Along with that train of thought, the transitive property doesn’t work very well in sports either.
That also said we may do a few transitive things because it’s fun. Also because this game reminds me a lot of the Penn State game on paper. A big difference here is that Michigan was at home against Penn State and will be in a very hostile environment tomorrow when they take on OSU. However, PSU came in as the #10 ranked team according to the S&P numbers where OSU is currently #8. Michigan was and is number 4 in both cases. Penn State also had a more explosive offense coming into the game than Michigan, as do the Buckeyes (pardon my language, I said the B-word). PSU was less explosive than OSU, they were ranked 22 and OSU is 5 but both teams were/are putting up about 41 points per game. It gets even more interesting when we look at defense. Penn State was a much more stout defense than OSU at the time of their matchup with Michigan. Both Penn State and Michigan State have better defenses than Ohio State according to the numbers, hell you can say the same thing for Wisconsin and Northwestern. Michigan beat all but one of these teams by double digits so this one will be interesting to see play out.
Some key things to think about are that OSU is really good at getting teams off the field on third down and their offense is about as good as Michigan’s at preserving drives on 3rd down as well. In the last 3 games, Ohio State has been the third-best team at stopping opponents on third down. Michigan has taken a step back over the same stretch and is ranked number 55 on defensive 3rd down conversions over the last three games.
Michigan has more passing yards per game on average while on the road than they do at home. They also have about 100 fewer yards rushing per game on the road vs. at home. Against AP ranked teams, Michigan is only averaging a little over 220 yards per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Don Brown’s unit is actually better on the road this year. They have held opponents to about 30 yards less in total offense when Michigan is the visitor.
Ohio State, on the other hand, is only averaging 140.2 yards per game passing against AP ranked teams to go with 70.2 yards rushing. This is compared to the 373 yards per game of passing that they normally get at home, including against ranked teams, and the 204.3 per game rushing they get on average at home. The OSU defense is markedly better at home, where they allow 340 yards on average vs. 460.3 when they are the road team.
Who are these guys?. . .
They are a talented bunch, even if the close game against Maryland last week told your eyes something different. Ohio State is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball although, they are not as stout up front on either line, as they have been in previous years. QB Dwayne Haskins is one of the best at his position in the country. He is more of a true pocket passer, which is weird to see in an Urban Meyer offense, but Coach Meyer has been pushing him to run a bit more, which he did with a little bit of success last week. Against Michigan last year, he also had a few key runs but where he really shines is with his arm talent. Haskins has a cannon and is pretty accurate most of the time, at least when he’s not pressured. He’s also quite the load to take down at 6’3 220. Last week against Maryland he had the most rushing attempts and yards that he’s had all season (15 for 59 yds 3 TDs).
OSU will almost certainly compliment Haskins by bringing in much more diminutive in stature QB, Tate Martell. Martell hasn’t passed a ton this year, but he’s certainly been effective rushing the ball albeit also pretty limited in volume. He’s averaged 6.4 yards on 20 attempts compared to Haskins’s 1.7 yards per carry on 56 attempts. When OSU gets to the redzone or short yardage situations, I’d expect to see Martell quite a bit since he’s more able to run the ball like Meyer coached QBs of the past.
Sticking to rushing for a second, OSU has two featured RBs in J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Neither of them has cracked 1000 yards on the season but Dobbins is pretty darn close with 915 and Weber has 711 of his own. Weber has been slightly more efficient running the ball while averaging almost 1 yard more per carry. The Ohio State offense has not run the ball as effectively as they have over the past couple of years but they are still a capable unit that can bust some big runs if they have holes.
When OSU passes the ball, they have plenty of weapons to receive. Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill are the most targeted by far but Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Terry McLaurin have all contributed quite a bit to the offense as well. Mack is out after having foot surgery. OSU will also throw to their TE occasionally but not nearly as much as to the aforementioned group.
Defensively, the Bucks have been without their biggest star in Nick Bosa, who after an ab injury decided to shut it down for the year to focus on NFL draft prep. In his absence, Dre’Mont Jones and DE Chase Young have stepped up to get pressure on opposing QBs from the defensive line. Jones has 7.5 sacks on the season and 12 TFL while Young has 5.5 and 9.5 TFL himself. Malik Harrison is probably the best LB on the team but Tuf Borland is no slouch. Harrison leads the team in tackles, has 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception. Borland is 3rd on the team in tackles and has 9 for a loss. Their best defensive back is Jordan Fuller, a safety, who is second on the team in total tackles. Shaun Wade and Kendall Sheffield are the most ball-hawky types, each with 2 interceptions and several passes defended.
tTDS wins if. . .
