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Michigan at Ohio State
* Date, Time: Sat., Nov. 24, noon p.m. (Eastern)
* Location: Ohio Stadium
* TV: ABC (national telecast; announcers, Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Quint Kessenich)
* 2012 Records: Ohio State, 11-0 overall, 7-0 Big Ten; Michigan, 8-3 overall, 6-1 Big Ten.
* 2012 Rankings: Ohio State, fourth in Associated Press poll; Michigan, 19th in BCS standings, 20th in AP poll and USA Today coaches poll.
* Series History: With 108 previous meetings, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry ranks 16th among the most-played rivalries in Division I-A history. Michigan leads the all-time series 58-44-6. The 94-year streak of games between the schools ranks 10th in NCAA Division I-A for the longest uninterrupted series.
Michigan leads 27-24-2 all-time in games played in Columbus. Ohio State had its seven-game winning streak in the series stopped by last year’s 40-34 Michigan win in Ann Arbor. But the Buckeyes have won nine of the last 11 games in the series overall, including the last five played in Ohio Stadium. Michigan last won back-to-back games over OSU in 1999-2000.
Click here for a complete look at the rivalry simply known as The Game.
Last year, Michigan gave Brady Hoke a win in his first year as the UM coach. The hero was QB Denard Robinson, who completed 14 of 17 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed 26 times for 170 yards and two scores. Robinson joined three other UM quarterbacks with three touchdown passes in a game against OSU (also done by Drew Henson, Jim Harbaugh and Bob Chappuis). Robinson’s rushing total was third-most ever for a Wolverine against OSU.
Michigan RB Fitzgerald Toussaint added 120 yards on 20 carries. OSU freshman QB Braxton Miller also shined in this shootout. He completed 14 of 25 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns and also carried the ball 16 times for 100 yards and a score. The win helped move Michigan on to a Sugar Bowl berth, where the Wolverines defeated Virginia Tech to finish 11-2.
* Michigan Schedule: Sept. 1, vs. Alabama (at Arlington, Texas), L 41-14; Sept. 18, Air Force, W 31-25; Sept. 15, Massachusetts, W 63-13; Sept. 22, at Notre Dame, L 13-6; Oct. 6, at Purdue, W 44-13; Oct. 13, Illinois, W 45-0; Oct. 20, Michigan State, W 12-10; Oct. 27, at Nebraska, L 23-9; Nov. 3, at Minnesota, W 35-13; Nov. 10, Northwestern, W 38-31 (OT); Nov. 17, Iowa, W 42-17; Nov. 24, at Ohio State, noon (ABC).
* Michigan Key Players (2012 Stats): QB-RB Denard Robinson (89 of 166 passing, 1,319 yards, 9 TDs, 9 INTs; 144 carries, 1,044 yards, 6 TDs), QB Devin Gardner (46 of 70 passing, 834 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INTs; 28 carries, 105 yards, 6 TDs), RB Thomas Rawls (52 carries, 240 yards, 4 TDs), RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (130 carries, 514 yards, 5 TDs; will not play due to injury), WR Jeremy Gallon (34 catches, 617 yards, 2 TDs), WR Roy Roundtree (25 catches, 461 yards, 2 TDs), SLB Jake Ryan (75 tackles, 3-1/2 sacks, 13 TFLs), MLB Kenny Demens (72 tackles, 6 TFLs), FS Thomas Gordon (67 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 INTs), DE Craig Roh (32 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 TFLs), SS Jordan Kovacs (59 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFLs), CB J.T. Floyd (43 tackles).
* Michigan Fast Facts: Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Enrollment, 38,820; Conference: Big Ten Conference; Nickname, Wolverines; Colors, Maize and Blue; Stadium, Michigan Stadium (surface, FieldTurf; capacity, 106,201).
* Ohio State Schedule: Sept. 1, Miami (Ohio), W 56-10; Sept. 8, Central Florida, W 31-16; Sept. 15, California, W 35-28; Sept. 22, UAB, W 29-15; Sept. 29, at Michigan State, W 17-16; Oct. 6, Nebraska, W 63-38; Oct. 13, at Indiana, W 52-49; Oct. 20, Purdue, W 29-22 (OT); Oct. 27, at Penn State, W 35-23; Nov. 3, Illinois, W 52-22; Nov. 17, at Wisconsin, W 21-14 (OT); Nov. 24, Michigan, noon (ABC).
