It’s only fitting that the season for both of these classic rivals comes down to Saturday’s epic showdown. The winner of the game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes will be headed to the Big Ten championship game, and they will have a clear path to a coveted spot in the College Football Playoffs.
Quite simply, we couldn’t ask for a better game to start off what shapes up to be an epic Saturday of college football action. Let’s take a look at this matchup in full detail, starting with the way that the folks in the desert see it.
Michigan @ Ohio State, 12:00 PM EST, FOX
Michigan vs. Ohio State pick:
This is the first time that the Wolverines have been favored over their rivals since 2011, but that’s for good reason. Michigan has been playing like a team on a mission, while Ohio State has looked out of sorts at times this season.
Their records may be identical on an overall basis, but one look at the rankings tells you all you need to know about how the two clubs have been presenting themselves recently.
|Record||Conf. Rec.||PF||PA||Streak||Standings||CFP Rank|
|Ohio State||10-1||7-1||458||271||W3||2-B10 East||#10|
Michigan’s lone defeat came in the opener against Notre Dame, after which the team faced a ton of criticism for a perceived lack of effort. That hasn’t been even a question since that point, as the club has rolled to a 10-game winning streak. While there have been some tests along the way – including last week’s tougher than expected game versus Indiana – The Wolverines have looked every bit the part of one of the best teams in the nation.
Ohio State also enters this contest with a single defeat, but their season has been rockier than that of their opponent. The lone loss was a somewhat surprising one on the road at Purdue a few weeks back, but the Boilermakers are better than their 5-6 overall record suggests. More concerningly, the Buckeyes have been tested a number of times this season by lesser competition, including last week’s too close for comfort 52-51 win over Maryland.
The Wolverines feature a lot of balance on offense, and they can get it down in both facets. That said, the ferocious running game is a clear strength, led by senior Karan Higdon and his line of 209/1,106/10 through 11 games. The defense is one of the top units in the nation and stout versus both facets, and the Wolverines do an exceptional job of getting to the quarterback.
Points are not the problem for Ohio State, as evidenced by the team’s impressive year to date averages. Sophomore signal caller Dwayne Haskins has been phenomenal. On the season, he has 40 total touchdowns and just seven picks. The Buckeyes are no slouches on defense and also do a great job of getting to the quarterback, but they have been exposed a number of times in 2018.
This is one of the most storied rivalries in the annals of college football. The programs first met in 1897, and they have squared off 114 times in total. The Wolverines hold an overall series lead of 58-49-6. Ohio State has had a clear edge in recent times. The Buckeyes are riding a six-game winning streak, and they are 9-1 straight-up for the last ten meetings.
Ohio State is also 7-3 against the spread over that span, while the Over has come out in seven of the last 10 years, including the last five in a row. Last season, Ohio State was favored by 12.5 points in a game with a projected total of 49.5 points, and they walked off the field with a 31-20 victory.
It really doesn’t get any bigger than this. On Saturday at noon EST on Fox, the nation will be looking live at a jam-packed Ohio Stadium for one of the most highly-anticipated matchups of the season. There is a ton at stake for this one, starting with a berth in the Big 10 title game. The winner will remain alive in the hunt for a coveted CFP playoff berth, while the loser will have to make other plans for Bowl season.
Ohio State’s recent dominance in the series and Michigan’s lofty ranking means that the pressure is squarely on the Wolverines. When you add in the fact that Michigan is actually a 5-point road favorite, it’s clear that the general expectation is for Michigan to finally get the monkey off of their backs and put an end to Ohio State’s dominance in the series.
This is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s best opportunity to secure his first victory over the Buckeyes. Failure to do so opens him up to a ton of criticism. We don’t think he’ll have anything to worry about. Michigan is the better squad this year, and they should be able to pull out an exciting road victory as a result.
We’ll take Michigan minus the points.
- Record: Team overall win-loss record
- Conf. Rec.: Team record in conference games
- PF: Team points for
- PA: Team points against
- Streak: Team current winning/losing streak
- Standings: Team current position in division or conference
- CFP Rank: Team ranking in College Football Playoff poll, if applicable
- PPG: Team average points per game
- RuYdF: Team average rushing yards per game
- PaYdF: Team average passing yards per game
- PtsAll: Team average points allowed per game
- RuYdA: Team average rushing yards allowed per game
- PaYdA: Team average passing yards allowed
- SaF: Team total sacks for on the year
- SaA: Team total sacks allowed for the year
- ToM: Team turnover differential, i.e takeaways minus giveaways