It's been a while since I've previewed a team. I think it just got old preparing for game I knew we'd lose. But, since this is my last chance to do a full preview post for the next 9 months, we better take this opportunity.
Who: Michigan @ Ohio State
When: November 22, 2008, 12:00 PM EST
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Radio: Michigan Sports Network
Series: Michigan Leads 57-41-6
Last Meeting: tOSU 14, Michigan 3
Rankings: Michigan - NR / tOSU - 10
Conference: Big Ten Conference
Head Coach: Sir Teflon
Off. Coordinator: Jim Bollman
Off. Scheme: Multiple
Def. Coordinator: Jim Heacock
Def. Scheme: 4-3
2008 Record: 9-2 (6-1)
Last Game: Won @ Illinois 30-20
Just as in almost every Michigan-tOSU game, the team that can run the ball better is the team that usually wins the game.
I'll admit that Beanie Wells is a great running back. But he is at a disadvantage because his offensive line is not as great as he is. Couple that with a very good defensive front for Michigan, it could be a long day for the Buckeye back. But odds are he will be able to get loose at least a time or two. The key will be the play of the linebackers. Michigan should line up in it's usual 4-3. We experimented with the 3-3-5 against Purdue, and we all know how well that worked.
I actually give the rushing advantage to Michigan in this game. But that all depends on the health of our backfield. If Minor is close to 100%, and Carlos Brown is as good as he showed last week...we should be fine. And if guys like McGuffie and Shaw can come in a provide good yards on option/read plays, tOSU might have a difficult time stopping us.
Now, this all could change if right tackle Stephen Shilling is not in the lineup, or plays hurt. That could have a huge impact on the offense as a whole. The OL will have their hands full with tOSU's front 7. They run a 4-3 very similar to ours. They blitz like crazy too. Guys that will have the biggest impact on this game will be guys like FB Mark Moundros. It will be up to the line, and lead-blockers in the backfield to keep running lanes clear.
Ohio State does a few things very well. First of all, they can control the line of scrimmage. They are experienced and tough on defense. They don't turn the ball over, and rarely put themselves into bad situations. They have a turnover margin of +1.27, 2nd best in the Big Ten.
But a few things that Michigan has going for it. We've been much better in the last 2 weeks of moving the ball and keeping the defense off the field. Our time of possession has been much better. Another big plus is that it looks like the playing conditions will be dry. Michigan has struggled in bad conditions. tOSU finally has an artificial field, same as Michigan plays on. So no more of the field coming up in huge chunks like it did in 2006.
In tOSU's 2 losses this year, their offense looked awful. Against USC and Penn State, tOSU has only 3 field goals, and no touchdowns. Now, USC and Penn State are far superior to Michigan this season. But, it is interesting to note that, in losses this season, tOSU averages 4.5 points, while Michigan averages 20.5. In total offense in losses, tOSU averages 247 yards/gm, while Michigan averages 288.4. And, tOSU's turnover margin in losses this year...-2.0.
Moral of the story is, when tOSU struggles, they struggle big time. It all comes down to moving the ball on the ground. They do not have a great passing game. Actually they're ranked last in the conference in passing offense. Their phenom QB Terrelle Pryor is a capable passer and a capable runner. So far, he hasn't done anything that has truly impressed me yet. He'll get there, but I'm still surprised he got the starting nod earlier in the year over QB Todd Boeckman. The senior has a much better arm, but they liked Pryor's size and running ability. So the buck literally starts and stops, with the running game.
I don't care what the records are, there is no clear reason that tOSU should be a 21 point favorite. I don't see where those points are coming from. At least not against this Michigan defense.
Those words could come back to kill me if Michigan gets murdered in C-Bus this weekend. But I don't care. I'm done going through the season with the glass half-empty. This season has weeded out the weak among us. Michigan fans left standing after this season will one day wear the 2008 season as a badge of honor. It will be this season that will make future successes so great.
Michigan can win this game tomorrow. And to do so, we must do three things.
• Win the rushing battle. We must move the ball better on the ground then tOSU does. The winner of this game typically runs the ball better.
• Win the turnover battle. Not an easy task against an experienced squad like this. And Michigan has struggled with turnovers all year.
• No 3rd quarter let down. We've struggled to move the ball, get first downs, and score points in the 3rd quarter. In all of our losses this year, it's been the 3rd quarter were most of our games are lost.
If we can do those things, and do the little things right like tackle well, complete short passes, etc...we'll be right in this game in the 4th quarter...which may be the best we can ask for.
So, call it as you see it. Fundamentals are the key for any team that is struggling. Against Minnesota, we did all the little things right. We were also able to pass the ball well...which did huge things for the running game.
We will see Justin Feagin in this game. Sheridan will start, but Feagin will play...which I think is a good thing. Just please limit those direct to the RB snaps...those never work.
Aside from what the media is telling you, Rich Rodriguez is hyped to be playing tOSU. This whole, "DickRod doesn't understand the tradition of this rivalry," is just crap. He's been coaching college football since 1985. Everyone in the sport knows about Michigan and tOSU.
This coaching staff, this team, this program knows exactly what this game means and how important it is. Trust me, Rodriguez knows that the past 7 Michigan head coaches have beaten tOSU in their first attempt. tOSU knows that too.
And tomorrow, we'll get to see just who wants it more.
It will be tough. It will be hard-hitting and brutal. And maybe, just maybe, it will be one of biggest wins in Michigan football history.
I am not one for giving predictions, but what the hell. I'll say Michigan 24, tOSU 17.
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|Date||Opponent||Time - TV||Result|
|9/3||Hawaii||12:00 - ESPN||63-3|
|9/10||UCF||12:00 - ABC||51-14|
|9/17||Colorado||3:30 - BTN||45-28|
|9/24||PENN ST.||3:30 - ABC||49-10|
|10/1||#8 WISCONSIN||3:30 - ABC||14-7|
|10/8||@ RUTGERS||7:00 - ESPN2||78-0|
|10/22||ILLINOIS (HC)||3:30 - BTN||41-8|
|10/29||@ MICHIGAN ST.||12:00 - ESPN||32-23|
|11/5||MARYLAND||3:30 - ESPN
|11/12||@ IOWA||8:00 - ABC
|11/19||INDIANA||3:30 - ESPN
|11/26||@ #2 OHIO ST.||12:00 - ABC
|12/30||#11 Florida St||8:00 - ESPN||32-33|
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