* Ohio State Key Players (2012 Stats): QB Braxton Miller (134 of 236 passing, 1,850 yards, 14 TDs, 6 INTs; 207 carries, 1,214 yards, 13 TDs), RB Carlos Hyde (159 carries, 824 yards, 15 TDs), RB Rod Smith (31 carries, 211 yards, 2 TDs), WR Jake Stoneburner (15 catches, 260 yards, 4 TDs), WR Philly Brown (52 catches, 574 yards, 2 TDs), WR Devin Smith (28 catches, 555 yards, 6 TDs), DB Christian Bryant (66 tackles, 1 INT), LB Etienne Sabino (43 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT), LB Ryan Shazier (110 tackles, 14-1/2 TFLs, 4 sacks, 1 INT), DE John Simon (44 tackles, 14-1/2 TFLs, 9 sacks), CB Bradley Roby (55 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INTs), CB Travis Howard (38 tackles, 4 INTs), DT Johnathan Hankins (52 tackles, 4 TFLs, 1 sack).
* Ohio State Fast Facts: Location: Columbus, Ohio; Enrollment, 56,064; Conference: Big Ten Conference; Nickname, Buckeyes; Colors, Scarlet and Gray; Stadium, Ohio Stadium (surface, FieldTurf; capacity, 102,329).
Ohio State Offense
LT 74 Jack Mewhort 6-6, 312, Jr.
76 Darryl Baldwin 6-5, 300, So.
LG 78 Andrew Norwell 6-6, 310, Jr.
73 Antonio Underwood 6-2, 306, So.
C 71 Corey Linsley 6-3, 295, Jr.
50 Jacoby Boren 6-2, 287, Fr.
RG 79 Marcus Hall 6-5, 315, Jr.
57 Chase Farris 6-4, 290, R-Fr.
RT 77 Reid Fragel 6-8, 310, Sr.
68 Taylor Decker 6-7, 313, Fr.
TE 86 Jeff Heuerman, 6-5, 250, So.
Or 81 Nick Vannett 6-6, 255, R-Fr.
WR (H) 11 Jake Stoneburner 6-5, 245, Sr.
80 Chris Fields 6-0, 197, Jr.
QB 5 Braxton Miller 6-2, 220, So.
13 Kenny Guiton 6-3, 210, Jr.
RB 34 Carlos Hyde, 6-0, 232, Jr.
2 Rod Smith, 6-3, 228, So.
WR (X) 15 Devin Smith 6-1, 200, So.
83 Michael Thomas 6-2, 198, Fr.
WR (Z) 10 Corey Brown 6-0, 187, Jr.
16 Evan Spencer 6-2, 205, So.
K 24 Drew Basil 6-1, 210, Jr.
39 Kyle Clinton 6-1, 215 So.
Ohio State Defense
LEO 54 John Simon 6-2, 263, Sr.
88 Steve Miller 6-3, 255, So.
Or 8 Noah Spence 6-3, 240, Fr.
DT 52 Johnathan Hankins 6-3, 322, Jr.
92 Adolphus Washington 6-3, 289, Fr.
Or 90 Tommy Schutt 6-2, 295, Fr.
NT 53 Garrett Goebel 6-4, 290, Sr.
51 Joel Hale 6-4, 295, So.
DE 43 Nathan Williams, 6-3, 249, Sr.
63 Michael Bennett 6-3, 285, So.
50 J.T. Moore 6-3, 260, So.
OLB 10 Ryan Shazier 6-2, 230, So.
36 Conner Crowell 6-1, 235, R-Fr.
5 Camren Williams, 6-2, 225, Fr.
MLB 44 Zach Boren, 6-1, 245, Sr.
32 Storm Klein, 6-2, 242, Sr.
14 Curtis Grant 6-3, 235, So.
OLB 6 Etienne Sabino, 6-3, 237, Sr.
37 Joshua Perry 6-4, 238, Fr.
CB 1 Bradley Roby 5-11, 190, So.
12 Doran Grant 5-11, 188, So.
SAF 2 Christian Bryant 5-10, 192, Jr.
19 Orhian Johnson 6-3, 210, Sr.
SAF 4 C.J. Barnett 6-1, 202, Jr.
3 Corey Brown 6-1, 198, Jr.
CB 7 Travis Howard 6-1, 200, Sr.
