It’s finally here. The Game. The undefeated rivalry battle. No. 2 vs. No. 3. Big Ten, College Football Playoff and maybe even Heisman chances on the line. After months of anticipation, Michigan is finally set to take on Ohio State in Columbus this Saturday. The Wolverines finally broke their losing streak against the Buckeyes last year with a resounding 42-27 win. Now, they’re attempting to vanquish an even bigger demon — winning in the Horse Shoe for the first time since 2000. There has been buzz for this game since the moment fans stormed the field in the Big House last November. The only thing left to do is predict it.
The Daily makes their call for who wins The Game:
Every now and then, I’m reminded that I gave Michigan no shot to win in this game last season. I’m actually more bullish about the Wolverines’ chances of winning this year than I was a year ago. The ultimate caveat here is health — without running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, it’s hard to see a realistic path to victory for Michigan. But if Corum can play, I like the Wolverines to win. Though he struggled at times last week, sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy was poised under pressure, unfazed by the waning clock and the mounting deficit. Those are characteristics that will bode well in Columbus. Should senior offensive lineman Trevor Keegan return to the lineup Saturday, I like the Wolverines offensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage like it did last year, which sets the tone for Michigan’s success on offense. Defending Ohio State is a challenge — the defensive backs have proven vulnerable at times this season, and CJ Stroud exploits vulnerability with ease — but I think the Wolverines can dominate the game with their offense, controlling the tempo in the same manner they did last season.
Michigan 27, Ohio State 24
I’ve gone back and forth on this one a lot, but I think it comes down to how much of the success the Wolverines experienced in last year’s game can be recreated. The Buckeyes have revamped their defense and given the uncertainty in the Wolverines backfield, I don’t think Michigan is going to move the ball with as much ease. The Wolverines also got consistent pressure on Stroud last year and he still threw for 394 yards. I think that without Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo to generate pressure, Michigan finally feels the talent discrepancy along their defensive line. The Wolverines had a blueprint that worked to perfection last year and they aren’t going to deviate from that script. But Ohio State has seen that blueprint now and have spent the last year preparing to not make the same mistakes again. The Buckeyes know Michigan wants to dominate the line of scrimmage. I just think the Wolverines will struggle to get going offensively, Ohio State will turn the game into a track meet and Michigan won’t keep up. The Wolverines come up short in Columbus for the 10th straight time.
Ohio State 35 Michigan 24
I’ll start by saying this: Either team winning this game wouldn’t surprise me. Both Michigan and Ohio State are obviously two of the best teams in the country and both have edges in key positions that could decide this game. The Buckeye receivers, the Wolverine run game, Ohio State’s quarterback, Michigan’s offensive line, we can go on and on. The problem for the Wolverines, though, is that their best weapon — their running game — is too much of an unknown right now with both of its top two options’ status being up in the air. It’s for that reason that I think it’s far easier to see a path to victory for the Buckeyes. I’ll pick Ohio State to win, but I think that this will be a lower scoring game that goes down to the very end.
Ohio State 26, Michigan 23
I tend to be more down on Michigan than the other three writers. I’m the only one that’s predicted the Wolverines to lose a game earlier this season, believing they’d fall against then-No. 10 Penn State. That being said, I think I’m the opposite this weekend. The Buckeyes haven’t impressed me at all this season. Their passing game is their one and only threat, albeit a fierce one. Ohio State’s defensive front has proven weak against a Nittany Lion rushing attack that the Wolverines dominated, its run game has improved from last year but hasn’t wowed, and everywhere else across the board, the Buckeyes haven’t shown any toughness. If Michigan can slow down the air attack — which it has the potential to do — it can gash Ohio State through the run game. Though that relies on Corum and Edwards, I think the chances at least one of them plays is high, and in my opinion, that’s enough. Don’t even look at the weather forecast, I’ve got the Wolverines in this one — as comfortably as this game can get.
Michigan 34, Ohio State 24
Here are the rest of the beat’s predictions for Rivalry Week:
Week Twelve Records:
Nov. 26 12:00 pm Michigan + 7.5 at Ohio State
Nov. 26 12:00 pm Tulane +40 at Cincinnati
Nov. 26 12:00 pm Central Michigan -2 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 26 12:00 pm Rutgers +14 at Maryland
Nov. 26 12 pm South Carolina +14.5 at Clemson
Nov. 26 3:30 pm Minnesota +3 at Wisconsin
Nov. 26 3:30 pm Purdue -10.5 at Indiana
Nov. 26 3:30 pm Oregon -3 at Oregon State
Nov. 26 4:00 pm Michigan State +19 at Penn State
Nov. 26 7:30 pm Notre Dame +5.5 at USC
Nov. 26 7:30 pm Tennessee -14 at Vanderbilt