They can hold Michigan on third down and turn the ball over to their offense while finding ways to extend drives against Michigan, who has struggled on third down defense over the last three weeks. If OSU can control the momentum and utilize their home crowd to their advantage, they could be able to beat the Wolverines. However, if they allow Michigan to grab the lead early and take the crowd out of it, they may have a tall task in front of them. Expect to see both Haskins and Martell run the ball from the QB position. I’d bet Haskins will try to run at least the 15 times he did against Maryland because they know Michigan has typically struggled at containing running QBs. If he’s not effective, they will simply bring in Martell for these duties and either way will not give up on the QB runs at a minimum to keep the Michigan defense honest. I expect to see a healthy amount of quick passes, especially slants since this also has been effective against the Wolverines this year. With an arm like Haskins has, there will certainly be plenty of deep shots as well. Defensively, OSU must stop Higdon from getting to 100 yards rushing and must force Shea Patterson to not only be uncomfortable in the pocket but to also beat them with his legs.
Michigan wins if. . .
They are able to establish the run, get Higdon over 100 yards, avoid coming out flat, and don’t let the moment get too big for themselves. Michigan must stay within themselves and do what they’ve done all year. They must not let the pressure get to them, can’t let the fans get in their heads, and must expect the best Ohio State team that any of us have seen all year, to be the one that comes out there on Saturday. In Revenge Tour games this year, Michigan has laid the smackdown. This is one of those games. The Wolverines need to come out with that same killer instinct and mentality that allowed them to completely destroy Wisconsin, MSU, and Penn State this year. I’d expect to see more wrinkles than we’ve seen all season from this offense and that includes Shea Patterson and copious amounts of RPO, read/option runs, and more – I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the DPJ throwing the ball type-stuff that we saw last week as well as potentially ex-QB Zach Gentry maybe getting involved in not only catching passes but throwing one or two. This game will likely come down to the effectiveness of these wrinkles if OSU can bottle up Higdon at all. It will also be dependent on the defense being able to contain the explosive Buckeye (language again, sorry) offense. I’m pretty confident that the defense will be ultra inspired, especially after giving up so much yardage to Indiana last week. That Indiana game was a perfect setup for this OSU matchup. Indiana featured an uptempo attack with a mobile QB and lots of quick passing. This will be very similar to what OSU does, except Peyton Ramsey is much more fleet of foot than is Haskins.
Let’s face it, Michigan has everything right in front of them. They just have to take care of business. This is quite possibly the biggest game of Harbaugh’s tenure at the University of Michigan and his whole team knows it. This team just needs one more statement, for which a win will do but put me in the crowd that wants to see a BIG statement to put an exclamation mark on the REVENGE TOUR!
P.S. – welcome to the BluePrint Family, Lexi!
Injury/Missing Player Report:
Out: P Brad Robbins, DB Benjamin St-Juste, DE Luiji Vilain, QB Dylan McCaffrey. Berkley Edwards
Questionable: DE Chase Winovich, OT Juwann Bushell-Beatty
Out/Doubtful: DE Nick Bosa, WR Austin Mack
Questionable: OL Branden Bowen, K Sean Nuernberger, WR Cameron Brown
Probable: WR Terry McLaurin, LB Baron Browning, OL Thayer Munford, RB Mike Weber
Thoughts From The BluePrint Family
Michigan vs Ohio State. ”THE GAME” this is the game that everybody has been waiting for all season. The winner goes onto the B1G Ten Championship Game to face Northwestern, wins the B1G Ten East and continues to fight for a spot in the College Football Playoffs. This game has to be won by the Wolverines in order to continue the goal of bringing back a National Championship to Ann Arbor. Michigan hasn’t beaten Ohio State since the 2011 season and hasn’t won a game against the Buckeyes in Columbus dating back to the 2000 season.
The ”Revenge Tour” is back on the road and the intensity will be at an all-time high for this game. I believe that this team can get the job done. Michigan has been the better team all season while OSU has just been playing on flat-out luck. But the luck will finally run out for the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer’s time in Columbus might finally come to an end! Michigan will dominate the Buckeyes and keep them in check while moving on to the B1G TEN CHAMPIONSHIP to lock up a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Michigan wins 28-7 in dominating fashion.
Offensive MVP(s): Shea, Karan, Whole Offensive Line
Defensive MVP(s): Devin Bush, Josh Metellus, Chase, and Rashan Gary.
Writing this as I got home from the Indiana game, I can’t get over how Indiana had no class. The targeting, intentionally trying to hurt Gary and almost really hurting Chase… but we beat ’em 23 straight so we can get over it.
Now it’s “The Game”, against the team I hate most… I’m with Coach Hoke… I don’t use their full name. They will always be Ohio to me. I have 0 respect for them.
Our defense is too much for Haskins and yes we will contain Martell. Their defense is too weak to handle Shea.
Shea will find DPJ, Nico, and Black this game and get to 300 yards passing with a couple TDs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him use his feet more in the option as well. I feel like he has it in his heart to beat them.
Bush, Gary, and Chase will lead our defense, and… Josh Metellus will have some key tackles as well.
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