9 Adam Griffi n 5-8, 180, So.
P 17 Ben Buchanan 5-11, 192, Sr.
24 Drew Basil 6-1, 210, Jr.
LS 41 Bryce Haynes 6-4, 220, R-Fr.
or 56 George Makridis 6-2, 230, Jr.
WR 21 Roy Roundtree (6-0, 180, 5th Sr.)
12 Devin Gardner (6-4, 203, Jr./Jr.)
85 Joe Reynolds (6-1, 196, Sr./Jr.)
83 Jerald Robinson (6-1, 215, Jr./So.)
LT 77 Taylor Lewan (6-8, 309, Sr./Jr.)
78 Erik Magnuson (6-6, 285, Fr./Fr.)
LG 52 Ricky Barnum (6-3, 296, 5th Sr.)
56 Joey Burzynski (6-1, 295, Jr./So.)
67 Kyle Kalis (6-5, 294, Fr./Fr.)
C 57 Elliott Mealer (6-5, 308, 5th Sr.)
60 Jack Miller (6-4, 288, So./Fr.)
RG 65 Patrick Omameh (6-4, 305, 5th Sr.)
56 Joey Burzynski (6-1, 295, Jr./So.)
RT 75 Michael Schofield (6-7, 300, Sr./Jr.)
69 Erik Gunderson (6-8, 303, Sr./Jr.)
71 Ben Braden (6-6, 308, Fr./Fr.)
TE 81 Mike Kwiatkowski (6-5, 262, 5th Sr.)
19 Devin Funchess (6-4, 229, Fr./Fr.)
84 A.J. Williams (6-6, 283, Fr./Fr.)
87 Brandon Moore (6-5, 268, 5th Sr.)
WR 10 Jeremy Gallon (5-8, 187, Sr./Jr.)
9 Drew Dileo (5-10, 180, Jr./Jr.)
17 Jeremy Jackson (6-3, 204, Jr./Jr.)
QB 16 Denard Robinson (6-0, 197, Sr./Sr.)
12 Devin Gardner (6-4, 203, Jr./Jr.)
8 Russell Bellomy (6-3, 202, So./Fr.)
FB 33 Stephen Hopkins (6-0, 240, Jr./Jr.)
36 Joe Kerridge (6-0, 244, So./Fr.)
31 Paul Gyarmati (6-1, 234, 5th Sr.)
RB 38 Thomas Rawls (5-10, 218, So./So.)
2 Vincent Smith (5-6, 175, Sr./Sr.)
5 Justice Hayes (5-10, 183, So./Fr.)
PK 34 Brendan Gibbons (6-1, 230, Sr./Jr.)
45 Matt Wile (6-2, 214, So./So.)
DE 57 Frank Clark (6-2, 262, So./So.)
97 Brennen Beyer (6-3, 252, So./So.)
53 Mario Ojemudia (6-2, 231, Fr./Fr.)
DT 73 Will Campbell (6-5, 308, Sr./Sr.)
55 Jibreel Black (6-2, 279, Jr./Jr.)
NT 76 Quinton Washington (6-4, 300, Sr./Jr.)
56 Ondre Pipkins (6-3, 340, Fr./Fr.)
54 Richard Ash (6-3, 300, Jr./So.)
DE 88 Craig Roh (6-5, 281, Sr./Sr.)
92 Keith Heitzman (6-3, 270, So./Fr.)
SLB 47 Jake Ryan (6-3, 242, Jr./So.)
4 Cam Gordon (6-3, 236, Sr./Jr.)
MLB 25 Kenny Demens (6-1, 242, 5th Sr.)
35 Joe Bolden (6-3, 223, Fr./Fr.)
27 Mike Jones (6-2, 226, Sr./Jr.)
WLB 48 Desmond Morgan (6-1, 227, So./So.)
15 James Ross III (6-1, 225, Fr./Fr.)
7 Brandin Hawthorne (6-0, 220, Sr./Sr.)
LCB 6 Raymon Taylor (5-10, 182, So./So.)
5 Courtney Avery (5-11, 173, Jr./Jr.)
13 Terry Richardson (5-9, 162, Fr./Fr.)
SS 11 Jordan Kovacs (6-0, 202, 5th Sr.)
3 Marvin Robinson (6-2, 200, So./So.)
23 Floyd Simmons (6-0, 200, 5th Sr.)
FS 30 Thomas Gordon (5-11, 207, Sr./Jr.)
