|Ricky Lindsay/The Michigan Journal|
It’s here. The one everybody has been waiting for.
On Saturday, Michigan will play host to Ohio State in the 112th meeting between the two, a game that still has a lot meaning. Not just because it’s the greatest rivalry in all of college sports, but because the winner of this game still has a chance to punch their ticket to Indy.
There are so many things to say, that I can’t even say anything.
It’s breakdown and prediction time.
Jake Rudock, offensive catalyst. No, really. THAT Jake Rudock. The Wolverines are riding a hot hand, and that is the right hand of number 15. The graduate transfer has had an outstanding second half of the season, and is poised to lead the Wolverines to a big game against their big rival. While last week Michigan State ran the ball all over the Buckeyes, this week they are going to get beat by the pass. Michigan can’t go one-dimensional, however. They do in fact need to mix in the run as much as possible, and create success. The last few weeks the running game has been abysmal, but the Wolverines will be playing with a bit more of an edge this week, and hopefully will run with a purpose and find the holes in the defense. Michigan will be able to get the ball to Jake Butt, Jehu Chesson, and Amara Darboh easily, but the key will be finding Drake Johnson in space in the pass game. Johnson had a strong game early last season before tearing his ACL in The Game. I expect Johnson to come out with a purpose and be a major factor in the passing game as well as the run game.
The Buckeyes offense looked as if it had no flaws. Now, 11 games into the season their biggest flaws have been themselves. Braxton Miller is talented and dangerous, but I expected him to be unstoppable. Cardale Jones has been medicore, JT Barrett shouldn’t be playing, and Zeke Elliot isn’t what we expected. For what it’s worth, Elliot shouldn’t be playing either. After the loss last week the wheels sort of fell off in Columbus as Elliot criticized coaching as he was unhappy with his non-use. The Wolverines face about as tough a task, if not tougher than the Spartan defense, and there is a good chance that the entire Buckeye offense could leave Columbus after this one. Barrett is dangerous, but can be contained. Same goes with Elliot, and even Miller. I expect Miller to be followed by Jourdan Lewis, thus not many targets. The Buckeye offense will likely utilize the read option plays with Barrett and Elliot, and even Miller moving to the backfield. I also expect to see some jet sweep plays from the Buckeyes, as they will look to get the ball in the hands of Braxton Miller, but won’t have many openings in the pass game.
The Wolverines will need to put pressure on Barrett, but will need to have one defender spy on him to keep him from scrambling for big gains. Jourdan Lewis will likely shadow Miller, as I said above. The Wolverine did a much nicer job with stopping the run last week as opposed to the Indiana game, but it will likely struggle a but this week. I don’t expect the yards they surrendered against Indiana to duplicate, but it won’t go as smooth as last week. All eyes will be on the defensive line, whether or not they can push the Buckeye offensive line back or not.
Ohio State poses a good defense, per usual. Joey Bosa is an excellent defensive end, but hasn’t had the season many expected. He has been great, but not like last season. The Buckeyes will likely focus more on stopping Jake Rudock and the Wolverine passing attack first as Michigan lacks a strong run game. Whenever Jabrill Peppers comes on the field offensively, expect the entire Buckeye defense to focus on him.
What is something two of the most exciting Michigan players have in common? Punt return touchdowns against the Buckeyes… Peppers will channel his inner Charles Woodson, playing both way, and taking a punt back for a touchdown. On a day that Desmond Howard has his jersey retired, we can only hope he strikes a Heisman pose.
Final Prediction: Michigan 31, Ohio State 28.
The Wolverines connect on a field goal as time expires to win the game.