Arguably the biggest rivalry in collegiate athletics, the Michigan Wolverines travel to Columbus for their annual end of the season rivalry game. Michigan head into Ohio State as rare favorites, in a series that has been dominated by the Buckeyes for the past decade. Dating back to 2004 in fact, Ohio State have been victorious in thirteen of fourteen games. Michigan went 8-1-1 from 1988 to 1997 and lead the all-time series 58-49-6.
There was a changing of the guard in the 2000’s after the Wolverines spent the 1990’s punching the Buckeyes in the mouth. The feeling was that Ohio State were just going to be a floor mat for Michigan for years to come. Now here we are, and it’s felt like Michigan feels like the floor mat. The tide might be changing a bit, though, and this series might stabilize over the next decade.
With Jim Harbaugh having a few years under his belt at Michigan, they are no longer going to be a walkover for Ohio State. And to add to that, the Buckeyes have looked like a very beatable team this season. Just like when Michigan won back in 2011, the Wolverines caught the Buckeyes in a down year.
Now, Ohio State are 10-1, but the definition of a down year in Columbus is failing to compete for the playoff. Considering all of the close calls they’ve had, and already a loss on their resume, this is not a good season for Ohio State. The Buckeyes were a pass away from losing to Maryland last week. A competent quarterback who could have hit a wide receiver would have downed Ohio State. Defensively they have been a mess, with games largely coming down to what Dwayne Haskins does. Haskins is good, but I don’t think he’s on an elite level, yet at least. He will be facing an elite defense on Saturday afternoon, though. Head below for our free Michigan vs. Ohio State pick.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Ohio State +5(-107)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Michigan vs. Ohio State Pick:
Haskins was held in check in Ohio State’s loss this season in October against Purdue. He still passed for 470 yards and connected for 2 touchdowns, but he attempted to pass a whopping 73 times. The Buckeyes had no answer for Purdue offensively, thus forcing Haskins to dish the ball out nearly every play.
On paper it probably doesn’t look like they contained Haskins, but he missed open plays on more than one occasion. Michigan will attack Haskins more than Purdue did and were capable of. The Wolverines are dominant from all over the field defensively, from up-front to the secondary, they are stacked. Michigan are 1st in the FBS with just 235 yards allowed per game.
Passing it on Michigan has been just about impossible for most teams. They have allowed just 123.2 passing yards per game for a clear 1st position in the nation. Miami is 2nd and they have allowed around 20 yards more through the air.
Ohio State have the 2nd best offense in the nation, statistically, with 542 yards per game. However, some of these defenses Ohio State have picked on are atrocious. Tulane, Rutgers, Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland? Yuck. The only defense that they have played that ranks in the top-40 is TCU. Even they have been getting exploited recently.
As far as the Buckeye defense is concerned, it’s been an ugly display for them. It has been one of the worst Urban Meyer defenses that we’ve seen in his career statistically. They’re 70th with 399 yards allowed per game, but there have been a couple games skewing their numbers. They gave up 51 points to Maryland in overtime and 49 to Purdue.
Otherwise, Ohio State have allowed an average of 19 points per game and 18.5 points per game in the Horseshoe. They will be taking on a Michigan offense who maintain a pro-style offense, with a few tricks up their sleeves with Shea Patterson. They’ve eased Patterson in with some set running plays as the season has progressed, taking advantage of his running ability. They didn’t do much of it early in the season, but Patterson was still getting acclimated with a new playbook.
Harbaugh would rather this turn into an ugly, smashmouth brand of football game. Just like his former coach, Bo Schembechler, would have liked it. With plenty of rain in the forecast for Saturday in Columbus, with the possibility of it coming down in buckets at points, this may be shaping up to be just like that.
The Michigan defense doesn’t need any help, but the weather is likely going to be on their side. Michigan much prefers ugly weather because of their defense. The simpler pro-style offenses typically have an easier time in the rain. Expect Ohio State to get up for this game defensively, though. They haven’t been at their best in 2018, but I’d be surprised if Urban doesn’t have his team ready to run through a wall. I would side with a 30-24 or 27-24 final score, setting up for a play on the UNDER.