22 Jarrod Wilson (6-2, 194, Fr./Fr.)
14 Josh Furman (6-2, 203, Jr./So.)
RCB 8 J.T. Floyd (6-0, 183, 5th Sr.)
6 Raymon Taylor (5-10, 182, So./So.)
24 Delonte Hollowell (5-9, 176, So./So.)
P 43 Will Hagerup (6-4, 227, Jr./Jr.)
45 Matt Wile (6-2, 214, So./So.)
* Ohio State has already won the Big Ten Leaders Division championship outright, even if the Buckeyes can’t play in the Big Ten championship game or in the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
Michigan enters the final weekend of the regular season tied with Nebraska for the Legends Division lead at 6-1. But since Michigan lost to Nebraska head-to-head, the Wolverines need Nebraska to lose at Iowa on Friday and then must defeat Ohio State on Saturday to clinch the Legends Division spot in the conference title game.
* Regarding the Big Ten, Michigan holds the all-time lead with 42 conference titles. But UM has not won the Big Ten since 2004.
Ohio State is next with 35 championships, although the official total is 34 after the school vacated the 2010 championship.
* The Buckeyes are one of two unbeaten teams nationally. Ohio State is joined only by No. 1 Notre Dame (also 11-0). While the Buckeyes can’t play in the BCS national title game, they could gain some traction as the possible AP poll national champion if they survive as the season’s only unbeaten.
* The Buckeyes have reached 11-0 to start a season for the sixth time in school history.
OSU is 2-3 all-time in games to get from 11-0 to 12-0. That includes losses in to UCLA in the 1976 Rose Bowl (23-10), to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl (17-16) and Michigan in 1995 (31-23) and wins over Illinois in 2002 (23-16 in overtime) and over Michigan in 2006 (42-39 in the famed one-versus-two game).
* A win over Michigan would give Ohio State an unbeaten regular season for the 13th time. (That includes three seasons where there was a regular season tie.)
It would also mark just the sixth time in the program’s 123-year history where OSU would finish the entire season unbeaten and untied. It also happened in 1916 (7-0), 1944 (9-0), 1954 (10-0), 1968 (10-0) and 2002 (14-0).
* In the last 12 meetings in which one team came in unbeaten, that team has left unblemished just six times (OSU in 1979, 2002 and 2006; Michigan in 1971, '92 and '97).
* This game matches two of the top five winningest college football programs. Michigan leads the list with 903 wins, followed by Texas (866), Notre Dame (864), Nebraska (855) and Ohio State (836).
* This is the third team Meyer has led to an 11-0 start in his 11th year as a head coach. His 2004 Utah team finished 12-0, while his 2009 Florida team started 12-0 before finishing 13-1. Meyer has led six of his 11 teams to 10 wins or more.
Only two first-year OSU coaches have started 11-0. Carroll Widdoes was 9-0 in 1944 and eventually won his first 12 games before a loss. Earle Bruce posted an 11-0 record to open the 1979 before a Rose Bowl loss to USC.
* Meyer’s teams are 72-14 when ranked.
* This will be the final home game for 21 OSU seniors, including nine starters (RT Reid Fragel, WR Jake Stoneburner, DE John Simon, NT Garrett Goebel, DE Nathan Williams, MLB Zach Boren, OLB Etienne Sabino, CB Travis Howard and punter Ben Buchanan).
* This is the 19th time OSU and Michigan have met on Thanksgiving weekend. That trend will continue for at least the next two seasons. OSU is 8-9-1 in Michigan games played over Thanksgiving weekend.
* Twenty-four Michigan players are from Ohio, including seven starters (DE Frank Clark, DB Jordan Kovacs, OL Elliott Mealer, OL Patrick Omameh, WR Roy Roundtree, LB Jake Ryan and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint).
* The Game will be televised for the 46th straight year and 57th time overall. Since 1967, every game has been televised including 27 national television appearances. ABC has the broadcast for the 26th consecutive year and all of those were national telecasts except 1995 (split-national with Florida-Florida State). The 2005 game was shown on ABC regionally and on ESPN outside the region. The first game televised in the series was in 1947.
* Members of Ohio State’s 2002 national championship team will be recognized between the first and second quarters of Saturday’s game. Former head coach Jim Tressel is expected to join many of that season’s players on the field at that time.
