Best thing about The Game?
- 80,000 truck drivers yelling at Michigan
- Obligatory Game of the Year/Century narrative
- Ohio State trying to go a whole week without using the letter M but failing
- John Cooper's 1-11 record against Michigan
Zach: The best thing about The Game is that it is The Game. The second best thing about The Game is every announcement someone from OSU makes that they won't use the letter M, only to see that letter in said announcement.
Trevor: My hate for OSU was solidified when I went to the Devin Gardner 2-point conversion interception game a few years back. I sat about 15 rows up on the 50 next to a gaggle of grumpy old Buckeye fans. The entire game they sat there talking about how The Big House 'isn't even that big'.....? And they were chatting about how they don't even care if the Bucks beat Michigan again and were expressing how bored they were. Hey fellas, no one is forcing you to drive up to Michigan and buy tickets to the game. If you are too cool to be here, then don't come!
Shash: Brady Hoke beat OSU once.
Kevin: It's one of the great mysteries of modern college football why Ohio State hung onto John Cooper as long as they did. The guy won 111 games, but when almost a quarter of his 43 losses came at the hands of Michigan, that's borderline indefensible. The rivalry has its ebb and flow, and never loses its importance. We all thought Meyer vs. Hoke was going to be the new Ten Year War once Hoke correctly labeled it the most important game on the schedule. Harbaugh vs. Meyer is going to be the Twenty Year War with how competitive these guys are.
Anthony: I missed the second half of the 2006 game to go see Happy Feet with my friends at the movies. I was outvoted.
The matchup is pretty even, and OSU is favored by a touchdown. Break it down however you like.
Zach: Depending on the moment I swing wildly on where I think this game falls. Both teams have looked like juggernauts for long stretches of the season with a couple "whaaa?!" moments where everything falls apart. I think the biggest factors in who wins are: 1) can Michigan's DL control the game against a somewhat spotty OSU OL, 2) Can OSU find ways to attack Michigan's linebackers in coverage and on the edge consistently, and 3) who plays QB for Michigan. Michigan wins if it gets a clear advantage in two of these three. OSU wins if gains the advantage.
Trevor: Michigan must control two major factors. 1. Special Teams - avoid mistakes like the Khalid Hill fumble vs. Iowa. These momentum swings could be big for the Buckeyes on their home turf. 2. Curtis Samuel - The OSU star is going to get his, he's really good, but controlling him is the key. Don't let him bust 3 or 4 huge chunk runs that could sway the game in OSU's favor. If Michigan plays its game and avoids too many mistakes it should be able to squeak out a W in Columbus.
Shash: If Speight's ready, that's good. If Speight's playing hurt, that's bad. If M doesn't turn it over, that's good. If M runs, that's good. If OSU runs, that's bad. Make Barrett pass, but not to Noah Brown, that's bad. I am only thinking in binary this week.
Kevin: Ohio State has not looked like the death machine they were last year. Michigan looked positively average against a sneaky Iowa team. I'm not going to point to one position or player as a key matchup to watch, because they're too evenly matched. Instead, I can be sure that whoever wins, deserves to win. Someone will make a mistake, the coaches will exploit it, and the team left standing is the unquestioned victor. Approach with clear eyes, full hearts, and can't lose. Nobody's got it better than these Michigan seniors.
Anthony: It comes down to this: Whoever is at quarterback has to make the easy throws and not turn over the football. The run game can do wonders to give this team a chance to win in Columbus and on defense, they have to do a good job setting the edge and prevent explosive plays.
What'd you see that worked against Indiana that MUST work against the Buckeyes?
Zach: Kenny Allen. Michigan is going to need a spectacular kicking and punting game from Allen to beat OSU. This happened against Indiana, with Allen putting together his best game of the season in the worst possible conditions. His performance on Saturday is the one key that gets overlooked.
Trevor: De'Veon Smith. He HAS to break for some long chunk yardage runs in this one. He is going to need to be the X-Factor if the Wolverines are going to win. He needs to get solid early-down yardage in order to create third and manageable instead of third and nine or third and fifteen. We watched him change the outcome of the Indiana game almost by himself, if the offensive line can't create enough holes for De'Veon to run through in this one, it will be tough for Michigan to get the W. But I like their chances if UM can establish a consistent running attack.
Shash: De'Veon Smith. Holy wah, De'Veon Smith.
Kevin: The defensive line took control of Indiana's rushing game in the second half, and they'll need to contain JT Barrett and Mike Weber. Michigan's coaches were clearly making a concerted effort not to overstuff O'Korn's brain with plays, but I saw glimmers of potential in the crossing passing plays they tried and making an effort to gash Indiana off the tackles. Replicate that kind of dominance, and they'll be fine.
Anthony: De'Veon Smith: battering ram
Should Michigan win, are they back?
Zach: If Michigan wins will people still ask if Michigan is "back"? Always. Harbaugh could be on the field after winning his fifth straight CFP and someone somewhere (probably an MSU fan) would still ask incredulously if Michigan is back.
Trevor: Michigan SHOULD win, they are a team stocked with seniors playing a young Buckeye team. Will they win is another question, I want to be confident but everyone knows how this game has gone recently and us Wolverine fans know we don't have much room to talk until the clock reads all zeros in Columbus and the visitors have more points than the home team. This is one of those situations where I will remain quiet until the game is officially over. Just like the MSU game this year. Michigan should win. Will they win? Great question. If they win. Yes, they are back.
Shash: They back
Kevin: These days, I don't know if any program is measured by being back or not. Every program is measured in relation to "Are they Alabama-level good?" Michigan was back as a power the day they landed Harbaugh, because they signaled to the rest of the college football world that they weren't satisfied with losing or being mediocre. Should they beat Ohio State on Saturday, Michigan can point to this game and remind everyone they meant it when claiming they were already back.
Anthony: Absolutely they are "back" if they win. In terms of being a legitimate national threat and one to be taken seriously by the likes of the OSUs and Alabamas of the world.
Bonus Q: Besides this game now occurring on the holiday weekend, talk about some favorite football/Thanksgiving traditions.
Zach: This is my fifth year cooking a full turkey dinner for a group of friends. If you asked me a decade ago what part of Thanksgiving I would get excited for, spending hours in the kitchen probably wouldn't have been high on my list. Now I get amped when I find a 20lbs turkey for 59 cents per pound. Getting old is weird.
Trevor: Watching the Lions every Thanksgiving. Obviously is amazing. Playing catch with the pigskin in the chilly November air just feels right every year.
Shash: I worry my way through Thanksgiving and then pretend like the Friday games are interesting so I don't have to think about M-OSU for a few hours and they should just play this game the Wednesday before TK fight me big ten
Kevin: Anyone else miss the John Madden six-legged turkey he'd award during the Fox NFL broadcast every year? It's also the only day of the year I can eat four kinds of pie and not feel bad about it.
Anthony: Hard to beat the Lions on thanksgiving followed by mass amounts of carbohydrates in the form of turkey and beer.