Ohio State Preview

"At least give me a clean death. A soldier's death."

Saturday, November 29th  •  Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH (104,944)

Time TV Announcers Weather Line Series Last Meeting
Dave Pasch
Brian Griese
Tom Luginbill
Mostly Cloudy
Wind 10-20 MPH 
UM +21 
UM Leads
OSU 42 UM 41

Ohio State State by the Numbers
     10-1 (7-0)
Head coach: Urban Meyer
     Career: 138-26
     at OSU: 34-3, 3rd year
     vs UM: 2-0
     Rush: Ezekiel Elliott (180-1,061 yards, 8 TDs)
     Pass: J.T. Barrett (190-293, 2,658 yards, 33 TDs) 
     Rec.: Michael Thomas (37-605 yards, 8 TDs) and Devin Smith (25-610 yards, 8 TDs)
     Tackles: Joshua Perry (99 tackles)
     Sacks: Joey Bosa (11.5-84 yards)

Reason to be Concerned
The 111th edition of "The Game" offers the discerning Michigan fan any number of reasons to be concerned. First, Ohio State is playing as well as they've played all season. Second, the game is in Columbus. Third, Ohio State is coached by Urban Meyer and Michigan is not.

I could go on and on, but frankly, with the season being in the state that it is and fate of Brady Hoke's job all but sealed...it would serve Michigan fans well to temper those pipe dream expectations. Yes, this is The Game and we all know anything can happen (see: 2013). But the Buckeyes are rolling, while Michigan is most certainly not. Ohio State needs to make a statement to the playoff committee tomorrow.

As far as threats go, it all starts with quarterback JT Barrett. The freshman phenom has done what no one expected especially since the week 2 loss to Virginia Tech, and that is fill the rather large shoes of Braxton Miller. Not only has he done that, he has surpassed the senior Heisman hopeful in almost all phases of the offense. He's a tremendous runner and passer, and he runs the offense extremely well for a freshman. So well that all signs are pointing to a Braxton Miller transfer because Barrett's grip on the starting QB spot will be too tough to break no matter how this season ends.

For Michigan fans who've spent the last 2 seasons watching Devin Gardner struggle to become the QB we've all dreamed, watching JT Barrett just show up and do it...I can't even begin to tell you how extremely frustrating that is. Ohio State replaced a Heisman contender with a younger even stronger Heisman contender.

Ohio State also replaced 4/5's of their offensive line as well as Carlos Hyde with little to no trouble whatsoever. Again, this is how a reasonable college powerhouse works. RB Ezekiel Elliot is not Hyde by any stretch, but with that OL clearing the way, he's still managing 6 ypc thnx to JT Barrett's insane ability to just take a shotgun snap and wait for a gaping hole to develop...which invariably happens every time.

Michigan's defense has been stout against the run. They may continue this trend tomorrow for a short while, but eventually things will all just fall into place for the Buckeyes as they just wear down a Michigan defense that's asked to do everything.

IF this game stays somewhat close, having to rely on turnovers and special teams is not exactly a winning strategy for the Wolverines. Go for it on every 4th down, always go for 2, kick onside kicks every time...why not?

Reason to be Confident
The only saving grace for Michigan tomorrow is that this game produces extremely unpredictable results from time to time. Back in the 90's during the John Cooper era, Michigan made a living upsetting the Buckeyes and ruining their championship hopes. Michigan does have the talent to hang with this Ohio State team, they're not completely unbeatable.

There's also the "win one for the Gipper" mentality that Michigan may have for their head ball coach. There's absolutely nothing holding Hoke back tomorrow. Its very likely that he's been preparing for this one single game since the Michigan State loss...in fact, I can almost guarantee it. He has a relatively healthy Devin Gardner who's also playing in his last game, which could produce some exciting results.

If Michigan loses
The 2014 season, mercifully, ends. And then a sequence of events takes place over the course of the next 2 days to 8 weeks to fire one coach and hire another...all the while trying to maintain/salvage what's left of the 2015 recruiting class.

If Michigan wins
This blog will become the FOX news of Ohio State schadenfreude. No, really.

But seriously, a win sends Michigan to a bowl, and buys them precious precious time in their head coaching search. Even a win tomorrow is probably not enough to save Brady Hoke his job...unless he unleashes an offensive onslaught not seen since...well, the Ohio State game last year...and then drop kicks Urban Meyer in the face during the post-game handshake.

5 Predictions
• JT Barrett by land, air and sea.
• Joey Bosa will set up residence in the Michigan backfield.
• Devin-to-Devin touchdown one last time.
• Michigan's defense makes us proud, if only for a short while.
Ohio State 42 Michigan 10

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