* The Buckeyes will wear special Nike uniforms for this game. This uniform will be a replica of those worn by the 1968 national championship team. They will be scarlet jerseys with large gray numerals front, back and on the shoulder pads. The gray pants will feature wider stripes.
There will be seven Buckeye leaves along the back collar and a Block O on the front collar. The helmet will feature a wider scarlet, white and black stripe on a dull chrome helmet.
* Ohio State’s 11-game winning streak is tied for the eighth-longest in school history. The record of 22 straight wins was set between 1967-69.
Breaking It Down
When Ohio State Has The Ball
The Ohio State offense hit a bit of an oil slick last week at Wisconsin. That was not one of QB Braxton Miller’s better performances as he netted just 48 yards on 23 rushing attempts and completed 10 of 18 passes for just 97 yards. Still, the Buckeyes did just enough to pull out the win in overtime.
RB Carlos Hyde continued his strong play, rushing 15 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns. If anything, Hyde was underutilized. Urban Meyer has vowed to get him more involved. In Big Ten play, Hyde has averaged a respectable 102.1 yards per game (Miller has averaged 110.4). If one or both of them can eclipse the 100-yard mark against Michigan, that would be huge. Michigan is middle-of-the-road in rushing defense, ranking sixth in the Big Ten at 151.4 yards allowed per game. Perhaps OSU can get some things going on the ground here. If the Buckeyes can approach 200 yards as a team, this should be their day.
Michigan is No. 1 nationally in pass defense, allowing just 152.1 yards per game. That does not bode well for Miller and an Ohio State passing offense that has reverted back to station-to-station movement in recent weeks. Miller has largely been an efficient passer, completing nearly 57 percent of his passes with just six interceptions in 11 games. You wonder if his receivers, most notably Philly Brown, Devin Smith and Jake Stoneburner, will be able to get open, catch the ball and make plays with any kind of consistency against UM’s underrated secondary.
Michigan is 10th in the Big Ten in sacks with just 15 on the season. That works in Miller’s favor as he should be able to keep plays alive. But LBs Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens and DB Jordan Kovacs have been consistent playmakers for the Wolverines. OSU is No. 1 in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 38.2 points per game.
When Michigan Has The Ball
It has kind of been feast or famine for the Michigan offense. The Wolverines have feasted on some real bad defenses, scoring 63 points against UMass, 44 against Purdue, 45 against Illinois and 42 last week against Iowa. When UM has lined up against respectable defenses, the touchdowns have been much harder to come by. That includes 14 points against Alabama, six against Notre Dame, 12 against Michigan State (in a win) and nine against Nebraska.
That tells you that anytime the opponent had anything to offer defensively, Michigan has struggled. Where Ohio State falls on that spectrum is hard to say, although the defense has allowed just seven touchdowns in the last four games since surrendering 49 points at Indiana on Oct. 20. Getting injured LB Etienne Sabino (leg fracture) back for last week’s game at Wisconsin was huge. DE John Simon (four sacks last week), LB Ryan Shazier and CB Bradley Roby have all played at an All-Big Ten level.
The elbow injury to QB Denard Robinson was almost a blessing in disguise for Michigan, even if it did spell defeat at Nebraska. Devin Gardner has emerged as his replacement. In three starts (all wins), he has thrown for 834 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for three scores last week against Iowa. Robinson returned to action last week as a running back, playing in place of the injured Fitzgerald Toussaint.
We won’t know who is going to start until noon on Saturday. It sounds like Robinson has recovered enough to play at least a portion of this game at quarterback. But they would be crazy to not play them together, right? And how will that work against an OSU offense that struggled terribly against some good spread teams (and even a couple of bad ones) early in the season?
This is the last home game for several OSU seniors on defense, including Simon, Garrett Goebel and Nate Williams up front, Sabino and Zach Boren at linebacker and Travis Howard and Orhian Johnson in the secondary. You know they don’t want to be embarrassed in their last showing at Ohio Stadium.
How It Will Go
Ordinarily, I give you what I am thinking about the game. But with this being The Game, we thought we’d get a few more viewpoints. We have asked Clint Brewster and Todd Worly from Wolverine 247 and our own Dave Biddle to pitch in their two cents on what we may see on Saturday.
* Clint Brewster, Wolverine 247: It's been far too long since Michigan has gotten a win at the Shoe. The Wolverines have progressed defensively throughout the season and will peak on Saturday. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has proved he can win and will be more comfortable in his fourth start this season. Michigan pulls out a close one.
