This weekend, college football fans are in for a treat. The #2 Ohio State Buckeyes host the #3 Michigan Wolverines with everything on the line. The winner of this game will move on to the Big Ten Championship, and in all likelihood reach the College Football Playoff. Whereas, the loser will be hard pressed to find a way in and will probably land in the Rose Bowl against the likes of Oregon, USC or Utah.
This is actually the first time that these two schools will play each other with both undefeated since 2006. It’s also the 13th time these teams have faced with each of them ranked inside the Top 5. The game will be played at ‘The Shoe,’ giving Ohio State a decided home field advantage. Unlike ‘The Big House’ which is built out and not up (allowing sound to escape the stadium), Ohio State’s field is as loud as any you’ll find around the country.
Despite both teams entering ‘The Game’ at 11-0, Ohio State is more than a touchdown favorite, as FanDuel Sportsbook points out.
So, let’s take a look at our 3 bold Ohio State predictions for their game against Michigan.
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3. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud throws for 300+ yards, 2+ touchdowns
Buckeyes QB C.J. Stroud is likely headed to Lincoln Center in New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. He is having an exceptional year and I don’t think that will stop here. Normally, throwing for over 300 yards and two or more touchdowns is child’s play for Stroud. However, Michigan boasts one of college football’s best defenses.
Michigan is second in the nation in points allowed and first in yards allowed defensively. Their secondary has been exceptional this year, holding opposing quarterbacks to 161.7 passing yards per game. But Ohio State presents a different level challenge they have not seen this year.
The Buckeyes run a number of different formations. They have a three-headed monster at tailback with TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams and Dallan Hayden each with 100+ carries this season. I would expect the Wolverines to look to stop Ohio State’s ground game. Coach Ryan Day will counter and spread it out, allowing Stroud and the passing game to flourish.
Both Henderson and Williams are also banged up, but the Buckeyes do not need to run the ball to score.
2. Michigan ground game held under 120 yards
There are a number of factors working in Ohio State’s favor. Maybe the biggest one of those is the health of Wolverines running back Blake Corum. Corum is certainly not going to be 100 percent healthy, if he plays at all. He is dealing with a knee injury he sustained during Michigan’s comeback win vs. Illinois last week.
Corum’s backup, Donovan Edwards, missed last week’s game with an injury of his own.
The Michigan offense is predicated on their ability to run the football effectively. They are 4th in college football with over 243 yards per game. Really, that’s 2nd overall as it’s hard to count Air Force and Army considering who they play and how they play. Only Ole Miss ranks ahead of Michigan.
But the biggest strength of Ohio State’s defense is their ability to stop the run. They are just behind Alabama, allowing 107.9 yards per game on the ground. But Michigan does not have a C.J. Stroud level quarterback that can make up for the lack of a running game.
I think the Buckeyes will win the battle at the line of scrimmage on defense. Michigan will be held under 120 yards rushing, which is less than half of what they average.
1. Ohio State clinches berth in Big Ten Championship
Let me start this by saying that I am a die hard Michigan Wolverines fan. So, suffice it to say that this pains me to predict. But I believe not only is Ohio State going to win this game, it isn’t going to be particularly close.
I think Jim Harbaugh will have his team ready to play. But these players don’t really know what is in store for them, and I mean that literally. The Wolverines have not played at Ohio State since 2018. The 2020 game was canceled due to COVID. Therefore, almost none of the Michigan players have played in front of this raucous crowd before.
Coach Day has often spoke about how his team has been waiting a full year for this moment. Last season, the Wolverines snapped their eight-game losing streak to the Buckeyes, 42-27. That kept Ohio State from reaching their fifth straight Big Ten title game also. They are hungry, healthier and more talented with extra motivation. As this game progresses, I hate to say it but Ohio State might win this game going away, 34-17.