The Pick: Michigan 27, Ohio State 24
* Todd Worly, Wolverine 247: I don't see Ohio State's offense carving up the Wolverines. Michigan's biggest weakness defensively is its pass rush, but this Buckeye team isn't built to exploit that. So to me, it all depends on how healthy Denard Robinson is. If he can grip and throw the ball, and therefore play the vast majority of the game at quarterback, then that greatly enhances Michigan's chances of winning. If he can't, and Gardner ends up taking the majority of snaps behind center, this becomes a bad match-up for the Wolverines.
The match-up of Michigan's offensive line against Ohio State's defensive line definitely favors the Buckeyes. I don't think the Wolverines are good enough up front to consistently run the ball against the Buckeyes out of a pro style offense, which is what Michigan is likely to employ when Gardner is in. If Michigan can't run the ball, the Wolverines become completely one-dimensional, and that would spell trouble. Ohio State has the best pass rush Michigan has faced in conference play. Ohio State's deep and talented defensive line would be able to pin their ears back, and Gardner would have a very small margin for error. That's too much to put on the shoulders of a quarterback that would be making his fourth career college start, which just so happens to be in Ohio Stadium against a higher level of competition than he's played against in the past three weeks, and not to mention, there's just a little bit of pressure that goes into this game.
Ohio State's defense has struggled making plays on the perimeter against spread offenses this year. If Robinson is able to play the majority of the game at quarterback, Michigan will be running the spread, and therefore have a much better chance of exploiting that weakness. I still wouldn't expect Michigan to carve up the Buckeye defense, as Robinson likely isn't consistent enough as a passer to do that. However, he's an unbelievable athlete, and his running ability will help negate Michigan's disadvantage up front and enable the Wolverines to have more success moving the ball. That helps keep field position more in Michigan's favor, and keeps the Wolverine defense fresh.
The Pick: If Robinson is able to take the vast majority of snaps at quarterback, I'm going with Michigan to win, 20-17. If Gardner ends up taking the majority of the snaps at quarterback, the Buckeyes take this one, 19-10.
* Dave Biddle, Bucknuts.com: I expect a tough game, but the Buckeyes have a slight edge in overall talent and are playing at home. However, Michigan has the advantage of playing the underdog role and all the pressure is on Ohio State to finish its season 12-0.
Urban Meyer has been excellent in rivalry games during his career and this will be an interesting first clash between Meyer and Brady Hoke, two coaches who clearly "get" the rivalry. That's something that should always be the case, but is not, as any followers of the careers of John Cooper and Rich Rodriguez could tell you.
The clear advantage for Ohio State in this game is its defensive line against Michigan's offensive line. However, the Buckeyes are best when they face pro-style teams and they will see a spread attack against the Wolverines. I look for Denard Robinson to play more quarterback than many seem to be expecting in "The Game" but there's no question UM will also utilize the passing skills of Devin Gardner. I look for Michigan's defense to stack the box against Ohio State's offense and dare Braxton Miller to beat them with the pass.
As usual, we could analyze the matchup all day, but it's probably going to come down to things like who wins the special teams and turnover battles.
The Pick: Ohio State 30, Michigan 23
* Steve Helwagen, Bucknuts.com: I think you could probably pop a tape of last year’s shootout between Michigan (and Robinson) and Ohio State (and Miller) and you might get a feel for what is going to happen.
Both teams have improved dramatically defensively since then, so maybe they won’t combine for 74 points. But it should still be an entertaining game with a lot of plays made on both sides.
Michigan is going to try and keep Ohio State off-balance by spreading the ball between Gardner and Robinson and their receivers. OSU will need LB Ryan Shazier and safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant to play extremely well. They must make plays in space or the Wolverines will keep possession and move up and down the field.
After an off game, Miller needs to get back to what he does best – beating people with his feet and getting the ball to others where they can do damage. I’m not sure Michigan can contain a guy like Hyde if OSU can get him running downhill.
This is going to be one heck of a tussle, maybe even dead even as they make the turn for home at the end of the third quarter. But the Buckeyes do what it takes down the stretch to pull out a hard fought 12th and final win for 2012.
The Pick: Ohio State 34, Michigan 24
* For The Record: Helwagen is 11-0 straight-up and 6-5 against-the-spread with Ohio State. (Ohio State is listed as a 3-1/2 point favorite over Michigan.)
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